My Experience Starting a Landowner Coop

356

5 year old buck +
Rather than highjacking Fair Oaks thread on buck numbers, I thought it would be appropriate to start a new threat sharing my experience starting the New Hope Creek Deer & Habitat Coop.

Background
: Our property is 40 miles N of Kansas City, meaning most of the large farms from the previous century are breaking up. South towards the city are old farms interspersed with 3-5 acre "McMansions." Where we live and to the north are farms of 80-1200 acres interspersed with 10-20 acre hobby farms. My wife and I have 40 acres of grazing land purchased in 2015, a home on 20 acres added in 2017 and 65 acres of crop land last year. The section of land in our immediate area is about 30% hobby farms (10-20 acres), 40% crop land (corn/soy rotation) and 30% grazing land. Overall, 20% is wooded. The deer population is steady, CWD free and lacking age balance.

Motivation
: Deer hunting, the freedom to exercise 2nd Amendment rights, getting out of the city and land ownership are the key motivators for "new comers," while farming and ranching are the objectives of the old timers. The common denominator is that most enjoy deer hunting and on opening day one can hear a chorus of gunfire. In talking with my immediate neighbors it became clear that while they were concerned about the lack of big bucks, the prevailing attitude was "4 points & brown its down" (we have a 4 point-on-one-side restriction in our area). As one neighbor told me, "If I don't shot him, you will" (which was not accurate, but was the impression he assumed all of his neighbors shared).

Getting Started: Following a positive conversation with the landowners immediately west and east of me about working to improve habitats and deer quality, I contacted a deer outreach specialist at the NDA. Following a phone conversation with in which she outlining the process based on "lessons learned," she sent me some helpful handouts and materials to share with my immediate neighbors. Specifically this included coop handouts, copies the 2022 Whitetail Report and Quality Whitetails magazine to give out . She also put me in touch with our state landowner specialist.

In April the NDA sent letters to all of the landowners in our immediate section and those whose properties bordered the section. This was a smaller area that I anticipated, but came to about 60 landowners. Sadly, the first mailing was delayed at the post office for over two weeks, and the planned event hosted by a local church was attended by five people--and just two landowners. We agreed to try again in the fall, and this time scheduled the event at our neighbor's house that had an open barn in case of rain. The weather was great, and the NDA letters arrived two days before the meeting--close but OK. Unfortunately, the invitations sent by the NDA asked for an RSVP and failed to include any contact information other than the address for the meeting. My neighbor and I went farm to farm on our UTVs inviting our neighbors--and met some great folks in the process! For example, I never knew that the neighbor north of us made commercial black walnut syrup, and the one just south was a full-time micro-farmer specializing in garlic. Nine landowners (11 persons) attended our Monday night meeting that featured grilled brats, brownies and a few other "bring a dish" items.
At the meeting we had some "deer observation" conservations, an ice-breaker led by our state landowner specialist, an aging contest led by the NDA rep who also shared insights on habitat management. The NDA rep shared some great stories from other coops and we enjoyed 90 minutes of talk deer, food and habitat management conversation.

The outcomes: It was agreed upon to pass small bucks and harvest does for meat, as everyone noted we saw way more does and fawns than bucks, new friendships formed, and a commitment to "watch out for each other" was voiced by all. We agreed to meet twice a year--before season and after season. During our spring meeting we will review the habitat improvements I am working on in partnerships with the USDA eqip program that has increased turkey, quail and pollinator presence on our property.

Lessons Learned:
1)
The help of the NDA and Missouri Department of Conservation land specialists provided a helpful "this is legit" gravitas while in no way being overbearing. I appreciated that both agencies emphasized landowners rights and autonomy, which put to rest some of the initial concerns I heard voiced when inviting my neighbors
2) One non-deer huntering landowner attended because he wanted to get to know his neighbors. He was a long-time ranch owner and was excited to meet his neighbors. He actually indicated he might be interested in "trying to hunt." Lesson: A coop is about more than habitat and deer, although those are the primary objectives
3) It only takes two. The first "failed" meeting was nothing short of a success. That meeting allowed my neighbor and I to put together a list of neighbors and plan a strategy that led to the second meetings success. We also got to name the coop--by a unanimous vote of two landowners :-)
 

chad.williams

5 year old buck +
Thanks so much for sharing. I’m about 2.5 hrs north of you in Iowa and have considered starting a something like this. Knowing you got help from NDA and the state is helpful.

