ATA Day 2 – 4: Pro-Tracker – Habitat Podcast – QDMA CWD Panel

WTR Protracker | Pro-Tracker


Pro-Tracker –
Pro-Tracker® is a bowhunting radio frequency tracking system. The carrier screws onto your arrow shaft and the transmitter sits in the carrier. When the arrow connects with the target, the transmitter detaches itself from the carrier and attaches itself to the animal’s hide. This allows the arrow to pass all the way through the animal for ethical shots. The transmitter then emits a specific radio frequency which can be picked up from up to two miles away. The Pro-tracker® Receiver then tracks that radio frequency and allows you to track how close you are to the transmitter for the recovery of all wounded game.


The Habitat Podcast –
The Habitat Podcast is a podcast for land and wildlife habitat managers and for hunters who learn and utilize different types of habitat in their hunting strategy. We interview hunters and habitat managers from across the country, picking their brain to learn their successes and failures. We are different in the fact that we are not the experts. This podcast is for us, and the listeners to learn a thing or two from the experts we analyze.


To produce better deer, hunters need reliable information. This information generally comes from research. QDMA helps design, coordinate, and fund practical research projects that increase hunter knowledge. Since 2005, QDMA has contributed more than $500,000 to support important research projects in over twenty states.


Since its earliest days, QDMA has been a recognized leader in educating hunters and the general public on all aspects of whitetail biology, management, and habitat improvement. However, the types of information desired by these groups as well as the tools available to deliver this information constantly change, and QDMA is keeping pace. QDMA continues with existing educational activities such as seminars, field days, and Quality Whitetails magazine, but delivery methods also include television, DVDs, and w-based opportunities. QDMA’s educational materials include printed books, electronic books, classroom curriculums, posters, DVDs, apps, online courses, internships, and more.


Each year there are countless threats to the future of deer hunting and management at the local, state, and national levels. Due to QDMA’s growth and strong support from the professional wildlife community, it is considered the most respected and influential whitetail organization in North America. As a result, QDMA serves as the leading advocate for the wise management of deer and the protection of our deer-hunting heritage. QDMA also maintains strong ties with its members, other conservation organizations, state and federal agencies, and other groups with an interest in deer hunting. Since 2006, QDMA has engaged on nearly 800 state, federal, and provincial management and policy issues impacting wildlife, habitat, and our hunting heritage.


The Deer Steward program is QDMA’s personal educational experience designed to offer hunters and wildlife professionals an opportunity to gain advanced knowledge of Quality Deer Management directly from the nation’s top experts. Both online and in-person courses allow deer hunters to become experts in a number of areas, from deer biology to habitat management.


In addition, QDMA’s Land Certification Program (LCP) is a multi-level, voluntary process that evaluates and certifies one or more properties against an established list of QDM standards.


Hunting Heritage
Hunting is an essential tool for sound deer management and part of our sporting heritage. However, in many states hunter numbers have declined, and existing hunter recruitment programs are proving only marginally effective. In response, QDMA has developed innovative youth and new hunter recruitment programs.

Listen to the episode here:

ATA Day 2 – 4: Pro-Tracker

I’m at ATA 2019 and I’m at Pro-Tracker with Gary Christensen. Gary, welcome to the show. Tell me what’s so special about Pro-Tracker?

Pro-Tracker is actually a system to help you find and recover any animal you shot with an arrow. We have seen a need in the industry. The wound loss and the animals being lost. It was a trophy to them or even a big trophy or maybe a record, but we found that trying to find an animal is sometimes very difficult. Years ago, we’ve decided we wanted to come out on the market and create a product that would help you do that. That is the Pro-Tracker system. The Pro-Tracker is a transmitter that is carried with your arrow to the animal. Upon impact, a transmitter will come out. It lets the arrow continue through and then the transmitter as it’s buried on the outside of the animal will send a signal to the receiver. The receiver will pick that up and say, “This transmitter is live in action and which direction you will go to find and recover that animal.”

It’s like a GPS homing beacon.

Actually, it’s a radio frequency. Anywhere in the world, it can be used. You could be in a deep canyon, you could have water on it, or you could be submerged in a stream.

A line of sight?

It is a line of sight. It’s got a two-mile maximum range. Generally, if you’ve got heavy dense cover, maybe a mile and a quarter.

How about Canyon Country? I’m sheep hunting and I shot a mountain goat and he went the wrong way.

I live in Utah and we hunt down into the Red Canyons in Southern Utah. We get into the deep canyons. As the animal is running away from you, all of a sudden he goes off in one of those canyons. All of a sudden, the signal stops. All you do is go in the direction that you last saw that animal run, give a little bit of elevation. Think of a pebble in a pond. You throw that pebble out, it just ripples. That’s how the signal works. Once you get to the point where that ripple is going around, your transmitter will be sending the signals and the receiver will pick it up. Now, you know where he’s going.

WTR Protracker | Pro-TrackerThat takes me right to him?

It will. As you get closer, the number increases. Is it accurate? Absolutely. We’ve actually lost animals. We had them submerged in ponds and found them because if it’s not real deep water, but it was under about eighteen inches. The signal was there. I went and found where that animal went.

If I’m in Alaska and I’m hunting muskox in the Arctic circle. There is bad weather and you can’t see and he slips into one of those pressure ridges. How do I find him?

When you first shoot that animal with your arrows, you know he’s gone either North, South, East, or West.

He’s going somewhere.

WTR Protracker | Pro-TrackerWhen you know that he’s gone that way, just point the receiver in that direction. You’ll get a reading. Now you’ve locked onto that beacon. You’ve picked that up. As he’s going away, he’s going to go down in signal strength. The closer you get, the signal strength comes up. All of a sudden a snow storm comes through and it’s a whiteout, but you know that it went in North, South, East, and West. If you are up in the Arctic, you’re going to know directions. As you work your way in that direction you last picked that signal up, eventually you will pick it again. Now, it’s on. Can you find it? Yes. Is it a learning experience? Absolutely. It’s like anything. We like to go out and have our grandkids play hide and seek. Take the transmitter as well. One of them takes the receiver and you have to go find it.

When you first shoot an animal with your arrows, you know he's gone either north, south, east, or west. Click To Tweet

That would be a good training thing.

It’s fun. It keeps them occupied on a Sunday afternoon.

How long is the battery good for?

WTR Protracker | Pro-TrackerOnce it comes out you have twelve to fifteen hours of life with your battery and no power is being used until after you shoot the end.

Once it made the impact, I’ve got to recover it within twelve hours. If I shoot them at 6:00 PM, the weather goes crap. It’s 6:00 AM the next morning, twelve hours have gone.

It is, but we actually have some that will run 18 to 24 hours. They’re just different levels of transmitters you want to buy. It costs more money. The average one is twelve to fifteen hours.

For whitetail hunting, elk hunting, maybe moose, sheep and goats.

We’ve shot whitetail, mule deer, elk and antelope. We’ve had people shoot alligators. They’d go down under the water. Eventually, they got to come up and now they’re up and they’re over here.

How’d you come up with this?

WTR Protracker | Pro-TrackerWho makes your arrows for you?

You can use any arrow of your choice.

You insert them.

All you do is screw it on your favorite arrows and you put your favorite broadhead, either mechanical or fixed. It doesn’t matter.

How much weight forward change does that give you?

