Archive for the ‘Pheasants’ Category
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 We are also hopeful to direct more EQIP/WHIP funding for wildlife priorities, however those amendments were withdrawn.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?
Tuesday, April 10th, 2012
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, women’s participation in hunting has increased by 36.6 percent over the last decade. That percentage represents 660,000 new female hunters busting cattails, climbing into tree stands and hiding in camouflaged pit blinds. One of those women is Georgia Pellegrini, author of the new book Girl Hunter.
Theories abound as to why women are picking up firearms or bows in greater numbers these days. As near as I can tell, women’s reasons for enjoying hunting are as diverse as their male counterparts. In Georgia’s case, her love of food was the genesis for her interest in hunting. She explains, “I’m an omnivore who has solved her dilemma; I’m a girl hunter.”
Like Steven Rinella’s The Scavenger’s Guide to Haute Cuisine and Hank Shaw’s Hunt, Gather, Cook, Pellegrini’s Girl Hunter leads the reader on a variety of hunting adventures through the eyes of a chef first and a woman second. The end of each chapter also features a handful of recipes associated with the game she pursued during the chapter.
In the book, Georgia pursues upland birds, waterfowl and big game. She even slays a wild boar with only a knife in hand. All the while, her hunts are shaped by the people who serve as mentors, guides, and friends. There are also a few encounters with the kinds of unethical people who give all hunters and men bad reputations.
Girl Hunter’s characters are well-rounded and the stories move at a rapid pace making for a very fun read; however, it’s Georgia’s own thoughts about hunting for food that resonated most for me. In particular, the book’s last chapter about squirrel hunting stands out. I have never been a fan of squirrel meat or squirrel hunting, but the juxtaposition of this beautiful and intelligent city girl waxing poetic about her love of the nutty flavor of squirrel meat has made me anxious for September’s squirrel season.
Whether you’re a man or woman, long-time hunter or newbie, I highly recommend you find some time to read Girl Hunter.
NOTE: I also had the pleasure of interviewing Georgia for FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN 100.3FM. Listen to the March 31st podcasts for Georgia’s own recount of the book and her introduction to hunting.
Tuesday, March 20th, 2012
Last week at the North American Wildlife & Natural Resources Conference, it was my pleasure to present United States Fish & Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe with a plaque commemorating 25 years of the Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program.
During the presentation, I reflected back on the Program’s 25-years of habitat successes and the people responsible for those achievements. My fond memories included folks like Jim Gritman, who initiated the Partners program, and Carl Madsen, who wrote the very first private land contract under the Program.
Just two weeks ago it was my honor to help Partners program biologist Kurt Forman brief the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission on the plights of prairies and wetlands due to the loss of acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. We also discussed the variety of ways CRP is of critical importance to the Prairie Pothole region that includes North and South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa.
It’s been a great partnership and Quail Forever was pleased to offer our congratulations to the entire Partners program team. They’ve done a great job helping private lands farmers and ranchers complete wildlife habitat projects these past 25 years.
The D.C. Minute is written by Dave Nomsen, Quail Forever’s Vice President of Government Relations.
Win a New Shotgun, Find a New Hunting Spot and Meet a New Hunting Buddy at your Local Quail Forever Chapter Banquet
Friday, March 9th, 2012
How would you like to spend an evening talking with a couple hundred fellow quail hunters about local areas to chase birds, possibly take home a new shotgun, meet a dog trainer that can help you turn a new pup into a bird hunting machine, while at the same time helping raise a little money for improved habitat and getting area youngsters outdoors. Right now across quail country, local Quail Forever chapters are hosting their annual banquets filled with shotguns, gear, raffles, and hunting stories all for the cause of wildlife habitat conservation.
If you haven’t ever attended a Quail Forever chapter banquet, here’s a sampling of what you can experience.
- Doggone Good Time. Ever been in a room with 200 passionate quail hunters sharing hunting stories and spinning yarns about their bird dog’s awesomeness? You may want to put on your Muck boots because it’s going to get deep in a hurry, but I challenge you to wipe the smile off your face when you go to bed after a night at a Quail Forever banquet.
- Improved Local Habitat. Quail Forever operates through a unique fundraising model that empowers the local chapter’s volunteers with 100 percent control of the funds they raise through a banquet’s raffles and auctions. What that means to you is improved habitat and hunting opportunities in your local area, as well as improved habitat nationwide through the organization’s policy efforts in Washington, D.C.
- Improved Hunting Access. In addition to improved habitat, Quail Forever & Pheasants Forever chapters help open up millions of acres to public hunting each season. This improved access is primarily accomplished through either the purchase of tracts of land that become public wildlife areas or funding assistance for access programs that open up private acres to public hunting.
- Win a New Gun. Browning, Beretta, Remington, Ruger, Benelli, over/unders, side-by-sides, pistols, gold-engraving, camo, pink, .12 gauge, .28 gauge; guns in every shape and size are prizes in fun raffles with crazy names like the “Mad Hatter,” “Quail Poop Bingo,” and “Size Does Matter.”
