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Deer Steward 2 In-Person Training

Deer Steward Level 2 courses involve hands-on and field experience over a few days, with attendees learning techniques on aging deer jawbones; taking soil samples and interpreting soil test results; determining acreage of food plots and calibrating equipment; population surveys; forest and early succession habitat management; analyzing harvest data; making property maps; and much more.

At the end of Deer Steward 2 training, attendees can plan and implement advanced deer management strategies where they hunt. As it stands now, over 4,000 people have become Deer Stewards since the program began in 2007.

Program Overview

Deer Steward is the National Deer Association’s (NDA) individual certification program. This program includes three levels of potential achievement, and each must be completed in sequence.

Deer Steward Level 1 will provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the key principles of deer and habitat biology, ecology, and management.

Deer Steward Level 2 will teach students how to apply the principles learned in Level 1 through hands-on and field experience.

Deer Steward Level 3, the most prestigious, must be earned through an individual’s long-term service to NDA, and/or wild deer.

In addition, starting in 2015, we also now offer the Deer Steward Modules where attendees dive into one particular topic that makes up part of an “umbrella” QDM plan, such as food plots, prescribed burning, or predator control. For more on the online or in-person modules, use the menu on the right.

2024 Deer Steward 2 Course

August 9-12, 2024
in Botetourt County, Virginia

Join us in the Blue Ridge Mountains just north of Roanoke!

Craig Harper teaching students in a field.

The Deer Steward 2 course will focus on the application of principles covered in Deer Steward 1. Those principles being the Four Cornerstones of QDM: herd management, habitat management, hunter management and herd monitoring. Level 2 will include a mix of classroom and field instruction, and the course will end by having the students apply their knowledge and develop an actual deer management plan.

Classroom instruction will take place at The Preserve at Crooked Run, a scenic outdoor venue nestled in Virginia’s Blue Ridge in Fincastle. In addition to breathtaking scenery, The Preserve offers opportunities for attendees to fly fish, shoot on their 13-station clay course, enjoy hiking trails, and more!

Field instruction will be in nearby Eagle Rock on a nearly 10,000-acre private property that is extensively managed for deer, closely following recommendations by leading deer and habitat management experts!

This is a unique Deer Steward experience that you don’t want to miss!

By taking Deer Steward Levels 1 and 2, attendees will have gained enough knowledge to write and implement their very own property-specific deer management plan!

Program Instructors

  • Kip Adams, Wildlife Biologist, NDA’s Chief Conservation Officer
  • Dr. Craig Harper, Professor and Extension Wildlife Specialist, University of Tennessee
  • Matt Ross, Wildlife Biologist, Forester, and NDA’s Senior Director of Conservation
  • Ben Westfall, NDA’s Conservation Coordinator

Note: Not all instructors will be at each course and others may be added.

Program Costs

Level 2 In-person Course:

$1,000 Basic NDA Members, Non-NDA Members (includes a Premium NDA membership)

$950 Premium NDA Members

$900 NDA Life Members and Corporate Sponsors, Partners, and Supporters.

NOTE: Special group savings are available for NDA Branch officers/directors (up to 25% off). Contact Ben Westfall for more info.

Cost includes instruction, most meals, a course notebook, and a course certificate. Travel and lodging are not included. Once your course application form has been received and processed, you will be provided instructions regarding lodging, directions to course venues, course agenda and other information specific to the course.

Level 2 courses also include continuing education credits from the Society of American Foresters (SAF) and/or The Wildlife Society (TWS).

If you are a state wildlife agency employee, please reach out to Ben Westfall directly at to register.

How to Register

Fill out the registration form below, or you can register by phoning the NDA customer service at: 800-209-3337

Once all openings for the courses are filled, applicants will be placed on a waiting list for the next available course in the order their applications were received.

Scholarship Opportunity

For each of the in-person Level 2 classes, the NDA will also award a high school junior or senior, or college student, interested in a career in wildlife management a scholarship to attend free of charge. Travel and lodging are not included in the scholarship. Applicants for the scholarships should have a strong interest in wildlife conservation and the Quality Deer Management (QDM) philosophy. Applications are due by March 1, 2024.


Cancellation Policy

Applicants of in-person Deer Steward courses shall be entitled to a full refund of course fees if NDA customer service is notified within fourteen (14) business days of the course date. Cancellations made less than fourteen (14) business days from the course date shall entitle the applicant to a fifty percent (50%) refund of course fees. No refunds shall be made for cancellations less than two (2) business days before the course date.

Deer Steward 3

Deer Steward Level 3 is the final step in NDA’s Individual Deer Steward Certification Program. Unlike Levels 1 and 2, Level 3 is not a course and no test is required. Level 3 is achieved through personal achievement and long-term service to the wild deer resource and/or the NDA. For many, Level 3 status will take years to qualify. Fortunately the effort needed to meet the qualifications will be replaced with pride and satisfaction upon attaining Level 3 status.



If you have questions regarding course availability or registration, please contact NDA customer service at 800-209-3337.

If you have any questions regarding course content, including online Deer Steward, please contact:

Ben Westfall

Conservation Coordinator

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