We’re adding about 230 grains. If you notice the industry is going to weigh forward. We’ll weigh for deeper penetration. Let’s say you shoot a 29-inch arrow. You cut three inches off, put another insert on and screw this on the end. When you pull back up on the rest what you’ll do is you elevate. When it elevates it, it raises it up enough that you’ve sighted your bow in with the regular arrow. You put Pro-Tracker on. It could be 20, 30, 40, or 50 yards. This will shoot the side by side with your regular arrow even though we’ve added 230 grains. We’ve done our research. We’ve tested it on elk and mule deer. We’ve shot lots of targets. We’ve got many hours. We know how it works.

Deer hunters drive the archery and bow hunting industry in a big way. Click To Tweet

Gary, this is a pleasure. How do people get in touch with you on social media?

We are on Instagram. It’s called @ProTrackerArchery, but we also have a website if you want. Google or Pro-Tracker Archery.

WTR Protracker | Pro-Tracker

Thank you so much for your time. One last thing, if somebody buys that brand new, what’s the first thing they should do?

Give me a call because one thing we’ve advocated is customer service. We want to make sure you that you use it right. Most guys, not gals but guys, whenever we build something or put something together out of the box, you never read the instructions. It’s easy.

Thank you so much for your time.

I appreciate you stopping by. Thank you.

ATA Day 2 – 4: Habitat Podcast

Jared Van Hees is with me. Jared, who do you have with us?

This is Brian Halbleib. He is my co-host on the Habitat Podcast, which is our podcast that we started.

It’s good to see you again, Bruce.

This is so much fun and folks, this is about collaboration. Jared and I are doing this little podcast thing to reiterate with people to help your buddy out, help the guy out that’s doing the same thing you are. Ours have been a while longer than Jared, but he reached out to me and said, “I want some help. I want to figure this out.” With over 340,000 downloads and 560-plus episodes and 40,000 people on social media, I guess I know a little bit of something about podcasts. The key thing with Jared, why I like him and respect him is he asked for help. He’s a humble guy and he wants to do something with this podcast about the habitat. Jared, share with the audience what the podcast is all about.

Habitat Podcast is the name of the podcast. It’s What we do is we help people learn how to better their habitat for wildlife management. Food plots, timber stand improvement, waterholes, grasses, CRP, or whatever you want to do to better your land or even your friend’s land or whomever for better hunting and better wildlife. Make the animals feel more at home, better experience, do a lot of invasive species removal. All we talk about is just habitat.

Brian, what’s your role?

I’m just the cohost. Jared does all the heavy lifting. He’s really put together something special. I happen to be a part of it and we got some great guests. It’s a pleasure talking to them and helping our audience out. That’s what we’re all here to do, is to learn and become better habitat managers.

If somebody wanted to reach out to you and find you on social media, how do they do that?

WTR Protracker | Pro-Tracker
Pro-Tracker: In the real world, you don’t manage deer on paper because you have to have hunters to do that.

Just look up Habitat Podcast on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, everywhere you can get a podcast around there. As Brian said, our slogan is to become better habitat managers. I want to help everybody learn.

What’s your relationship with QDMA?

We’ve had them on. Lindsay Thomas Jr. is the editor of the Quality White Tails Magazine. It’s a great publication. We’re friends. We’re supporters. We’re longtime members, Brian and I, and we urge everybody else to be as well.

If you’re not a member of QDMA, then you’re not serious about whitetail hunting. If you’re not serious about QDMA, then get serious about it because QDMA has the best resources for scientific-based research, factual information, not barroom information, but factual information. Go to QDMA. It doesn’t cost much and now I’m coming out with a program that it’s even going to be more economical where you are going to have an opportunity to join QDMA. That’s coming out probably in March. I’m working with QDMA. We’re close to signing everything off. It’s not a done deal, but it looks like we’re going to be able to offer something special because I believe every single whitetail hunter out there should be a member of QDMA. Any last words?

It doesn’t do our agencies any good to hate because we can't solve it without both of us working together. Click To Tweet

Join QDMA and make sure to follow Bruce at the Whitetail Rendezvous. We’re here at the Habitat Podcast and everybody. Thanks, Bruce.

Thank you. I appreciate it.

Thank you all.

ATA Day 2 – 4: QDMA CWD Panel

We bring this arena together so we can talk about CWD. When we first started talking about this and they approached us about partnering with them, we said, “Absolutely.” We felt this was going to be a great opportunity to get the media and celebrities and some other folks and give you all a chance to learn about some of the perspectives about CWD. Hopefully, you gain some information and some guidance because this disease continues to spread. It is a significant concern of deer hunters and they should be to all deer hunters and the industry. Obviously, it is because deer hunters drive the archery industry and bow hunting in a big way. We all have to have resource protection and there’s a lot of misinformation out there and we hope that through a combination of a couple of presentations followed by question and answers that we can answer a lot of the questions that you have. Give you some great information and leave you with some contact information.

Hopefully, that will help you because you are mostly the ground troops that are communicating with a lot of folks in the databases. We want to help you inform your audience in the best possible way. I’m going to give a brief introduction of the panelists that we have followed by the introduction. Then we’re going to jump right into the presentation from these. Starting now is going to be Dr. Grant Woods. Grant is educated at Missouri State and the University of Georgia and ultimately finished with a PhD at Clemson University. He has been the Head of the consulting firm, Woods & Associates since 1990. Grant has done a lot of consulting, not only across the whitetails range and he’s very active in communications with TV shows and life. He’s a great passionate deer hunter and he’s going to be great for this panel.

We’ve got Kip Adams. Kip also is a certified wildlife biologist. He works for the Quality Deer Management Association. He is actually the Director of Conservation in that organization. He received his BS from Pennsylvania State University, MS in Wildlife Management from New Hampshire. Kip has spent a lot of his time on the stuff. He’s given over 500 presentations on deer hunting and habitat management. He’s coauthored parts of five books and he is the voice for wildlife management in many respects for the Quality Deer Management Association.

We have Brian Murphy and Brian is the President and CEO of Quality Deer Management Association. Brian, like myself, received his Master’s degree from the University of Georgia studying deer. Brian decided to leave the United States and go to Australia for a number of years when he finished up and worked as a deer biologist. He received lots of accolades for that. Since then, he became and he is heading the Quality Deer Management Association where he’s been there since 1997. He too is an acclaimed author. He has written a lot of books and did a lot of talks. He is a very well-respected deer biologist and he runs a great organization.

We’ve got Nick Pinizzotto. Nick is not a biologist by training. He’s a little bit different in that he received his Master’s degree in psychology. He has a Bachelor’s degree in environmental geography. He currently is a CEO and the President of the National Deer Alliance. It was formed to be an advocacy group for deer. They have focused on CWD and Nick is currently working on a coordinated CWD maximum plan on the issue. All these gentlemen are hunters. They’ve got perspectives to CWD from researchers They bring a lot of credibility, a lot of passion, a lot of interest. They share the same belief in protecting the resource and informing our constituency so we can hopefully manage this disease better into the future.

What we’re going to do is go through a couple of presentations. Grant is going to speak first. His topic is really what is CWD, how it spread and the main factors. Kip is then going to talk about what impact does CWD have on hunters and the agency? Brian’s going to follow that and say what can hunters do to prevent the introduction and reduce the spread, followed by Nick who’s going to give us some comments regarding the federal-level concerns, issues, initiatives, and actions in play or in work to help with the CWD issue in terms of funding as well. Grant, I’m going to pass it over to you. We look forward to the dialogue. We have Grant.

