Archive for the ‘Pheasants’ Category
Thursday, October 31st, 2013
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
Friday, September 20th, 2013
Blitz was a Colorado bird dog that passed away 8 weeks ago, and as owner Rick Fitzpatrick says, “He was just an awesome machine of a hunting dog and will be dearly missed as another season gets underway.”
As a homage to Blitz, Rick will be carrying Blitz’s collar attached to his hunting vest as he walks the fields this season.
German Shorthaired Pointer Traits: Like the other German pointers (the German wirehaired pointer and the less well known German longhaired pointer), the GSP can perform virtually all gundog roles. It is pointer and retriever, an upland bird dog and water dog. The GSP can be used for hunting larger and more dangerous game. It is an excellent swimmer but also works well in rough terrain. It is tenacious, tireless, hardy, and reliable.
Have a bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Rehan Nana, Quail Forever public relations specialist, at RNana@quailforever.org.
Wednesday, September 18th, 2013
DOG OF THE DAY: Wyatt, Charles Kennett’s GSP, looking forward to the upcoming season.
GSP History: Although having appeared in paintings dating back to the late-mid 1700′s, the precise origin of the German Shorthaired Pointer is unclear. It is likely that the GSP is descended from a breed known as the German Bird Dog, which is related to the old Spanish pointer introduced to Germany in the 17th century. It is also likely that various German hound and tracking dogs, as well as the English Pointer and the Arkwright Pointer, also contributed to the development of the breed.
Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Rehan Nana, Pheasants Forever public relations specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, September 10th, 2013
“I bought these two at three months old, and they were pointing and birdie already,” said Tennessee QF member Terry Baskin. “I really didn’t have to do a lot of training as they hunt really well together. They have been on several youth hunts, which we have held for our local QF chapter, pointing on quail, chukars and pheasants.”
Steady to wing, shot and retrieve, this year the brothers will be going on their first trip to South Dakota. Good luck, guys!
Tuesday, August 6th, 2013
Do you remember childhood Christmas Eves? Maybe you went to mass, there might have been a party, possibly a big dinner with cousins you saw but once a year (and never liked anyway). But after all the ceremony, once dishes were dried and put up, when the lights were doused and you were tucked into bed with sugar plums dancing in your head, anticipation became the only feeling in your young and impressionable mind. The endless night dragged on as you waited for morning and the joyful chaos.
You know, that can’t-get-to-sleep, did I leave Santa enough cookies and milk? will it be under the tree? potential for unbridled joy coupled with a tinge of looming disappointment.
I’m there. Smack dab in the center, the nexus of fun and wariness. Earlier than most years, I’m eagerly anticipating the upcoming season. Soon, Manny, Buddy and I head north and east.
Maybe because last night I was subjected to old home movies of my first couple Christmases, that’s the metaphor that best describes the weeks before embarking on a full season on the road.
Do you ever get that feeling? Maybe as opening weekend approaches? Or as you set out to pick up a new pup? Maybe as your annual trip to (fill in the blank: Wisconsin/ruffs; Texas/bobs; South Dakota/ringnecks) comes nigh?
Rub your hands – sleep in your clothes – check the alarm clock every hour – get up early (earlier) than planned – the sweet taste of impending fun and new country. It’s almost Christmas and soon I’ll see you on the road.
(Scott’s new book would make a great Christmas gift. Learn more here.)
Thursday, August 1st, 2013
Getting a hard case should be an easy decision
My field gun has the distinct pleasure of riding along with a one-year-old setter ready to bark at or jump on anything while also staying put during my rally-like ways behind the wheel. Really, it’s got to dodge a lot of bullets before we even bring out the shells.
In the field, I avoid the razor-like branches of the grouse woods and gingerly pass it over fences and through thickets chasing pheasants and quail. Even at the end of the hunt, hours are spent cleaning the bore and action to make sure it’s protected from rust, grime and is functioning well.
So why during the in-between times to and from the field (driving, loading, transferring, unloading), when there’s the most opportunity for damage, do most of us protect our trusty firearms the least by merely covering with a thin layer of foam and leave it at the mercy of all the other gear?
Bringing this conundrum up to my gunsmith, Mike Allee of Gunsmithing Only, his answer was blunt: Get a hard case and don’t worry about it.
“If you’re going to spend $1,000-$2,000 on a gun, spend the extra $50-$100 for a decent case and protect your investment. Any number of things can go wrong when transporting a gun to and from the field, and while barrel steel is strong, you’d be surprised how often I get people with dents and scrapes from things that could have been easily avoided by having a proper gun case.”
If you’re like me (or any other guy, for that matter) two trips for anything is not an option, so during loading and unloading you have a better chance of dropping your firearm while juggling the entirety of your hunting rig. With a hard case, if on the offhand chance you drop your gun, there is less of a chance of cracking a stock or denting a barrel.
And while space is limited in any hunting rig, a hard case won’t take up that much more room. If you’re a double gun owner, you can get a breakdown case for doubles and actually save space.
In the quest for a new case, I went on the search. After a few months, I stumbled on a vintage leather breakdown at a reasonable price (under $100). With some help from a leather repair shop, I had a new shoulder strap and handle installed, while also adding to my accessorizing problem.
The leatherworker eyed it to be a custom-made case from the 40′s, probably made in the East Coast, but still perfectly functional and a perfect place to house my O/U.
How important are cases to you? Who’s gone the hard case route? Any other vintage cases out there?
Tuesday, June 11th, 2013
I am pleased to report the United States Senate passed their version of the 2013 Farm Bill by a vote of 66 to 27 on Monday. This bill would establish U.S. agricultural policy for the next five years. Included in the Senate’s bill were:
- Reauthorization of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)
- Reauthorization of the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)
- Reauthorization of the Grasslands Reserve Program (GRP)
- A conservation compliance provision re-linking crop insurance premium support to certain conservation practices.
- A national “Sodsaver” program helping to safeguard native prairies.
The Senate’s version of the Farm Bill is good policy for landowners, hunters and conservationists. Unfortunately, there are a number of steps remaining before this policy can take effect for the benefit of farmers and wildlife.
The next step is for the U.S. House of Representatives to take up the Farm Bill on the full House floor. This step, as you may recall, is exactly where last year’s attempt to push the Farm Bill to completion died on the vine. Based on the discussion coming out of the House this session, I’m optimistic the Farm Bill will reach the House floor as early as next week. The House and the Senate titles are relatively similar with the exception of two important policy provisions. The House’s current bill lacks the conservation compliance connection to crop insurance and has a regional version of “Sodsaver” rather than the national version. We’re going to continue to work toward influencing the House to include those two important provisions.
Consequently, we are asking all Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever members to be on alert as we monitor Farm Bill debate in the House in the coming weeks. There will likely be a time in the coming days when we sound the alarm and ask all members and hunters to contact their U.S. Representative with a key message about our position on conservation.
Unfortunately, there are still three more steps for a new Farm Bill after passage of a bill in the House. The first of those steps would be a conferencing of the Senate and House Farm Bills together to rectify differences between the two bodies. Second, the conferenced bill would have to be approved by a full Congressional vote. And finally, the final bill would have to be signed by the President.
Obviously, that’s a lot of steps and the 2008 Farm Bill expires on September 30th. Congress needs to push this 2013 Farm Bill across the finish line before that deadline is met. And, another extension to the 2008 Farm Bill would irreversibly change the face of private lands conservation threatening the existence of conservation programs that landowners and hunters have relied on for decades.
The D.C. Minute is written by Dave Nomsen, Quail Forever’s Vice President of Government Affairs
Thursday, May 16th, 2013
After months of delays and political posturing, both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives’ Agriculture Committees began work on a new Farm Bill this week. As you’d expect, I was there along with QF’s Jim Inglis to make sure the voices of our members, bird hunters and conservationists were heard. The Farm Bill remains our single most important tool for wildlife, water and hunters.
In the Senate Committee
On Tuesday, May 14th, the Senate Agriculture Committee finished the Farm Bill markup in just three hours, which may be a record! Their efficiency stems from their pretty much sticking to last year’s template. There are, however, a few amendments deserving attention due to their value for wildlife.
First, it was clearly demonstrated the Senate supports linking crop insurance to conservation compliance. Second, we were very excited to see the important Sodsaver language make it into the bill. Third, there were amendments to help USDA distribute technical assistance funding, which would give NRCS more flexibility to enter into agreements with Quail Forever & Pheasants Forever to deliver conservation programs. And lastly, there was some interesting language on increasing habitat for pollinators, especially honey bees. As we have mentioned before, great pollinator habitat can be great for all wildlife, particularly pheasants and quail.
Ultimately, the Senate Committee version of the Farm Bill passed by a vote of 15 to 5. That bill is now headed to the full Senate floor for a vote. In fact, there is a chance the Senate’s vote may happen as early as next week.
In the House Committee
On Wednesday, May 15th, the House Ag committee began work on their Farm Bill mark. There was very little action on the Conservation Title during the session, and still no language to tie crop insurance to conservation compliance. We were certainly disappointed by that omission, but remain optimistic it can be remedied in conference committee. We are also hopeful to direct more EQIP/WHIP funding for wildlife priorities, however those amendments were withdrawn. At near midnight (14 hours after the start), the House passed their version of the Bill by a vote of 36-10.
House leadership is postulating a floor vote may occur sometime in June where we hope to strengthen some of the conservation language in the Conservation Title.
A group of Quail Forever & Pheasants Forever chapter leaders, farmers, landowners and staff will be in Washington, D.C. next week meeting with our elected officials as we work to strengthen the conservation components of the bill in preparation for floor votes.
Additionally, we were excited to see the USDA open Continuous CRP practices to landowners this week and are optimistic there will be strong demand for the general CRP signup that starts on Monday, May 20th. If you are a landowner interested in learning more about CRP, please check out one of our landowner meetings taking place in coordination with the signup. A full list of landowner workshops is available at www.CRPMeetings.org and as always, your local USDA Service Center is an excellent source of CRP information.
The D.C. Minute is written by Dave Nomsen, Quail Forever’s Vice President of Government Relations.
Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
Last year’s list of the 25 Best Pheasant Hunting Towns in America selected locales predominately based in the Midwest where the ringneck is king. Because Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever members hail from all reaches of the United States, from Alabama to Alaska, we’ve assembled this year’s list to include pheasants as well as multiple quail species, prairie grouse and even forest birds. The main criterion was to emphasize areas capable of providing multiple species, along with destinations most-welcoming to bird hunters. In other words, there were bonus points awarded for “mixed bag” opportunities and neon signs “welcoming bird hunters” in this year’s analysis. We also avoided re-listing last year’s 25 towns, so what you now have is a good bucket list of 50 destinations for the traveling wingshooter!
What towns did we miss? Let us know in the comments section.
1. Pierre, South Dakota. This Missouri River town puts you in the heart of pheasant country, but the upland fun doesn’t stop there. In 2011 (the last year numbers were available) approximately 30 roosters per square mile were harvested in Hughes County. Cross the river and head south of Pierre and you’re into the Fort Pierre National Grassland, where sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chickens become the main quarry. In fact, the U.S. Forest Service manages the Fort Pierre National Grassland specifically for these native birds. Just North of Pierre also boasts some of the state’s best gray (Hungarian) partridge numbers as well.
While you’re there: Myril Arch’s Cattleman’s Club Steakhouse goes through an average of 60,000 pounds of aged, choice beef a year, so they must know what they’re doing.
2. Lewistown, Montana. Located in the geographic center of the state, Lewistown is the perfect city to home base a public land upland bird hunt. Fergus County has ring-necked pheasants, sharp-tailed grouse, gray (Hungarian) partridge, as well as sage grouse. You’ll chase these upland birds with stunning buttes and mountain ranges as almost surreal backdrops, and find no shortage of publically accessible land, whether state or federally owned. Two keystone Pheasants Forever wildlife habitat projects are 45 minutes from Lewistown. Located six miles north of Denton, Montana, the 800-acre Coffee Creek BLOCK Management Area is located between a 320-acre parcel and an 880-acre parcel of land – all three areas are open to public hunting. Pheasants Forever also acquired a 1,000 acre parcel known as the Wolf Creek Property, a project which created 14,000 contiguous acres open to public walk-in hunting.
While you’re there: Once the birds have been cleaned and the dog has been fed, head over to the 87 Bar & Grill in Stanford for their house specialty smoked ribs and steaks.
3. Hettinger, North Dakota. Disregard state lines and you can’t tell the difference between southwest North Dakota and the best locales in South Dakota. Hettinger gets the nod in this region because of a few more Private Land Open to Sportsmen (P.L.O.T.S.) areas.
While you’re there: A visit north to the Pheasant Café in Mott seems like a must.
4. Huron, South Dakota. Home to the “World’s Largest Pheasant,” Huron is also home to some darn good pheasant hunting. From state Game Production Areas to federal Waterfowl Production Areas to a mix of walk-in lands, there’s enough public land in the region to never hunt the same area twice on a 5 or 10-day trip, unless of course you find a honey hole.
While you’re there: The Hwy. 14 Roadhouse in nearby Cavour has the type of good, greasy food that goes down guilt free after a long day of pheasant hunting.
5. Valentine, Nebraska. One of the most unique areas in the United States, the nearly 20,000 square mile Nebraska Sandhills region is an outdoor paradise, and Valentine, which rests at the northern edge of the Sandhills, was named one of the best ten wilderness towns and cities by National Geographic Adventure magazine in 2007. Because the Sandhills are 95 percent grassland, it remains one of the most vital areas for greater prairie chickens and sharp-tailed grouse in the country. Grouse can be found on the 19,000-acre Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge and the 115,000-acre Samuel McKelvie National Forest, and grouse and pheasants may be encountered on the 73,000-acre Valentine National Wildlife Refuge.
While you’re there: Head over to the Peppermill & E. K. Valentine Lounge and devour the Joseph Angus Burger, a finalist in the Nebraska Beef Council’s Best Burger Contest.
6. White Bird, Idaho. Hells Canyon is 8,000 feet of elevation, and at various levels includes pheasants, quail, gray partridge and forest grouse. Show up in shape and plan the right route up and down, and you may encounter many of these species in one day. It’s considered by many wingshooting enthusiasts to be a “hunt of a lifetime.” Nearly 40 percent of Idaho’s Hells Canyon is publically accessible, either through state-owned lands, U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands or U.S. Forest Service lands.
While you’re there: Floats and rafting adventures are popular on the Salmon River, in case your bird hunt also needs to double as a family vacation.
7. Heppner, Oregon. Nestled in the Columbia Basin, within a half-hour drive hunters have the opportunity to harvest pheasants, California quail, Huns, chukar, and in the nearby Blue Mountains, Dusky grouse, ruffed grouse and at least the chance of running into mountain quail. With the exception of the Umatilla National Forest for grouse, the hunting opportunity is mostly on private land in the area, but the state has a number of agreements in the area for private land access through its Open Fields, Upland Cooperative Access Program and Regulated Hunt Areas.
While you’re there: As you scout, make sure to drive from Highway 74, also called the Blue Mountain Scenic Byway, winding south from Interstate 84 through Ione, Lexington and Heppner.
8. Winnemucca, Nevada. Winnemucca claims legendary status as the “Chukar Captial of the Country.” Long seasons (first Saturday in October through January 31), liberal bag limits (daily limit of six; possession limit of 18) and the fact that these birds are found almost exclusively on public land make chukar Nevada’s most popular game bird. The covey birds do well here in the steep, rugged canyons that mirror the original chukar habitat of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the birds’ native countries. Just know the first time you hunt chukar is for fun, the rest of your life is for revenge.
While you’re there: Nearby Orovada, 44 miles to the north of Winnemucca, is known for excellent hunting areas as well as breathtaking views of the Sawtooth Mountains.
9. Albany, Georgia. Buoyed by tradition and cemented with a local culture built upon the local quail plantation economy, Albany has a reputation as the “quail hunting capital of the world” and a citizenry that embraces “Gentleman Bob.”
While you’re there: save an hour for the 60 mile trip South to Thomasville, Georgia where you can visit Kevin’s, a landmark sporting goods retailer devoted to the bird hunter.
10. Milaca, Minnesota. There are places in Minnesota where pheasants can be found in greater abundance, ditto for ruffed grouse. But there are few places where a hunter may encounter both in such close proximity. While pheasants are found primarily on private land here, state Wildlife Management Areas in the region offer a chance at a rare pheasant/grouse double, including the 40,000-acre Mille Laces WMA. The nearby Rum River State Forest provides 40,000 acres to search for forest birds.
While you’re there: For lunch, the Rough-Cut Grill & Bar in Milaca is the place. This isn’t the type of joint with a lighter portion menu, so fill up and plan on walking it all off in the afternoon…before you come back for supper.
