Back in the early 90's a gentleman asked if I would be his consultant. This farmer had one of the top 5 highest producing dairy herds in the US and also did ruminant nutrition consulting on the side. WOW, I thought to myself, it's really cool that he wants me to be his consultant.
A few years later I got a call from a 19 year old young man who said they found his father dead in the free stall barn. What a shock that was to everyone. This was a larger herd that had recently hired me to help get them on the right track. Instead of everyone panicking, here is what happened. A team was assembled. That team included the veterinarian, the banker, the agronomist, the young man and myself. We sat down and had a monthly meeting to help develop strategies to help him transition into an unforeseen new responsibility.
As I moved my career focus into the wildlife industry, I learned my lessons well. I knew there needed to be a team approach in the world of "experts." I learned early on that "field staff and pro staff" was NOT the team approach. What formed out of that learning process was TEAM GRO, members helping members. What better way to learn and help others than to let 100's of others give insight and feedback?
The two deer schools I had in 2019 involved 3 people at each school speaking on their "specialty." In Michigan we had Brook Alloway speaking on forestry, We had Zach Haas speaking on water. We had myself covering the forages. At last weekend's deer school we has Art Helin talking about tsi and habitat. Jasoin Wenzel covered habitat and I discussed forages.
When I get on properties across the US, I always discuss with my clients the team approach. Yes, I know a little about each area in habitat improvement. It would be a total disservice to my clients to talk about what trees to cut or how to improve their water quality. I always encourage getting a couple other sets of eyes on one's property. Yes, there are people who can do this for free. But here is where I want people to stop and think a little bit. When you get any "expert" on your properties, ask yourself is this their job? How many properties do they get on every year? How many years of experience do they have? What will they do for you after they walk off your property? Do they have testimonials? Are their goals the same as yours? Will you even implement the plan the way they want to set it up?
An "expert" doesn't just know what works but he knows what doesn't. Experts form out of personal or client failures. Many wildlife experts do not know what they don't know. In my opinion, experts know they do not have all the answers but are willing to do everything it takes to never stop learning. They can share the wealth of knowledge.
I currently work on many properties who have hired guys like Art Helin and Chris Pierson to weave their magic on setting up properties. Many have had Jim Ward on the land. Some have existing water holes set up and some have forestry work already completed. Every set of eyes sees something different. This is why I am hired by other wildlife "experts" to add another set of eyes. This is why I will be bringing on my own "experts" to view my set up and review my 2019 hunting plan. If I didn't do that myself, then I really am no "expert", I'd just be a guy with a plan that might be ok or above average. Why not strive for great?
My challenge to you all is surround yourself with a team of eyes. Become an "expert" yourself by taking in as much as you can from those who have repetitions behind them. There is no substitution for experience. Experience tells not what works but what doesn't work.
Happy hunting in 2019!