ARTICLE Learn how to produce better deer, be better hunter with QDMA By Mike Suchan ESPNOutdoors.com April 15, 2009 "Management" has been a buzz word spreading through the deer woods. From clubs instituting rules on harvests to landowners preparing food plots, actions to improve the deer herd have grown by leaps and bounds. Out of this desire, the Quality Deer Management Association was born. "We're a source of information and assistance to landowners, hunters and anyone interesting in having better deer and better deer hunters," CEO Brian Murphy said of the QDMA, the leading non-profit conservation organization working to improve and sustain quality deer hunting. With over 50,000 members, the QDMA includes more than 800 deer management professionals and includes state wildlife agencies among its partners. Now ESPNOutdoors.com is partnering with the QDMA to help keep you abreast of the latest in the field. "Without a doubt, if you look through the nation, the adoption of QDM principles, we're seeing agencies, hunters and about every sector of the world moving toward them," Murphy said. "The QDM movement is alive and growing at a remarkable pace." The flagship program of the association is the acronym REACH: Research, Education, Advocacy, Certification and Hunting. The QDMA funds and is a leader in whitetail research projects. Its various articles include experts in deer biology and land management, and they work to deliver it through information. This education is delivered in a number of ways, foremost is the QDMA magazine, Quality Whitetails. The association also has books, posters, dvds and a web site, www.qdma.com. It also holds a national convention. Its advocacy arm is responsible for working to institute sound philosophies and push for sensible harvests. "Just whatever it may be in terms of common-sense deer regulations," Murphy said. "As it relates to the advocacy, we are almost always the sole voice beating the doors on state capitals for common sense action." A prime example was the recent work to change the archaic Alabama buck-a-day seasons. Murphy said the change wasn't popular with some, but the new three bucks a season is more in line with the times. Certification training is achieved through courses around the country, where top deer experts give participants an A to Z on biology and management. There even teach about applying herbicides, complete with a rigorous exam. The final measure is hunting heritage, which is really an in-depth youth mentoring program. Murphy said it's not like others that give kids a "fishing rod, a hot dog and a hat." "You have to have a mentor and go through an eight-step process over a year," Murphy said, mentioning woodsmanship training, reading scat and rubs, firearms training and small-game hunting. "It goes stepwise. Not until step six do they actually get to deer hunt. "Take them from the woods all the way to the table, so they have a true training." ESPNOutdoors.com wants to help others with similar QDMA deer management training. While we will publish some of its work, we encourage interested parties to join the organization www.qdma.com. A yearly fee of $30 gives members six bi-monthly editions of Quality Whitetails, eblasts of information and allows them to become active at the local level. "Our groups do hundreds of activities," Murphy said. "Our grassroots branches and members are very active. "You've got biologists to talk to, local support. You can become part of the local branch." For more information on the Quality Deer Management Association, visit www.qdma.com.