CWD, Chronic Wasting Disease is a disease that impacts a prion, which is a protein. All mammals have prions. This one, however, is irregular shaped and has the ability to make other prions become irregular shape. It’s a nasty thing that if you put it in or something like that or cook it at about 1,500 degrees, it’s still infected. It’s not something easy to take care of. It’s not a virus. It should not be confused with EHD. Over time, it has spread a lot. Tennessee can be added to this map. I’m not aware of anywhere else, but it is spreading. It’s not just in one place.

It belongs to a fatal lineage which is as far as we know, 100% fatal. The big old name transmissible, spongiform encephalopathies in the same family as mad cow disease but not just saying that it’s never been shown that CWD or something to deer on that incident goes to cow, which is a real blessing. It’s never been shown to go to a human in the field and certainly thousands, possibly millions of deer have been consumed, especially early on and during the following places before we even had a name for what was going on. What’s really intrigued me is we’ve known about it for a long time and it didn’t cross the barrier from sheep to other animals, so that should be somewhat comforting to us.

It’s the same family of diseases. A really bad thing about this disease is it can be in the critter for sixteen months or longer and not show any outward signs or lesions. That lag time is one of the things about this disease that makes it very difficult to communicate. You’re going to find them in the lot land. I’m not finding them dead by the water. Those are all problems in communication and how serious this disease is. These diseases are not broken down easily, but they communicate easily to other animals, mouth to mouth, critter to critter, critter to a deposit on the ground or maybe through urination, defecation, salivation for sure. You can see where that leads to getting close to the other and allows this disease to spread quicker. All the deer family can be impacted and in fact have been impacted at different levels and different critters. It’s not just whitetails or mules. All the deer including the caribou family.

The movement of deer and deer parts, many of us believe, I believe, is the way that map got spread. It jumped to Tennessee, Pennsylvania places really quickly. It didn’t just make one dot on the map and spread out in all directions simultaneously. Moving a deer or let me say here, parts of say, maybe you’re lucky and you tagged a very mature mule or elk in Colorado years ago for knowing any better. You brought the whole critter home and took the meat off, took the skin off or whatever and they put the spine and spinal cord and the brains on the back of 40, which have a lot of prions in there. That could have been a source of infection. That could be one mode of transmission that leapfrogs in many areas over time. Contact with the effects, the remains. Consumption, there were some scientists that certainly believe that when these are deposited through urination or defecation and gets some soil, a plant takes the prion on up. Again, it’s not degraded and a deer can eat that plant. That is super scary, isn’t it? Think about this. A crow or scavenger pecks on a deer to die from CWD. That crow flies 100 miles away, which is common for crows. It likes there and defecates. Some dies or whatever and deposits CWD somewhere else.

This is a real map from Pennsylvania of legally transported deer. That is extremely scary. This looks ugly. Let me tell you how ugly it is. I live right there. I’m riding it. In 2019, there was a positive found less than a mile on this side of my farm on bullseye. I preach this. I would be hit if I didn’t. Our deer season goes to January 15th, our archery season. At about January 20th, we’ll start taking deer down with rifles on a permit. I’ll make a little bit of deer. I’m living it. There’s no known vaccine, no cure, no practical live tests. Please understand this. We can’t move deer because we can’t test it and say, “That deer doesn’t have CWD.” We can say it hasn’t or we don’t know. We say it has it after the deer is dead. There is no practical, feasible live test. Therefore, we cannot move deer without knowing if we’re potentially spreading CWD. Thank you very much.

Thank you, Grant. We’ll transition into some of the impacts that we know that this has on hunters in these areas as well as the state wildlife agencies. As hunters, we often think of just how does it impact me? We also need to take a look at this and step back because we’re all in this together and it doesn’t do us any good to hate our agencies. It doesn’t do our agencies any good to hate us because we can’t solve it without both of us working together. Let’s look at some actual things that are happening on the ground. CWD is now in 26 states. It’s in over half the states in the country and we have the privilege to work it in all of those different states with hunters and agencies and landowners. We’ll show you the things that are actually happening across the whitetail’s range on a daily basis that impact both hunters and agencies.


Brian will take off after that and talk about some of the opportunities that we have as hunters to help us. One of the things that we see almost all the time as you take this, we know we’re going to need to have a population reduction. We started this, CWD. The next thing we know there’s a regulation. Let’s take that and go to that. We’re not only balancing habitat. In many cases, we’re asking to reduce those deers below what the habitat can support. How many of you as hunters want to see less deer tomorrow than you do now? We don’t want to see less deer tomorrow. We never want to see less, but this is often the reality of what happens. We can debate forever whether this is healthy or not, but the reality is this is what has happened and this is what’s being at.

Let's figure out how we can best maintain the spread of the CWD until the science catches up with us that we could find a cure for it. Click To Tweet

As hunters, we don’t like it. I’ll tell you this for the agency. They don’t like it either because they know what infuriates hunters and even with that, they know how difficult it is to accomplish those even if hunters are helpful. This is a big deal that happened right off the bat. One of the things as hunters that we like is we like things to be traditional. We are extremely traditional in hunting. We’d like the hunting season to start the same day every year. We liked the same folks to be at hunting camp this year as it was last year. We have the same meal every Friday night or Sunday night before opening day, so anything that impacts that traditional culture of what we have, we buck it as hunters and I get it.

I’m the same way as well. I grew up in a very traditional deer hunting camp in Northern Pennsylvania. I like things to be the same too, and as soon as CWD hits, all goes out the window. We now have CWD check stations you got to take your deer to. We have movement regulations. We have longer hunting seasons, we have additional hunting seasons. We have sharp-shooting. All of these things go against what we want to keep things the same. Are they necessary or not? We could debate that. In many cases they are. They are absolutely necessary, but as hunters, we don’t like them. I can assure you from agencies, they wish that they didn’t have to do this either. It ends up being a loss of privileges. No more feeding, no more baiting, no more minerals, no more urine attractants. Often the big one in many cases, now mature bucks are no longer encouraged. I’ve been spending the last twenty years practice security and protecting things so I have the opportunity to photograph bigger bait, the opportunity to hunt bigger deer.

Here’s where the real kicker comes in. Some agencies have said, “We are keeping our hunters’ regulations exactly as we have now. Pennsylvania’s a perfect example because hunters are engaged. They like it that. We want to maintain that support to help the rest of our program. Hunters in Pennsylvania are extremely happy. We have other states saying, “The science says that the older bucks have the higher prevalence rates. We’re removing in with restrictions. We’re removing any type of protection or encouragement. We want to kill all these bucks.” You have hundreds of these other states looking, “Why are the folks in Pennsylvania doing something entirely different?” There’s a lot of miscommunication out there. A lot of agencies are doing the exact opposite thing, which contributes to the problem. We end up with licensed money diverted from herd and habitat management programs or things like CWD sampling, CWD monitoring, and CWD surveillance.

These are all very necessary things. This has to happen. Certainly, we don’t want to have to spend the money on it and actually since 2002 when they’ve confirmed CWD in Wisconsin, the DNR there spent $49 million on this thing. Think about this. If they didn’t have the disease and it could have taken that money instead of spending it on things like hunter access, land purchase, habitat management for hunting and maybe we would love that. I can assure you from the DNR, they would like that too. This is a very big deal from a dollar standpoint to the reality of it. We know the high participation rates decline. This takes a look at several years in Wisconsin. 2001 is the year that I killed the first deer that tested positive. They confirmed it in the spring or winter of ‘02 after the New Year. What happened in 2002 is that big drop in hunting license sales. They recovered a little bit in ‘03, but it never recovered after that.

