North American Deer Summit Annual Meeting

Annual Deer Summit Takes Place in Texas

The National Deer Alliance’s (NDA) 2017 North American Deer Summit will take place June 7-8 in Austin, Texas. The two day event will include sessions that hit on deer management topics such as the state of white-tailed and mule deer in North America, chronic wasting disease (CWD) and the political and social science wildlife agencies face when managing deer.

The North American Deer Summit is open to representatives of conservation organizations, wildlife management agency personnel, hunting industry leaders, and the outdoors media. Space at the annual meeting is limited and the event is less than a month away.

North American Deer Summit Hosted by NDA

Scope of NDA Deer Summit Meeting

The NDA Summit is a thought leadership event that aims to unite deer conservation organizations, state and federal agencies, hunting industry leaders, and the outdoors media to work collaboratively on behalf of deer hunters and our hunting heritage. There will be a number of panel discussions focusing on the hot topics of deer management such as CWD and agencies working with deer hunters for common goals.

“We are excited to have many of our top deer experts in North America attending to discuss the most important issues impacting wild deer and hunting today, said NDA president and CEO, Nick Pinizzotto. We are confident that this will lead to positive outcomes for the country’s most iconic game animal.”

Hunting Industry Helps Sponsor Deer Management Meeting

This is the third NDA Deer Summit in as many years. This is the first Summit hosted fully by NDA. Principle sponsors include: Bass Pro Shops, YETI, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Archery Trade Association, Alps OutdoorZ, Gray Loon Marketing, Mule Deer Foundation, Whitetails Unlimited, QDMA, and PhoneSkope. Event sponsors include: Wildlife Research Center, Wildlife Management Institute, Cabela’s and Sitka Gear.

YETI is offering a unique experience for summit attendees by sponsoring the opening night dinner festivities of “Beer & BBQ” at their flagship facility.

NDA Working for Deer & Hunters

This is the first Summit hosted fully by the National Deer Alliance. The mission of the National Deer Alliance is to serve as the guardian for wild deer conservation and our hunting heritage. The deer herds, hunters and wildlife agencies of North America face many challenges at this time. Be in the know. The event is less than one month away, so get more information, check out the agenda and register now if interested in attending.

Texas Deer Study Group Meets in Hill Country

The Texas Deer Study Group will convene May 11-12 at the Kuykendall Events Center, 2200 RR 152 in Llano, Texas. This year’s event will focus on “Land Stewardship: The Basis for Good Deer Management.” Hunters, land owners and everyone with an interest in white-tailed deer and deer management is encouraged to attend.

Texas Deer Study Group Agenda: Day 1

The program starts at 8 a.m. the first day of the annual meeting with a wide array of topics, including Land Stewardship and Deer management, Brush Management for Deer, Prescribed Burning and Habitat Management, Deer Nutrition, Deer Energetics, and What a Deer Eats and Why.

Texas Deer Study Group Annual Meeting

That afternoon, the first day will also cover a History of Deer Management in the Hill Country, Deer Harvest Strategies, Effectiveness of Deer Survey Techniques, How Deer Populations Impact Other Wildlife Species, Native Genetics and Quality, plus up to date information about Changes to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Managed Lands Deer Program (MLDP), Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), and it will end with a Speaker Panel Discussion.

Deer Study Group Agenda: Day 2

On day two, the group will meet at a local ranch for a half-day of presentations covering Getting to Know Your Deer, habitat management techniques and native vegetation.

Sponsorship will be available for businesses and individuals to support the Texas Deer Study Group meeting in Llano. If interested in attending, early registration is $45 until May 4 and $60 after that date. Anyone can register online or get more information via the Texas Wildlife Association website, or contact Clint Faas at

Texas’ New Deer Management Program has Options

The deer management and permit program offered by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is going to see some changes in 2017. According to TPWD, the Managed Lands Deer Permit (MLDP) Program looks to take advantage of available technologies in order to better serve its customers. A faster, leaner online system will ensure the program runs as efficiently as possible.

Landowners participating in the wildly-popular MLDP will be able to complete the enrollment process and print their tags online beginning this summer, thanks to a new automated system being implemented by the TPWD. The new online process is just one aspect of a much-needed overhaul of the MLDP, which began in 1996 and has become so successful that it outpaced the department’s manpower and resources.

Deer Management Program in Texas

MLDP Participation

According to TPWD, there are currently more than 10,000 farms and ranches covering about 26 million acres that are enrolled in the MLD program. The program is designed to foster and support sound management and stewardship of native wildlife and wildlife habitats on private lands in Texas. Participation is recognized through incentive-based deer tag issuance that provides extended hunting season lengths and liberalized harvest opportunities beyond what is allowed under the county deer hunting regulations.

Participants also have access to varying levels of technical assistance regarding wildlife and habitat management from department biologists.

New MLDP Options

TPWD has simplified the program down to two options — Harvest or Conservation — from the previous three levels of white-tailed deer MLD, mule deer MLD, and the Landowner Assisted Management Permits (LAMPS). Both options retain issuance of deer tags that can be used during an extended hunting season about October 1 through the end of February, but the Harvest Option does come with early season buck harvest restrictions (archery equipment only in October for branched-antlered bucks). Antlerless and unbranched antler bucks may still be harvested by any legal means during the entire MLDP season.

Program Enrollment

Landowners seeking to enroll their property in either the MLDP Harvest or Conservation Option must use the new Land Management Assistance online system when it becomes available to submit an application for participation. The application process will require the landowner to create an account and to draw a property boundary in the online system.

An email address is required for the landowner and any designated agents the landowner may assign to the account. Read more about Land Management Assistance in Texas.

