Posts Tagged ‘Farm Bill Biologists’

Designing Shelterbelts for Pheasant Winter Cover

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Like most businesses, the Monday morning conversations at Pheasants Forever revolve around the weekend’s hunting and fishing adventures with a side of weather talk.  My morning started off with a fascinating lesson on shelterbelts from Ron Leathers, Pheasants Forever’s Public Finance Director and a certified wildlife biologist.  Considering another winter storm is forecasted to hit Pheasants Forever’s National Headquarters in Minnesota again this evening, it seemed appropriate to post today about winter cover in spite of it being April on the calendar.

A shelterbelt’s effectiveness in creating winter cover for pheasants, as I learned during my conversation with Leathers, centers on proper design.

This graphic illustrates a typical shelterbelt layout in relationship to wind direction and farmstead

This graphic illustrates a typical shelterbelt layout in relationship to wind direction and farmstead


Northwest

Because winter winds and snow blow from the north and west, shelterbelts should be constructed with the idea of blocking these winds from the areas you are most focused on “protecting” from the elements.

Snow Catch

According to Leathers, snow will pile for up to 10 times the height of your first row of trees.  In other words, if your front row of trees are 10 feet high, then snow will pile up behind that row for 100 feet.  Consequently, it’s important to recognize the need to have considerably more than 100 feet behind that first row if you plan to provide any suitable amount of winter cover.

Lift Trees

The center of any shelterbelt should feature a section of the tallest trees in the planting.  These “tall lift trees” help to reduce wind speed and provide better protection for the core winter cover beyond the snow catch and lift trees.

Thermal Cover

The inner-most portion of a shelter belt should include four or more rows of thick thermal cover, like evergreens.  This thickest of covers provides ground level protection from wind and heavy snows during severe winter storms.

Shelterbelt cross section in color

Added Benefits of Shelterbelts

A well-designed shelterbelt can effectively protect buildings and roadways from drifting snow and can cut winter heating bills by 30 percent.  Shelterbelts aid in livestock ranching by trimming feed costs by affording protection from chilling winds.  And a beautiful grove of trees can also increase a farmstead’s property value.

Ron showed me this shelterbelt around a wetland as an example.  It features a good snow catch and interior lift, but the spacing is too narrow and it lacks protection from the north.  As a result most of the cover tends to fill in with snow without maximizing winter cover potential for pheasants.

Ron showed me this shelterbelt around a wetland as an example. It features a good snow catch and interior lift, but the spacing is too narrow and it lacks protection from the north. As a result most of the cover tends to fill in with snow without maximizing winter cover potential for pheasants.

You can learn more about shelter belts, winter cover and other important tips for creating habitat on your own property by purchasing Pheasants Forever’s Essential Habitat Guide for a mere $2.95.  It’s priced so affordably because we want it in the hands of anyone interested in creating habitat.

Farm Bill Biologists

Another source of expertise are Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologists.  These professionals are specialized consultants in conservation programs and habitat planning. Not only can they help landowners design shelter belts and other specific habitat projects on your property, they are also experts in local, state and federal conservation programs that may provide cost-share opportunities.  For our full list of Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologists, follow THIS LINK.

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 North Dakota Recap

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

I’ve personally had North Dakota circled on my Rooster Road Trip calendar thanks to an omnipresent billboard campaign featuring the ring-necked pheasant that ran all summer in the Twin Cities.  That campaign billed the state as “Legendary” and today North Dakota lived up to the slogan.

A billboard promoting North Dakota located close to the Pheasants Forever national headquarters this summer.

Our public land du jour were a pair of CRP tracts enrolled in North Dakota’s PLOTS program by Matt Olson, the Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologist for Sargent County.  PLOTS stands for Public Lands Open To Sportsmen and is a gem opening up private land to hunters.

Rachel Bush, Pheasants Forever’s Farm Bill Biologist from Jamestown also joined us today with her fantastic black Lab duo of Belle and Haley in tow.  Rachel and her husband are both natural resource professionals who have relocated to North Dakota from my home state of Michigan.  “We love the prairie, we love the duck hunting and we love the pheasants.  North Dakota is home,” explained Rachel as we followed our dogs along a cattail slough.

Rachel Bush, Pheasants Forever’s Farm Bill Biologist based out of Jamestown, North Dakota, and her lab, “Belle,” with a North Dakota public land ringneck.

The action was fast and furious out of the gates as a smattering of hens flushed a few minutes after shutting tailgates.  Shortly after the hens, a pair of sharp-tailed grouse escaped my immediate species identification, but a running rooster was not so lucky.  After my young shorthair Izzy tracked it for 200 yards in high winds, the bird flushed at my feet with my head camera rolling.  If you look at the video closely, I almost pulled the trigger a hair early and would have missed behind the bird.  Thankfully, I reset and swung through the bird for a clean connection.

Despite high winds all day long, which resulted in many birds flushing wildly, we had Rachel and Matt’s sharp shooting as the day’s secret weapon.  Rachel, in particular, made THE shot of Rooster Road Trip 2012 with a rooster so high in the air you’d think it was considering migrating south as it screamed over her.  But Rachel expertly swung to her right with the fluidity of the avid duck hunter she is and dropped the ringneck from the rafters.   Legendary!

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre.