This past weekend leaders of a deer cooperative or local QDMA Branch were invited to participate in the 2016 Deer Rendezvous up at Jay's Sporting Goods this past weekend. The event was financially supported by the QDMA State Council. We had a great turn out of QDMA guys, Cooperative Leaders, DNR staff, and even some guest appearances from Pheasants Forever and the National Wild Turkey Federation! Below is a more detailed outline of the event. If you are thinking about starting a cooperative, lead a cooperative currently, or are a leader within QDMA... You will want to get on the list for the 2017 Deer Rendezvous!
Kip Adams - Director of Education and Outreach for QDMA - 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.
Next we had some DNR staff present. Brian Frawley talked about the validity of the surveying methods DNR uses to estimate Deer Harvest. Brent Rudolph talked about deer population dynamics, habitat, and harvest management. Chad Stewart and Ashley Autenrieth provided an update on APRs and the stats they have. Chad went on to provide a CWD update as well. (We are still just at 7 total positive cases.) These topics sparked some really 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 & Tonia Lewis, hosted a great night of smoked pork and chicken and a great back yard for socializing. The Lewis' even had some incredible habitat work for the group to look at.
We kicked off the evening by celebrating Bob DuCharme - Regional Director for QDMA here in Michigan. He has worked for QDMA for over 10 years, and is planning on retiring June of 2017. Congrats Bob!
The event picked up again Saturday morning, and Chad Thelen provided a good overview of things to think about and plan for when putting on a habitat day. Following Chad, Bob, Erik Schnelle (the new QDMA State Council President), and Kip 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 Wildlife Division, outlined the beginnings of a plan to possibly kick off a deer cooperative certification program. This hopefully will turn in to a pilot project so that we can see how DNR can help support wildlife cooperatives here in Michigan with different types of technical and financial support.
After lunch, we had a great set of presentations from Pheasant Forever (Bill VanderZouwen and Bill Fischer) and the National Wild Turkey Federation (Ryan Boyer and Mike Kennedy). Ideas were discussed on how these great organizations can partner with 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.
Special thanks to all of you who attended and presented. This event would be nothing without you - and is entirely for your benefit to grow and learn as instrumental leaders in the deer hunting community. And thank you to the QDMA State Council for making this event possible.