Anyone on here done something similar with state help in Iowa?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Wind Gypsy

5 year old buck +
Rather than highjacking Fair Oaks thread on buck numbers, I thought it would be appropriate to start a new threat sharing my experience starting the New Hope Creek Deer & Habitat Coop.

Background: Our property is 40 miles N of Kansas City, meaning most of the large farms from the previous century are breaking up. South towards the city are old farms interspersed with 3-5 acre "McMansions." Where we live and to the north are farms of 80-1200 acres interspersed with 10-20 acre hobby farms. My wife and I have 40 acres of grazing land purchased in 2015, a home on 20 acres added in 2017 and 65 acres of crop land last year. The section of land in our immediate area is about 30% hobby farms (10-20 acres), 40% crop land (corn/soy rotation) and 30% grazing land. Overall, 20% is wooded. The deer population is steady, CWD free and lacking age balance.

Motivation: Deer hunting, the freedom to exercise 2nd Amendment rights, getting out of the city and land ownership are the key motivators for "new comers," while farming and ranching are the objectives of the old timers. The common denominator is that most enjoy deer hunting and on opening day one can hear a chorus of gunfire. In talking with my immediate neighbors it became clear that while they were concerned about the lack of big bucks, the prevailing attitude was "4 points & brown its down" (we have a 4 point-on-one-side restriction in our area). As one neighbor told me, "If I don't shot him, you will" (which was not accurate, but was the impression he assumed all of his neighbors shared).

Getting Started: Following a positive conversation with the landowners immediately west and east of me about working to improve habitats and deer quality, I contacted a deer outreach specialist at the NDA. Following a phone conversation with in which she outlining the process based on "lessons learned," she sent me some helpful handouts and materials to share with my immediate neighbors. Specifically this included coop handouts, copies the 2022 Whitetail Report and Quality Whitetails magazine to give out . She also put me in touch with our state landowner specialist.

In April the NDA sent letters to all of the landowners in our immediate section and those whose properties bordered the section. This was a smaller area that I anticipated, but came to about 60 landowners. Sadly, the first mailing was delayed at the post office for over two weeks, and the planned event hosted by a local church was attended by five people--and just two landowners. We agreed to try again in the fall, and this time scheduled the event at our neighbor's house that had an open barn in case of rain. The weather was great, and the NDA letters arrived two days before the meeting--close but OK. Unfortunately, the invitations sent by the NDA asked for an RSVP and failed to include any contact information other than the address for the meeting. My neighbor and I went farm to farm on our UTVs inviting our neighbors--and met some great folks in the process! For example, I never knew that the neighbor north of us made commercial black walnut syrup, and the one just south was a full-time micro-farmer specializing in garlic. Nine landowners (11 persons) attended our Monday night meeting that featured grilled brats, brownies and a few other "bring a dish" items.
At the meeting we had some "deer observation" conservations, an ice-breaker led by our state landowner specialist, an aging contest led by the NDA rep who also shared insights on habitat management. The NDA rep shared some great stories from other coops and we enjoyed 90 minutes of talk deer, food and habitat management conversation.

The outcomes: It was agreed upon to pass small bucks and harvest does for meat, as everyone noted we saw way more does and fawns than bucks, new friendships formed, and a commitment to "watch out for each other" was voiced by all. We agreed to meet twice a year--before season and after season. During our spring meeting we will review the habitat improvements I am working on in partnerships with the USDA eqip program that has increased turkey, quail and pollinator presence on our property.

Lessons Learned:
1)
The help of the NDA and Missouri Department of Conservation land specialists provided a helpful "this is legit" gravitas while in no way being overbearing. I appreciated that both agencies emphasized landowners rights and autonomy, which put to rest some of the initial concerns I heard voiced when inviting my neighbors
2) One non-deer huntering landowner attended because he wanted to get to know his neighbors. He was a long-time ranch owner and was excited to meet his neighbors. He actually indicated he might be interested in "trying to hunt." Lesson: A coop is about more than habitat and deer, although those are the primary objectives
3) It only takes two. The first "failed" meeting was nothing short of a success. That meeting allowed my neighbor and I to put together a list of neighbors and plan a strategy that led to the second meetings success. We also got to name the coop--by a unanimous vote of two landowners :-)

@356 - what did NDA get out of their efforts? Is there a flat fee for their participation in setting things up or ongoing fees for co-op participants?
 
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