Archive for the ‘Pheasants’ Category

Rooster Report: Late Season Comes Early

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

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Almost overnight, pheasants have had to adjust to conditions which turned the season from a warm, Indian-summer-type autumn into what seems to be the dead of winter. Where you were seeing birds two weeks ago – in light grasses along just-harvested fields – is not where they are going to be now.

Thanks to inches of fresh snow (or more in other stretches of pheasant country and a very cold shift in the weather pattern, late season hunting conditions have arrived. So, even though it’s November, you’ll want to shift your tactics to adjust to where the birds are now located and hunt like it’s the end of the season. Using winter strategies now will fill the pouches in your game vest.

The Game Has Changed
It’s not uncommon as the end of the season approaches to have pheasants flush wildly, sometimes over 100 yards away. Having been on the receiving end of the autumn chase has made birds wise. The slightest sound – be it a truck door slamming, a command to a dog, or the crunch of snow underfoot – sends pheasants skyward. Many times, there is nothing a hunter can do about it; that’s just the nature of winter birds.

Cattails

However, by being as stealthy as possible, you can up the odds in your favor. Start by being ready when you pull up to your hunting spot. Remove the keys from the ignition before opening the door, and be sure the radio is off. When closing vehicle doors, don’t slam them; gently close them and press them shut. Quietly let your hunting buddy out of his kennel, and if you can direct him with hand signals or slight whistles, that will help your chances too. As you begin your pursuit, try to step on soft snow, as opposed to wind-hardened or melted and refrozen snow, which is crunchier and louder underfoot. Even the slight sound of snow can set birds off at a distance. Limit in-field conversations as well – the human voice is a big red panic button for roosters this time of year.

Tromping through Thick Cover
Just as you may add blankets on your bed as winter sets in, pheasants look for cover that will help keep them warm as cold temperatures become the norm and snow accumulations push them from lighter grasses. Brush and willow thickets, along with evergreen trees like spruce, juniper and cedar provide excellent buffers against the wind. With a good amount of grass around the bases and lower limbs, these windrows form perfect pockets where birds can hunker down, and walking these areas can help you identify staging spots for wily winter roosters.

snowtracksThick cattails also provide thermal cover, and the snow gives hunters an advantage in locating where the birds are in winter sloughs. Cold weather has not only started to freeze the water in these areas of cover, opening up more space for birds to run through, but it also provides hunters the opportunity to access places that were too waterlogged to walk earlier in the season. It’s a great chance to see what portions of a slough are being used frequently by pheasants, just make sure the ice you’re walking on is solid and provides firm footing, for you and your bird dog!

Eyes on the Ground
By walking the edge of thick cattail cover and keeping an eye out for tracks and wing or tail marks along the perimeter, you’ll know exactly where the birds have been entering or exiting the slough and where to start your dog on the search. Tracking bird movements, thanks to recent snowfall, is a hunter’s greatest advantage at this time of the year. The sign proves birds are around, shows where they are moving and gives insight into the daily habits of the local pheasant population. You’ll want to key in on places where you find a number of tracks and areas where the birds are holing up or scratching for food. From season to season, these areas of cover with super-highways of four-toed tracks will be places to check out on each hunt, whether early in the year or later on.

Ain’t Over ‘Till It’s Over
Just because the weather is colder and the birds are spookier, doesn’t mean hunting is done. Until the last light of the season’s final day, even the wariest rooster can be had with a few modifications to your hunting style, and awareness to pheasants’ seasonal needs. Try these tips to find success as late season hunting takes flight!

Photo credits: David Strandberg (top), Pheasants Forever file photo (middle), Craig Armstrong (bottom)

-Nick Simonson is a freelance outdoor journalist from Marshall, Minn. He also volunteers as the president of the Lyon County Chapter of Pheasants Forever.

Minnesota is Talking Pheasants: Register Now for State’s First-Ever Pheasant Summit

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

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How does Minnesota combat the expiration of approximately 300,000 Conservation Reserve Program acres in the coming years? How can the state and conservation groups like Pheasants Forever partner more effectively? Can improvements be made to existing conservation programs that improve grasslands and pheasant populations? Your ideas are wanted now in Minnesota.