What happens when we had fewer hunting license sales if you were hunters? Fewer hunters lead to less money for wildlife management. Fewer hunters leads to less advocates for hunting. We don’t want anybody to hunt. We’d like a little more room, but at the end of the day, we all need to have more hunters out there to continue to have deer in the future and opportunity to hunt. Lastly, CWD positives, is it safe to eat? Both the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control says absolutely do not eat. There’s never been a case where it’s crossed the species to humans and we hope to God there never is. We’ll suggest not to eat it. This is a real issue now for folks and families thinking about this.

Even if you choose to think, “I don’t care. I’m going to eat it,” are you going to feed it to your little boy or your little girl or the neighbor down the street that you’ve always donated deer to? You have to make this decision yourself, but this is a real decision that’s being made throughout the whitetails ranges. I have a wonderful wife. I’ve outkicked the coverage when it comes to finding somebody to spend the rest of my life. I’ll be the first one to say that I don’t wash my hands enough or I’d leave meat on the refrigerator too long. She is very good at letting me do what I want to do for hunting now. When I travel to hunt, one of the first things she asks me it not where I am going or how long I’m going to be gone. My wife asks, “Has CWD been found there?” It’s a reality that we have to deal with throughout the whitetails range. All of you deal with it now, but we’re going to have to deal with the future. The idea is let’s figure out how we can best maintain the spread until the science catches up with us that we could find a cure for it. With that, I’ll turn it over to Brian. Let me talk about what we can all do as hunters.

In a previous seminar, Dr. Henderson pointed out and Grant Woods confirmed there’s a lot we don’t know about CWD. It’s been here a long time. One thing I can say fairly concretely is that if you spent ten years or more working with it as we have, it affects hair loss because we all share that commonality. I want to start with some perspective here because I know this is a very dark subject. It’s hard to be optimistic and I’m a natural optimist, but if you hear 26 states now have CWD, that’s a factual statement. Currently, only 6% of counties in the deer’s range in North America are CWD positive counties. 94% of hunters still hunt in CWD-free areas, so that’s an important take-home message that we’ll have to assume CWD isn’t actually going to spread in every nook and cranny.

In fact, some of the best CWD prion biologists and researchers that I speak with don’t agree that it has to necessarily spread everywhere. We should, therefore, take very concrete actions as hunters and as media to share those messages so that we can slow that spread and hopefully prevent many areas from becoming CWD-positive. It’s something that we ran across this organization through Human Dimensions Research and epidemiology looking at messaging. It showed very clearly that the message is negative, but without solutions, the reader often goes to false messages. In other words, alternative facts and alternative explanations. However, if a credible source not only points out the problems but provides concrete action steps, they are more likely to take positive actions. From a media standpoint, that’s an important message. These are the actions that hunters should take or messages you should communicate as media to hunters. There is a lot of misinformation out there.

The first thing is to become informed. There’s a lot of hunters out there. Most hunters don’t know much if anything about CWD. If they do, they often get it confused with EHD, a very different disease. It’s a very different strategy to impact that disease. CWD even exists where you hunt or in areas that you have to drive to move in terms of regulations. The easiest way to get that done right now is going to onX Maps, they got a CWD map layer we keep updated regularly. Go on the map. Learn what those regulations are in the area you hunt and/or states you drive through. A number of states now have requirements that regardless of whether the animal is harvested in your CWD area or not, it still has to be de-boned. You may not have that regulation in the home state where you harvest the animal, but it traveled to another state. You may be breaking that state’s law. Know what they are. The North Carolina Resources Division has a very good website for that. That’s a good source of information.

Become engaged, get off your backside and become engaged. Share what you learned with your friends, your family, and your hunting buddies. You’re not an island unto yourself. You have circles of influence and if you’re in here and if you’re an avid hunter, you’d probably have a large circle of influence. Use that influence to make sure they take similar interactions as you. Follow your state’s regulations. They do change these things that we cherish, whether it be bathing, feeding, minerals, and deer urine. If that’s the law, that’s the law. Let’s stick with it. Set a good example. You have to follow your state’s guidelines for testing and exposing the carcasses as well. Understand what they are, what to do if you do in fact have to get that carcass exposed. Follow those processing and transport guidelines as well and again, encourage others to do the same.

The next is become vigilant and it’s not vigilante that’s necessary but becoming vigilant. Check your sources. Question your sources. There’s a lot of misinformation going out in the media about Chronic Wasting Disease. If you look closely as possible motives or biases behind that information, you can see pretty clear reasons why some of those messages were coming from the people they are. Don’t trust the face value. Get good information. Report hunters who are not adhering to these transport and/or testing and disposal guidelines. At the very least, scruff them by the neck of their buddy and you may not have to turn them into the law enforcement folks. Do the right thing and encourage them to do the right thing as well.

This is a big one. If you know anybody planning to transport live animals without proper regulations and permits, whether they’re captive deer, individual people doing it on their own, as Grant pointed out, the two greatest resources bar none are movement of live deer and the movement of infected deer parts. Those are the two holy grails of this whole battle. We can play with urine and all these other things all day long but the things that are going to matter are live deer and infected deer parts. Those are the big points, so let’s focus on those.

That’s for all hunters, specifically those hunters that are in those CWD areas. There are a few extra steps that you have to take. What are the testing requirements? If you’re in an area that requires testing or even allows testing by written data would get that animal testing. Blood process that venison. If you have to wait two or three weeks, label those packages. If the test results come back positive, you’ll at least know what packages of venison you need to dispose of following disposal regulations. Get the deer tested. You get the results back. Our recommendation would be not to consume that animal. That’s a personal decision. It’s not a professional decision. If it does test positive, dispose that venison at improved sites. Some states will have dropped sites, others will say use a landfill or whatever technique that they recommend. Do not just go down and dump it in your pasture. That’s not an approved method of disposal.

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Pro-Tracker: A really bad thing about the CWD is it can be in the critter for sixteen months or longer and not show any outward signs or lesions.

Support your agency to help minimize CWD. That doesn’t mean kill every deer out there. Unfortunately, we often adopted the same approach every time. Then it reduced deer density. Take away a lot of practices hunters like. Unfortunately, that strategy is not proven successful. That is still the best-known approach we’re aware of at this point. The last thing is a very hotly contested one. Most purists in the home of disease say to shoot every male deer you possibly can. Have the youngest buck age structure you possibly can. The older bucks are two to four times more likely to be CWD positive than young bucks, but old does are also more likely to be CWD positive than young does. We have to work on both ends.

Our recommendation in our organization is it’s better to have a few of those middle-age bucks out there if that keeps hunters engaged and working with their agency, getting does harvested, getting animals tested than it is to completely lose the support of your hunter rights. Get incredible people in your community to come to speak, whether it’s an agency person, university person, anybody with reasonable credentials. Let them share information like this and gatherings with hunters. Get hunters engaged and get involved. It really is a three-pronged message. Stay informed, engaged, and vigilant.

I get to talk about the exciting stuff, politics. Federal legislation, we’re talking about all the different things we can do as hunters and that’s great and at the end of the day, it will be hunters that saved the day in this issue like we have so many other issues in the world over the years. These are some things going on right now. We’ve got a couple of bills, federal legislation that’s out there, a house bill and a Senate bill, which are really designed to provide support to the states because for every dollar the state is spending on CWD, they’re not spending a dollar on something else and you’re often not able to get additional dollars to work on this issue. We need some federal help and also one that is focused entirely on research, which we’ll talk about.

