Posts Tagged ‘Bob St.Pierre’

Minn.’s newly-Designed Pheasant Critical Habitat License Plate Now Available

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013


Purchasers of Minnesota’s new pheasant critical habitat license plate will support grassland habitat land acquisitions.

Minnesota’s newest critical habitat license plate features a ring-necked pheasant in grassland and is now available for purchase. Revenue generated from the sales of the new pheasant plates will be used to conserve upland habitat in the state.

The DNR chose the pheasant image from a previous pheasant-stamp winner submitted by Minnesota artist Joe Hautman who said he is honored to have the plate feature his artwork. The plate was graphically designed by DNR artist Collin Grant. Minnesota motorists can purchase the new, autumn-colored plate at any licensed registrar or department of motor vehicle office. It’s not necessary to wait until tabs are expired on the vehicle to purchase new plates and the tabs for the vehicle will expire at the same time.

“We are giving motorists more ways to show their conservation colors and individual identity,” said Tom Landwehr, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner. The first pheasant plates at the Pheasants Forever national office were purchased on Friday, November 1 by Bob St.Pierre, Vice President of Marketing for Pheasants Forever.

Motorists who purchase a critical habitat plate make a minimum annual contribution of $30 to the Reinvest In Minnesota (RIM) Program. Every dollar generated through the sale of the license plate is matched with private donations of cash or land. The plates have generated more than $25 million toward the purchase of 7,700 acres of critical habitat and have helped fund nongame research and surveys, habitat enhancement and educational programs. Plate revenue will be used, in part, to support pheasant and other grassland species through Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan habitat acquisition, a plan which Pheasants Forever helped develop.

More information about how Minnesota’s critical habitat license plate sales fund conservation efforts is available online.

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.

The 5-Tool Pheasant Hunter

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

The best pheasant hunters are lights-out shooters. Photo by Rehan Nana / Pheasants Forever

The best pheasant hunters are lights-out shooters. Photo by Rehan Nana / Pheasants Forever

Back in my baseball days, we had a ballplayer come through Saint Paul heralded as one of the era’s best 5-tool prospects.  J.D. Drew was the guy’s name and after 14 MLB seasons with one World Series title; he lived up to most of the hype.  In baseball terms, a 5-tool ballplayer possesses the following five traits:

1) The ability to hit for power

2) The ability to hit for a high batting average

3) Speed on the bases

4) A strong arm from his position

5) The ability to field his position at a high level

As is often the case, my mind was bouncing as I ran the dogs this evening after work.  I started thinking about the comparable five tools of elite pheasant hunters.  Here’s what I came up with:

1) A Good Shot.  No matter how politically correct you want to be, success in pheasant hunting ends with meat on the dinner table.  So, no matter if you call a good shot “a kill,” “a harvest,” or “bagging a bird,” your hand-eye coordination better be fluid, your swing smooth and your eye dead on.

2) Endurance.  The best wild rooster chasers I know are also tremendous athletes.  If you’re going to walk a big up-and-down Dakota prairie or bust a snow-filled cattail slough with resistance against your every step, you’d better come physically fit.  A wild pheasant hunt ain’t any place for Bubba to work off his summer barbecue beer belly.

Having a good idea of where pheasants will be found depending on time of day or season is a valuable skill to have. Photo by Rehan Nana / Pheasants Forever

Having a good idea of where pheasants will be found depending on time of day or season is a valuable skill to have. Photo by Rehan Nana / Pheasants Forever

3) Birdy Cover Reader.  I had a hard time narrowing down this to one single phrase.  Under consideration were “Problem Solving Ability,” “Habitat Evaluator,” and “Signs & Signals,” but the premise of this skill is a hunter’s ability to visually narrow down the best looking habitat likely to hold birds while also eliminating the low-probability areas so as not to burn off too much energy without hope of reward. Biologists tend to be naturals at this skill; able to identify food sources, loafing areas, and thermal cover other hunters may simply look at and see as tall grass, medium grass, short grass, thick grass, thin grass or no grass.  I also absolutely see a correlation in one’s ability to judge birdy cover with their length of hunting career.  Personally, growing up as a ruffed grouse hunter, I am still a better grouse cover analyst than I am a pheasant habitat reader.

4) Dog Handling.  While some folks may choose to go without the help of a bird dog, in my opinion pheasant hunting is a team sport.  The canine component of your dynamic duo can close huge gaps in any deficiencies you may have in the first three of the tools described above.  When it comes to dog “handling,” I am referencing not only your dog’s level of skill in scenting, endurance, pointing, flushing, tracking and retrieving, but I’m also encompassing the hunter’s ability to train a bird dog, handle a bird dog in the field and (perhaps most importantly) read a dog’s body language during a hunt.

Giving back as a conservationist can mean mentoring young hunters in safety and ethics. Photo by Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever

Giving back as a conservationist can mean mentoring young hunters in safety and ethics. Photo by Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever

5) Conservationist.  I liken this category to an athlete possessing “intangibles.”  True 5-tool pheasant hunters know when NOT to take a shot.  The context of any bird hunting situation is constantly changing.  Safety and ethics come into play with every shot and a Hall of Fame pheasant hunter is a great quick decision maker.  I also view this category as a call to action for any bird hunter who doesn’t give back to the habitat ultimately responsible for the birds.  “Giving back” can mean a lot of different things to each individual.  As a Pheasants Forever employee, I’d like to think every pheasant hunter feels a sense of responsibility to give $35 annually in membership dues to an organization committed to perpetuating the future of pheasant hunting though our habitat mission.  However, I think “giving back” can also mean creating quality wildlife habitat on one’s own land, engaging politicians in conservation policy or mentoring young hunters in safety and ethics.  My point is that being a conservationist is a complex proposition, but it’s the 5th tool elevating a pheasant hunter from Barry Bonds to the rare air of Willie Mays.

Did I miss any obvious skills in my assessment of the five most important tools of a pheasant hunter?

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.

The Best Bird Dogs I’ve Ever Seen

Monday, February 11th, 2013

The author watches

The author watches Sam Cook’s “Lucy” work a western Minnesota Walk-In Access hunting area. Photo courtesy Sam Cook / Duluth News Tribune

I’ve joked with friends that I’ve never met a dog owner who wasn’t an expert. While in jest, when it comes down to it, there’s nothing wrong with having extra confidence in your training and your dog if things are working for you. “The best dog in the world” phrase may be about as ubiquitous as “Best Dad” coffee mugs, but it’s all relative – as a shamelessly biased owner and utterer, I would know.

But what if you put aside partiality and emotion for a second, then what dog(s) stands out as the best you’ve ever seen. What friends or relatives had a pup that impressed you with its all-around ability – field work, obedience and personality? What dog made an indelible impression on you at a field trial or hunt test?

Here are four from my experiences that stand out:

“Lucy,” Yellow Labrador Retriever. Sam Cook is the longtime outdoor scribe at the Duluth News Tribune, and I joined him and his Lucy in 2011, touring some of western Minnesota’s first Walk-in Hunting Areas. Bird numbers were as low in this part of the state as they’d been in years, but if there was a ringneck in the field, Lucy found it. And what we did find were runners, but that’s where her ability to stop on a whistle came in handy, allowing us to catch up before the chase resumed. She retrieved to hand and, like any lab worth their weight in kibble, made you feel like their best friend.

Photo by Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever

Brad Mccardle’s “Teigen.” Photo by Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever

“Teigen,” English Setter. Brad Mccardle is a bird bum living in Lewistown, Montana whose singular upland passion is hunting Hungarian partridge. Lucky for him, he’s got Teigen, a beast of a big-running setter bound with athleticism, drive, a nose and style. I hunted with Mccardle and a small group of pro-level dog guys – making me the odd man out – but even a relative novice like me could see a dog oozing with greatness. If I lived in open country, I’d want a dog like Teigen.

“Finn,” Black British Labrador Retriever. It’s practically a prerequisite for an outdoor scribe to have a good dog – see previously, Sam Cook – and Chris Niskanen, the former outdoors editor at the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, is no different. Niskanen hunted with my family and other members of Minnesota’s Lac qui Parle County PF chapter for a pheasant hunting season opening story a few years back. Already a decade-long veteran, Finn was the workhorse for a big group. And all the flushing and retrieving came in a compact British size, or about half your typical lab. I saw online this past autumn that even at 13-years-old, Finn was retrieving ducks in North Dakota for Niskanen, who is now the Communications Director at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Bob St.Pierre's "Trammell." Photo by Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever

Bob St.Pierre’s “Trammell.” Photo by Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever

“Trammell,” German Shorthaired Pointer. Regular readers of Pheasants Forever’s blog know of Trammell, who is dog #1 in Pheasants Forever Vice President of Marketing Bob St.Pierre’s family. I’ve seen her in the field enough to witness too many points to count, a few outrageous retrieves, but mostly I’ve seen quality performance after quality performance. There’s consistent and good, then there’s consistently good – that’s Trammell.

If you still end up listing your dog, consider yourself biased beyond repair. And that’s okay. Just know that you don’t have the best dog in the world…because I do.

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

Pheasants Forever: Member Profile 2011

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Many Pheasants Forever members - approximately 2 in 5 - have attended their local Pheasants Forever banquet for 10 or more consecutive years.

Every couple years, Pheasants Forever surveys members to gauge their thoughts and interests and to build an organizational demographic. As a member based organization, this feedback guides “The Habitat Organization’s” direction. Here’s a snapshot of the most recent profile survey. Just don’t let the word “average” fool you – there’s really nothing “average” about a Pheasants Forever member!

