The National Deer Association is pleased to present its 2023 Signpost Communicator of the Year Award to Katie Hill of Montana, a staff writer for Outdoor Life. Named after the organization’s first newsletter, the Signpost Award goes to an outdoor communicator who shares accurate information with deer hunters, works to ensure a strong future for whitetails, and supports the NDA and its mission.
An extremely prolific writer, Hill published 224 articles on the Outdoor Life website in 2023, sometimes publishing two in one day. Her subjects ranged widely and included wild, “this happened to me” hunting stories, notorious poaching cases, and strange deer. However, many of her articles require extensive reporting on complex conservation policy matters or detailed scientific topics like chronic wasting disease, such as her recent article on CWD in Yellowstone.
“Katie can crank out quick, popular articles about some of the crazier happenings in hunting and wildlife while doing background reporting for longer articles on important conservation matters, stories with quotes and supporting facts from multiple sources,” said Lindsay Thomas Jr., NDA’s Chief Communications Officer. “To my knowledge, she’s one of the most prolific outdoor writers at work today.”
Hill’s 2023 archive included stories about deer with significant injuries, rare disorders, and parasitic larvae living in their noses. More viral-style stories like “Rutting Buck Crashes Into Lingerie Store” and “Hunter Accidentally Blows Up Blind Then Tags Palmated Buck” were published alongside deeply thoughtful, long-form articles like “Conservation vs Preservation: What’s the Difference?” and “Is Wildlife in Trouble This Winter? Here’s Why Biologists Aren’t Too Concerned About Winterkill.”
Frequently in her writing, Hill cites statistics from NDA’s annual Deer Report. She often interviews NDA staff members on deer biology and conservation. And she often provides links to NDA articles that expand on the topics she covers. Beyond NDA, Hill has an extensive list of qualified experts, scientists and leaders she uses as sources in her reporting, ensuring reliable, fact-based information for her readers. This in particular is an important requirement for NDA’s Communicator of the Year Award.
Among recipients of NDA’s Communicator of the Year Award, Hill is the youngest and the first woman.
Hill earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Emerson College in Boston before moving west, where she earned her master’s degree in environmental journalism from the University of Montana. She still lives in Missoula.
During her studies at the University of Montana, she spent five weeks living out of her truck and driving from North Dakota to the Texas Gulf Coast to follow and write about the endangered whooping crane migration for her master’s project. Katie joined Outdoor Life in August 2022 after a 14-month stint as assistant editor at MeatEater. While she was there, she reported stories that explored everything from the illegal sale of endangered saiga antelope horns on Amazon to the complicated public access issues in Montana’s Crazy Mountains.
Previous winners of NDA’s Signpost Communicator of the Year Award include Alex Robinson of Minnesota (2022), Josh Honeycutt of Kentucky (2021), Mike Hanback of Virginia (2020), Dan Johnson of Iowa (2018), Tony Hansen of Michigan (2016), Will Brantley of Kentucky (2015), Mark Kenyon of Michigan (2014), Scott Bestul of Minnesota (2013), Andy Whitaker of Alabama (2012), Patrick Durkin of Wisconsin (2011), Bob Humphrey of Maine (2010) and C.J. Winand of Maryland (2009).