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A little more detail on these bills. This is the house bill and the high points are $20 million will go to state’s fund and tribe, and $10 million for rapid response. Tennessee for example, just found out they have the disease, a special money for that. $10 million for research. The federal bill is very similar. $25 million for research purposes. The first few bills that I showed you, they’ve been languishing out there. They were introduced and they haven’t gotten a ton of support, but that’s not totally a negative because we’ve got people on Capitol Hill talking about Chronic Wasting Disease, which is a step in the right direction. This bill here, Ralph Abraham introduced this from Louisiana. He incidentally is a veterinarian, so he’s keen into this issue. This would specifically study the pathways and mechanisms for transmission of this disease because as many of the panelists have already talked about, there’s a lot about this disease that we don’t know. That’s a very dangerous position to be in because then you’re going out and making management recommendations based on what we think we might have done.

That’s not good for a lot of things, including what we’re all doing here at the show and your industry on. This one has a little more steam behind it has a really good opportunity. We will continue to work on it. There are some things going on in Capitol Hill, the positive things in the Farm Bill, we’re able to get passed. Part of that will be to prioritize CWD grants in the Farm Bill. That’s something that’s never happened before, so that’s unprecedented. That’s a step in the right direction. More people know about it. Working specifically with the Department of Interior, Department of Agriculture, or these agencies that have authority over this disease. Emergency appropriation, we tried to get at the end of the lame-duck session, so we weren’t all that far from getting a $50 million if you can imagine that amount of money. That sounds like a huge number, but it still has only scratched the surface number, which is a little bit scary.

Also, don’t underestimate the importance of your influence as a constituent. Brian, he talked about a lot of practical things you can do. One of the other things is get involved in this issue. It doesn’t do any good to hate on your wildlife agency, but what it might do some good. I’m also not saying by the way that you shouldn’t question them because you absolutely should. You should ask questions. We should all ask questions if there’s an appropriate way to do that. There are ways to be more effective than some of the things we’ve seen. We did a legislative briefing last year to get a lot of legislators aware of this issue, which was a good thing. This is another factor that we work on and Grant touched on this in his presentation. This is working with USDA and their program and how they regulate the capital service of the deer farm industry.

The program itself is a good idea, but how it’s run is not necessarily as effective as it could be. That’s not to say that it’s terribly bad. The point here is we need to work together. We need to make sure the conservation interest in wild deer interests is represented in these initiatives. USDA, Department of Agriculture, they’re focused on the agricultural, but what about our wild deer that are worth so much to everybody? Dan mentioned the national CWD plan in the introductions. This is something that the National Deer Alliance is specifically working on. When we started the Deer Alliance, we sat down and listed out all these great priorities and things we were going to work on.

Lo and behold, CWD kept climbing and climbing to the point where now it’s probably 75% to 80% of what I do in Deer Alliance. We can’t do it alone. All of these organizations that are listed here and there’s some that aren’t, the point here is to stay. Conservation organizations all have different resources that we can bring to the table. We’re good at some things and other things were maybe not so strong. The point of the national plan is not necessarily to just come in and save the day. The point is that we get the most out of all of our collective resources and that we are using the same information to get the word out because you’ve heard every single one of these presentations, somebody used the word misinformation. That’s one of the things we want to get past. We need to get a consistent message that needs to be good. That’s one of the things we’re trying to do through the national plan. There are some folks involved that aren’t on the list there. Communications, research, agency outreach, and political action, those are the main elements of this national plan.

We’ve talked about misinformation, diverse opinions. Again, it is okay to question because the fact of the matter is, and I’ve said these many times, if we were to go on trial about CWD right now, we would have a hard time proving a lot of things in a court of law. We don’t have the evidence. That’s why the research is so important. For example, research right now as part of this National Plan is being prioritized in a way that, number one, we look at what we’ve been doing to manage the disease in the landscape and then asking ourselves the question, “Has that been working?” For example, when we have an outbreak, it hasn’t been working to go in and kill a whole bunch of deer in an area. What have we done with those results? Does that work? That’s a fair question because I can’t think of anything that ticks off hunters more than having to go down that road.

Maybe it is the right thing. We need to know those answers. We need to ask those questions. There are a lot of things on social media. I’ve had multiple meetings here as part of trying to fundraise and raise awareness for the Deer Alliance and CWD. In just about every one of those meetings, we’ve talked about it. We’re talking about building the walls. We’re building a wall unintentionally among the CWD believers and nonbelievers. The fact of the matter is the truth is somewhere in the middle and that’s what we need to get to is the middle. It doesn’t do us any good to rant on one side and say, “It’s false. It doesn’t exist. We shouldn’t worry about it.” That’s not helpful. It also doesn’t do us any good to say we know everything there is to know about and we need to do X, Y and Z and that’s how we get rid of it because we don’t know that either. The truth is in the middle.

We’re going to get a lot further by working together on this and not apart. The point here is we need to do something. We can’t just ignore it. It’s not going to go away. We have to accept that it’s here. We got to deal with it in the right way because this is what’s at stake. Everything we’re doing under this roof is what’s at stake. Deer hunting, big game hunting is 80% of the entire industry. That’s what’s at stake here, so we need to be smart. We need to protect this animal and we need to protect this industry.

Thank you. Powerful comments from well-respected folks. What we want to do now is open it up to you. You’ve heard a lot of information from the science and why hunters need to be engaged, what they can do, what’s going on at a high level. We’ve covered a lot of material in a short period of time. Now’s your chance to dive in here. We want to keep the questions here so we can get a lot more information out.

I have a couple of questions about the attestment procedure. I’m in Kentucky, which at the moment is a CWD state. We have a couple of states in the borders that are, including Tennessee where I do some hunting. I recently had to change some of the practices in how we transport our meat and stuff. Being in Kentucky, I’ve never seen a CWD testing facility. I want to know the procedure to have it tested. The rate of testing deer, does it increase or tend to increase in states where it’s found and in states where it doesn’t exist yet? When it looks like it’s a little closer, do they begin testing more frequently? I know it was discovered in Northern Mississippi. The reason to me that they started testing more frequently in Southwest Tennessee is what they know have been found. There are probably some things in doubt at testing procedures that hunters don’t know. It’s not something I’m familiar with.

Some states test a lot more deer than others do. You’re right. Tennessee for example, Tennessee had been testing the deer. Where they found that deer was targeted surveillance based on being right across the line in Mississippi, so that was a good job by Tennessee Wildlife Resources agency. They’re specifically looking where it most likely would be, but they had been testing through there. The states that have it in most cases tests a lot more than states who haven’t. Mostly to identify the prevalence of it in an area and identify spread. They need to know, “Do we need to go in and likely hit this really hard and maybe snuff out the sparklers right here or now is this likely already spread pretty wide and there’s no reason to go in and try to decimate all of these deer given that it’s well immersed in that population now?” You’re very fortunate where you are and they haven’t identified it. If it was found in your area, I guarantee, the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife would notify all the hunters there, “This is where are you get it tested. This is how, this is why.” Hopefully, that never does have to happen. You don’t have to worry about meat testing in Kentucky.

I hope not. I know that testing is a pain. It’s expensive. Is it affected in more places? It’s targeted and tested in those areas that are our concerns.

I must speak briefly to the lab situation because I’ve got some intel on that. It’s a capacity issue right now. There’s not enough lab from his country to even really handle the volumes they have now in many cases. In some states, all job sites, some sites are actually setting up their own state-specific labs to take that burden off of the other labs that they utilize. There’s definitely not enough lab capacity for all hunters to do it and it will also further burden existing hunters to the point where it’s necessary.

