BOGART, GA. – David Wambold of Mascoutah, Illinois, thought his $30 would cover the standard one-year membership in the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA). But when he joined through the QDMA Web site on March 31, he pushed the nonprofit conservation organization to 50,000 active members and earned himself a complimentary Life Membership in the process.
“I was looking for help with food plots and habitat improvement, and a friend suggested I join QDMA. He loaned me a couple of his Quality Whitetails magazines, and I also saw the QDMA television show, and I was extremely impressed,” said David, a retired aquatic biologist, whose family jointly owns a 100-acre hunting property. “I never win anything, so it was a complete surprise when I learned I had won a Life Membership. From what I’ve seen of QDMA’s materials and message, this is a fantastic prize.”
“David’s story is a perfect example for explaining QDMA’s continued growth,” said executive director Brian Murphy. “It is a reflection of the growing interest in deer management, habitat improvement, and land and wildlife conservation. Many deer hunters like David are managing land, especially small tracts, to create quality deer habitat and better deer hunting. QDMA has the information, expertise and support to help them achieve these goals.”
With 50,000 active members in all 50 states, Canada and several foreign countries, QDMA is now one of thefastest growing conservation organizations in North America.
The milestone in membership was reached just six months short of QDMA’s 20th Anniversary this October, but the majority of QDMA’s growth has occurred in the last decade. When Murphy took the reins of the organization in 1997, QDMA had just 3,000 members, and Murphy was QDMA’s only employee. By 2000, QDMA reached 10,000 members, and momentum was beginning to build. Eight years later, QDMA has 50,000 members and more than 30 full- and part-time employees. Murphy first operated QDMA out of a spare bedroom in his Georgia home; the organization is now headquartered on a 23-acre site just outside Athens, Georgia, that was donated to the organization in 2004.
“Our growth is also made possible by an expanding network of volunteers and QDMA Branches across North America,” said Murphy. “We’ve grown from just over 30 active Branches to 175 Branches in the last four years alone. These volunteers are critical to continued membership growth and achieving the association’s educational mission.”
QDMA’s growth has allowed the organization to diversify its outreach efforts. QDMA’s message of sound deer management and wildlife stewardship is now conveyed through a multimedia effort that includes Quality Whitetails magazine, Quality Whitetails TV on the Outdoor Channel, publications like the landmark book Quality Food Plots, the QDMA Web site, and QDMA’s Deer Steward certification courses. Additional outreach initiatives under the umbrella of the REACH program include funding for whitetail research, advocacy of sound deer management in public policy, and QDMA’s Mentored Hunting Program for hunter recruitment and retention.
“Number 50,000 is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Craig Dougherty, chairman of QDMA’s Board of Directors. “QDMA is all about better deer and better deer hunting, and there are about 10 million deer hunters who have not discovered us yet. When they do, we will see an increase in wildlife conservation activity of historic proportions, with white-tailed deer being the big winners.”
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