Q&A: The National Deer Alliance Answers Your Questions, Part 1

Last month when we reported the formation of National Deer Alliance, which seeks to be the unified voice of all deer hunters, you naturally had questions. So we invited you to submit them here and on our Facebook page. Then we pulled them together, picked the best ones, combined a few, added some of our own, and gave the list to NDA Executive Director Craig Dougherty. Here are his answers, Part 1. We'll post Part 2 tomorrow.

Q. How will the NDA be different from existing whitetail groups like the QDMA and Whitetails Unlimited? If I'm a member of one of these groups already, why should I join the NDA?
A. For starters, the NDA is a cyber-based organization that will utilize Internet and social-media tools to engage members and positively impact deer issues. Second, the NDA is not specific to whitetail deer, but will also address issues pertaining to mule deer and blacktails. Third, NDA membership is free, so there are no barriers to participation.

Collectively, these differences will enable the NDA to amass the largest, most-diverse base of deer hunters and enthusiasts ever assembled. Species-specific organizations like the QDMA, Whitetails Unlimited, and the Mule Deer Foundation will continue doing great work at the grassroots level, but they are relatively small (fewer than 1 percent of all deer hunters belong to these groups). The NDA will provide the large, united, powerful voice needed to have the greatest positive impact on deer policy in North America.

Q: What is the NDA's stance on the captive deer industry and high-fence hunting?
A: To date, the NDA has not established formal positions on contentious issues such as these. This will be the responsibility of the Advocacy Steering Committee, which is currently in development. The bulk of our efforts will be focused on wild deer and our deer hunting heritage. However, we recognize that certain issues within the captive-deer and high-fence industries, for example, have the potential to impact both. Therefore, the NDA will be prepared to engage in those arenas to affect positive change.

Q. What is the NDA's position on killing does? How does it differ (if at all) from the QDMA's policy?
A: The NDA supports sound deer management, which typically involves doe harvest. However, deer densities are highly variable throughout North America, with some populations requiring heavy doe harvests and others requiring little or none. The key is site-specific management, which often is lacking at the state or even regional level. The NDA will work for improved dialogue and cooperation between hunters and wildlife agencies to ensure the correct number of deer (bucks and does) are harvested. Simply put, the NDA's goal is to support healthy, sustainable deer populations and habitats, whether that means liberal doe harvests or total protection.

Q. Does the NDA support shorter gun seasons moved out of the rut, crossbows during archery seasons, lighted sights, or baiting?
A. Questions like these have been dividing hunters for years. That's why the antis love them. The NDA is designed to unite hunters. Therefore, we will let the special-interest groups work these issues out (as they are often important to their memberships) while we take the role of uniting hunters behind a sensible solution that does not contradict sound science and can be adopted by regulatory agencies. We will, however, put forth a series of best-practices doctrines addressing issues such as fair-chase hunting, baiting and feeding, and disease control, which will help frame the conversation and eliminate some of the destructive divisiveness.

Q. As a national organization, with the NDA address local issues? What is important to hunters in one part of the country may not be important where I live?
A. While the NDA will certainly address national deer policy, working local issues is a major reason our group was established. Traditionally, deer management has been decided at the state level, but this approach often fails to achieve the desired outcome at the local level. This can lead to disgruntled hunters and distrust and/or lack of confidence in the state agency. That's why the NDA is currently building the infrastructure necessary to identify issues and support deer hunters at the local level. Our cyber-based network will make us quick to communicate and act locally. Success will require a strong local membership base, but once this is established, we expect to hear plenty from NDA members on local issues. When local anti-hunters are circulating a petition to stop a special archery season, for example, the NDA will be able to quickly alert members of this threat and take action before it gains any traction. You can help us address your local deer issues by joining now. Membership is free; simply go to www.northamericandeeralliance.com.