The Game & Fish University

Dr. James C. Kroll,
a.k.a. “Dr. Deer.”

Award-winning scientist, educator, author and TV personality

Hands-on, capstone experiences are available for all students in the program.

On-line Education Program for the Training of Game and Fish Managers

We are excited to announce the creation of the nation's first comprehensive, on-line education program designed specifically for the training of game and fish managers. This has been a long-standing dream of Dr. James C. Kroll (aka, Dr. Deer), the nation's leading whitetail biologist and manager, with over 40 years of experience. It began two decades ago, when he began receiving calls from individuals asking about career opportunities for older students on wildlife and fisheries management. The scenario always was the same. The aspiring student would ask for an after work hours visit; the reason being they already had a job. Although successfully employed, it was not the job they always dreamed of—working in the out-of-doors in game and fish management. Sadly, Dr. Kroll had to inform these eager students there were very few courses offered by colleges and universities. On-line courses were non-existent in those days! As time passed, he began to receive even more calls, this time from veterans (often wounded warriors), desiring a new life after service. Again, the answer was disappointing. He decided to do something about it!

Online Wildlife Education

In spite of the growing trend in online education programs, wildlife biology and management programs lag behind other disciplines. It is our opinion much of the lack of progress can be attributed to a dearth of support among wildlife professionals for online and distance education. Many professors  interviewed feel there is little place for online education, since they consider wildlife science to be a highly technical, field-based discipline; requiring direct exposure to instructors and field experiences. Yet, the reality is fewer and fewer wildlife programs are field oriented and practically-based. Dr. Mark Wallace (Texas Tech University) (Wallace and Baydack, 2009), produced a position paper, entitled: “Wildlife Education: changing in the wind.” This was a survey-based study of 3,413 (526 programs) universities and colleges in the U.S. and 77 (92 programs) in Canada.  In spite of concerns for certification by the regulating organization (The Wildlife Society), only about 10% required courses meeting certification requirements. Twenty-four percent of traditional programs reported declining enrollment, while only 13% of non-traditional programs reported declines. Programs with increasing enrollment were those with hands-on courses. Traditional programs had fewer hands-on curricula. These data would appear to support the claims against online education. However, there also has been a decline in “commodity” programs in all areas except fisheries. Conservation biology seems to be the only real area of growth; reflected as much from by changing program direction as student interest or employer needs. Emphasis on acquiring funding for research has devalued undergraduate teaching in faculty promotion and tenure evaluations. All entities report reduced emphasis on field experiences due to costs of travel, faculty time and field stations. Hence, the argument against online wildlife education (loss of field experiences) does not stand up to scrutiny. 

As part of developing this program, we conducted an in depth search of online and distance education programs in wildlife and fisheries sciences, finding a total of 23 existing online or distance learning wildlife programs in operation in 2012. The number of courses offered online vary from one to 20+; but only Oregon State University offers enough courses for a student to achieve a complete program. Courses rarely are offered at a reduced rate, averaging $421 per credit hour for a three-hour course. Some universities charge fees normally assigned to residents for these courses.

Clearly, there is a need for modernization of wildlife education; a need not currently being met!

Well, Dr. Kroll decided to do something about it. In August, 2013 he retired from Stephen F. Austin State University (Nacogdoches, Texas), after 40 years of training countless students in the art and science of wildlife management. As Emeritus Professor of Forest Wildlife, Dr. Kroll now has the unique opportunity to realize his dream—providing on-line education and certification in game and fish management. In the process, he has enlisted the aid of the top educators and wildlife/fisheries professionals in the world; each contributing their unique experiences to the program. In addition, he is partnering with Stephen F. Austin’s Arthur Temple College of Forestry & Agriculture to provide certifications and course credits. 

The Game & Fish University on-line education program offers practical, real world training in game & fish management to traditional and non-traditional students.Courses can be taken for certification, course credit or just fun and personal growth!

