Archive for the ‘Conservation’ Category

Who gives a flyin’ fig?

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

Why recruit new hunters? Let me count the ways ...

Why recruit new hunters? Let me count the ways …

Do you want to be the last bird hunter?

I love pulling up to a promising covert and finding nobody else parked there. So do you. To know with confidence that you’ll be the first – possibly only – one to hunt a field that week, immeasurable.

We all long for untrammeled ground … “first tracks” to use a ski analogy, when we open the tailgate and let the dogs out. Who doesn’t want to believe the birds are plentiful and naïve, will hold for our dogs, fly high and slow when we walk them up?

But what if that was always the case? What if you never saw another soul in the woods or on the prairie, because you were the last bird hunter?

Someone is fervently hoping it will come true, that they’ll be the last to inhabit this “ideal” world and be the only ones, getting all the shots, finding no footprints.

I wouldn’t want to hunt with him.

But we may all see a situation almost this dire in our lifetime, if you believe the pessimists in our midst. If you read the magazines or are a member of an upland conservation group, you know our fraternity is at risk of extinction. There are fewer new hunters coming on and more going out, usually by dying. We are an aging population, we bird hunters. And too many of us are a tad too selfish – relishing the situation described above – to bring on the next generation of uplanders.

Okay, maybe not selfish, but defeated, discouraged, disillusioned. I can’t blame them.

The almighty dollar usually trumps CRP payments and conservation easements. Ethanol is a wicked competitor, fueling the plowing of marginal ground for a few more bushels of corn. Deer hunters waving dollar bills will keep grouse hunters off a lease; the price of ammo will stop a 16-year-old from picking up a shotgun, as will a PETA lecture in kindergarten. The pressure of peers who don’t hunt, lack of a father figure, onerous regulation of gun ownership and even ammo restrictions have thinned our ranks. Bird populations are devastated by blizzard or drought, or nesting habitat is mowed early for another cutting of alfalfa.

The “barriers to entry” as statisticians call them, are numerous. But none are insurmountable. Unless you’re selfish. Or a quitter. Or brain-dead.

Why bother taking a friend, kid, spouse hunting? What do you get in return? Here’s my list … you can probably come up with more reasons:

New hunters’ license dollars fund management of habitat and game populations. Your neighbors, PETA members, and the Defenders of Wildlife might talk a good game, but only hunters put their money where their mouths are. When license money evaporates, don’t look to taxpayers to pick up the slack. So unless you plan to quit hunting the very day your state outlaws it, every new recruit ensures access and a modicum of managed game to chase.

New hunters are fresh and energetic, ready to pick up the banner and fight for conservation. We all burn out, and without new troops joining the battle against habitat destruction, the front lines will collapse. Oil companies and wind energy syndicates will claim victory.

New shotgunners who understand scientific game management can advocate for it among their non-hunting, anti-gun peers. Sensational claims by the anti-hunting cabal are best countered with cold, hard facts related by knowledgeable outdoors enthusiasts.

Those who ignore history are destined to repeat it. That includes gun control. The anti-gun crowd pooh-poohs the fundamental reason for a Second Amendment, but you shouldn’t laugh. You don’t have to pick up a textbook to learn that many tyrants modern and ancient started their reign of terror by disarming their citizenry. The death of gun rights starts with excessive government meddling in your personal life, an “imperial presidency” ruling by fiat not representation, marginalizing those with unpopular views. It is fueled by a sheep-like tolerance of more and more unreasonable encroachment on our rights. Whether it’s Big Gulps or Obamacare, a slippery slope might be around the next bend in the road.

We should fear any president’s desire to take away the last resort we have available for opposing a corrupt regime. Ask the Syrians fighting for freedom right now, or the Jews of 1930’s Germany, if you think that notion is silly and antiquated. Unarmed citizens become subjects. New hunters become Second Amendment advocates.

A kid who knows and understands guns is a safer kid. He handles one with respect in the field and knows what to do when a gun is found where it shouldn’t be. That kid is less likely to be a danger to himself or others. When the bad guy does break down his front door, that kid – or adult – might just stop a rape or murder. If some nut job is drawing a bead on your daughter at the mall, a fellow shopper (and hunter) shooting back might save her life.

Hunters are part of the circle of life. They have a realistic view of where food comes from and what is involved in making meat. Shotgunners take personal responsibility for some of their sustenance, and in this cynical world that makes for a more authentic life.

Shooting straight, find your way back to camp, starting a fire, cleaning a bird, training a dog are all skills that teach important character traits: overcoming hardship, accomplishing something tangible, self reliance, accountability. You won’t find those on the agenda at a public school. “Manliness” is scorned these days, but when the dam breaks or the woods catch fire, I hope there are hunters (and Boy Scouts) around to help.

Hunting is a direct link to our shared history. It has a body of literature that is beautiful. It is our connection to grandparents and our distant ancestors. Hunting is part of our DNA, and ignoring that suppresses a visceral element of our personhood. A new hunter becomes part of the chain, a standard-bearer for all things worth remembering including our hunting heritage.

Finally, a new hunter might take you hunting when you’re too old to venture out alone. Recruits will listen to our stories around the campfire, and pass them on. They will be our legacy, just as are pristine streams, wild places and thriving game populations

Now, go make a new hunter.

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Dog of the Day: Elli

Friday, March 21st, 2014

BirdDogNBen Fleischacker’s English pointer pup ”Elli” is pictured here showing off after Nebraska’s Franklin County Quail Forever youth mentor hunt.

“Thanks for a great conservation group!” said Fleischacker. “The boys down in the Franklin County chapter know what they’re doing!”

Have a bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Rehan Nana, Quail Forever’s public relations specialist, at RNana@quailforever.org.

 

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Farm Bill Headed to President’s Desk Thanks to Senate Passage

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

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After being passed by the House last week, today the Senate approved the Agricultural Act of 2014, commonly known as the farm bill. The legislation is now headed to President Obama’s desk.

If signed into law by the president, the bill would:

  • Reauthorize the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), including a change to the program that will allow for the enrollment of up to 2 million grassland acres with no cropping history that have never been eligible for CRP enrollment historically.
  • Re-link conservation compliance to crop insurance, deterring wetland drainage.
  • Create a regional “Sodsaver” to protect our country’s last remaining native prairies where it is most threatened – South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Montana and Nebraska.
  • Approve $40 million in funding for Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Programs (VPA-HIP). Commonly referred to as “Open Fields,” this funding would improve sportsmen’s access while helping improve wildlife conservation efforts.
  • Allocate more than $1 billion allocated for a new Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, including provisions targeting wetlands and grasslands.
  • Consolidate U.S. Department of Agriculture programs from 23 to 13, improving delivery of these programs to interested landowners.

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever urge the president to sign the bill, and look forward to using these new tools to create wildlife habitat.

The D.C. Minute is written by Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s Vice President of Government Relations.

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U.S. House Passes Farm Bill

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

The farm bill provides conservation tools to America's farmers, ranchers and conservationists.

The farm bill provides conservation tools to America’s farmers, ranchers and conservationists.

A few minutes ago, by a vote of 251 to 166 the United States House of Representatives passed the Agricultural Act of 2014, commonly known as the farm bill.  The bill now awaits Senate action.  All indications are the Senate will act on the bill shortly.

The farm bill, if signed into law, will make substantial changes to conservation policies and programs.  Included are needed policy changes to conservation compliance and provisions to protect native prairies from conversion in six states (N.D., S.D., Minn., Iowa, Neb., Mont.).  U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs are consolidated from 23 to 13.  Included is re-authorization of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) at 24 million acres, a new agricultural conservation easement program, and working lands conservation programs. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are in support of the passage of this farm bill and look forward to using these new tools to create wildlife habitat.

The D.C. Minute is written by Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s Vice President of Government Relations.

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Farm Bill Agreement Reached, Awaits House Vote

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

VAbobwhite

Yesterday, the long-anticipated farm bill showed signs of life as House and Senate conferees reached a bipartisan agreement to move the bill forward.  In fact, the House may have a vote on the farm bill by the end of Wednesday.  After clearing the House, the bill will move to the Senate.

The bill addresses Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s top grassland and wildlife priorities including the following:

  • Conservation compliance connected to crop insurance.
  • A regional “Sodsaver” to protect our country’s last remaining native prairies.  States included are South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Montana, and Nebraska.  We are pleased to have these important tools to protect America’s last remaining virgin prairies available in these critical pheasant states and northern-tier quail states right away.
  • Reauthorization of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).  While the total authorization of acres will gradually decrease to 24 million acres by FY18, we do have some new tools included to help us target the most environmentally sensitive acres that will best produce water, soil and wildlife benefits.  In fact, one particular change to CRP will allow us to enroll up to 2 million grassland acres with no cropping history that have never been eligible for CRP enrollment historically.
  • $40 million in funding for voluntary public hunting access programs (VPA-HIP).
  • A new Agricultural Conservation Easement Program including provisions targeting wetlands and grasslands.

It’s been an arduous two year road to get us to this point.  I won’t pretend this Farm Bill is going to be perfect by anyone’s standards; however, it does address our core conservation concerns.  The danger in not passing a farm bill at this point would be catastrophic for wildlife and water quality as all our favorite conservation programs, like CRP, would be shut down for the foreseeable future. Given the current state of habitat loss, our nation’s wildlife cannot withstand additional time without access to conservation programs.  Let’s get this farm bill passed and begin working on returning habitat back to the landscape this spring.

The D.C. Minute is written by Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s Vice President of Government Relations.

Photo credit: Matt Tillett / Flickr CC

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Dog of the Day: Buster

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Buster

Buster, Mike Simberg’s German shorthaired pointer, is no buster when it comes to quail hunting in Southern Illinois. Out with two of Mike’s friend, the trio managed to scratch out 17 quail and one rabbit – just one bird shy of a three man limit.

