Author: Cassie Scott
The National Deer Alliance is a nongovernmental organization with the mission to serve as the guardian of wild deer conservation, and our hunting heritage. Integral to that mission is protecting the interests of deer hunters and the hunting industry.
Each time a hunter buys a hunting license or equipment, they’re contributing to state wildlife agencies and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. That money is then distributed to state wildlife agencies to fund high-priority conservation projects like habitat restoration, wildlife research and public-access programs. Photo Credit: John Hafner.
From the Beginning
Conversations to establish an organization that represents the voice of all deer and deer hunters began at the 2014 Quality Deer Management Association’s North American Whitetail Summit. Outdoor writers, enthusiasts and organizations gathered to discuss threats to deer and deer hunting.
The NDA was created a few months later with help from three major national deer conservation organizations, including QDMA, Mule Deer Foundation, and Whitetails Unlimited. Leaders from other key groups and companies, such as ATA, Vista Outdoor, Bass Pro Shops, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Association for Fish and Wildlife Agencies also joined the inaugural board of directors. The board later added representation from Weyerhaeuser, Wildlife Research Center and Wildlife Management Institute. The ATA donated $100,000 in start-up funds and provides financial and administrative assistance.
Nick Pinizzotto, NDA’s president and CEO, took command of the organization at its inception. He works with an intern, several consultants and many partner organizations to influence policy makers on behalf of deer hunters, provide funding for deer disease research, and support programs that improve communication between hunters and state wildlife agencies. The NDA tackles issues like chronic wasting disease, wild deer conservation and public land access.
“I always tell people that on any given day there are 50 to 100 active bills across the country that impact deer or deer hunting,” Pinizzotto said. “We’re strictly an advocacy organization. We try to stay on top of all the issues and inform sportsmen, so they can engage and get involved. We also work closely with legislators, deer organizations and state and federal agencies. We want everyone to understand and come together on important issues that affect deer.”
Why does the NDA serve as the guardian of wild deer, wildlife conservation and our hunting heritage? Because the organization recognizes each element plays a crucial role in helping the outdoor industry succeed.
Each time a hunter buys a hunting license or equipment, they’re contributing to state wildlife agencies and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Federal excise taxes are applied on the sale of bows, arrows and bow accessories, thanks to the Wildlife Restoration Act, which is more commonly called the Pittman-Robertson Act. That money is then distributed to state wildlife agencies to fund high-priority conservation projects like habitat restoration, wildlife research and public-access programs.
Those efforts ensure hunting and bowhunting opportunities will exist for generations, further generating business for ATA members and the archery and bowhunting industry.
The Deer Protection Program helps ATA-member scent manufacturers and their product suppliers prevent the spread of CWD and ensure the health of wild deer herds. The oversight committee provides recommendations to the program’s structure and operations. Photo Credit: John Hafner.
The ATA, NDA Partnership
The NDA works closely with Dan Forster, ATA’s vice president and chief conservation officer, on policies regarding conservation, hunting regulations and the health of wild deer herds across the country.
In fact, the NDA serves as a member of the Deer Protection Program’s Oversight Advisory Working Group. The DPP helps ATA-member scent manufacturers and their product suppliers prevent the spread of CWD and ensure the health of wild deer herds. The oversight committee provides recommendations to the program’s structure and operations.
“Because we’re involved with every aspect of deer and the hunting industry, we’re a logical partner to have,” Pinizzotto said.
Forster appreciates the work the NDA has done for the industry and is grateful for the advice and guidance it provides the DPP.
“The NDA is emerging as a critically important community of deer hunting supporters and advocates under Nick’s guidance,” Forster said. “We’re especially appreciative of their legislative engagement and leadership in combating the introduction and spread of CWD.”
The NDA’s goal is to inform and work directly with hunters, biologists, researchers, industry representatives and others about deer and deer hunting issues. Photo Credit: John Hafner.
Protect Deer, Protect Your Business
According to the 2016 U.S. Fish & Wildlife National Survey, eight out of 10 hunters hunt big-game species such as elk and deer. However, only one percent of deer hunters belong to a national conservation organization, according to the NDA website.
The NDA’s goal is to inform and work directly with hunters, biologists, researchers, industry representatives and others about deer and deer hunting issues. The NDA largely relies on digital media, such as their website, e-newsletter, and social media accounts, to spread the news.
In fact, the NDA offers a free subscription to its On Watch e-newsletter, which is sent every Wednesday morning. The newsletter outlines the latest news from across the country, and it keeps readers current on hunting trends and industry happenings. It also includes interesting features and entertaining articles about deer and deer hunting.
When subscribing, readers must enter their zip code. That information allows the NDA to send news alerts regarding issues relevant to the subscriber’s region.
With about 17,000 subscribers to the NDA’s e-newsletter and about 60,000 Facebook followers, the NDA reached more than five million people last year. Retailers can share this content on their social channels to spread the word and help educate consumers.
“We can assume the majority of ATA members, either the companies or the individuals themselves, are involved with deer hunting,” Pinizzotto said. “If we allow deer hunting threats, such as CWD, to go unnoticed, it whittles away at how many people hunt deer and that’s a direct threat to an ATA members’ customer base and their bottom line.”
Pinizzotto says anyone who loves deer hunting or makes their living from deer hunting and healthy deer herds should get involved with NDA, and subscribe to their weekly e-newsletter.
“The NDA is designed to be very industry friendly,” he said. “We want to have a robust deer hunting industry. We care about everyone, and the issues we tackle affect deer, deer hunters and those in the industry. To me, it’s pretty clear why everyone should care about our work.”
Ready to get involved? Click here to subscribe to the NDA e-newsletter.
For information about resources and business practices in this article, or to learn more about ATA membership, contact the ATA’s business and membership office at (866) 266-2776 or firstname.lastname@example.org.