QDMA’s popular Deer Steward advanced education courses have influenced management on an estimated 10 to 15 million acres of public and private hunting land since initiation in 2007, helping hunters improve deer populations and wildlife habitat across 47 states and Canada.
Deer Steward began in 2007 with Level 1 and Level 2 in-person training courses, but today Level 1 is entirely taught online through pre-recorded seminars, and additional “Modules” or add-on courses covering specific subject areas have been added. In all, 2,876 individuals have completed at least one level of Deer Steward or attended a Module to date.
While many of these course graduates do not own or manage any land or control management on less than 100 acres, a significant number manage very large areas of private land, and some graduates are wildlife agency employees who manage tens of thousands of acres of public hunting land. Data collected from all Deer Steward in-person course graduates since 2014 indicates an average of 5,000 acres controlled or managed per attendee for a total of more than 9.6 million acres. A sample of 67 Level 1 online course graduates from 2012 to 2016 indicates an average of 7,000 acres controlled or managed per attendee, for a total of more than 5.8 million acres. A comprehensive total would be difficult to calculate because acreage data was not collected in early years of the program or in more recent versions of the online course.
“What we do know is that Deer Steward has impacted conservatively 10 million acres of deer hunting land but likely up to 15 million acres,” said Matt Ross, QDMA Assistant Director of Conservation. “That’s a lot of public and private land that’s now under the care of hunters who have received QDMA’s advanced instruction in deer biology and habitat improvement.”
This estimated impact includes only the courses open to the general public, many of which have been attended by professional deer managers from wildlife agencies. However, QDMA has also led customized, private Deer Steward instruction for several state wildlife agencies, including those in Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee. When these agency courses are considered, Deer Steward’s influence on deer management extends far beyond 15 million acres.
This month’s Level 2 course in Gallipolis, Ohio will be the 50th in-person Deer Steward course in the program’s history. A new schedule of in-person Level 2 and Module courses will be announced in 2020, but interested hunters can take Level 1 online at any time, at their own pace, from the comfort of home. Level 1 provides a comprehensive understanding of the key principles of deer and habitat biology, ecology and management. Level 2 teaches students how to apply the principles learned in Level 1 through hands-on experience in the field, and course locations have included Lee and Tiffany Lakosky’s and Bill Winke’s Iowa farms, The Bearded Buck’s Pennsylvania farm, Dr. Grant Woods Proving Grounds and the Heartland Bowhunter farm in Missouri, Tony Stewart’s Indiana ranch, Jeff Foxworthy’s Georgia farm, and many more. Add-on “Modules” are in-person courses that go into greater detail on specific focal areas, such as habitat improvement or predator management.
For more information, visit www.QDMA.com and select the “Conserve” menu.
Media Contact: Matt Ross, QDMA Assistant Director of Conservation, 518-886-1732