ARIZONA DEER ASSOCIATION
Originally the ARIZONA MULE DEER ASSOCIATION
By Pete Cimellaro
Why the Name Change? The plain and simple answer is to increase the reach of the organization and to appeal to all individuals interested in Arizona’s deer herds. If you’re interested in deer, we want you to be part of Arizona’s premier DEER organization.
Our organization wants to include the most ardent Coues’ whitetail hunter as well as those only interested in chasing old mossback himself. If you would like to see our Arizona deer herds rise again, join with us and help make that happen. If you get excited about a 30” plus, non-typical double drop tine bruiser or a 5X5, 120” typical grey ghost we are the association for you. If habitat restoration and improvement is your thing, we are planning an aggressive slate of these activities for the coming years. If water development projects get you going, then help us improve and maintain what we have and build additional needed waters. Pick your poison and get with it, we are here to help make it happen for all DEER in the state of Arizona and we need you!
In 1996, when the Arizona Mule Deer Association (AMDA) was organized, the biggest concern of its founders was Mule Deer. Populations were in a statewide decline, the herds were floundering, and something was needed to help stop the slide. This trend would not be halted without the intervention of a group of Arizona citizens dedicated to solving many existing problems. We recognized that there was no short-term fix to the Mule Deer situation. It would take years to reverse the trend and get the herds stabilized and growing.
As most of you are aware, the critical situation of Mule Deer is not limited to Arizona. Populations are in decline throughout the west and many of the problems causing this downward trend exist in other states. Recognition of this western states dilemma caused the founders of the AMDA to start their own state organization. It was impossible for any national deer organization to watchdog all of the issues in Arizona and provide the necessary funding to get the job done. It would take a full-time, state organization to provide a catalyst to get things started and oversee the effort to restore our herds.
As the AMDA program began to build, it became clear that many Mule Deer issues were also Coues’ Deer issues. The lower two thirds of Arizona provided habitat for both of these deer and in some places they shared the same landscape. The AMDA began to raise funds for Coues’ Deer projects and sit in as a willing partner on guiding these management programs with the Arizona Game and Fish Department. It also became obvious that we needed more information and local knowledge to assist us with these issues. Discussions began within the AMDA to involve others interested in the same goals.
We knew we needed more participation from all deer enthusiasts scattered around the state and in particular more involvement from the southeast Coues country. Our name (AMDA) provided some difficulties for people who were concerned first and foremost with Coues Deer, and appeared to limit the scope and interest of the organization. The AMDA board felt the best way to eliminate the mixed message was to change the name of the organization to the Arizona Deer Association (ADA). This change ended the debate; we are here for all of Arizona’s DEER!
This name change did not come about without much discussion and considerable debate. All agreed the change was necessary if we were going to build the organization into a statewide advocate for all DEER. Some voiced concerns that we would not be able to reach our lofty goals of uniting all of Arizona’s deer enthusiasts. Others saw only the up side of the change and were ready to proceed with making it happen. When all was said and done, the entire board voted unanimously to support the change. Many of us made a commitment to insure the growth of the organization by building new ADA chapters and establishing affiliations with other organizations to help us attain our objectives.
To those of you who might be concerned about the ADA lessening its commitment to Mule Deer, the founders of the organization were died-in-the-wool trophy Mule Deer hunters. Many of them had particular interest in Mule Deer north of the Colorado River, most just wanted to see this magnificent species returned to population numbers of the 1960s or mid 1980s. These founders are not about to let us forget the original commitment to Mule Deer. Indeed, they are watching closely as we build this next chapter in the organization’s history. A chapter I believe will show a rededication to all of Arizona’s DEER, no matter how large or how small, or wherever they might be found.
Join in and be a part of building a future for Arizona’s DEER!