Land Management Assistance Online by TPWD

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) announced that it will be offering a new deer permit program in 2017, Land Management Assistance. The program will be the result of merging a couple of deer permit programs (MLDP+LAMPS) into two options, resulting in the Harvest Option and the Conservation Option.

Under the new deer permit program, participating landowners selecting the Harvest Option will receive automated deer harvest recommendations, tag issuance, and general correspondence about wildlife and habitat management for their property. No site specific deer population/survey data will be required under the Harvest Option, which also means property owners will not receive site specific harvest recommendations from a TPWD biologist.

Land Management Assistance Texas

The Conservation Option is similar in scope to the old Level 3 MLDP, and comes with customized technical guidance and harvest recommendations from TPWD, requiring at least 3 approved habitat management practices be implemented each year on a participating property.

Deer Management in Texas

TPWD currently issues about 330,000 deer tags each year through the MLDP Program. “Phenomenal growth in the MLD program over the last 20 years has presented significant challenges for staff to meet the increasing number of requests from landowners for technical assistance and simply administer the program,” explained Alan Cain, TPWD white-tailed deer program leader.

Effective this year, participants will be able to print their own MLDP tags, which will eliminate issues with tags lost in the mail, not arriving on time, or bad address, and provide greater convenience and flexibility to participants.

The system retooling won’t sacrifice the core mission of the program, Cain reassured, rather will enable limited wildlife biologist staff to focus private lands technical guidance efforts on site-specific wildlife population and habitat management recommendations.

Land Management Assistance Continued

“Our primary goal is to continue developing long-term relationships with private landowners, engage and educate them about the importance of management in promoting healthy habitats and wildlife populations, and ultimately put more resource conservation on the ground,” said Cain.

Despite the state’s economic growth, there is little doubt that white-tailed deer hunting and management will continue to be extremely popular in Texas. It will be interesting to hear how changes impact current program participants. Additional information and details about the deer management permit program is available online at TPWD.

9,830 CWD Samples in Texas 2016-17 Season

Unfortunately, white-tailed deer hunting, management and Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) now go hand-in-hand in Texas. It’s something that wildlife officials, hunters and deer herds are dealing with across the country. Texas and many states have been sampling hunter-harvested deer to find out more about where the deadly disease is and is not. The end game is far from unknown.

CWD Sampling in Texas

The 2016-17 collection year resulted in a couple of unwanted firsts for CWD in Texas, including detections in a free-ranging whitetail and a free-ranging elk. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) surpassed its statewide goal of 6,735 CWD samples, collecting 9,830 from hunter harvested and road kill deer, and other susceptible cervid species, between March 1, 2016 and Feb. 28, 2017.

CWD Update Texas

Sampling objectives were established by TPWD wildlife biologists based on deer densities within each of the 41 Deer Management Units (DMU) in Texas and other factors to establish sufficient confidence of detection if CWD were present within those localized populations.

TPWD wildlife staff collected CWD samples from a variety of locations including: road kill deer, deer processors, private ranches, wildlife management areas and state parks, and voluntary and mandatory hunter harvest check stations. Of the 9,830 samples collected, 23 percent were road kill. Exotic species that have been sampled include axis deer, fallow deer, red stag, sika, and elk; although there is no evidence that axis and fallow deer are susceptible to this disease.

Details about each CWD detection in Texas are available online. Just click on the image below to find out more.

Where is CWD in Texas?

Texas’ CWD First

Sometimes it’s good to have firsts—sometimes it’s not. Among the CWD positives detected in Texas this past season, here are some notable firsts:

  • The first confirmed case of CWD in a free-ranging Texas whitetail was detected in a hunter harvested 1 1/2 –year-old buck submitted for sampling within the Surveillance Zone 3 located in portions of Medina, Uvalde, and Bandera counties.
  • The first known free-ranging elk in Texas to test positive for CWD, harvested by a hunter in Dallam County.
  • The first known case of a captive-raised white-tailed deer in Texas that live tested “not detected” for CWD, but after being harvested by a hunter on a release site three months later tested positive for the disease.

To date, Texas has recorded 49 confirmed cases of CWD, of which 26 were discovered in captive deer breeding pens, 5 were hunter harvested on breeder deer release sites, 16 were free-ranging mule deer, 1 was a free-ranging elk, and 1 was a free-ranging white-tailed deer.

CWD in West Texas

“The good news is so far our sampling in the Tran-Pecos has only detected CWD in the Hueco Mountains area,” said Dr. Bob Dittmar, TPWD wildlife veterinarian. “Since 2012, the disease has been found in 13 mule deer out of 117 tested in the Hueco Mountains area for an 11 percent prevalence rate.”

Dittmar also expressed guarded confidence that CWD has not spread outside the Hueco Mountains area based on increased sampling in the surrounding ranges.

“The mandatory sampling in the Trans-Pecos SZ helped get an increase in sampling from the Delaware Mountains this year and while we have accumulated a decent number of samples around the Guadalupe Mountains, both remain areas of concern and we still need some more sampling out there.” he noted.

CWD in Central Texas

The state’s wildlife disease management response focuses on an early detection and containment strategy designed to limit the spread of CWD from the affected area and better understand the distribution and prevalence of the disease.

The detection of CWD in a free-ranging whitetail in Medina County this season resulted from enhanced voluntary testing of hunter harvested deer, allowing TPWD to initiate proactive measures aimed at containment rather than reactive steps targeting control.

“The more effective we are at containing this disease within a limited geographic area, the better it will be for our wildlife resources and all those who enjoy them,” Dittmar said. “We want to thank the Texas hunting community for its strong support of our management efforts; we cannot combat the spread of CWD without it.”

A detailed summary of CWD sampling for 016-17 season is available for review online.