Minnesota’s ring-necked pheasants are at a crossroads for conservation, and the state is taking action! On Saturday, Dec. 13, Pheasants Forever and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are presenting the first-ever Minnesota Pheasant Summit in Marshall, an event convened by Governor Mark Dayton. Join us! The event will bring hunters, farmers, policymakers, conservationists, and key members of the Governor’s Cabinet together to discuss strategies to increase the pheasant population, improve pheasant habitat, and ensure future generations can enjoy the thrill of flushing pheasants.

Register today—registration is free and includes lunch. The Summit begins at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 13 in Marshall, MN at the Southwest Minnesota State University (Conference Center-Upper Ballroom).

Busy that weekend?—sign-up for the Pheasant Summit’s email updates to receive notification when the online survey is available to send in your input.

The time has come to bring Minnesotans together to talk pheasants and upland habitat. Make sure you’re involved.

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

Rooster Road Trip Recap: Nebraska sets Public Access Standard for Bird Hunters

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

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One of the reasons I look forward to the Rooster Road Trip every year is because it serves as my own form of a pheasant country survey. I enjoy comparing bird numbers, topography, geographic hunting differences, habitat conditions and access programs. As I reflect on today’s memorable 2014 Rooster Road Trip finale, I can say without qualification that Nebraska’s Open Fields and Waters Program is the country’s best template for opening up private land to public hunting access.

Like all the best ideas, the genesis for Nebraska’s Open Fields concept occurred during a hunting trip in 1996 between Jim Douglas of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and Pete Berthelsen of Pheasants Forever. The next year, the Conservation Reserve Program-Managed Access Program (CRP-MAP) was created to open up private CRP acres for public access, but with a wrinkle unique from other states. CRP-MAP incentivized landowners to improve the habitat on those acres when qualifying for the access payment. The result was an economic carrot for landowners to create higher quality cover.

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A few years ago, the Nebraska Game and Parks Department changed the name from CRP-Map to the Open Fields & Waters Program for the purpose of creating access for other forms of public recreation, like fishing. The program has also added a scoring system to incentivize additional habitat practices on private land with higher landowner payments. In other words, the higher quality of habitat and the greater potential for hunter satisfaction on array of species, the bigger the payment available for a landowner.

I’ve focused my pheasant hunting on these acres during every previous visit to Nebraska over the years and this morning was no different. Led by Andy Houser, a Pheasants Forever farm bill wildlife biologist, we released our pointers into the frosty morning breeze blowing into a beautiful stand of bluestem. Two roosters received early warning of our arrival and flushed just out of gun range within minutes of leaving the truck.

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A third rooster was not so wise. He rose to the sky off my German shorthaired pointer Trammell’s nose and banked to the left before a load of Prairie Storm 4’s brought him back to the grass. Jerrod Burke, District V Commissioner with Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, handed the rooster to me after his Gordon setter made the retrieve and alerted me to jewelry, a red band, on the bird’s ankle.

Houser explained that biology students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit net the wild roosters during autumn nights prior to hunting season. After capture, a leg band is secured and the bird is released. Then as hunters bag those roosters, researchers are able to determine many things like distribution and life expectancy.  After a phone call with the leg band’s number, Houser reported this morning’s banded rooster was indeed captured in this very CRP field earlier this autumn and was born this spring.

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Shortly after all photos of the leg band were complete, Burke added a rooster to his own game vest with a smart left to right crossing shot. And later at the far corner of the field, Trammell was able to equal her previous Nebraska retrieving feats by tracking down a rooster I had winged on a far straightaway shot (my nemesis). While our collection of pups and hunters searched the spot the bird “should be,” I watched Trammell on my Garmin Alpha screen as she zipped to my left 60 yards. With trepidation, I watched her get further and further from me. But this was Nebraska and Tram has a history of “delivering the mail” for me here.  After a few minutes, I’ll be darned if Pheasants Forever’s Colby Kerber didn’t yell to our collection of hunters “here comes a pup with a bird in her mouth.” As any bird dog loving guy or gal will tell you; that kind of retrieve makes cleaning up the puppy messes, the torn shoes, the begging at the table, and the veterinarian bills all worthwhile.