Dr. Kroll traces his ancestry back more than 400 years to Prussian game keepers who followed the teachings of St. Hubertus (, the Patron Saint of Hunting and Game Management. Although there are two coats-of-arms that were used by Krolls over the centuries, Dr. Kroll early adopted the one above. It consists of a simple shield, depicting a stag in a fence. The inscription reads: “Esto Velocior Vita,” which is Latin for “Be swifter than life!” St. Hubertus was a nobleman who, after losing his beloved wife, retreated to the forest to hunt. While pursuing a huge red stag, he came upon the magnificent beast in a clearing. As he approached, the stag turned to face him. To his astonishment, the stag (some say white) had a glowing crucifix suspended between its antlers! God instructed him to seek council from the Bishop of Maastricht. St. Hubert gave up all his worldly possessions and became a priest. Some say, St. Hubertus saved the red stag from over-hunting. Where or not this is true is uncertain, but we do know he spent a great deal of his time supporting the welfare of wild animals. He felt in honoring forest animals, you honored God; and, so does Dr. Kroll. Early game keepers adopted the tradition of the “last bite,” a twig (usually oak) placed in the mouth of the fallen animal. It is in this tradition The Game & Fish University is founded.

The Program

The Game & Fish University offers on-line courses and capstone field experiences leading to certifications and optional course credits in game and fish management. The Game Keeper and Master Game Keeper programs are modeled after classical German and European training of “Jägermeisters,” which is a German word translated either as “hunting master” or “gamekeeper.” The well-known herbal spirit, Jägermeister, uses a stylized rendition of the St. Hubertus stag on its label. For more than four centuries, the title of gamekeeper has carried with it high respect and authority, and has been an official job title since the early 20th Century in Germany. It is fitting therefore we designed our game and fish management education program around this concept. 

The program provides options designed to fit the individual needs of students. First, there are a growing number of individuals who simply are life-long learners, who desire to gain knowledge and expertise in various fields. The 21st Century is experiencing a migration of “Baby Boomers” back to the land, where their fathers and grandfathers farmed and ranched, and raised families as part of a rural lifestyle. The motivation is to live a more simplified lifestyle, do something good for the earth, and leave behind a legacy. Second, landowners and their managers need training in the various aspects of game and fish management on private lands. Third, there is a need for certification of competencies and course credits in wildlife, game and fish management. 

Students have four options:

  • Single topic training using course elements, with or without certification. 
  • Single course education, with or without course credit hours.
  • A curriculum of courses, with an option to earn course credits and/or programmatic certifications. The primary certification will be awarding of a “Game Keeper” certification or a more involved “Master Game Keeper” certification. 
  • Course credits also can be applied as elective credits for Wildlife Management Degrees (B.S., M.S. and Ph.D) at Stephen F. Austin State University’s Arthur Temple College of Forestry & Agriculture.

Our instructors are at the peak of their careers, often pioneers of game and fish management.

Certification and Competency

As a student, you can take any course just for the fun and learning experience. Students also can achieve certification and competency assessment in the following ways:

  • Online testing (supervised and unsupervised).
  • On-campus.
  • Capstone field experiences and competency evaluations.

Capstone field experiences occur at various locations, as well as SFA’s Forestry Field Station on Sam Rayburn Reservoir in eastern Texas. In addition, capstone courses are  presented around the U.S. on many of the private land-holdings and facilities managed by Dr. Deer, Inc. 


Certifications will be offered in the following;

  • White-tailed Deer Management.
  • Upland Game Bird Management.
  • Waterfowl Management.
  • Warm Water Fisheries Management.

Beginning Fall, 2013 we will offer our first courses related to achieving competency in white-tailed deer management, with additional courses coming on-line for warm water fisheries management in Spring, 2014. Upland game bird and waterfowl courses in Fall, 2014. The whitetail course will begin with Aging and Judging Trophy Whitetails. 

Our Education Philosophy & Goal

Our philosophy is that students want to be trained by the leaders in their field, who also have real world experience to share. Only instructors that fit this philosophy are asked to offer courses. Our educators are at the top of their game and are leaders in their field of expertise. They also are skilled communicators. To assure quality educational delivery we have partnered with JM Productions of Little Rock, Arkansas; the largest outdoor production facility between Hollywood and Nashville. JM was founded by Jerry McKinnis, and produces shows for ESPN, including BassMaster events and programs. 

We also provide opportunities for hands-on training using direct contact with our instructors; through our capstone experiences, on-line interaction and  webinars/live chat events. 

Instructor Ben H. Koerth, Award-winning scientist and author.