The Michigan Wildlife Cooperatives Program held it’s annual Deer Rendezvous event August 3-4. The Deer Rendezvous is put on as a free event to cooperative and QDMA branch leaders as an opportunity to reflect on the past year, discuss successes and challenges, grow as a community and set goals for the next season.
The Crockery Creek Cooperative in Coopersville, Michigan was this year’s host. I would like to personally thank this group for their efforts in making this event a success. Their excitement to engage with other hunters from around the state was obvious and shows their commitment to improving deer and deer hunting for generations to come.
Our theme was bridging the gap between hunting and farming communities to improve relationships and find solutions. Keynote speaker James DeDecker, from Michigan State University Extension, was able to share his expertise in linking both groups and highlighting the importance of establishing lasting relationships.
Other speakers included Michigan United Conservation Club staff, Anna Mitterling, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) National and local farmers.
Throughout the weekend attendees were able to tour farms of different commodities to gain a better understanding of what challenges farmers face when it comes to wildlife interference. This lead to a great discussion on how hunters and farmers could collaborate to mutually benefit from management practices. The key to successfully carrying out these plans is trust and communication.
Think of landscape-level improvement, not an individual accomplishment. One idea that came from the facilitated discussion was to invite farmers to participate in trail camera and browse surveys to get a better understanding of the deer density on their property. This can be an eye-opening experience and lead to conversations about cooperative management that can hopefully lead to a better hunting experience and decreased crop damage.
To wrap up the weekend the group spent time considering how cooperatives and branches could help meet QDMA’s 5-year mission goals:
Mentor 1 million hunters through QDMA programs and activities
Donate $1 million to whitetail research and on-the-ground management
Share 20 million venison meals with friends, family, and those outside the donor’s household
Donate 35 million venison meals, or equivalent processing costs, to charitable feeding efforts
Place 35 million acres in QDM cooperatives throughout the whitetail’s range
Expose 5 million hunters annually to QDMA information and principles
Double the number of habitat improvement projects conducted by QDMA on public lands
Thank you to everyone that came and made this event a success! We all went home with new knowledge, new friends and fresh ideas. I am already looking forward to next year and encourage all cooperative and branch leaders to stay tuned for 2019 details. If you have questions about the event or wildlife cooperatives in Michigan please contact me at email@example.com or 517-346-6454.