I’ll add something. How much money do you spend? USDA originally provided the state money to be tested. That dried out. Now states have for rob from VR phones to license funds to do tests. Because of efficiency they target surveillance on high-suspect areas. We should do more or you might find it earlier before apartments grow but it’s a challenge, which is one of the things that Nick talked about to get funding for testing and then the capacity will follow hopefully.

We’ll give you the scale issue on states that are having it done. In 2017, all states in the United States tested about a hundred thousand deer for CWD. Missouri alone tested over 25,000 deer. Missouri alone tested more than a quarter of all the deer in the entire country because it’s spread. The Missouri Department of Conservation did an excellent job to really identify exactly where is it and how much it has spread. Some states literally tested a few hundred and/or 25,000.

I’m Bruce Hutcheon from Whitetail Rendezvous Podcast and Whitetail Rendezvous Media Group. I live in Colorado and if you look at Grant Wood’s map, Colorado is black. There’s CWD. I hunt in Sauk County. Our farm is in Sauk County, Wisconsin. My elk is in prime CWD counties in Colorado and my deer live in prime CWD, yet I eat elk and I eat venison and I’ve been doing that for quite a long time. How can we convince the public that CWD isn’t a health threat, isn’t going to diminish hunting? Because we eat it in our camp and our farm and everything, but more and more people are saying on social media, “You can’t do that. You shouldn’t eat your meat. If you go to Colorado to hunt, you shouldn’t eat that meat. You got to be very careful of that elk.” What can we do as a society to help reassure people that their meat is good?

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I’m going to give you some insights that I got CDC’s, top prion researcher, Dr. Schonberger and I have a good long conversation with him and asked him how CDC would track incidents of human infection. There are many different forms of brain disease we follow. In this particular case, CWD, looking for clusters of young people because whatever reason between ages ten and twelve, humans would be most of potentially infectious to CWD material. If they are, it takes about ten to twenty years for these things. They’re looking for 30 and 40-year-old humans in clusters, in areas that have high incidents of CWD over time. They’re not finding it. There’s no evidence of any increase trends of the human equivalent of CWD in infection infected areas for the history of CWD in 20, 30, or 40-year-olds. That’s reassuring. However, they also talked to the top prion folks around the country. More often than not, they’ll lean the other way and say, “It’s probably more likely than not eventually it happens, a prion disease with the intake.” The jury is still out and how we message that accurately without being too far left or right is really a decision for a lot of folks in this room.

There’s never been a case. How do we know that I have CWD now and I’m way past that age group that you spoke about? I’ve been eating venison for 50 years from the same farm.

As Grant pointed out, there have literally been hundreds of thousands if not more CWD-infected animals consumed by humans in that case. The USDAs map from a couple of years ago showed 32,000 successful hunters from wherever other counties there in Wisconsin, and only 300 of those 32,000 were tested, and that’s about a 20% prevalence rate in that area. That one season in four counties and 320,000 animals consumed. Just the one area one year. The more we eat it and zero people get infected, the better off they’ll message that story. We don’t know. It could be the changes over time.

The biologists and the agencies aren’t the authorities on human health. You’ve got to defer that decision to the national experts. We’re all in communication with them. They help message that because there’s been some faults, spits and sputters and we’re getting better, but they’re the ones that ultimately have to make that determination because they’re the experts.

I’m from Southeastern Minnesota, which is massively under a lot of heat with CWD. The state is opening up a special hunt because of CWD, which is the first ever. My question for the panel is specifically, how does QDMA start holding the state agencies a little more accountable for massive eradication? Just trying to diminish the deer population in large quantities without the end having to answer to the public and specifically to the hunters because then it causes this massive knee-jerk reaction which affects a lot of future hunters. It affects business owners, it affects a lot of people in those geographical areas that they’re eradicating in these zones. It starts to become a scare tactic. You alluded to this. We don’t know if eradication is really the answer and that’s going to help control the spread of CWD. Why are we allowing the states to go in there and try to eradicate and reduce the populations? Are we allowing them to do it, hoping that that’s going to be one of the solutions? Because it is affecting the future. It is affecting our deer and our hunters without the states being of help.

The state wildlife agencies have authority over what they want to do there so we can’t tell them what they can and cannot do. However, we work with almost every State Wildlife Agency where they get it. The tactic we have taken is to show them very clearly that there are strategies of these other states have used and here is at least what seems to be helping, particularly from a hunter engagement standpoint. There are some extremely positive examples. Michigan being one where the agency has a really good working relationship with the hunters. QDMA has more members and more human branches in Michigan than in any other state in the North. We have developed a tremendous relationship with the DNR and the DNR says, “They’re just so helpful to us. When CWD hit there, literally with a handful of phone calls, they had the information out to literally tens of thousands of hundreds in that area saying, ‘Here’s what our plan is. Here’s where we need help. Can you help us in these areas?’” They got good cooperation from the hundreds to try to do that.

That’s very different from what a lot of states are doing, such as in Minnesota where not working nearly as closely with those hunters to completely alienate them. They need the hunters to implement that plan. I understand the seriousness of the disease and the seriousness that they want to hit this with, but our role has been to say, “We really think that you need to have the hunters on your side and help and support this. The way to make that happen is to be a good partner to educate the hunters on why we should be doing this, but then from the agencies, use something that very responsible and has at least been shown to work somewhere else or allow the hunters to be willing participants and stay helpful. Because that does not seem to be what’s happening right now in Minnesota, which is too bad because nobody is going to win in the end when it’s like that. We tried to share that information to show where other positive examples of where it has worked very well taking a different tactic.

There are big differences between reducing deer herds and eradicating deer herds. That is one thing where the education is so important with that because agencies aren’t trying to eradicate dear. However, as soon as they start talking about big deer numbers, obviously as hunters we get nervous about that and think they’re going to take them all away. Our position is agencies need to really be out in front of this, providing good information to hunters and letting them know, “Here’s our plan, here’s exactly what we expect. This is not what we’re trying to do.” Some states do that very well and some don’t do that nearly as well. That comes back to bite agencies if they don’t get that good message out there to hunters right off the bat. As well as adding a timeline in that to what to expect not just now, but, “Here’s what we expect a couple of years down the road or maybe five years down the road. We hope to have this part taken care of and can start seeing some other changes in those.”

The deer calls and the additional analyst license, that’s hot button issue. The shop I work in found this place smack dab in the middle of the new disease management area, the most recent one in Pennsylvania. Being that it was found in deer farms, a lot of the reactions I get from customers and listening to people in public was I dare say that someone that makes their living raising deer wants to encourage CWD. That’s how they make their money. I also realized like I can’t help but imagine the wild deer population is a little more economically valuable in the farm to your population in Pennsylvania. When people start talking about deer farms as the culprit, what’s the feel of that where this has happened elsewhere? How do you guys respond to that? What are your thoughts on that? Because that’s obviously where we find it.

We could fairly say that deer farms are a source of possible infection risks as our wild that are infected. I don’t think it’s fair to point in either one in responsibility for this problem. We passed 100 captive deer facilities that the tested positive for CWD since testing began. Only sixteen of those got past the five-year requirement to be low CWD risk status, so obviously we want more farmers to try to adhere to that standard. Then for 6,000 deer farms out there, just the sheer natural business movements of deer and deer farming showed that was known movements of captive deer in Pennsylvania there are a lot of risks. If you looked at hunters moving from state to state transporting potentially infected animals, that map looks worse. The number of hunters far outweighs the number of captive deer facilities. We have to both look ourselves in the mirror before anybody can say that one is more potentially responsible than another.

