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Deer Steward 1:
Online Course

Learn how to manage the land you hunt like a professional deer biologist by completing the official NDA Deer Steward 1 online course.

The official NDA Deer Steward 1 online course will teach you all about deer, how to hunt them, and how to manage habitat and herds.

Why Choose this Course?

Learn from the Nation’s Top Deer Experts and Researchers

This course was developed by the National Deer Association (NDA) and is powered by the leading provider of online hunter safety courses for state agencies and consumers in North America. In this course, you will receive the world’s foremost personal training on deer biology and land management. Once registered, you will have 180 days to complete the course.

Comprehensive Learning

Videos and corresponding photos and slides included throughout the course make information easy to learn and retain. The nation’s top deer experts provide you with a complete understanding of deer biology, ecology, and management.

Develop Your Own Deer Management Plan

The 20 available topics—covering everything from habitat management, herd management, biology, and ecology, and much more—will give you the tools necessary to design and implement your very own deer management plan.

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Developed and Approved by the NDA

The Deer Steward program was developed to meet the NDA’s standards for safe and ethical hunting practices. Since 1988, NDA has worked to promote sustainable, healthy, and balanced deer populations, wildlife habitat, and ethical hunting experiences through scientific research, hunter education programs, hunting advocacy, and active hunter recruitment. NDA is pleased to join Today’s Hunter in being your guide to becoming an advanced deer manager and hunter, and we know you’re going to find the experience enjoyable and rewarding.

Check out our Individual Sessions

History, Biology, and Ecology online module

Learn all about the history of deer management, deer behavior, how they communicate, antler growth and more by completing NDA’s History, Biology, and Ecology online module.

Herd Management online module

Learn all about population management, what deer eat, and deer predators by completing NDA’s Herd Management online module.

Habitat Management online module

Learn all about food plots, how to manage the woods and open fields, herbicide applications and using prescribed fire by completing NDA’s Habitat Management online module.

Herd Monitoring online module

Learn all about how to estimate deer populations, gather and analyze important hunter observation and harvest data, and fine tune your management strategies and objectives by completing NDA’s Herd Management online module.

Herd Health online module

Learn all about the major diseases that impact deer, different pests and parasites, unusual abnormalities and what these things mean for hunters by completing NDA’s Herd Health online module.

Hunter Management online module

Learn all about where you should aim your gun or bow when the magic moment presents itself, how to set and maintain realistic expectations during deer season, and how to limit the stress you put on deer by completing NDA’s Hunter Management online module.


Personal Instruction

The NDA’s Deer Steward 1 course was developed with the goal of increasing your deer harvest success through land management. Whether you’re a brand-new hunter or an aspiring natural resource professional, this is the place to be. Now is the perfect time to join thousands of previous Deer Steward 1 graduates in taking your knowledge to the next level.

Four Cornerstones of Deer Management

Herd Management

One of the most important aspects of a deer management program is herd management. Determining the appropriate number of deer to harvest by sex and age is essential. Proper harvest maintains the deer population within the carrying capacity and allows the herd to thrive.

Habitat Management

Improving the diversity and quality of vegetation is crucial for a healthy deer herd. Deer require high levels of protein and other nutrients in order to grow antlers, increase body size, produce milk, and survive adverse conditions. Managing the habitat not only provides these nutrients but also allows deer to evade predators, survive the elements, and raise healthy fawns.

Hunter Management

Educating hunters is an important part of any deer management program. Knowledgeable hunters make better decisions in the field, record more accurate harvest and observation data, and follow science-based approaches to achieve management objectives.

Herd Monitoring

Collecting harvest and observation data is paramount in understanding the effects of your management on the deer herd. Tracking data over time allows you to adjust your strategies as necessary in order to achieve optimum goals and make wise management decisions in the future.

Here's an idea of some of the topics covered in depth throughout the course.

