Posts Tagged ‘Duck Stamp’

Pheasant Hunting at Waterfowl Production Areas

Friday, January 11th, 2013

WPA

North Dakota is home to nearly 40 percent of the nation’s Waterfowl Production Areas, many of which offer good pheasant hunting opportunities. Photo by Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever

For my last pheasant hunt of the year, I loaded up the dog and headed to northwest Iowa. Lured by thousands of acres of publicly accessible land, the hunting was to be at areas where I’d previously never set foot. Heck, I’d never even bagged an Iowa ringneck. Despite this lack of on-the-ground scouting and no more local insight than what I saw on the online public lands map, I was optimistic: There were Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs).

I do about two-thirds of my pheasant hunting on public lands and of that, half is accounted walking the grasses and cattail sloughs of Waterfowl Production Areas. Because they’re funded with Duck Stamps, its natural these areas are named as they are, but if you’re a pheasant hunter, don’t let it throw you off the pheasant trail. Some WPAs, with excellent grass stands, double as premiere pheasant producing areas. And many, with wetlands and thick cattail stands, become places of refuge for pheasants in the face of winter.

As snow, cold temperatures and biting winds set in, it’s no big secret that hunting cattails becomes the name of the game. Some hunters detest this while others relish it (I fall in the latter category). Once you find cattails, the X factor becomes the proximity of a food source. The first two small wetlands I pushed on my Iowa trip were unsuccessful, and in evaluating my hunt immediately afterwards, the surrounding food sources seemed rather limited.

At the next WPA, I found more food resources but also many more hunter tracks leaving the entrance lot, which almost deterred me from hunting there, but as I drove around the section, I noticed a small wetland nestled amongst the rolling hills. A quick glance through the binoculars showed no sign of hunters working this far into the property. That’s where I headed, and that’s where three pheasants were holed up, including one rooster that ended up in my game bag.

There are more than 26,000 WPAs in the U.S. – most of them located in the Dakotas, Montana, Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin – and they’re all open to public hunting. Just remember to use nontoxic shot, and do your part by buying a Duck Stamp…or two.

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

What Upland Hunters Should Know About Duck Stamps

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

 The 2012-2013 Federal Duck Stamp.

The 2012-2013 Federal Duck Stamp is on sale now. Officially known as the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, “Duck Stamps” (as they are most commonly called) are a vital tool for wetland and upland conservation.

Originally created in 1934, Ninety-eight cents out of every dollar generated by the sales of Federal Duck Stamps goes directly to purchase or lease habitat for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System. More than $671 million has been raised for habitat conservation by the nationwide sales of Federal Duck Stamps.

In additional to large National Wildlife Refuges, Duck Stamps are the primary funding source for the purchase of smaller natural wetlands and uplands, known as Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs). There are over 26,000 WPAs in the U.S. located mostly in the Prairie Pothole Regions – also known as “Pheasant Country” – of the Dakotas, Montana, Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, and Wisconsin.  North Dakota alone accounts for 39 percent of WPAs in the U.S. Wetlands on these WPAs, particularly the cattails that encircle them, provide excellent winter cover for pheasants, and the grassland habitat that surrounds WPA wetlands can provide nesting and brood cover for ringnecks. That pheasant production can mean excellent pheasant hunting opportunities, as WPAs are open to public hunting.

While ducks migrate and pheasants do not, the two fowl have related habitat needs that are simultaneously addressed with Duck Stamp habitat protection. Like pheasants, a duck’s life journey begins in a grassland. “Duck Stamp dollars spent in the Prairie Pothole Region address the most critical time for both ducks and pheasants, the nesting season. And good nesting cover for ducks is good nesting cover for pheasants,” says Matt Morlock, a Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologist in eastern South Dakota.

Pheasants Forever also supported the recent expansion of hunting opportunities on 10 National Wildlife Refuges last year, a list which included five refuges funded in part by Federal Duck Stamps.  “There’s no question we’ve seen a decline in hunting numbers,” said Dave Nomsen, Vice President of Government Affairs for Pheasants Forever. “And we need to get kids outdoors and connected with nature. Hunting can play a role in that effort and it should. The refuge system is a great opportunity.”

Federal Duck Stamps can be purchased at U.S. Postal Service locations nationwide (as well as through the Postal Service’s online catalogue), sporting goods stores and online at online at www.duckstamp.com.

This year’s Federal Duck Stamp image, of a single wood duck, is by Joseph Hautman of Plymouth, Minnesota.  Hunters over the age of 16 must purchase one if they want to hunt migratory waterfowl (which nearly half of Pheasants Forever members already do), but even if you don’t hunt ducks or geese, consider purchasing a stamp (or two – you can purchase as many as you like). Dollar for dollar, it is one of the best conservation investments you can make.

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

Is It Time For A Federal Quail Stamp?

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Is it time for a "quail stamp?"

If you are – as I am – a waterfowler as well as a quail hunter, you know how important the federal duck stamp program has been to waterfowl production and habitat conservation since its inception in 1934.  Our system of national wildlife refuges funded by our duck stamp purchases is unique in the world as a shining example of theNorth American Model of Wildlife Conservation and is something we as hunters should justifiably be proud of.

But here’s a question I’ve been kicking around in my head for a while now: would it be possible to emulate the structure and the success of the duck stamp program, but with upland gamebirds as the target species? And if it were possible, would now be the time to do it?

I think the parallels between the basic problems facing ducks at the turn of the century and upland birds now are obvious: precipitous declines in populations brought on by a steep and ever-accelerating loss of habitat.

Of course, there are also some fundamental differences, too. Ducks and geese are migratory and therefore require a certain level of federal involvement, whereas most upland species are not. For lack of a better term (and for better or worse) upland birds like quail are “states’ rights” birds.

And to what uses or goals would those funds be applied and allocated? National wildlife refuges focused on upland habitat? Research? Education? And more importantly, what species?

Admittedly, there are a host of technical and ecological roadblocks to implementing a federal upland bird recovery program. Daunting, to be sure, but not insurmountable. And with the looming threat of federal involvement in the management of several threatened upland bird species, anyway, perhaps it’s time to look forward by taking a look back into history.

What do you think? Would you be in favor of a federal upland bird stamp structured like the duck stamp program? I’d buy a federal quail stamp, how about you?

Chad Love writes for Quail Forever (Pheasants Forever’s quail conservation division) from Woodward, Oklahoma. He is a lifelong quail hunter and “bird dog guy” who also writes for Field & Stream, including the magazine’s “Man’s Best Friend” gundog blog.

Pheasant on the Duck Stamp?

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

The 2010-2011 Federal Duck Stamp features an American wigeon painted by wildlife artist Robert Bealle, of Waldorf, Md.

This Friday is the first day of sales for Federal Duck Stamps. About 1.8 million stamps are sold every year to hunters, collectors and wildlife enthusiasts, including thousands of Pheasants Forever members. Why?

  • Nearly half of Pheasants Forever’s members are also waterfowl hunters
  • Wetlands provide excellent winter cover for pheasants. Especially in the northern plains, this winter cover is crucial to maintaining the fitness of hen pheasants heading into spring nesting.
  • Associated upland habitats that surround many wetlands provide pheasants with additional cover.
  • Interspersed among grasslands, wetlands produce and provide pheasant chicks with valuable insects they need in the summer.
  • We know a little something about efficiency here at Pheasants Forever, and we really like the fact that 98 cents of every dollar used to purchase Duck Stamps goes directly to buying or leasing wetland habitat for wildlife.  That’s a program that works and has worked for a long time:  More than 75 years!

Might it be time for a longtail on the duck stamp? And we don’t mean Oldsquaw.