Heartland Bowhunter Receives NDA Deer Manager of the Year Award

January 2, 2023 By: NDA Staff

The National Deer Association is pleased to name the Heartland Bowhunter outdoor video production company of Kansas City, Missouri as its 2022 NDA Deer Manager of the Year Award winner, an award presented to a person or persons who demonstrate outstanding commitment to sound management of deer habitat and populations.

Heartland Bowhunter (HB) was founded in 2007 with one guiding principle: Quality. It has been their mission to create cinematic, compelling, and relatable content that any hunter or outdoorsman or woman would enjoy. Formed by a close-knit group of friends and family, HB continues to push the envelope when it comes to production and story-telling surrounding everything bowhunting, and they’ve developed a reputation for teaching and inspiring their followers about various aspects of land management and the four cornerstones of Quality Deer Management (QDM).

“We are extremely humbled to have received the 2022 NDA Deer Manager of the Year award,” said HB co-owner Michael Hunsucker. “For us, living the bowhunting lifestyle goes well beyond the four months of deer season. Perhaps the most rewarding part of the whole process is managing the deer herd and improving the land. It is something that’s rewarding in the short term but also can be passed on to the next generation of hunters, which we are currently raising.” 

Every year, HB performs and documents their extensive pre- and post-season deer management work on farms in Missouri and Kansas, including the following activities completed in 2022:

  • Timber Stand Improvement – thinning trees to desirable numbers, removing poor quality trees and promoting desirable trees
  • Invasive Species Removal – applying herbicides to remove and/or slow the spread of species such as bush honeysuckle and lespedeza
  • Prescribed Fire (in both forests and grasslands) – removal of leaf litter/thatch, promotion of native species, especially forbs
  • Population Management – removal of adequate antlerless deer for greater overall herd health, higher competitive environment
  • Herd Monitoring – collecting deer harvest data for monitoring of age structure, weights, etc.
  • Vegetation Planting – maintaining food plots, but also establishing trees and native warm season grasses for improved food/cover and shielding visibility around plots

In addition, HB is no stranger to assisting conservation organizations like the NDA. They hosted the field portion of NDA’s 2016 Deer Steward Level 2 course on their northern Missouri property, opening their primary hunting farm to others interested in educating themselves about deer and habitat management. They’ve also partnered to help increase awareness of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer, including releasing a video to their followers about NDA’s CWD layer within the onX Hunt application.

“Deer management has become a top priority for us over the last couple decades,” said Shawn Luchtel, HB co-owner. “Our main focus each year is to promote and conserve a healthy deer herd, but we always try to leave the environment better than we found it. Thanks to the NDA for organizing this award program, and for everything they do with promoting healthy deer herds across the country.”

“Mike, Shawn and the entire HB team truly enjoy being outdoors and seeing a direct correlation between their habitat work and the quality of hunting experiences,” said Matt Ross, NDA’s Director of Conservation. “But more importantly, they appreciate what deer hunting and management means to the people of this country, and for conservation, and they do a fantastic job motivating other hunters to not only be consumptive users of the resource but to give back as well.”