The deer hunting conservation space is changing in a big way this summer. Today the Quality Deer Management Association and National Deer Alliance announced their plans to merge into a new, combined organization. This is a group that will service all deer and deer hunters.

This represents the end of the QDMA, in name at least, which was founded 32 years ago and has arguably been the most influential whitetail deer conservation organization in U.S. history. The other half of the equation, the NDA was founded five years ago (with the help of the QDMA) to address national policy issues related to all deer species.

“We are bringing together the best of both organizations,” explained Nick Pinizzotto, CEO of the yet-to-be-named new organization and current CEO of NDA.

Given the leadership void created by the recent resignation of the QDMA’s former CEO, Brian Murphy, and the challenges placed on conservation organizations by the economic effects of COVID-19, the two organizations saw the merger as a prudent and exciting move for the future. But what does this actually mean for deer and deer hunters?

The hope is that this move will lead to the creation of a modernized super organization in support of all deer species; the grassroots membership and educational expertise of the QDMA paired with the leadership and national policy influence of the NDA.

“We believe in recent years and decades that deer have been taken for granted. But the reality is that seven out of ten people that hunt, hunt deer. And they have a significant trickle-down effect,” Pinizzotto said.  “We want to make more people aware of how important they are, even non-hunters”

With this more efficient and well-supplied organization, and a larger army of supporters, Pinizzotto believes America’s newest deer group can make a more meaningful dent in the issues that both the QDMA and NDA previously fought for separately.

“Would I love to slow the spread of chronic wasting disease while the research catches up? Yes, I’d love to do that,” Pinizzotto said. “Would I love to add more people that hunt to our ranks? Yes, I would love to do that through things like our Field to Fork program. Would I love to make sure we continue to protect and even expand public hunting opportunities? This is also critical, so yes. It’s hard to weigh any one of these goals against each other, which is why I say the real goal is to raise awareness and build the army, which allows you to address any one of those issues.”

For those already actively involved with the QDMA or NDA, not much will change in the short term. Local chapter events will continue as they have in the past (not withstanding COVID-19 impacts). The new organization will continue to create and disseminate critical educational materials for deer hunters and the group will remain a staunch advocate for wild deer.

Real, tangible change will not likely be visible for many weeks or months, but this is a very positive move for deer and deer hunters. Will it live up to its billing as an enhancement of deer conservation powers? We think so, and we’re damned excited for what’s ahead.

For more, tune in to the Wired To Hunt podcast this Thursday, July 9, for an exclusive deep-dive discussion with Nick Pinizzotto and other members of the new organization.

Feature image via Matt Hansen.