We worked a total of four Open Fields tracts between a cheeseburger and hot chocolate (with whipped cream, of course) before calling an end to the official 2014 Rooster Road Trip. While there were plenty of roosters still to chase, photos needed uploading and blog posts needed composing. Plus, I submitted Thursday and Friday as vacation days before I left Minnesota. My own personal Rooster Road Trip, without camera or computer, starts tomorrow. Where? A Nebraska Open Fields & Waters parcel of course. I’ll be there at 8AM. I don’t drink much coffee, but grab me a hot chocolate with whipped cream and we’ll turn a couple of dogs loose into the wind together. Safe travels and see you on the Rooster Road!

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Follow along to the 2014 Rooster Road Trip at www.RoosterRoadTrip.org and be sure to mention #RRT14 in all your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts.

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

All Bird Dogs Should Go to Heaven AND Nebraska

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

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Pheasants Forever’s Bob St.Pierre and his late hunting partner, “Izzy,” were very fond of Nebraska’s uplands.

For nostalgic reasons, my most anticipated destination on the road is Nebraska. Over the years, “The Cornhusker State” has been a very fun place for me and my shorthairs.

My oldest shorthair, Trammell, and I have had some of our most epic hunts around

the Open Fields & Waters lands of southwest Nebraska. The incredibly well-managed habitat is as birdie of cover as I’ve ever encountered and the “bunching” of the grasses on these acres creates natural spots for birds to hold tight – perfect for a pointer. During our first-ever Rooster Road Trip back in 2010, Trammell locked up on six consecutive rooster points in an hour. Anthony, Andrew and I were thrilled to slip those birds into our game vests. One of those roosters in particular stands out as unquestionably the best retrieve of Tram’s life. On snowy evenings after the season, I’ve often replayed that field’s hunt, points and retrieves in my mind.

A few years later, I brought my young puppy “Izzy” to Nebraska for her introduction to the Rooster Road Trip.  Six-months old and all puppy, I watched Izzy become a bird dog locking up on a covey of bobwhite quail during our first walk in Nebraska. Magically, I dropped a double out of that covey and Izzy brought them one-by-one back to me. Sadly, Izzy passed on last autumn well before her time.

This year, I’ve got Esky, a new 6-month old puppy, along for the Rooster Road Trip. Esky is Trammell’s niece and Izzy’s half-sister. She was born in Iowa, lives in Minnesota, but I’m optimistic Nebraska will produce a moment with Esky I’ll remember forever.

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Follow along to the 2014 Rooster Road Trip at www.RoosterRoadTrip.org and be sure to mention #RRT14 in all your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts.

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

Rooster Road Trip Preview – Team Pointer in Nebraska

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

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Wednesday, November 12th

We’ll be hunting in southwest Nebraska near the town of McCook.

Shooting Hours: 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset

Daily Limits: 3 rooster pheasants per day / 12 in possession.  6 quail per day / 24 in possession.  3 sharp-tailed grouse per day / 12 in possession (west of hwy 81).

We’ll be focusing our day’s hunt on Nebraska’s wonderful Open Fields & Waters program.

We’ll be focusing our day’s hunt on Nebraska’s wonderful Open Fields & Waters program.

Public Hunting Land

We’ll be focusing our day’s hunt on Nebraska’s wonderful Open Fields & Waters program.  Through the program, the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission in partnership with Pheasants Forever pays private landowners to improve their CRP acres for wildlife and open those acres up for public hunting.  Additionally, Open Fields & Waters also pays landowners in southwest Nebraska a fee to allow walk-in hunting access on tall wheat and milo stubble (at least 15 inches) that is left undisturbed after harvest.  There are roughly 270,000 acres enrolled in the Open Fields & Waters program with approximately 80,000 of those acres located in southwest Nebraska.

Nonresident Licensing

Nebraska Game & Parks Commission offers a full season non-resident small game permit for $81 in tandem with a state Habitat Stamp for an additional $20 to hunt pheasants and quail in the state.  There is also a two-day permit available for $56.  A hunter education certificate number is required.

Pheasants Forever’s Impact in Nebraska

Pheasants Forever Chapters: 60

Quail Forever Chapters: 3

Pheasants Forever Members: 9,199

Quail Forever Members: 526

Habitat projects completed in Nebraska: 96,698 projects

Total habitat acres improved in Nebraska: 3,782,754 acres

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Follow along to the 2014 Rooster Road Trip at www.RoosterRoadTrip.org and be sure to mention #RRT14 in all your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts.

