Archive for the ‘Rooster RoadTrip’ Category

Iowa Roadside Survey: Region-by-Region Pheasant Breakdown

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

IowaRoadsideMap

This year the statewide index is 17.4 birds/route, a 151 percent increase from the 2013 estimate. This year’s statewide count is the highest seen in over 6 years dating back to 2008.

Based on this year’s statewide index, Iowa pheasant hunters are expected to harvest between 200,000 and 300,000 roosters.

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

S.D. Pheasant Brood Survey: Region Breakdown

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

SDbrood

The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks has completed the annual pheasant brood survey and the results show a 76 percent increase in the statewide pheasants-per-mile index from 2013: 2014 Pheasant Outlook.

Despite the 76 percent bump this year, South Dakota statewide pheasant numbers are still a long ways from the recent modern highs of the mid-to late 2000s, checking in at 53 percent below the long-term average. The statewide pheasant-per-mile index is similar to 2002 when hunters harvested 1.26 million roosters.

Additional South Dakota pheasant resources:

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

Positive Pheasant Forecast Needs to Be Tempered by Reality

Monday, August 25th, 2014

A rooster pheasant flushes and glides to heavier cover on Sand Lake NWR in South Dakota. Photo credit: Tom Koerner/USFWS

A rooster pheasant flushes and glides to heavier cover on Sand Lake NWR in South Dakota. Photo credit: Tom Koerner / USFWS

The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks just recently completed their annual pheasant count. While the results won’t be available for a couple weeks, from everyone’s observations it appears as though pheasant numbers could be up from last year’s dismal count. If that’s true, that will be good news not only for South Dakota pheasant hunters but also for the countless businesses that benefit from the millions of dollars in revenue the tradition generates annually. Pheasant hunting is a true bellwether of the high quality of life South Dakotans have come to cherish. Supporting the habitat necessary to this time honored tradition benefits all South Dakotans economically, in clean waters and quality of life.

But if there indeed is an increase in pheasant numbers, that good news needs to be tempered. The “pheasant crisis” South Dakota has experienced over the past few years has not been solved. The findings will simply mean that a winter, spring and summer conducive to survival rates for adults and their broods have ticked the pheasant count upward. Next year may bring a far different set of circumstances.

The long-view for pheasant success in South Dakota calls for a stop to the upland habitat loss of recent years. Photo by Matt Morlock / Pheasants Forever

The long-view for pheasant success in South Dakota calls for a stop to the upland habitat loss of recent years. Photo by Matt Morlock / Pheasants Forever

If South Dakota truly wants to increase and stabilize its pheasant population, the issue of declines in pheasant habitat must be addressed. While tough winters and wet springs play a role in population changes, it’s the loss of habitat that’s responsible for the long-term decline of pheasants in the state. This habitat loss is the result of CRP and native prairie conversion, as well as drained wetlands and cattail sloughs. Since 2006, more than 450,000 acres of grasslands and prairies in South Dakota have been converted from wildlife habitat to row crops.

That is why I and many others are so hopeful about the upcoming recommendations of the Governor’s Pheasant Habitat Work Group. The Work Group has a unique opportunity before it to make policy recommendations that will permanently increase and stabilize pheasant populations by addressing the primary problem – habitat. There are dozens of different programs and practices that can be implemented to create higher quality habitat including: CRP, buffers, pollinator plots and cattail sloughs, as well as preserving all the areas that are difficult to farm that often have a lower cost-benefit ratio. There are also opportunities to better manage tremendous existing habitat throughout South Dakota, such as Waterfowl Production Areas, Game Production Areas, school lands, tribal lands and roadside ditches, for wildlife that is already on the ground.

Without addressing the problem of declining habitat, South Dakota will face a future of lower pheasant numbers, punctuated by population crashes as dictated by harsh winters, wet springs and/or drought. The resulting “boom-bust” cycle will not only have a negative effect on South Dakota’s time-honored family tradition of pheasant hunting, it will be devastating to businesses and their employees ranging from motels to restaurants to guide services to sporting goods stores. When populations are healthy, pheasant hunting brings $223 million into South Dakota each year and creates 4,500 jobs.

