Iowa’s Three Rivers PF Chapter Keeps Hope Alive
Humorist Mark Twain once said, “the news of my death has been greatly exaggerated.” Well, after a visit with the Three Rivers Pheasants Forever Chapter in far northwest Iowa’s Lyon County, news of the total demise of pheasant hunting in the Hawkeye State is equally exaggerated. Iowa pheasant hunting has taken a beating of late, and it certainly isn’t what it used to be, but you can still bag a limit in places, which several of us did last week.
Here in Minnesota (I work at PF’s national office in the Twin Cities), hunting late season in Iowa used to be as big a tradition as the Vikings losing the Super Bowl. Iowa’s pheasant season once extended well after Minnesota’s closed. Since those days, however, Iowa pheasant habitat and hunting has generally declined in most areas – like many other states.
But, let’s not dwell on the negative just now. Rather, I’d like to report the folks at the Three Rivers chapter have worked hard to improve their public lands and the birds have survived. We hit only one public site where we saw no roosters, but there were hens. We probably bagged half our 11 birds on public land and the other half at two private sites. We missed some birds and saw more roosters flushing long along with numerous hens.
Our hunting conditions were great: a few inches of snow to tamp down the grasses, but not enough to bog down your feet; temps in the 20s so both hunters and dogs could walk long and hard and remain comfortable; and the habitat was great…diverse and tall in places for the birds to hide and stay warm, while other areas were more open for easier walking. It
was also great to see beaver sign along the creeks, deer, Hun tracks, short-eared owls, bald eagles and many fur-bearer sign.
We also hunted through a unique and thriving oak and walnut planting done by agency partners with chapter help to benefit deer, turkey, waterfowl and non-game species alike. I can see why this chapter is successful. At a get-acquainted dinner the night before our hunt, 25 folks showed up to meet the PF editor. This chapter is organized and motivated. Thanks to Pheasants Forever’s Western Iowa Regional Representative, John Linquist, for arranging my visit with the Three Rivers Chapter.
Lastly, I visited an impressive and growing project taking place on either side of the northwest Iowa-South Dakota border where about 700 acres have been protected so far. The interesting thing is both states are pushing for the area, which includes a very large and ancient native American site, to be expanded and protected as either a national monument or park. Thanks to Craig Van Otterloo, chapter habitat chair and Lyon County Conservation Board director, for giving me a tour. Stay tuned to Pheasants Forever Journal next year for more details on this exciting project.
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