by Anna Mitterling, Wildlife Cooperative Coordinator, MUCC
It all started because one guy had a QDMA sign on his property. Two guys each bought some property to build a home, raise a family, and hunt. Each acting independently of the other, yet just across the street. They had both been in communication with me about starting a cooperative around their new hunting paradise, and at some point during this time, Ryan stopped over at Nate’s to talk about deer because Nate had a QDMA sign up on his fence post. Before I knew it, the three of us were sending emails back and forth, planning and upcoming meeting for the local neighbors!
To provide a quick overview, I got my first email from Nate mid October, and from Ryan mid November. We had a meeting with the neighbors and Brian Towe (Missouri Cooperative Specialist) early January where about 12 landowners showed up to talk about starting a cooperative and managing their deer herd. The next step was having a broad reach event to promote the cooperative idea. Their first meeting, 46 people showed up. At least three other developing cooperative leaders were at this event as well.
Before I go into some more detail on how this took place, I cannot emphasize enough how far communication, planning, and including the right people will take a new cooperative. The first steps of this cooperative working with me occurred in October 2015, and by February 2016 they were filling their cooperative map in with new members at a meeting with nearly 50 people!
As I said, first steps were connecting with me mid Fall. Ryan and Nate wanted to know what they should do to get a cooperative started up. The first step I always recommend is to talk to some neighbors and invite some of the interested guys over for a brainstorming meeting. At this meeting you get an idea of where people are at in their hunting evaluation. It is important to remember that we are all at different spots in this journey, and that is good! At this meeting it is important to create an open and accepting environment. As invested hunters, we care deeply about the our wildlife, and it is important to remember that - and while we may differ on some management concepts, focusing on our value of the wildlife we seek to manage will help keep contention down.
Their first meeting went really well. We were able to get a good gauge on where people were in their management thought process. There was a strong interest in developing a cooperative, so Nate and Ryan got together to plan a second event - reaching out to a broader set of neighbors.
At the next meeting Nate provided an overview of what a cooperative is, and how that ties in with the QDMA Cornerstones - for more information click here. After the presentation, there was time for general questions and discussion. There seems to be very strong support for a cooperative in their area, and they received some really good feedback. It sounds like they are planning to have another meeting in the next couple months here.
If you are considering starting your own cooperative… there is no time like the present! Please let me know how I can help! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org - I look forward to working with you!