“Buster the Bird Dog hunted long and hard today,” said Simberg, “It was our best hunt of the year.”

Have a bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Rehan Nana, Quail Forever’s public relations specialist, at RNana@quailforever.org.

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Dog of the Day: Rosie

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Rosie_Ed_Hines

Rosie is 5-month-old English setter and is pictured here during training on her first live quail. “Even though she is still young, she is all business when it comes to hunting,” says Ed Hines, Rosie’s owner and member of Quail Forever’s Duck River Chapter in Columbia, Tennessee.

Rosie_Ed_Hines_2

Have a bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Rehan Nana, Quail Forever’s public relations specialist, at RNana@quailforever.org.

 

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Dog of the Day: “Cowboy”

Monday, December 9th, 2013

cowboy_Carl_Baker_II

This is Cowboy, new Quail Forever member Carl Baker’s German Wirehair Pointer, at 18 months on point.  “It was Cowboy’s second year of quail hunting, and he’s a great dog as well as a great bird dog!” said Baker.

Have a bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Rehan Nana, Quail Forever’s public relations specialist, at RNana@quailforever.org.

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Dog of the Day: “Dirk”

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

"Dirk at Work"

“Dirk at Work”

Here, Dirk, the five-year-old Epagneul Breton from Columbia, Mo, is hard at work.

“I am still trying to find the ‘off’ switch on this little beast!  What fun to hunt behind!  I have to admit he has also become very tolerant of frequent misses!  HA!” says Pat Gram, Dirk’s hunting buddy and owner.

Have a bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Rehan Nana, Quail Forever’s public relations specialist, at RNana@quailforever.org.

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ACTION ALERT: Finish the Farm Bill

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

2013-Farm-bill-graphic_QF (1)

Yesterday, Farm Bill conferees met for the first time to craft the final version of the Farm Bill that will go before the full Congress for a vote.  This has been a process that has taken more than two years, so it’s critical all bird hunters contact the conferees listed below urging final passage of a Farm Bill immediately.  Failure to pass a Farm Bill by year’s end would be devastating to wildlife and hunter access.

 

“If a Farm Bill doesn’t pass by year’s end critical programs like CRP and WRP will remain unavailable,” explained Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s vice president of government affairs.

 

Nomsen continued, “we saw the power of our collective voice as hunters earlier this month when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service re-opened Waterfowl Production Areas during the government shutdown.  Today, it’s even more critical for all of us to raise those voices.  The future of our hunting heritage hangs in the balance.  It may seem like I’m over-stating the severity of the situation, but I am not.  This is zero-hour for pheasants, quail, ducks, deer, turkeys, America’s water quality and hunter access.”

 

The following components are critical to Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s support of a new Farm Bill:

  • Conservation Compliance connected to crop insurance
  • National Sodsaver to protect our country’s last remaining native prairies
  • A Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) with a minimum 25 million acre baseline
  • A 5-year Farm Bill

The list below is the full roster of Farm Bill conferees.  If you live within the districts of these individuals, it’s imperative they hear your voice as a hunter and conservationist urging for strong conservation policy in a new Farm Bill.  Follow this link to Contact your elected officials. Thank you for standing up for America’s sportsmen and women!

  Farm Bill Conferees

  Senate Republicans:
  Ranking Member Thad Cochran, R-Miss.
  Pat Roberts, R-Kan.
  Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.
  John Boozman, R-Ark.
  John Hoeven, R-N.D.
  Senate Democrats:
  Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.
  Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
  Tom Harkin, D-Iowa
  Max Baucus, D-Mont.
  Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio
  Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
  Michael Bennet, D-Colo.
  House Republicans:
  Frank Lucas/Chair, R-Okla.
  Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas
  Mike Rogers, R-Ala.
  Mike Conaway, R-Texas
  Glenn Thompson, R-Pa.
  Austin Scott, R-Ga.
  Rick Crawford, R-Ark.
  Martha Roby, R-Ala.
  Kristi Noem, R-S.D.
  Jeff Denham, R-Calif.
  Rodney Davis, R-Ill.
  Steve Southerland, R-Fla.
  Ed Royce, R-Calif.
  Tom Marino, R-Pa.
  Dave Camp, R-Mich.
  Sam Johnson, R-Texas
  House Democrats:
  Collin Peterson/Ranking Member, D-Minn.
  Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio –Appointed by Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, to represent leadership in conference
  Mike McIntyre, D-N.C.
  Jim Costa, D-Calif.
  Timothy Walz, D-Minn.
  Kurt Shcrader, D-Ore.
  Jim McGovern, D-Mass.
  Suzan DelBene, D-Wash.
  Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Calif.
  Filemon Vela, D-Texas
  Eliot Engel, D-N.Y.
  Sander Levin, D-Mich.
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