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Deer clubs throughout The Natural State will have more resources to improve their deer herds than ever before thanks to a new agreement struck between the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the National Deer Association.
Thanks to the new partnership, five biologists will be hired by the NDA, but will aid the AGFC’s new Private Lands Habitat Division by working one-on-one with deer clubs enrolled in the AGFC’s Deer Management Assistance Program throughout the state.
We’ve been looking at a way to revitalize DMAP for a while,” Jeremy Brown, the AGFC’s newly appointed statewide DMAP coordinator who has worked for seven years as the assistant deer program coordinator, said. “A few years back, Ralph Meeker, our deer program coordinator, and I, surveyed all of our participating clubs and performed a bit of an audit on ourselves. We wanted to know how we could improve the program and what sorts of things our clubs wanted to make their deer hunting experience even better. The biggest limiting factor in making those things happen was manpower.”
Brown explained that until this partnership, managing the Deer Management Assistance Program was one of many duties placed on the agency’s private lands biologists.
“Our PLBs are great biologists and really knowledgeable, but they were being pulled in so many directions, they never could devote themselves to DMAP to really be able to make meaningful changes,” Brown said. “I’m not slighting anyone, there just aren’t enough hours in a day for them to cover all the bases these folks had been tasked with. So when Director Booth created the new Private Lands Habitat Division and wanted to increase capacity, I knew now was the time to really think about adding capacity, whether through our staff or partnerships with other agencies.”
Although Brown still hopes to bring on additional DMAP biologists within the AGFC’s ranks, he says working with the NDA was a no-brainer.
“The National Deer Alliance and Quality Deer Management Association merged to form the National Deer Association,” Brown said. “We have received a lot of our deer management training from QDMA before that merge. It’s really a perfect fit.”
Brown says the partnership positions will be similar to others the AGFC has fostered with Quail Forever and Ducks Unlimited, but the focus will be putting habitat on the ground for Arkansas’s most popular game species, the white-tailed deer.
“We’re known for ducks, and we work very hard on turkeys, quail and a variety of other animals, but there’s no doubt that deer are the number one species our hunters pursue,” Brown said. “Our deer herd is in good shape, so a lot of the initiatives we see make it seem like we’re not as focused on them, but I can tell you that’s far from the truth. We want our deer clubs to be just as invested in conservation as every other hunting group out there, and this partnership will give us a much needed tool in our toolbox to really hit another gear in deer conservation and habitat management.”
Brown says the five new positions are being advertised, and he encourages any wildlife biologists with a passion for deer management and working with deer clubs to apply.
“We hope to have boots on the ground within a month or so,” Brown said. “So any deer camps who have been interested in joining DMAP also are welcome to give us a call to learn more about how these new positions will be able to help them improve habitat on their properties with a focus on whitetails.”
Visit https://deerassociation.com/about/employment-opportunities for more information about the new DMAP positions. Visit www.agfc.com/DMAP to learn more about Deer Management in Arkansas.