  • Why join Pheasants Forever? The top reasons members listed:
    • Pheasants Forever’s unique model where funds stay under local control
    • Get info on pheasant hunting
    • Receive the Pheasants Forever Journal
  • Longtime Pheasants Forever Members
    • 38% of Pheasants Forever members have been members for more than 10 years
    • 11%  have been Pheasants Forever members for 20 years or more
    • The average Pheasants Forever member has been part of the organization for 8.1 years
  • Wanted: Youngsters and Women
    • The average Pheasants Forever member is now 52.2 years old
    • 97% of members are male
  • Public Land Habitat
    • 52% of Pheasants Forever members don’t own land or own fewer than 9 acres, and 86% of members don’t lease land
    • 85% of Pheasants Forever members rate habitat preservation projects on public land as a main benefit from the organization
    • 78% of Pheasants Forever members say land acquisition projects with public access is a main benefit from the organization
  • Hunting
    • 90% of Pheasants Forever members hunt
    • The average member hunts 22 days per year, including 14 days a year hunting upland birds
    • Of those who hunt, 29 percent do so in the Dakotas annually
  • Bird Dogs
    • 65% of Pheasants Forever members own a dog
    • Of those dog owners:
      • 42% own a Lab
      • 17% own a German Shorthaired Pointer
      • 6% own an English Springer Spaniel
      • 6% own a Brittany
      • 5% own a Golden Retriever
      • 4% own an English Setter
      • 4% own an English Pointer
      • 2% own a German Wirehaired Pointer

(Compare this list to the guesses Pheasants Forever’s Bob St.Pierre had in his blog entry What’s the Most Popular Bird Dog Breed in Pheasants Forever Land?)

Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor

Rooster Road Trip – Nebraska Preview

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Nebraska's CRP-MAP initiative opens private land to public hunting.

There’s little doubt that Nebraska is over-looked in the world of traveling bird hunters.  Year in and year out, it makes the top five lists of pheasant and quail states.  Throw prairie chickens into the mix and the “Cornhusker State” has more going for it than a resurgent college football program about to enter the Big Ten. 

Chief among the state’s progressive habitat programs and partnerships is the CRP-MAP lands initiative.  The Conservation Reserve Program – Managed Access Program opens private land enrolled in CRP and managed for wildlife to public hunting.  During our visit to Nebraska, we’ll focus on these public CRP acres with the hopes of adding a few bobwhite quail covey flushes to our adventure. 

I have fond memories of my only hunting visit to Nebraska in 2004.  I bagged my first bobwhite on that trip and missed my first prairie chicken later that day.  I also connected on one of my best shots ever during that visit as a rooster tried to escape at 80 yards.  He tasted especially good next to a side of mashed potatoes.  When the Rooster Road Trip visits Nebraska next Friday, it will be Anthony and Andrew’s first time afield in the state.

Nebraska Nuggets

  • A non-resident small game license costs $81.00 plus a $20 Habitat Stamp equals a $101 total.  The license is good through the end of the calendar year.
  • The daily bag limit is 3 roosters and 6 bobwhites.
  • Hunting opens daily 30 minutes prior to sunrise and closes at sunset all season.
  • Nebraska has a little more than 1 million acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).  More than 450,000 of those acres’ contracts are set to expire in the next three years.
  • Pheasants Forever’s National Pheasant Fest 2011, the nation’s largest event for upland hunters, comes to the Qwest Center in Omaha, Nebraska on January 28-30, 2011.


Road Trip Recommendation

Boyt Gun Case: How many soft sided gun cases have you ripped with your barrel bead?  I rip at least one every other year.  I won’t guarantee that your bead won’t rip this case, but it’s about the perfect solution I’ve found merging quality and price. 

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.

The Summer of My Discontent; AKA 95 Days ‘Till Bird Hunting

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Counting down the days until the dove decoys are set...

Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, and the official start of Obsessive Calendar Date Checking. As in, as of Friday, 95 days until dove opener.

Fellow Pheasant Blogger Bob St.Pierre was the mastermind behind the “Insomniac Bird Hunter?” post on Pheasants Forever’s Facebook page last week, and even though he didn’t consult me on that one, it’s as if he read my mind. I don’t know if there’s a classified somnipathy for that, but if not, there should be. Yeah, Doc, I can’t stop thinking about how I’ll distinguish between birds going straight away as opposed to slightly quartering from me. And it’s making me not sleep. But I’m normal, right?

First, understand bird hunters. Unlike enthusiasts of other pursuits, we are treated unfairly by the world, and it makes us a bit abnormal. Stretching it (with say, crow seasons), you could say we have six months or so for our favorite activity, but most will agree the classic wingshooting season takes place in just three or four precious months. There’s a lucky percentage that enjoy close proximity to gamebirds, but a majority of wingshooters have to travel hours even for a day-hunt. Oh, and it’s expensive. Throw in all major holidays for added stress during the peak of hunting season, and I’m convinced the Creator appreciates bird hunting, but could not possibly have been a bird hunter.

To me, summer is feeling like those long Fridays in school where I couldn’t wait for the weekend so bad that my eyes fixated on what seemed to be an almost stationary clock. Don’t look at the clock, it only makes things slower. Whatever. 95 days. I’m looking. I’m counting. And double checking.