South Dakota has a unique opportunity to not only significantly improve pheasant habitat for the long-term, it can show that through creative management practices that farming and wildlife can be compatible. It does not have to be an either/or situation. Both industries are vitally important to this state and I believe South Dakota’s inherent can-do attitude will make it possible to have a strong agricultural industry and productive wildlife habitat that will not only produce an abundance of pheasants and other game, but also help assure cleaner water and healthier grasslands.

I am looking forward to seeing the official results of the road count and what I hope will be good news. I am also looking forward to the recommendations of the governor’s task force and the subsequent actions of policy makers that will hopefully help to assure that South Dakota will forever be known as the “Pheasant Capital of the World.”

-Dave Nomsen leads Pheasants Forever’s new Regional Headquarters in Brookings, S.D.

Rooster Road Trip Dog of the Day: “Nitro”

Friday, November 1st, 2013

MN6

Nathan Holt, a board member with the Nobles County Pheasants Forever chapter, and his black Labrador retriever, “Nitro,” prepare to hunt one of the wildlife complexes his group has helped create.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor, at ahauck@pheasantsforever.org.

Too Cool for School, But Not for Pheasant Hunting

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Nolan Benzing (left), 20, from Gilman, Iowa, and Brooks VanDerBeek, 19, from Oskaloosa, Iowa, head up the Iowa State University Pheasants Forever chapter in Ames, Iowa. Photo by Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever

Brooks VanDerBeek, 19, a sophomore at Iowa State University in Ames, wrote his paper ahead of the due date earlier this week so he could skip class, rope a buddy into doing the same, and join Pheasants Forever’s Rooster Road Trip for an afternoon of public land pheasant hunting in Iowa.

Brooks didn’t have to twist his friend’s arm too much. Nolan Benzing, 20, is also an underclassman at Iowa State, and he’d already been out duck hunting this morning. Both studying natural resources, VanDerBeek and Benzing are the president and vice president, respectively, of the Iowa State University Pheasants Forever chapter, which was the first college PF chapter to form in the country.

If VanDerBeek and Benzing had a Halloween party to get to later in the evening, they were already dressed for the occasion, though I get the feeling they pull this kind of stuff even when the Rooster Road Trip’s not in town. Hopefully your professor is a pheasant hunter, Brooks, and looks kindly upon you. But if not, you still get an A for the day in our book.

Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.organd follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.

Rooster Road Trip Dog of the Day: “Mazi”

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Mazi

“Mazi” is Uriah Hansen’s German shorthaired pointer. A Pheasants Forever member who volunteers for the Northern Polk Pheasants Forever chapter, Hansen is actively involved in his chapter’s efforts to improve upland habitat on public wildlife areas in Iowa, and he enjoys hunting those areas with his GSP.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor, at ahauck@pheasantsforever.org.

Rooster Road Trip Gun Review: Browning Cynergy Feather Composite

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

The Browning Cynergy Feather Composite 12 gauge. Photo by Rehan Nana, Pheasants Forever

The Browning Cynergy Feather Composite 12 gauge. Photo by Rehan Nana, Pheasants Forever

Until this week, I’d never shouldered an over/under shotgun. Hunting pheasants across five states in five days may not seem like the ideal time to not only switch shotguns, but switch from the only action (pump) you’ve known for nearly 20 years. Thankfully, the Browning Cynergy Feather Composite has made the transition seamless.

So seamless, in fact, the first longtail I swung on in North Dakota crumpled at the report of my first-ever o/u trigger pull. As I cracked the shotgun open to eject the spent shell, for a moment it seemed like my life was complete. Then, when the dog retrieved the bird and I put the Cynergy up on my shoulder for a memorable trophy picture, it was.

While this o/u isn’t yet a classic in the aesthetic sense, the black composite is striking enough to draw looks in the field, and the gold enhanced grayed finish is pleasing up close. The composite make also has an almost “sticky” feel to it, making for confident gripping and shouldering.

Weighing in at just 6 lbs. 7 oz, with an ultra-low profile, the Browning Cynergy Feather Composite is the type of shotgun you can carry around the field all day, or in my case, five consecutive days.

One North Dakota rooster escaped unharmed when I momentarily forgot I wasn’t carrying a pump. I had all night to brood about this golden hour operator error on the safety and one unfulfilled dog. I vowed not to let it happen again, that tomorrow is a fresh start. Seeing the next rooster flushed coming back to me in the mouth of a happy little dog made me feel like I’d been shooting this Cynergy my entire life. And if all we can do is live in the moment, I had been.

Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.organd follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.

Rooster Road Trip Dog of the Day: “Diana”

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Diana

“Diana” is Mick Jensen’s small munsterlander, shown here with a rooster bagged on a Nebraska Open and Fields and Waters property in northeast Nebraska. A Nebraska Game and Parks Commissioner, Jensen represents the state’s northeast district in overseeing the state’s fish, wildlife, parks and outdoor recreation resources. The Open Fields and Waters Program is a joint project of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and Pheasants Forever.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor, at ahauck@pheasantsforever.org.

Rooster Road Trip South Daktota Recap – GSP Edition

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

SD6

From left, German shorthaired pointers “Mojo,” “Chance” and “Jackson.” Photo by Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever

What I’m about to write may come across as being a bit blasphemous, perhaps even somewhat deranged but hear me out, because in the long run I think I made the right choice.

Today I consciously decided to have my yellow lab, Beau, take the day off as we hunted the pheasant rich region of Pierre, South Dakota. That’s right, she sat crated as I chased birds.

After doing some pre-road trip scouting (read: hunting) Saturday and Sunday in North Dakota followed by a hard day’s hunt on Monday, I figured a day off in SoDak would pay dividends as we weave our way through the rest of the trip. After all, the bird dog cavalry was in town.

Linking up with us outside of Pierre was a motley crew of five hunters, five yellow labs, and four German shorthaired pointers. Wasting no time, the proverbial line was quickly drawn on the icy dirt road: Team GSP would go east while Team Lab would head west.  I chose east.

Being a lab guy, I saw this as a good opportunity to experience a different style of bird hunting. You know, the kind where every shot is a well-orchestrated layup and thick cover would be avoided in favor of flowing fields of grass. I was wrong, at least about the thick cover part.

Forming a line with PF Regional Representative, Mike Stephenson, Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist, Jim Ristau, and Habitat Specialist, Justin Derga, we set out behind the four GSPs and cut straight toward a large section of cattails.

With fresh snow revealing recently laid pheasant tracks, we slowly navigated the thick thermal cover. With the exception of a few wild flushes, the dogs repeatedly locked-up on birds that were more than comfortable sitting tight until a well placed (or lucky) boot forced a move.

All-in-all we saw more than a hundred birds in that one section. Of the birds we kicked up within shooting range, most of them were hens but we were able to scratch out five roosters before heading back to the truck. Granted, a couple birds slipped through our patterns and one was smart enough to wait until we were reloading to show himself, but that’s why it’s called hunting, not shooting, even if you’re walking behind a pointing dog. And that’s tough for me to admit.

Who knows? Maybe today’s hunt was just what I needed to push me over the edge and put my name down on that wirehair I’ve been mulling over. But even if that’s so, it won’t be for a couple more years. Right now I’m still loving every second of following Beau because as the saying goes, “flushers have more fun.” Right?

All kidding aside, today was encompassed by great people, stellar dog-work, textbook public habitat and flushing pheasants. Whether you’re team pointer or team flusher, that’s something you can appreciate.

The Over/Under blog is written by Andrew Vavra, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Marketing Specialist.

Rooster Road Trip Dogs of the Day: “Mojo,” “Chance” and “Jackson”

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

SD6

This trio of German shorthaired pointers locked up on four roosters on a morning hunt at a South Dakota Game Production Area. Pheasants Forever has contributed to prescribed burns and tree plantings at this north-central South Dakota public tract. From left, Jim Ristau, Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist, and his dog, “Mojo,” Mike Stephenson, Pheasants Forever Regional Representative in South Dakota and his dog, “Chance,” and Justin Derga, Pheasants Forever Habitat Specialist, and his dog, “Jackson.” Back right is Andrew Vavra, Pheasants Forever Marketing Specialist.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor, at ahauck@pheasantsforever.org.