Do you get a sense that the Department of Agriculture in various states are just as concerned about this as we are?

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No, I don’t. In fact, we’re just now starting to get a little bit more cooperation and interest from Department of Agriculture. The Department of Agriculture in most states controls jurisdiction over captives. Many wildlife agencies are losing jurisdiction over time to the Ag side and Ag’s mission is to help rural farmers make money producing things. It’s not wild deer health and survival that state wildlife agencies have as their mission. For the first time, we’re getting some higher level discussions between the secretaries in DC. Hopefully, we’re going to see some movement on that cooperation between interior and Ag that we’ve needed for a long time and we have not seen.

There’s been a lot of mudslinging between captive folks and the wildlife folks and all that. At the end of the day, nobody gets anywhere with that and there’s no need for that. We know it’s impacted deer, we know it’s involved deer. At the end of the day, we know that we move it most easily by moving live deer and moving the high-risk parts of a dead deer. We don’t need to sling, “You have a deer farm. You’re bad.” We need to just get past all of that and say, “We messed around with urine and minerals and all this stuff. Those are so low in the bucket compared to moving live deer and moving the high-risk parts. We need to take care of those two things at the top of the list and we would do more good for all of us captive and wild, more than anything else. That is where the real impetus needs to be.

Focus on the high probability targets with cooperation. We’ll get there.

I want to make one statement here on QDMA’s behalf. We support a moratorium on the movement of live deer here in this country. That’s whether they’re a captive. Several states are still moving deer and elk folks. It’s not just captive deer farmers and they have the same limitations. A lot of them are tested too. We need a national moratorium on moving live deer. We need uniform standards for carcass moving and transport across the country.

We’ve got those two things. We’re doing 90% of what we can do right now to stop the spread of this thing.

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My question goes more toward the consumption of meat. It was reported in 2017 and her name is Stephanie Soo. She is apparently with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the University of Calgary. Apparently, she presented at the 2017 Prion Conference in Scotland that basically the last little bit of complacency was more or less that macaques could contract CWD. Has that been peer reviewed? Has it been proven that macaques do to a high degree contract CWD? If so, is that a significant concern for human consumption?

They’ve actually looked at that and Nick’s meeting up with the folks at the National Prion Surveillance Lab at Case Western University in Ohio. They were gracious enough to invite us. We got to listen to some of the best prion minds in the human side in the world. They said to take a look at that because we asked specifically about it and they said that basically, it has not been published. It is unlikely to be published because of some of the methodology. It just wasn’t as tight standards as it should have been. It probably never will be. Following that, there’s been more research showing that it is peer-reviewed to show that macaques did not become infected. Hopefully, that was a big scare, but there’s much stronger evidence now that the macaques could not be infected by the study.

Kit mentioned prion centers. We’ve developed a really nice relationship with the prion center at Case Western before we found that most people don’t even know that exists. These are some of the top prion scientists in the world. I wanted to mention this because it’s related. A human similar disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, CJD, which you may have seen some of the mainstream media. They spend a lot of time studying that disease. That’s actually why they were founded as the human disease and they have been trying to see if there is any link between CWD and CJD. They have not found that link and they are specifically charged to do these things. That’s a positive thing. That’s certainly something in our direction in terms of crossing the species barrier, but those are the types of people that we need to be working with who aren’t obvious wildlife people that they work on this disease. They’re prion experts. That relationship has been extremely helpful.

You mentioned three bills that have been proposed. How do we know what bill that we need to get behind and when’s the right time to do that? I feel like we should all be doing that at the same time with the same effort.

We have a couple of things. The obvious one is if you are members of our organizations, if you follow our National Deer Alliance and newsletters and so on, it’s free to do that. We put that information out there. That being said, it’s a more complicated answer than that because when we’ve got this change in the house, we’ve got all these people. We did all this education work and now we’ve had the election and it’s new faces and new people. These bills are constantly changing as well, so our plans are we need to get back to the bill, start working with the new faces and things up again and get them in an in a position where they have an opportunity to see the light of day. At that point then we will call on you. If you’re in our database and they have a way to get in touch with you, we will call on you to then contact the legislators. We try to make it as easy as possible. ATA does this now. We do this. QDMA will do it. We will let you know when the time is right to do so.

How would folks become a member of QDMA?

Just You can click the join button. It’s free. We’ll give you the newsletter with the information, but also you put the zip code in there and that makes it easy for us to contact you also in a local issue that impacts you directly. It’s like you never swim in the same river twice. It’s the same thing on these bills. They’re constantly changing and that’s the equity work stuff. You don’t see all the time that we’re doing, but I promise you we’ll let you know.

Where would be the best source of information to go on your own to get something like that?

We continually point people to the CWD Alliance website, at That is constantly updated with all the latest information on Chronic Wasting Disease. It’s unbiased. The facts are the facts. It’s not emotional. If there’s a new outbreak, you see it. Any new research, you see it. That is really the gold standard of CWD information, maintained by the Wildlife Management Institute.

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Pro-Tracker: The truth is somewhere in the middle, and that’s where we need to get to.

Is older deer more likely to get infected simply because it has been subjected to it longer? Does it make it more susceptible?

Older deer have done two things. They have been in the environment longer so they have a little higher chance it can come in contact with it. Bucks are primarily what we’re talking about here in this question or here. They’re very social. They’re going from doe group to doe group. It’s just like I’m going to shake one hand or shake 50 hands, which will have more of a chance to get the flu or an ATA credit. Those that are in some ways older in the environment more than doe groups tend to stay in their range or far away from it better and associate with maternal groups there. They do not have all the social contact that bucks have. That’s why a lot of times in Wisconsin buck prevalence rates, they will really be knocking on 50% or over and in the same counties doe prevalence rates are in the 20% or so.

It’s very important for folks to realize because people get so keyed in on the buck side of this, they often forget about the animal side. There’s some research out of Wisconsin that shows that if you take an adult doe in Wisconsin and if she has an infected relative nearby, the does that live in these doe groups, doe grandmothers. If a doe lives in an area where there’s at least one infected kin nearby, that doe is ten times more likely to be effective with CWD than the deer that’s not related to it. In our opinion, so much of the discussion on CWD management goes right to the buck side. “We got to kill him,” yet then we allow the animal’s side to increase. You end up with these reservoirs for CWD in these areas that as of now, we do not know what way to decontaminate. That’s why our stance has been keep hunters engaged, continue to harvest and analyze dear, allow some of those bucks out there to get into the older age classes to keep hunters engaged. We think that is a much better path for the future. On paper, it might work out. Kill all the bucks and keep deer herds low, but that’s not the real world. You don’t manage deer on paper. You have to have hunters to do that, you need to have hunters to implement the plan. We think there’s not nearly enough talk the other side.

We’ll have two more questions and then I’ll ask the panelists to leave us with one compelling thought or action.

We must remove all parts of the deer other than the entrails. Normally we have the spinal cord and had the need to remove from the side. What are some of the best places for hunters to dispose off those parts? Are there better alternatives?

If they don’t have a designated disposal site where they take it from some type of container to an incinerator or landfill on their own land, the improved landfill is your best second bet. Most of those are lined now to prevent leeching and various things, other toxic things. Your best bet would be a landfill and if had no other alternative but dig very deep as you can possibly shovel. That’s not an official approved method.