- Meet a New Hunting Buddy. Got a great piece of property, but don’t own a bird dog? Own a great bird dog, but don’t have many places to hunt? Maybe you have a youngster at home with an insatiable thirst to learn about bird hunting? Whatever your situation, Quail Forever banquets are filled with folks interested in the same things you are – quality habitat, good bird dogs and autumn afternoons filled with flushing coveys.
Find your local Quail Forever Chapter Banquet this spring and you just might take home a new shotgun or meet the best hunting buddy of your life. Either way, we promise your attendance will make a difference for quail today and a generation of quail hunters tomorrow.
Friday, March 2nd, 2012
Today was a good day for pheasants and quail in Washington, D.C., which will translate into some good days for pheasant and quail hunters afield in the future.
This afternoon during the White House’s Conference on Conservation, President Barack Obama and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack will announce the reallocation of one million CRP acres to the most popular continuous practices within the program. Those reallocations include some of the best available tools for creating pheasant and quail habitat. The President will also announce a significant increase for signing incentive payments from $100 per acre to $150 per acre to encourage landowner participation in CRP.
No matter how staggeringly impressive the wildlife, water quality, flood mitigation and soil benefits of CRP are to society, the program needs to make sense to a farmer’s bottom line in order for CRP to succeed. Today, President Obama sent a clear signal that CRP is evolving into a more focused, strategic and financially competitive conservation option for farmers and ranchers. There is no doubt commodities are out-competing yesterday’s CRP, but it’s also clear these focused CRP practices are an asset to any farmer and rancher’s balance sheet as evidenced by the photos above.
I hope today’s announcement brings a sense of gratification to every Quail Forever member who has contacted a legislative official in support of CRP these last few months. Our meetings and your conservation testimonials have led us to these new acres. A million acres doesn’t equate to the 6.5 million acres set to expire later this year, but it is a victory in the conservation battle. A victory we needed.
Landowners interested in learning more about these continuous CRP practices or the upcoming March 12th General CRP signup should contact a Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever Farm Bill Biologist.
The D.C. Minuteis written by Dave Nomsen, Quail Forever’s Vice President of Government Relations.
Wednesday, February 1st, 2012
6,526,717. That’s how many acres currently under a CRP contract are set to expire this autumn. If you thought last hunting season was tough, think about the ramifications to pheasants, quail, ducks, deer and our nation’s water quality if we lose 6.5 million acres more of critical habitat created by CRP lands. The clock to re-enroll those acres started this morning when the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a new CRP General Signup.
Here are the key pieces of information on the upcoming signup:
- Timing: Starting date is Monday, March 12th and it will run through Friday, April 6, 2012
- EBI: Offers for CRP contracts are ranked according to the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI). USDA’s Farm Service Agency collects data for each of the EBI factors based on the relative environmental benefits for the land offered. Each eligible offer is ranked in comparison to all other offers and selections made from that ranking. EBI rankings will use the same factors as the 2011 CRP general signup.
- No Acre Target: The USDA has said there is no current acre target for this signup, so it’s critical that all landowners with an interest in enrollment check out their options at their local USDA Service Center.
- Technical Assistance: Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologists are eager to assist landowners make the most competitive offers possible. Contact your local Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologist.
- National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic 2012: All attendees to this year’s event in Kansas City can sit down with a biologist and receive one-on-one expert advice on their CRP offer or any other federal conservation program. Stop by the Landowner Habitat Help Room at the show to learn more.
At last year’s National Pheasant Fest in Omaha, USDA Secretary addressed our attendees, “Over the past 25 years, support for CRP has grown thanks to strong backing from partners like Pheasants Forever, farmers, ranchers, conservationists, hunters, fishermen and other outdoor sports enthusiasts. Not only has CRP contributed to the national effort to improve water and air quality, it has preserved habitat for wildlife, and prevented soil erosion by protecting the most sensitive areas including those prone to flash flooding and runoff.”
If you know a landowner interested in CRP, make the call and get them informed on the new CRP General Signup. The clock on 6.5 million acres is ticking. The pheasants and quail that call those acres home are depending on us.
The D.C. Minute is written by Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Government Relations.
Friday, January 27th, 2012
I remember the first time I ever met Kim Price. It was at SHOT Show in 2005. Pheasants Forever was investigating the formation of Quail Forever and Kim owned Covey Rise, the nation’s only monthly publication dedicated exclusively to the bobwhite quail.
“I bet you couldn’t even hit a quail over a pointed covey,” Kim poked me. “Son, after shooting those basketball-sized pheasants all fall long, a covey of quail would eat you alive.”
It turns out Kim was right about my shooting prowess, but he grossly underestimated the survival instincts of a flushing rooster.
“B Saint P, that basketball was hummin’,” Kim giggled after a rooster flushed behind two empty barrels of his over/under a few years later on a South Dakota prairie.
