About seven years ago I was traveling home from way up north from a NaDefa Convention. I began to think about how our state could organize a whitetail deer farmer organization. The number of deer farmers was growing at a fast pace, and everyone in our state depended on others to get the job done when it came to state regulations and promotion of our industry.
When I got home, the first person I called was Russell Baker. I knew him because anyone you asked about deer farming in this state pointed you to him. When I first called Russell he gave me the best advice I have ever got in the deer business – call Chet Cooper. I did not know Chet at all but trusted Russell that I needed to know him. From the very beginning, Chet was all aboard getting an organization established and promoting this industry. Neither of us had an idea how to form a statewide organization and get participation from deer breeders and high fenced hunting owners.
Well after all this time we have come a long way. That original board of directors deserves our thanks for their work in developing our bylaws and getting us started on the right track. None of us had ever run a statewide convention, written bylaws or tried to promote any type farming operation. But we set our minds together to the task. We have board members from several walks of life with different views and opinions. Those original board members were Chet Cooper, Russell Baker, Bart Caldwell, Bubba Cross, Terry Carr, Brandon Watts, and Bill Holdman. By 2009, we held our first statewide convention and began linking deer farmers together with a common cause of promoting our industry and raising the necessary funds for research and promotion. Our first convention was not very big, but we have grown substantially every year.
We accomplished a lot in the past few years. Our relationship with the La Department of Agriculture has been established and recognized as a substantial agricultural industry in our state. We secured a seat on the Board of Animal Health to represent our industry in the formation of state regulations, and I will continue to serve in that capacity. Deer farming has grown faster than any other livestock industry in our state. New farmers are entering this market each year, and the interest by potential farmers is encouraging. We have been allowed into our public school system to educate young people about this industry and the outdoors.
Because our bylaws require maximum terms of six years on the board of directors, I will step down as a board member this year. I am proud of the accomplishments of the organization to date, but I also know our best days are in the future. I encourage you to get involved and help the new board continue to make this industry not only prosperous, but ethical, exciting, and growing. We need lots of new deer farmers immediately to meet the demand for deer in this state. Every one of you is needed to participate. I look forward to continuing to enjoy this industry. New fawns will hit the ground shortly, and the bucks will start new antlers. It is hard to not get excited about that!!
Bill Holdman, Former WOL President