ATHENS, GA (January 3, 2018) – In October 2017, a man walked unannounced into the QDMA National Office and told receptionist Sherri Marsh that he wanted to speak to the person in charge. When Marsh asked for his name, the man replied “Santa Claus.” True to that name, Santa Claus delivered the most significant gift QDMA has ever received: 132 acres of land adjoining the QDMA Headquarters site worth $3.5 million
“Santa Claus” was actually Ricky Chastain of Athens, Ga., co-owner along with Russ Crump of RC-Coggins LLC. Chastain and Crump’s donation of 132 acres will increase the National Headquarters site to 155 acres in a single tract. QDMA’s original 23-acre Headquarters property was donated to the organization in 2003 by businessman Frank Coggins of Elberton, Ga.
“When we acquired this property and realized a portion of it was right next door to QDMA, Russ and I knew what we were going to do with it,” said Chastain. “Russ had attended QDMA’s educational events in the past and was familiar with their accomplishments. We knew that as a nonprofit they’d be able to use this resource to do great things for wildlife conservation and hunting.”
The new acreage will be very useful to QDMA’s local Field to Fork and Share Your Hunt programs, which help introduce new participants to deer hunting.
“On behalf of QDMA and our members everywhere, I want to thank Ricky and Russ for this incredibly generous gift, the largest in QDMA’s history,” said QDMA CEO Brian Murphy. “It was an unexpected Christmas present that we will value and use wisely to advance our mission for decades to come.”
Like the Headquarters site, the new addition is wooded and holds a strong deer population. Despite being located on the suburban edge of Athens near subdivisions, businesses and developments, the property contains beautiful hardwood forests and large white oak trees along rocky creeks. More open uplands present space for food plots, tree planting, timber stand improvements and other habitat demonstration opportunities.
“Ricky and Russ’s donation gives us 155 acres, which is about the size property that many of our members hunt,” said Murphy. “We have the opportunity to use the new land as an educational exhibit, to show our members and all deer hunters that you don’t have to have thousands of acres or lots of money to produce great deer habitat and hunting opportunities.”
Additionally, the new acreage will be very useful to QDMA’s local Field to Fork and Share Your Hunt™ programs, which help introduce new participants to deer hunting. Previously, a handful of Field to Fork participants were able to go hunting with archery equipment on the 23-acre Headquarters property, but the expanded acreage will allow for much more hunting opportunity.
QDMA has already approached the Georgia Forestry Commission, the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division and the nearby University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources to explore potential partnerships on the new land, including educational field exhibits and events. All plans and efforts to improve deer habitat on the 155 acres will be documented and shared with QDMA members through Quality Whitetails magazine.
“Ricky and I could not think of a better group to make this donation to,” said Russ Crump. “It is a beautiful piece of property, and we hope QDMA is able to put the land to good use for many years to come.”