11. Sonoita, Arizona. Central in Arizona’s quail triangle – the Patagonia/Sonoita/Elgin tri-city area – the crossroads of U.S. Highways 82 and 83 puts you in the epicenter of Mearns’ quail country, and 90 percent of the world’s Mearns’ hunting takes place in Arizona. Surrounded by scenic mountain ranges, the pups will find the hotels dog friendly, and moderate winter temps extend through the quail hunting season. Sonoita is also close to desert grasslands (scaled quail) and desert scrub (Gambel’s quail). After your Mearns’ hunt in the oak-lined canyons, you can work toward the Triple Crown.
12. Abilene, Kansas. A gateway to the Flint Hills to the north and central Kansas to the west, the two areas in recent years that have produced the best quail hunting in the Sunflower State.
13. Eureka, South Dakota. Legend has it the town’s name stems from the first settler’s reaction to all the pheasants observed in the area – “Eureka!”
14. Wing, North Dakota. Located just northeast of Bismarck, this town’s name is a clear indication of its premiere attraction. While primarily a waterfowler’s paradise, bird hunters looking to keep their boots dry can find pheasants, sharp-tailed grouse and Huns on ample public ground.
15. Redfield, South Dakota. By law, there can only be one officially trademarked “Pheasant Capital of the World” and Redfield is the owner of that distinction . . . and for good reason!
16. Tallahassee, Florida. Home to Tall Timbers, a partner non-profit focused on quail research, this north Florida town is steeped in the quail plantation culture and quail hunting tradition.
17. Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. This fisherman’s paradise also makes for an excellent October launching off point for the bird hunter. Head south toward Fergus Falls to bag your limit of roosters, then jog northeast to find ruffed grouse and timberdoodles amongst thousands of acres of public forest lands. Point straight west and you’ll find prairie chickens in nearby Clay County if you’re lucky enough to pull a Minnesota prairie chicken permit.
18. Park Falls, Wisconsin. For more than 25 years, Park Falls has staked its claim as the “Ruffed Grouse Capital of the World.” It’s more than just proclamation – more than 5,000 acres in the area are intensively managed as ruffed grouse and woodcock habitat.
19. Iron River, Michigan. Four-season recreation is Iron County’s claim to fame, and with the nearby Ottawa National Forest, it’s no coincidence the county bills itself as the woodcock capital of the world.
20. Lander, Wyoming. Wyoming is home to about 54 percent of the greater sage-grouse in the United States, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Wyoming manages millions of publically-accessible acres.
21. Miles City, Montana. Sharp-tailed grouse are well dispersed throughout southeast Montana, and the state boasts the highest daily bag limit – four birds – in the country. Thicker cover along riparian areas also provides chances at ringnecks. Did we mention there are roughly 2.5 million acres of publicly-accessible land in this region?
22. Spirit Lake, Iowa. The many Waterfowl Production Areas and their cattails make northwest Iowa a great late-season pheasant hunting option.
23. Holyoke, Colorado. Lots of Pheasants Forever and state programs – including walk-in areas – are at work in Phillips County which has made the rural, northeast Colorado town of Holyoke the state’s shining upland star.
24. Barstow, California. San Bernardino County is a top quail producer in the state, and the vast Mojave National Preserve is the most popular destination for hunters from throughout southern California, where wingshooters can also find chukar in addition to quail.
25. Anchorage, Alaska. From the regional hub of Anchorage, bird hunters can drive or fly to excellent hunting areas in all directions, which include ptarmigan, ruffed grouse and spruce grouse. To maximize your chances and stay safe here, consider hiring a guide.
Friday, April 27th, 2012
I love eating morel mushrooms in the spring, but I have a heckuva tough time finding them. I was lamenting my morel mushroom hunting shortcomings to fellow QF blogger Anthony Hauck last week when he asked the question; “can you teach your bird dog to find morels?”
The premise seems logical, right? Folks are teaching their bird dogs to hunt deer antler sheds nowadays and they are also being used to find truffles, like the Lab in this story from Oregon. A quick Google search will provide a few leads like this guy with three mushroom hunting dogs and pictures of an obscene volume of morels he claims the pups helped him find.
YouTube also provides a couple compelling examples of shroom dogging evidence:
By the way, this pup’s name ranks as one of my all-time favorites: Axel Foley, a tribute to Eddie Murphy’s hilarious character in the Beverly Hills Cop series.
So what about the bird dogs across quail and pheasant country; do any of your pups double as a morel mushroom hunter in the spring? How did you train your shrooming dog?