Archive for the ‘Pheasants’ Category
Tuesday, January 28th, 2014
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
Thursday, December 19th, 2013
The weather girl had it right for a change: winter was starting right on time. So did we. Here in South Dakota you can’t start hunting until 10 a.m., to me and my crew, a most civilized statute. We were in the truck and rolling a few minutes before the appointed hour, down a bumpy farm road past a feedlot and into the boondocks.
A light snow coated round bales and thistle blooms, adding magic to the morning – Tinkerbelle’s sprinkling of pixie dust – to our adventure. Gray skies weren’t enough to darken our spirits – a breeze from the west beckoned canine noses and human feet.
Buddy and Manny got the nod today. After too many miles in their boxes they trembled with anticipation. Park – guns out – cameras rolling – rattle open the door. At the timber patch that was our starting line, Manny rocketed over logs, shimmied under bushes, snaked around the ancient elms’ alligator-skin trunks. The thick grass underfoot yielded not a bird.
Once out of the timber, he was on point within seconds. Bird up! And quickly down. The young wirehair had hit his stride, galloping toward the crumpled rooster, he snuffled it into his grip. A short race back and he relinquished it gently to hand. Fifty yards later, another lock-up, cackling flush and bird crashing into the ditch. Right-left-middle he coursed until the enticing aroma of birds arrested his forward progress. One got away clean. Another was warned with a surprise early shot then grounded with the top barrel. The last rooster in the strip jinked hard right, soaring over our blocker. The shot string from his first barrel drew feathers, but the rooster reversed field and soared three hundred yards over cut soybeans before rolling as he hit the ground.
Manny was off like a drag racer at the green light, quickly outdistancing the young Labrador stationed at heel with a blocker. Scooped up and trundled 900 feet back to me and the camera, the ringneck was relinquished from the tender grasp of a bearded muzzle. Maybe it was the pixie dust, a smidgen of fairy tale. Whatever the cause, it was an enchanting day.
(Scott Linden is the creator and host of America’s most watched bird hunting TV show, Wingshooting USA. His new book, What the Dogs Taught Me is available here. )
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 email@example.com.
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.