  • How deer behave and interact with one another
  • The complete antler growth cycle
  • The top predators of deer and how they affect them
  • Why and how fire is used to manage vegetation
  • How to tell a deer’s age by looking at its body and teeth
  • How to conduct a deer population survey
  • Deer diseases and what that means for hunters
  • Deer anatomy and the best place to aim your shot
  • How deer communicate
  • How to manage both bucks and does

Course Features


Filmed in front of a live audience, our Deer Steward course videos feature professional biologists and deer researchers, the latest and most relevant science, and engaging footage of deer in the wild that gives you a visual representation of their behavior and how they respond to management.

Watch this 2-minute video to learn more about the new and improved course.

Ben Westfall – Ben is NDA’s Conservation Coordinator. Ben received his B.S. in Wildlife Conservation/Biology and M.S. in Biology from Southeast Missouri State University. Ben oversees NDA’s Certification Programs and is a Life Member of NDA.

Dr. Bronson Strickland – Bronson is the St. John Family Professor of Wildlife Management, and the Extension Wildlife Specialist for Mississippi State University. He received a B.S. degree in Forest Resources from the University of Georgia and an M.S. degree from Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and his Ph.D. from Mississippi State University. Bronson is a co-director of the MSU Deer Lab, a certified Wildlife Biologist, and Professional member of the Boone and Crockett Club.

Dr. Craig Harper – Craig is a Professor of Wildlife Management and the Extension Wildlife Specialist at the University of Tennessee. Craig Received his A.A.S. degree in Fish and Wildlife Management from Haywood Community College, B.S. in Natural Resources Management from Western Carolina University, M.S. in Biology from University of North Carolina – Wilmington, and Ph.D. in Forest Resources from Clemson University. Dr. Harper maintains an active research and extension program that specializes in upland habitat management, including effects of silviculture, prescribed fire, and herbicide applications on habitat for various wildlife species.

Dr. Gino D’Angelo – Gino is an Assistant Professor of Deer Ecology and Management in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at University of Georgia. Gino earned his B.S. degree from Penn State and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from University of Georgia. Gino and his students conduct studies aimed at improving deer population management, guiding science-driven management by state and federal agencies, and enhancing knowledge of deer anatomy and physiology.

Kip Adams – Kip is NDA’s Chief Conservation Officer. Kip received his B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from the Pennsylvania State University and his M.S. in Wildlife from the University of New Hampshire. Kip is a Certified Wildlife Biologist, Life Member of NDA, and a member of the Brothers-Hamilton Legacy Society.

Dr. Marcus Lashley – Marcus is an Assistant Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida. Marcus received a B.S. in Forestry with Wildlife Management emphasis from Mississippi State University; an M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries from University of Tennessee; and a Ph.D. in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology from North Carolina State University. Marcus is interested in disturbance ecology and how plant community structure influences interactions between competitors and predator-prey dynamics.

Matt Ross – Matt is NDA’s Director of Conservation. Matt received his B.S. in Wildlife Conservation from the University of Massachusetts and his M.S. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of New Hampshire. He is a Certified Wildlife Biologist, a Licensed Forester, a Life Member of NDA, and a member of the Brothers-Hamilton Legacy Society.

Dr. Will Gulsby – Will is an Associate Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Management at Auburn University. Will received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Wildlife from the University of Georgia. Dr. Gulsby has conducted research on coyote predation on deer across several states.

Continuing Education Credits

Just like NDA’s in-person Deer Steward courses, registrants must pass an exam to graduate, and continuing education credits from either the Society of American Foresters and/or The Wildlife Society are available. In addition, we’re proud to announce that this course is now compatible with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Graduates of this course will be eligible to take one of the NDA’s in-person Level 2 courses upon completion.

Learn Your Way on Any Device

Today's Hunter offers online courses that are fully mobile-friendly from start to finish. This safety course is designed to work on your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer.

Saved Progress

You may complete the course at your own pace. The course can be completed in one sitting or a little at a time over several days. Log in and out at any time, and we'll keep track of your progress. Most students finish the course in a few hours.