Archive for the ‘Quail Forever’ Category

Don’t Miss Your Shot at Quail Forever’s 2014 Gun of the Year

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Quail Engraving Close UpEach year, Quail Forever produces a custom engraved, limited-edition Gun of the Year. These collectible works of art are specially produced to support the organization’s habitat conservation mission and can ONLY be found at participating Quail Forever chapter banquets.

 

The 2014 Quail Forever Gun of the Year is a Remington 11-87 and features a beautifully engraved receiver capturing Michael Sieve’s 2014 Quail Forever Print of the Year, “The Comeback Call.”

 

Although we all know a gun is only as good as the person operating it, the Remington Model 11-87 offers the unquestionable reliability and versatility that you would expect from anything carrying the Remington name. Added to this, Quail Forever’s special Gun of the Year comes as a 20 gauge with a 26” barrel, 2 ¾” or 3” shell capability, and the distinction of having only 50 produced.

 

“We are extremely proud to add Quail Forever’s exclusive Remington 11-87 to the selection of items chapters use at banquets to raise funds for local conservation efforts,” states John Edstrom, Quail Forever’s director of merchandise. “Considering the partnership we have with Remington and the strong reputation of their brand, we are confident this gun will break clays and drop bobs for our members with both speed and style.”

 

With more than 130 Quail Forever chapters hosting banquets nationwide and only 50 guns to go around, don’t miss your shot at owning one of these exclusive collectible shotguns! Ask your local chapter if the custom Quail Forever 2014 Gun of the Year—the reliable Remington 11-87—will be at your upcoming banquet.

QF Gun of the Year

 

 

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The downside to training with frozen birds

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

This one is easy. Frozen ones, not so much.

This one is easy. Frozen ones, not so much.

Ice cream headache. Did you ever think your dog might have one?

If you train with frozen birds, he might. He’ll never admit it, but the outward manifestation might be lousy retrieves. Thanks pro trainer Larry Lee, for pointing out the obvious – to everyone, apparently, but me. I was lamenting the goofy way Manny would approach a frozen pigeon, then daintily pick it up by a wing and drag it back, sort of.

It was Larry who asked what I would do in a similar situation.  I pondered that. Now, so will you: open the freezer, pull out an ice cube and hold it between your teeth for oh, say the length of a 200-yard retrieve.

It’s no wonder Manny was less than enthusiastic. So was I. Carrying a pigeon by one wing isn’t easy.

(Scott’s line of dog training gear is available here.)

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What signals fall for you?

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Leaves are a pretty good signal.

Leaves are a pretty good signal.

Hiking in the desert, of all places, it hit me when I noticed the dried leaves carpeting the sandy ground. Last fall’s remnants kindled anticipation of this fall’s hunts. Wrong leaves, wrong place, but the die was cast – I’m ready for hunting season.

What is your trigger-tripper? A training milestone? Weather change? Test season? Youth hunt?

Something pushes you over the edge, inescapably heralding the Most Important Time of Year. But do you know what it is? And if you don’t have one, you have several months to pick one.

Go.

(Scott’s dog gear – collars, leads, retrieving bumpers – is available here.)

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Thankful … on each hunt

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Sometimes, even the view is something to be thankful for.

Sometimes, even the view is something to be thankful for.

That first long walk without a hunting partner is when it usually hits you: Boy, am I lucky. It’s funny that our “thanksgiving” comes earlier than the one on the calendar … mere days into hunting season.

We sit, scratch a dog’s ear, and reflect. It might be perfect weather, or surprisingly good shooting. Maybe your dog nailed that last covey, staunch as a magazine cover painting. It could (should, would, ought to) be gratefulness at the limp feathered body held in your hands, life gone but soon to sustain life as food.

There’s no reason it needs to be restricted to a single date. In the fields and covers there is always something to be thankful for. I’ve uttered thanks for an ankle untwisted after a leap off a basalt column. Toasted silently with a smoky draft of single malt, glad for the company sharing my campfire. Smiled inwardly at the warm welcome in a small-town’s café-post office-general store where everybody does know your name.

I don’t need a federally-funded study to tell me a better outlook on life starts with being appreciative of things large and small. My dogs, my hunting partners, my surroundings remind me every day, all season … not just on the fourth Thursday of November.

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Michael Sieve’s “The Comeback Call” Named Quail Forever’s 2014-2015 Print of the Year

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

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Minnesota wildlife artist Michael Sieve has had his painting of a calling bobwhite quail named Quail Forever’s Print of the Year. “The Comeback Call,” Quail Forever’s 2014-2015 Print of the Year, will be available at Quail Forever chapter banquets to help raise funds for upland conservation efforts.

Sieve’s studio is located on his 40-acre homestead in southern Minnesota, an area where Sieve makes Quail Forever’s mission of improving wildlife habitat a reality. “Mike is a conservationist. He doesn’t just paint, he practices what he paints,” says Randy Eggenberger, president of Wild Wings—a company that publishes/produces/distributes wildlife art and represents some of America’s top wildlife artists, including Sieve. “Mike frequently includes farms or elements of farm life in his paintings. This is very important to him because he grew up on a farm. In fact, Mike grew up on the prairie, so naturally he is an upland bird guy.”

Since 2006, Quail Forever has selected an annual Print of the Year—limited-edition prints that local Quail Forever chapters have used to raise funds for their area conservation efforts. Artists including the late James Meger, Rosemary Millette, and Jim Hautman have contributed to Quail Forever’s wildlife habitat mission as Print of the Year artists.

Hand signed and numbered prints of “The Comeback Call” are also available in limited quantity at Quail Forever’s online store.

Field Notes are compiled by Anthony Hauck, Quail Forever’s online editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@quailforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.

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Our own “New Year’s resolutions”

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Manny might not agree, but we will spend more time here working on Resolution #1.

Manny might not agree, but we will spend more time here working on Resolution #1.

The traditional version comes at the wrong time of year. We are putting things away and reminiscing about past months when we are encouraged to reveal our hopes for the coming 12 months. Thanksgiving, Christmas, then poof! There they are, at the bitter end of our favorite time of year. Instead, my resolution is to make resolutions for our “new year,” Opening Day. Record my dreams and dreads wrapped in blaze orange and dog hair in the weeks leading up to the fresh season. They started on closing day and marinated until the opener was an actual, real date on the new calendar circled in red. Then, aspirations for shooting, desires for favorite coverts and of course, miracles for our dogs are voiced over beers (or in our heads). Mine? Trivial, some might say. Steadiness from Manny on covey flushes. Stamina from 10-year-old Buddy. New places and friends in the field. Some green among the thousands of acres of ash and soot here in the West. And hope, for a safe season, strong legs, happy dogs. What are yours? (Scott’s book What the Dogs Taught Me, is available here.)

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Why your hunting dog will work for you

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Clearly, he wants something. What is it?

Clearly, he wants something. What is it?

Have you ever had a lousy boss? You know the type: harsh voice constantly berating you, cutting you down, badgering, yelling, and criticizing … never offering praise or encouragement.

Some of us have been lucky enough to have a good boss, or even been one. To others, it might have been a coach, teacher, Scoutmaster, neighbor. You remember them for their soothing demeanor, supportive attitude, mutual respect, positive reinforcement. Heck, even their critiques were constructive, almost pleasurable.

Of the two, who would you rather work for? For which would you gladly stay late to help with a rush order, or go the extra mile? The same holds true for your dog.

I’m not saying you should curry favor, suck up or kowtow to your pup. In the pack, your dog functions best when he knows his boundaries and who’s in charge. In your house, yard and field that’s always you. Establishing those boundaries and setting up your chain of command can be done in a number of ways, some better than others. One version engenders respect and cooperation, other versions foster fear or aggression.

When discipline is applied appropriately, instruction is melded with encouragement, or correction is done with restraint and sensitivity, I think your dog acquires a sense of “fairness.” I doubt that dogs truly comprehend that term, but they are certainly aware of the opposite.

Doesn’t it just make sense to create a relationship based on mutual trust, respect, and reward for a job well done? Remember back to when it worked for you; I bet it’ll work for him.

(Buy Scott’s new book here.)

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What’s bad about a good preserve hunt?

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Okay, we’ve all been on a BAD lodge/preserve hunt: Dogs that won’t hold or retrieve, pool table smooth “cover,” birds that couldn’t fly themselves out of a paper bag.

But what’s wrong with a GOOD preserve hunt? It offers much to the dog owning hunter: more plentiful birds, convenient location, a chance at that rare commodity camaraderie, and at least a taste of the natural world, even if it’s been crafted by the hands of man.

And that’s not even weighing the value of your time, driving hours (or days) to knock on locked doors and not get permission to hunt non-existent wild birds on beat-up property that was hunted by every third cousin of the landowner’s last weekend. So “paying” for birds becomes moot, unless the value of your time is zero dollars.

I just had a pretty good preserve hunt. My friend Rob and I enjoyed every minute of it, from the dog work, to the weather, to the unlittered fields we had all to ourselves. And while a true wild bird hunt offers a philosophical and possibly emotional charge I won’t get at the local lodge, it was better than nothing. Way better. And according to Buddy, pretty darn gratifying.

Caveat: don’t get on my case about the nightmares that occur at many preserves. I already know, and have lived through, them. That’s not my purpose here (maybe in another post). But consider:

Fly anglers are pretty much over the planted trout issue, except in the rarest of cases. Many of our best “wild” trout streams were barren until someone put fish in them. Even put-and-take fisheries redeem themselves with most anglers if the fish “act wild.” Clipped fins, brookies in the West, McCloud River rainbows in New Zealand … who cares as long as the package is good?

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West Tennessee Quail Culture

Monday, June 16th, 2014

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Quail Forever Farm Bill Biologist Brittney Viers with cooperating landowners Judy and Brian Robbins. Instead of continuing to plant a worn out farm they inherited, Judy and Brian worked with Quail Forever and other partners to restore their land for quail and other wildlife.

The quail culture of West Tennessee runs deep and wide.

I visited the Mid-South and Kentucky Lakes Quail Forever chapters just before the holidays. It was a very encouraging trip that began with visiting farmer Vince Arnold near Paris. He recently put in a buffer strip on a creek because it was eroding badly, but also because he wants his son Casey, who he brought out to meet me, to experience wildlife and hunting.

I next attended the annual gathering of the area Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Jackson, where I spoke about the Paris landowner, thanking the NRCS for its help in bringing hope to area quail and quail hunters. My host, QF Farm Bill biologist Britteny Viers, then showed me another, much larger quail habitat project on land owned by Judy Robbins.

“The land when I inherited it was being worked to death. I didn’t want to do that anymore,” Robbins said. She fondly recalls her grandmother, the land’s prior owner, sitting on the front porch of the farm house whistling to the quail.

The next day Walker Morris, co-founder and former president of the Mid-South Chapter, and Andy Edwards, QF regional representative, toured the famous Ames Plantation, which annually hosts the National Championship for Bird Dogs on its over 18,000 acres southeast of Memphis. Shadow Oak Bo won the 2013 competition here, the first English setter to do so since 1970.

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Farmer Vince Arnold, son Casey and wife April worked with Quail Forever to buffer a field-side stream to protect water quality and provide quail habitat.

We later toured the 30,000 square foot National Bird Dog Museum in nearby Grand Junction, which includes an amazing collection of bird dog lore that any bird dog owner should see. One display, a Remington Model 17 20 ga. pump, was donated by local Julian Fleming who bagged 8,000 wild quail with the piece between 1955-1980!

After indulging in the local quail culture, we finally got to hunt them up at the nearby Wolf River Wildlife Management Area.  Walker’s two setters “Zip” and “Bonnie” put us on some birds too and there was shooting. The woods of west Tennessee are gorgeous, with over 20 varieties of oak. The uplands grow very tall and stately with hickories, persimmon, yellow poplar, shortleaf pine, America beech and eastern red cedar. The interspersed wetlands include the iconic bald cypress, hackberry, sugarberry and water tupelo gum. The uplands are carefully stewarded, planted with native grasses, forbs and regularly burned to keep out the trees and invasives.

The next day we hunted 30 acres owned and expertly managed by Quail Forever member Mike Hansbrough, NRCS area biologist. We also put up a covey here on that beautiful, diverse habitat….and got some shooting. Viers, a wildlife biologist with a masters in forestry, also took up the chase for her first wild quail. At day’s end, we hit a well managed, 528-acre CRP SAFE (State Acres For wildlife Enhancement) project in Fayette County.

As our day closed out with the Mid-South Chapter volunteers at a great Memphis BBQ joint, thunder, lightning and heavy rain descended. The next morning in heavy rain, we fled north to Minnesota through ice and snow, grateful for our new Tennessee friends, adventures and memories they so kindly gave us.

Check out the details of this intriguing adventure in an upcoming issue of Quail Forever Journal. If you’re not a member yet, join. You’ll love our magazine and feel good about giving back to the birds.

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Put your best feet forward

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Up here, a saved step or two is worth thinking about.

On this morning’s training walk with Manny, I was reminded of the importance of how we choose our steps … and why. Hope you find something useful here:

“Walk This Way” is more than an iconic rock tune (the original version by Aerosmith, whose lead singer Steven Tyler, by the way, has been a bird hunter in the past.) Ambulating with some care husbands your precious energy and maybe save a trip to the emergency room. Where I hunt, in the darkest spot in the lower 48, both of those are good enough reasons to think before I step.

It starts with minimizing the strain on your thigh and calf muscles by stepping over, not on top of, obstacles such as logs and rocks. Each upward stride is like climbing stairs, taxing some of the largest muscles in your body and lifting virtually your entire body’s weight each time you summit a downed tree.

If you must negotiate a boulder field or rocky slope, you’re safer stepping to the low spots. You have less chance of twisting an ankle or breaking a femur because you’re carefully, deliberately putting your feet where they’d go the hard way in a mishap. And by not “topping” rocks, whether they’re securely anchored or loose as bowling balls is immaterial to your delicate bones and joints.

On steep uphills, say in chukar country, conserve energy with the slight rest your muscles get as you lock your knee at the apex of each step. Your legs’ skeletal structure supports your body weight for a microsecond, giving oxygen-rich blood a chance to flow back into relaxed muscle tissue. And for some reason I tend to stomp on each uphill step, adding injury to the insult of taunting chukars mere yards uphill from me. If you do too, step lightly instead.

A long day weaving among the trees and shrubs will seem shorter if you weave less. Even if it seems a bit out of the way, walking in longer straight shots with fewer twists and turns, alleviates stress on hip and knee joints and the muscles that activate them. Over the course of a 10-mile hunt, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the absence of pain.

Finally, the U.S. Army has convinced me that shortening your stride just a few inches is wise.  Among recruits, it protects against hip and pelvic injuries. For we hunting civilians, too. Here’s a bonus: on crusted snow, you may find yourself “postholing” less.

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