Kim was a man who favored over/under shotguns, laughed easily, recognized good habitat, loved bird dogs, enjoyed writing and appreciated solid journalism; which is to say we were fast friends.
Around the marketing department, my team affectionately referred to Kim as “Sweet Home” referencing his Alabama roots, southern drawl and steadfast support for our PR efforts. As you probably heard, or inferred by now, Kim passed away last week after a lengthy battle against cancer. He was a champion for quail and for pheasants, he was the epitome of a professional, and he is a friend I will miss forever.
I conducted the following Q&A for a blog post last year. I thought it appropriate for all of you to learn a little more about my friend Kim from his own words.
Kim N. Price
Born in what town: Alexander City, Alabama
Current Town of Residence: Alexander City, Alabama
Family: Wife, Janet; Chilluns, Whitney, Matt, Chase, & Griffin
Occupation: Owner and President of Price Publications, Inc. , publishers of three weekly newspapers and Covey Rise, national quail hunting publication
Dogs: Baxter, a Boykin Spaniel and Herkimer, Collie/lab mix
Favorite place to pheasant hunt: South Dakota
Favorite place to quail hunt: Thomasville, Georgia
Favorite pheasant hunting shotgun: Beretta Lightweight 12- gauge
Favorite quail hunting shotgun: Browning Citori 28-gauge
Best pheasant hunt of your life was: My first time six years ago in Clark, South Dakota, and my last time in Kansas.
Best quail hunt of your life was: Albany, Texas at the Stasney Cook Ranch. We saw probably 60 coveys on the roads driving into the ranch, and over the next two days the dogs found about 70 coveys.
How did you first get involved with Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever? I was asked to serve on the national board to help institute Quail Forever as part of a national organization seeking to restore quail populations across the Northern Bobwhite’s landscape. I also serve as treasurer now.
What is your favorite aspect about serving on the National Board? Conservation is my life and PF/QF is truly all about conservation. Our board is made up of dedicated conservationists who give of their time to work on important conservation issues whether locally at a chapter meeting, at a quarterly national board meeting, a committee meeting or working on pushing conservation issues in Washington, D.C.
What is the single biggest challenge facing Pheasants Forever in the future?
My biggest concern not just for PF/QF, but for all conservation organizations is the loss of critical conservation programs in the 2012 Farm Bill. That one issue is the great challenge for Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever. Fortunately, PF/QF is the hands-down leader in conservation work in Washington on the Farm Bill and PF/QF has an awesome respect among the decision-makers – I know because I’ve seen it in person. It’s about habitat. The loss of sensitive brood rearing habitat and food cover areas that could get plowed under due to a lack of Farm Bill program funding could be disastrous. The Conservation Reserve Program alone helped return pheasant populations to the landscape and without CRP and other conservation-friendly programs, pheasants, quail and other upland species are in for a rough time down the road.
Times are bleak for America’s bobwhite quail. What is it going to take to turn the tide?
Habitat restoration. I know that sounds basic, but it is. States with on-the-ground programs are making a difference using federal and state programs available to landowners. That is key. Since the 1980s bobwhite quail have lost much of their reproductive and successional habitat. Farming practices changed, timber practices changed and fire was removed from the habitat for too long. That closed the timber canopy – ever heard of Kudzu – and quail had no place to live under the tall Southern pine forests. Predators began dominating the shadows and populations started declining in the 70s. By the 1980s, some states, like my own Alabama, had seen as much as 80 percent to 90 percent loss of bobwhite populations. That is significant. Quail Forever’s goal is to get as many on-the-ground chapters working with as many individual landowners on a contiguous basis to promulgate quail restoration. Along with state wildlife quail biologists – many who serve on the National Bobwhite Technical Committee – and federal agencies like the Farm Service Agency, we can work together to make this happen. In a perfect world, the “Deep South” would have just as many Farm Bill biologists helping landowners plan, plant and burn so the landscape benefits Mr. Bob. I asked FSA Administrator Jonathan Coppess at the recent Pheasant Fest in Omaha if it is possible for states and FSA to team up with QF chapters to get these Farm Bill biologists on the ground. He said he would work to help us notify his state managers in the south. That cooperation is what it will take because it represents the biggest opportunity for faster landscape change. Then, we will see bobwhite populations return. They may never get back to the 1960s, but they’ll be back to a point you can go on the back porch and hear that ole man whistle again.
I’ll miss you Sweet Home. I’ll rejoin you down the road for a hunt, so remember to leave a few birds in those coveys for seed.
Thursday, January 26th, 2012
I spent most of last week at the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor, Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas where retailers in the hunting industry typically announce new product launches. New gear for the bird hunter in 2012 included offerings from Muck Boots, Under Armor and Irish Setter. However, the most eye-popping products for me were Franchi’s new Instinct L and Instinct SL over/under shotguns.
Part of the Benelli family, all Franchi shotguns are Italian made and will be on display in Kansas City at National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic coming up next month.
Check out this fantastic video of the new Instinct L: