Since 1988, NDA has worked to promote sustainable, high-quality deer populations, wildlife habitats and ethical hunting experiences through research, education, advocacy, and hunter recruitment. NDA teaches deer hunters how to improve local deer populations, habitat and hunting experiences.
To enhance the fun and excitement of deer hunting, NDA encourages the protection of most or all yearling (1½-year-old) bucks combined with an appropriate harvest of does, when necessary, to maintain a healthy population in balance with habitat conditions and hunter desires.
We also believe hunters who have never killed a buck should be able to choose any buck that makes them a happy hunter, and most NDA staff members killed a yearling for their first buck.
When a deer population is socially and nutritionally balanced, hunters witness the full range of social behaviors.
- “Bachelor groups” of bucks can be observed in summer.
- Rubs and scrapes are more common in the woods.
- Hunters witness more buck fights, see more bucks chasing does, and more often hear vocalizations like grunting.
- Calling techniques like rattling are more productive.
- Overall, the rut is more apparent and intense, leading to a more enjoyable hunting experience and higher hunting success.
- Other benefits include dramatically increased success at finding shed antlers, which also leads to greater knowledge of travel corridors, bedding areas and feeding habits.
Working with habitat and planting food plots increases a hunter’s connection to the earth, to wildlife and the outdoors, and many NDA members report happily that hunting becomes a year-round pursuit instead of being limited to hunting season.
Of course, there is also the benefit of having a better chance of seeing and harvesting a mature buck, because more are present. Given good nutrition and other benefits that are part of a socially balanced deer population, bucks can express their full antler potential in each year of their life.
In today’s North American hunting culture, antlers are the most common and easily visible symbol of hunting achievement, but for NDA members, many other rewards and benefits are equally cherished. That’s why we at NDA measure success in memories, not in antler inches.
In 1987, a wildlife biologist from South Carolina named Joe Hamilton was invited to speak to the Australian Deer Association. Impressed with their organization, Joe returned to the United States with an idea for a similar group in South Carolina.
Following a series of meetings in coastal South Carolina in 1988, a core group of volunteers outlined the framework of a new group that would become the QDMA. They scraped together their own money to launch a newsletter, and Joe sketched a logo for the group: a buck and doe silhouette. This core group was eventually named the Lowcountry Branch, the first Branch of the QDMA, and it is still active today.
By 1992, a total of 16 Branches had been formed in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Wisconsin.
1993 The Signpost newsletter could no longer adequately present the flood of content being provided, so Quality Whitetails magazine was launched.
1995 The “national headquarters” is relocated from the home of volunteer Executive Director Robert Manning and his wife Kathy to the home of Joe and Donna Hamilton in South Carolina.
1997 Brian Murphy is hired as Executive Director and the “national office” is moved to a guest bedroom in Brian’s home near Athens, Ga.
2000 QDMA membership reaches 10,000.
2001 QDMA’s first National Convention is held in Athens, Ga.
2002 QDMA member Frank Coggins of Elberton, Ga., donates 23 acres of land near Athens for a new headquarters site.
2005 An 18,000-square-foot National Headquarters building, made possible by donations from numerous QDMA members in architecture and construction, is dedicated.
2007 QDMA’s popular Deer Steward program is launched.
2008 QDMA publishes its first annual Whitetail Report and membership tops 50,000.
2011 Brian Murphy is named among 2011’s Top 25 Conservationists in Outdoor Life magazine.
2012 QDMA launches the Rack Pack youth program, Land Certification Program and the Online Deer Steward course.
2015 QDMA forms the National Deer Alliance as well as the Brother’s Hamilton Society.
2016 QDMA launches its Share Your Hunt program and publishes QDMA’s Guide to Successful Deer Hunting e-book.
2017 QDMA launches its new five-year mission goals and receives a 4-star Charity Navigator rating; Mossy Oak becomes the official camouflage of QDMA; and QDMA receives a 132-acre land donation adjacent to its current headquarters.
2018 QDMA celebrates its 30th anniversary
2020 QDMA merges with the National Deer Alliance to form the all-new National Deer Association
NDA membership has topped 60,000, and the NDA volunteer network has climbed to more than 180 NDA Branches in more than 30 states, with many others forming. NDA Branches actively pursue the NDA mission in their areas and hold educational and social events to unite like-minded sportsmen in this common goal.
Become a part of this growing, influential organization by joining today. It’s where deer hunters belong!