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

Rooster Road Trip Preview – Team Pointer in Kansas

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Tuesday, November 11th (Veterans Day)

We’ll be hunting in north central Kansas near Smith Center.

Pheasant/Quail Season: November 8, 2014 – January 31, 2015

Shooting Hours: 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset

Daily Limits: 4 rooster pheasants per day and 8 bobwhite quail per day.

NOTE: Kansas is the only state with a 4 rooster bag limit!

KS WIHAPublic Hunting Land

We’ve got a trifecta of public land targets in Kansas with a state wildlife area, a national wildlife refuge and WIHA (Walk-In Hunter Area) acres all on our list of prospective spots.  We’ve been told to get ready for quail coveys this year as the area’s bobwhite numbers are on the upswing.

Non-resident Licensing

Non-Resident licenses are $72.50 with a very affordable $2.50 greater prairie chicken permit available as an add-on.  I consider these prices a steal for the amount of public land (more than 1.5 million acres) and mixed bag opportunities available in Kansas.

News & Notes

A recent Associated Press article noted that hunters contribute more than $600 million annually to the state’s economy.

Upland Bird Forecast provided by KDWP&T

Northern High Plains

Pheasant–This region maintained the highest spring densities of pheasants. As a result of delayed wheat harvest and improved weedy cover in this region, production improved, indicated by a nearly 50 percent increase in the brood survey compared to 2013. Despite this increase, the dramatic decline of pheasant populations over the last several years limited the breeding population preventing large-scale recovery. Hunting opportunities should be improved throughout most of this region but the highest densities will be found in the northern half of the region.

Quail– Populations in this region had been increasing prior to the drought; however, the deteriorated habitat conditions associated with the drought resulted in significant declines in production. This area is at the extreme northwestern edge of bobwhite range in Kansas, and densities are relatively low compared to central Kansas. Hunting opportunities in this region will be limited this year but the best areas will be in the eastern and southeastern counties where adequate cover is present.

Pheasants Forever’s Impact in Kansas

Pheasants Forever Chapters: 38

Quail Forever Chapters: 8

Pheasants Forever Members: 5,544

Quail Forever Members: 1,058

Habitat projects completed in Kansas: 7,946 projects

Total habitat acres improved in Kansas: 210,419 acres

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Follow along to the 2014 Rooster Road Trip at www.RoosterRoadTrip.org and be sure to mention #RRT14 in all your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts.

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

Rooster Road Trip Recap: Blown Away in Colorado

Monday, November 10th, 2014

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The Colorado of my imagination is painted by herds of elk roaming the Rocky Mountains. In reality, Colorado is a state of dramatic topographical diversity with an agricultural terrain not unlike neighboring Kansas or Nebraska dominating the eastern third.

The state’s primary pheasant range exists in a geographic triangle between the towns of Sterling, Holyoke and Yuma. This land is checkered with corn, wheat and grassy CRP blocks. In fact, Colorado has 1.98 million acres currently enrolled in CRP which is the third highest mark in the country behind only Texas and Kansas

Bob Hix, Pheasants Forever’s regional representative for Colorado, favors hunting walk-in areas of harvested wheat fields in which shin-high stubble has been left as residual cover. Upon our arrival in the state over the weekend, we spent some time hunting these areas, but found only limited success with Pheasants Forever’s Logan Hinners dropping the group’s first Colorado ringneck.

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For the first day of the Team Pointer leg of the Rooster Road Trip, we were joined by a group of representatives from Colorado Parks & Wildlife which included Director Bob Broscheid and Terrestrial Section Manager Craig McLaughlin and his talented trio of German shorthairs. As we pulled into the parking area this morning, a cloudless sun-soaked sky shined 50 degree temps onto our 10 person hunting group. Whenever I hunt in groups this large, I’m always concerned about safety. To this gathering’s credit, every hunter was diligent about safety to the point of being overly polite when the first rooster cackled to the sky at 20 yards in front of the center of our line. It was that Colorado pheasant’s lucky day with every gun’s muzzle safely pointed straight up and every safety firmly engaged in each hunter’s hand. The second rooster must have figured his chances as good as the first and he was right.  Even the third rooster flushed without a shot fired. Finally Ed Gorman, a Pheasants Forever chapter member and Parks & Wildlife employee, swung on a fourth rooster that was not to be so lucky as the first three pardoned birds.

