Archive for the ‘Rooster RoadTrip’ Category

Dogs of the Day: “Abbie” and “Willie”

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

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“Abbie” and “Willie” are Gordon setters owned and handled by Logan Burke (left) and his dad, Jerrod. Jerrod Burke is the District V Commissioner with Nebraska Game and Parks, and is an advocate of the Open Fields and Waters Program. Pheasants Forever manages the Open Fields and Waters Program in partnership with the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission.

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 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 Recap: A Kansas Comeback

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

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The Rooster Road Trip, Team Pointer crew arrived in Smith Center, Kansas in time for a late hot beef and mashed potato dinner last night with Pheasants Forever development officer Jordan Martincich and his cousin Jimmy Garvey at a local watering hole fittingly called “Pooches.” We wolfed down the comfort food knowing what was happening outside the neon glowing windows. The cold front that had chased us out of Colorado had gained momentum as it whipped across the prairie.  Wind gusts up to 40 miles per hour had added snow to the air and ice to the roads. The most important question on our minds; “had we packed our thermal underwear?” Thankfully, our duffels were prepared for the elements even if our minds hadn’t embraced the idea of winter hunting yet.

Drought has held down the Kansas pheasant and quail populations the last few seasons. Scorched habitat and non-existent nesting success had been the trend until moisture returned this spring. Kansas is proof of the age-old biologist’s wisdom that you have to have habitat on the ground to take advantage of weather when it breaks right. With 2.2 million acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program and more than 1.5 million acres of public hunting land, Kansas is primed for a comeback. That’s encouraging considering Kansas’ historic stature as the nation’s second-highest-producing pheasant state AND second-highest-producing bobwhite quail state. And for this traveling wingshooter’s money, Kansas boasts the country’s best pheasant and quail mixed bag hunting opportunity.

Pheasants Forever's Jordan Martincich proudly displays a public land Kansas rooster while Casey Seirer looks on.

Pheasants Forever’s Jordan Martincich proudly displays a public land Kansas rooster while Casey Seirer looks on.

Despite the improved forecast for bird numbers, I admittedly woke up Tuesday and looked out the window to a snow-covered Ford F-150 and lamented to myself; it wasn’t supposed to be like this. I had successfully averted the first Minnesota snowstorm of the season by being in Kansas where it was supposed to be 50 degrees and sunny. Instead, I was greeted by wind chills estimated into the negative digits.  As our caravan pulled out of town toward our state wildlife area destination, I was pessimistic about the day’s prospects. Boy was I wrong.

Tyson Seirer, a Pheasants Forever farm bill wildlife biologist, and Ryan Grammon of the Route 36 Chapter of Quail Forever led our hunting group to a massive state complex featuring grass, milo, wooded draws and shelterbelts. It was a magnificent property obviously being managed for upland game. Hope crept out of my grin and the sun broke cloudless over the horizon. That’s when I started to put the recipe together; snow on the ground was going to provide great scenting conditions for the dogs and the high winds were going to concentrate the birds in the hollows and shelterbelts.  The foreshadowing of the day was complete when tailgates opened and 13 pointers begged release with 10 earning the first call. There were English setters, a Llewellyn setter, a pointer, a Brittany, a Vizsla, a variety of German shorthaired pointers and a pointing Boykin spaniel. Talk about a dog power game changer.

It only took fifteen minutes for shouts of “quail!” to echo across the valley with “rooster!” following in short order. There was sharp-shooting by Martincich, dozens of points from all pups, countless dogs honoring, three coveys rising, and roosters retrieved. We had hit the Kansas public habitat jackpot.

For 10 hunters and their 13 pointing dogs under a “warm” sun-soaked Kansas sky, it was a crisp morning forever engraved in our memories placing Kansas firmly on the comeback trail.

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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.

Dogs of the Day: “Cocoa,” “Tip,” “Max” & “Dot”

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

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Casey Seirer and Tyson Seirer have a lot of helping paws in the field with their German shorthaired pointer, “Cocoa,” Boykin spaniel, “Tip,” (he points), Llewelyn setter, “Max,” and English pointer, “Dot.” Tyson is a Pheasants Forever farm bill wildlife biologist from Beloit, Kans.

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.

Veterans Day

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

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On behalf of everyone at Pheasants Forever, we’d like to offer all veterans our sincerest thanks; especially to those who gave all.

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.

GUEST BLOG: Meredith St.Pierre Endorses (steals) Garmin vivofit

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Meredith St.Pierre is a fan of the Garmin vivofit

Meredith St.Pierre is a fan of the Garmin vivofit

Lucky me, Bob St.Pierre is part of Rooster Road Trip. No, I’m not lucky to be a hunting widow for the next week, I will miss Bob and our puppies while they’re on the road. I’m lucky because Garmin is a sponsor this year and they sent a vivofit for Bob to wear during the Rooster Road Trip. This means I got to try out the new vivofit because I  ”borrowed” it from Bob’s hunting supplies. You see, I’ve been considering getting something like it for the past six months and was very pleased it remained on the kitchen counter after  other gear was swooped up by Bob for test runs. I’ve looked into a variety of activity trackers, but never could pull the trigger because of the cost and I was unsure I’d actually like wearing one. After one month with my, I mean Bob’s, vivofit, I’m absolutely hooked.

In the past month, I’ve been more active which has benefited both me and the dogs, (a walk around our block is 2,000 steps). I’m also more aware of my actions throughout the day and what I can do to move. Those red bars (inactivity) start to build on the screen and my mind starts to think of what I can do to get them to clear away and it can’t be small, like a trip to the copy machine, you really have to move, this has lead to short walks during my workday. Lastly, it’s reminding me that I like to wear a watch, an added benefit I wasn’t expecting. Over the years, I’ve worn a watch here and there, but mostly I’ve relied on my cell phone to tell the time. The vivofit differs from other activity trackers on the market with this feature, among many others. It’s great to have the time, your step count, goal, calories burned and miles walked all at the touch of a button right on your wrist, no need to sync. You aren’t limited to what you see on the vivofit either, once it’s synced you can track much more on the Garmin connect website, including your sleep pattern and calories consumed.

As the Pointers get ready to hit the road, I’ve handed the vivofit over to Bob to wear. I’m interested to hear his take on it. I think the miles walked will be of most interest to him, since it’s the feature he likes best about the Garmin Alpha.

Until they return, I’ll have to follow along on Facebook and Twitter to see how many steps a day in the field he takes and compare it to my own. My highest step total was 18,694, and I reached 100,000 steps in 16 days. That’s one last thing, Bob has noticed the vivofit activated my competitive streak. I’m always trying to beat the daily goal and I love comparing one day to the next as well as activities. Now I get to compare my steps to his; let the games begin.

Happy Rooster Road Trip and Go Pointers!

This post is guest authored by Meredith St. Pierre.  Follow Meredith and the couple’s shorthaired pointers on Instagram @mstpete