Last week I had the privilege and honor to attend the 2016 QDMA National Convention down in Louisville Kentucky. I met a bunch of awesome QDMA staff, as well as spent some quality time with several Michigan branch and cooperative leaders. Those of you who came down for Convention - thank you! While I worked hard, I was able to find a little time for some fun!
The couple days were spent setting up for Convention and getting to know the QDMA staff. By Thursday we were ready to start Convention off with an overview of 2015 from QDMA's CEO, Brian Murphy. Michigan is number one for the number of branches per state, as well as the highest number of QDMA members. Michigan is also at the top of the charts for most cooperatives - and it was noted that QDMA sees cooperatives as the future of quality deer management. In 2015 QDMA raised $1.5 million for whitetail management, engaged in 86 advocacy issues, held six deer steward courses, created and started promoting a deer management curriculum for high school and college classrooms, brought out over 500 youth for their first deer hunt, and much more.
Kip Adams presented the State of the Whitetail. The big news about deer harvest, is that for the first time in recorded history, more 3.5+ year olds were harvested than 1.5 year olds! In 1989 62% of harvested bucks were 1.5 years old, and in 2014 only 33% were. Michigan is listed as second for the highest buck harvest per square mile at 3.2 antlered deer/square mile.
The largest management issues as reported by state agencies was disease and captive deer, followed closely by hunter access, hunter recruitment, and habitat changes. In the disease category, Michigan is now on the list of CWD states, along with 22 other states, two Canadian Provinces, and Korea. Two headlines Kip shared from 2015 included: CWD Kills 19% of Deer Herd Annually from a study in Wyoming, and Experimental CWD Vaccine Fails Initial Testing. Not great news.
The Aging on the Hoof Panel was a hit, as always. Much teasing and joking took place, and an element of jaw aging was added to the event. Click here for more information on aging deer on the hoof. Over the next couple days, there were sessions on plant ID, food plot management, coyote/wolf hybrids, deer lab updates, and the Deer and Turkey Expo.
One of the highlights of the weekend was a very special award that was given to one of our very own: Chad Thelen. Chad has been president of the Clinton Ionia QDMA Branch for ten years now, and was awarded Branch President of the Year. He has played a massive role in expanding the influence of QDMA here in Michigan, helped start many cooperatives, and provided quality habitat work and advice for many deer managers over the years. He is someone I personally look up to and am grateful for the assistance he has provided me the past several years. If you would like to see Chad receive his award, check it out here!