This past July 22-23, Wildlife Cooperative and QDMA Branch leaders gathered at Jay’s Sporting Goods in Clare, Michigan for the 2016 Deer Rendezvous. The event was financially supported by the Michigan QDMA State Advisory Council and served to educate participants about the importance of deer management and Wildlife Cooperatives in Michigan
QDMA’s Director of Education and Outreach, Kip Adams, kicked off the event with a keynote address about the current state of the whitetail nationally and provided an update on QDMA as an organization.
Kip’s talk was followed by presentations from Michigan DNR staff. Brian Frawley discussed the validity of the surveying methods the DNR uses to estimate deer harvest. Brent Rudolph then talked about deer population dynamics, habitat, and harvest management. That was followed by Chad Stewart and Ashley Autenrieth, who provided an update on antler point restrictions (APRs) and their impacts on Michigan’s deer herd. Chad went on to provide a CWD update as well. These topics sparked some great conversations and provided a lot of information to take back to the groups for further thought and discussion.
That evening, County Line Cooperative, led by Andy Clark and Andy and Tonia Lewis, hosted a meal of smoked pork and chicken in a great backyard setting for socializing. The Lewises even had some incredible habitat work for the group to look at.
On day two of the event, Clinton/Ionia County Branch President Chad Thelen provided a good overview of how to plan a habitat field day. Following Chad, QDMA Regional Director Bob DuCharme, QDMA State Council President Erik Schnelle, and Kip Adams shared how national, state and local resources can be used to help support Branches and Cooperatives. After some discussions and brainstorming, Mike Parker with the Michigan DNR Wildlife Division outlined the beginnings of a possible plan to start a deer Cooperative certification program.
After lunch, Bill VanderZouwen and Bill Fischer with Pheasants Forever (PF), and Ryan Boyer and Mike Kennedy of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) gave presentations, and ideas were discussed on how PF and the NWTF can partner with the QDMA and Wildlife Cooperatives.
As per tradition, the event ended with each person stating one or two action items they planned to take back with them, and accomplish in the next year.