By the time we returned to the parking area, temperatures had plummeted 25 degrees and winds had grown to a steady 30 miles per hour with gusts somewhere just shy of almost knocking us over. Winter was coming to Colorado and we were squarely in its path.

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After a few fruitless efforts to push walk-in areas along the state’s eastern border with Kansas, the wind pushed us back to our trucks in retreat. The downside of our Rooster Road Trip is the need to keep moving to the next destination. Colorado is a state with tremendous sunsets, topographical beauty and wonderfully nice people. It’s a pheasant destination worth spending more than 24 hours trying to figure out.  Count me and my pointers in for a return Colorado connection.

Total Productive Points Today: 13

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Follow along to the 2014 Rooster Road Trip at www.RoosterRoadTrip.org and be sure to mention #RRT14 in all your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts.

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

Rooster Road Trip Refresher

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

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Welcome aboard the Rooster Road Trip for the second half of this year’s adventure.  If you’re new to the Rooster Road Trip or Pheasants Forever, here are the Top 5 things you need to know.

  1. The Messenger Hunters.  Anthony, Andrew, Elsa and I are avid bird hunters who have the good fortune of being employed by Pheasants Forever.  We are not professional hunters, expert dog trainers or members of any company’s pro staff.  Some shots we make, some shots we miss.  We’re just like the average pheasant hunter.  We are, however, expert communicators of Pheasants Forever’s mission who have set out to tell the story of how membership in Pheasants Forever leads to quality wildlife habitat and publicly accessible hunting lands.  Thank you for checking out our videos, photos, blogs and tweets along the way.
  2. Public Lands Only.  All hunting along the trip is done exclusively on lands open to public hunters.  Sure we’ve been invited to private honey holes, but that’s not the point of the Rooster Road Trip.  Our mission is to demonstrate that anyone with a desire to lace up their Irish Setter boots and follow a good bird dog can find roosters on public land made possible through Pheasants Forever and our partners.  Our travels include Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs), Public Lands Open to Sportsmen (PLOTS), Walk In Hunter Access (WIHA), Open Fields & Waters program, and many other programs turning habitat into opportunity.
  3. Sponsors Riding Shotgun.  Every good road trip requires a trusty navigator to help pay for gas and spin a good yarn when eyes grow windshield-weary.  Thanks to Apple Autos, Browning, Garmin, Irish Setter, Zeiss, Leer and Federal Premium Ammunition, we have seven featured sponsors who have contributed generously to our conservation cause in the form of dollars, prize giveaways and gear to review.  We also are pleased to have North Dakota Tourism, Explore Minnesota, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism, and Nebraska Game & Parks Commission along as day sponsors.
  4. Win a Browning Citori.  Every person that joins or renews a Pheasants Forever membership through the exclusive Rooster Road Trip membership link will receive a chance on a brand new Browning Citori 725 field 20 gauge over/under shotgun.  Additionally, all Rooster Road Trip memberships come with a year’s subscription to the Pheasants Forever Journal, Pheasants Forever vehicle decal and a special gift from Browning.
  5. Effectively Efficient.  One of the facts I’m most proud about as a Pheasants Forever employee is our ability to convert our members’ dollars into our wildlife habitat mission.  In fact since the organization’s formation in 1982, Pheasants Forever has been able to turn more than 91 cents of every dollar into more habitat.  You’ll also be comforted to know that national charity watchdog, Charity Navigator, also gives us their highest rating.

Jump on in and ride along.  There is plenty of room in the truck!  Follow the 2014 Rooster Road Trip at www.RoosterRoadTrip.org and be sure to mention #RRT14 in all your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts.

 VIDEO: Rooster Road Trip 2014 Teaser

 

Sponsors

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

 

Rooster Road Trip Preview – Team Pointer in Colorado

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

Monday, November 10th

We’ll be hunting in Colorado’s famed pheasant golden triangle located between Holyoke, Sterling and Yuma.

Shooting Hours: 30 minutes before sunrise till sunset

Daily Pheasant Limits: 3 rooster pheasants per day / 9 in possession.

Mixed Bag Potential: we’ll be hunting where we may run into some bobwhite quail.  Daily bag is 8 quail with 24 in possession.

Nonresident Licensing

Colorado Parks & Wildlife offers an easy online license purchasing experience and it is one of the most affordable pheasant destinations for the traveling wingshooter.  A daily small game one day non-resident license costs $10 with an additional $10 habitat stamp.  A second day can be added for a mere $5 more.  One special note unique to Colorado is that they do require you to have your Hunters Safety Certificate on you unless that card has been verified at a CPW office.  Once verified, hunters are in the system and are no longer required to carry their certificate in the field.

Future Chukars

One other note of interest: Colorado has chukar hunting opportunities on the west slope and has recently started an introduction program up the Poudre Canyon on the front range (this area is currently closed for hunting).  Although we won’t have chukar opportunities on this hunting trip, it will soon provide a unique hunt for the traveling upland hunter in the future.

Colorado’s most productive pheasant country is the triangular area between Holyoke, Sterling and Yuma.

Colorado’s most productive pheasant country is the triangular area between Holyoke, Sterling and Yuma.

Pheasants Forever’s Impact in Colorado

Pheasants Forever Chapters: 16

Pheasants Forever Members: 3,372

Pheasants Forever Expenditures in Colorado: $11.6 Million

Habitat projects completed by Pheasants Forever in Colorado: 8,412 projects

Total habitat acres improved by Pheasants Forever chapters in Colorado: 104,929 acres

Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologists in Colorado have also improved 531,859 acres

Grand Total: 636,788 acres improved by Pheasants Forever in Colorado!

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Follow along to the 2014 Rooster Road Trip at www.RoosterRoadTrip.org and be sure to mention #RRT14 in all your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts.

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

Rooster Road Trip: Great Plains Pointing Dog Primer

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Chasing autumn openers behind pointers is where it's at!

Chasing autumn openers behind pointers is where it’s at! Photo by Bob St.Pierre / Pheasants Forever

As the most senior (aka oldest) member of the Rooster Road Trip, I had the advantage of picking the states I wanted to hunt with Team Pointer prior to Team Flusher’s selection.  So, my Catholic upbringing necessitates that I come clean about the advantages I weighed when factoring in my decision to select the Great Plains destinations of Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska over states with arguably higher concentrations of roosters.

1) Winter is Coming: Four inches of snow fell on Wednesday night just 40 miles north of my home in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. While I consider myself a hearty Northwood’s hunter who isn’t afraid of a cold hunt, given my choice, I’d hunt 40 degree sunshine soaked days all season long. Can you blame me? After last winter’s recurring “polar vortexes” put Minnesota into 30 below zero deep freezes, I’m guilty of making autumn last as long as possible. Advantage: Pointers

2) Chasing Openers: I love opening day of the season. To me, a state’s pheasant hunting opener is more exciting than Christmas morning. So why not celebrate opening week with our Pheasants Forever brethren in Colorado and Kansas? Admittedly, this stacks the odds significantly in our favor over Team Flusher considering Andrew, Anthony and the gang hunted states with openers weeks ago. There is no secret to the science behind there being more roosters in the field on opening weekend than will be around to be chased three weeks later. Advantage: Pointers

3) Walking vs. Busting.  I’ll be the first to admit a Labrador retriever, or similar flushing breed, is a better pheasant dog in the birdie cattail sloughs of Minnesota and the Dakotas. My GSPs and my 5’7” frame would choose the rolling plains of Kansas any day of the week over getting our butts whipped by the thick thermal cover of the north. Matching a dog’s style with habitat puts both groups in their preferred situation. Advantage: Push

4) Mixed Bags.  Have you ever walked up on a dog on point expecting a rooster to cackle to the sky only to have a covey of 14 bobwhite quail rise and whirl like bumblebees all around you?  Nine times out of ten, I’ll empty the Citori without anything falling. But, on that tenth time, on that tenth time when you bag a double. Talk about a bird hunting high! Throw in the possibility of greater prairie chickens to our bag and the advantage is obviously ours. Advantage: Pointers

All right pointing dog lovers, what other advantages will Team Pointer have over the Flushers in the week to come?

Follow along to the 2014 Rooster Road Trip at www.RoosterRoadTrip.org and be sure to mention #RRT14 in all your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts.

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.