It’s also while on the processors and taxidermists, that stuff that leaves all go to landfill partly because of that. That’s by far the best options available, too.

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You mentioned a national standard operation. What does that look like? It’s just the plain skullcaps. Is it to cut off the head? What would we need to tell our breeders to be doing?

I had a conversation on this very subject. We uniformly believe these deboned meats and thick skullcaps. Have a uniform standard practice that every hunter has deep on their gain and cleaner skullcaps. Clean skullcaps, what that really means. You take brain matter, you take the most infectious material that we know is a thousand times more concentrated in brain material. Does pressure washing help with that much more? I don’t know. I don’t know what practice is. Boiling probably is not hot enough to de-nature the protein in the first place. It probably will not smell bad. That’s not my area of expertise right there. It’s Dr. Henderson’s league. That will be our recommendation at this point.

The other side of the argument has a really good delivery and the way they deliver the opinion on CWD. The question is what steps are being taken from a bipartisan process to communicate with those people who are very vocal? At the same time, what can I do as a communicator to inform those who have the influence to convince the other side of the argument?

Dan’s podcast, Nine Finger Chronicles has addressed this issue many times and as many other podcasters here that I’m aware of your shows have tackled this issue. That’s one thing that can help because frankly, people are listening to you more than us because you guys are out there that they relate to what you’re doing. That’s helpful. That’s one way. Here’s a couple of realities. Number one, there’s not a person in here that wishes this disease exists, not a single one of us. Therefore, we’re all naturally biased to want to believe positive things about it. If your message is, “We’ve got nothing to worry about. Most deer have gotten CWD anyway.” That’s a very welcoming and compelling message that you’re somebody that doesn’t want to take the time to learn about it. You just want to hear something that makes you feel better. Then the other thing that kicks in as an affinity bias, if you have in particular celebrities or other people with a big platform, there’s a great opportunity for those types of folks to help this and say, “There’s a lot we don’t know, but what we need to do is learn more and be proactive.”

It’s okay if we don’t like things, but what doesn’t help is whenever you get up there and you say, “It’s not true, it’s a money-making scheme. By the way, it’s the worst money-making scheme I have ever seen in my life.” That is not helpful. We need less of that and we need more of these types of discussions. We also need to be careful to say that we don’t have all the answers. We don’t know everything and we might be wrong. I would love by the way ten years from now to find out that this was all much ado about nothing. That’s fine. I’ll be happy to look like a fool then because, at the end of the day, that’s what matters. We just need to be smart about it. Thank you again because you are making a difference as well and we appreciate it.

You are and will continue to make a difference. This is exactly what this was meant to do for what you mentioned before that. There’s a lot of people confused about, “He says this. She says this. Who do I believe?” You can take a look back and think can almost everything. The vast majority of wildlife folks are sharing the same message that we just shared now. You can take a look at the folks who are sharing a very opposite message and in almost every case, those folks are far more invested in the active side and the wild deer side. Almost every single wild life professional working with wild deer is with a uniform message that we had here now. That is nothing negative on saying, “I understand that there are both sides being slung. The side that disagrees is completely with what we’re saying, almost to a person, every single one of them works mostly on the captive side.” The average deer hunter who’s hunting wild deer, it is certainly their best interest to look at the vast majority of wildlife folks sharing this message because wild deer is what we’re trying to get there.

Grant, leave this group with whatever words of wisdom, suggested action item that you want them to take away.

WTR Protracker | Pro-Tracker
Pro-Tracker: We need the hunters to implement the plan.

I’m happy I got to go first on this one. If I was deer czar, I would stop all movement of live deer and only appropriate deer parts moving. That’s the most important thing we can do right now.

I’m going to leave mine from an eating standpoint. You hear people say, “I can eat just because it doesn’t look sick.” We suggested to you if you’re in an area like that, that you get it tested. Don’t eat it first because almost all deer that has CWD die of something else. Research shows that if a deer is CWD positive, it dies, and three to four times the rate one that is not. It ends up dying to a car, predator or something else before the CWD actually gets it. The whole thing of, “The deer didn’t look sick. I should be able to eat it,” is totally false. Do not go down that road at all. If you’re in an area that has it, get it tested and wait for a satisfactory test before you eat it.

I would say remain hopeful. Don’t be in the glim end of the world. Share messages of optimism. I’m a natural optimist. Over a hundred years ago we had almost no whitetail deer in this country. Modern wildlife management, modern science brought us the most abundant big game populations on the planet. I believe in science. I believe in the ingenuity of Americans. I think we’re going to solve this stuff, but we got to buy ourselves time, do the right thing, as long as we can. Fight the good fight. I want to let my daughters be hunting 20, 30 years from now with this stuff who helped with the good fight and said, “We should’ve done more.” We have a chance to do more and we’re the generation that can make a difference for the next 50 or 100 years, what it looks like in this country with conservation. They’ll get off our backsides.

Nobody’s walking through that door with an antidote and the shot if you’re going to stick into gears leg and it’s going to solve a problem. That is not happening. Don’t look up here to us to say we’re solving it either. This is an all of us thing. We’re all one big family under the roof of this building and industry. Be smart and ask questions and we need to work together.

I certainly appreciate our friends from QDMA and from Deer Alliance, Grant. Thank you for sharing with us. We actually have a challenge. We’ve got a lot to learn. There is a lot we can do to certainly help. We could work together. We appreciate you all for being a part of the solution moving forward.


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About Protracker

WTR Protracker | Pro-Tracker

Not only does the Pro-Tracker® system not interfere with ethical shots, but numerous wounded loss studies have shown just how much it is needed in bowhunting. According to one study done by the Oklahoma Fish and Wildlife Agency, 50% of deer that were shot were never recovered.

There are many reasons why it could become nearly impossible to recover an animal. Sometimes game only bleed internally and don’t leave a blood trail, or flee into impossible terrain. Sometimes the weather takes a sudden turn.

Whatever the reason, the Pro-Tracker® System is designed to overcome these obstacles and recover the animal without detracting from the method in which you choose to hunt. Whether in a tree stand, ground blind, or stalking your favorite game, the Pro-Tracker® System is the one sure method for the ethical recovery of all wounded game.


About Habitat Podcast

WTR Protracker | Pro-TrackerThe Habitat Podcast is a podcast for land and wildlife habitat managers, and for hunters who learn and utilize different types of habitat in their hunting strategy.  We interview hunters and habitat managers from across the country, picking their brain to learn their successes and failures.

We are different in the fact that we are not the experts.  This podcast is for us and the listeners to learn a thing or two, from the experts we analyze.


About QDMA

WTR Protracker | Pro-TrackerFounded in 1988, the QDMA has more than 60,000 members in all 50 states and several foreign countries. Since the beginning, QDMA has worked to educate its members and all deer hunters about the benefits of the Quality Deer Management (QDM) philosophy. This effort – aided by the support of numerous member-volunteers, corporate sponsors, and other QDM advocates – has rapidly increased awareness and implementation of QDM throughout North America, resulting in healthier, more balanced deer populations and more rewarding hunting experiences.

As it grew in membership and influence, QDMA also began working to secure a sustainable future for wild white-tailed deer through practical research and by advocating for wise policy and regulation that will protect our hunting heritage. Additionally, QDMA works to attract, assist, educate and guide young and new hunters to ensure they become tomorrow’s stewards of whitetails and all wildlife.