Posts Tagged ‘Minnesota’

Rooster Road Trip Minnesota Recap

Friday, November 9th, 2012

When I’m in my 70s, I want to be just like Louis Kamrowski.  From the instant I met Louis, he reminded me of Wayne Terwilliger, the Minnesota Twins first base coach during their Worlds Series seasons of 1987 and 1991.  I had the pleasure of working with “Twig” during my time at the Saint Paul Saints Baseball Team and was always amazed at how spry Twig was into his 70s.  Louis was the exact same way as he charged into cattails, willow thickets and big bluestem with more exuberance than men a quarter his age.  And with Louis, smiles are free and he doles them out liberally to everyone he greets, which is pretty much anyone from the greater Fergus Falls area.


“You can’t take Louis anywhere if you’re in a hurry.  Everyone knows Louis because he’s involved in everything; Pheasants Forever, VFW, Minnesota Deer Hunters; the list goes on,” explained Steve Pletta, fellow chapter officer with Kamrowski in the Otter Tail County Chapter of Pheasants Forever. “Louis is busier these days as a retired guy than he ever was while working as a state patrolman.”


Louis Kamrowski and Steve Pletta show off a pair of morning roosters bagged on a WMA that their Otter Tail County Pheasants Forever Chapter helped create for public access.

It’s guys like Louis and Steve who have volunteered their time, enthusiasm and heart to Pheasants Forever over the organization’s 30 years that has made Pheasants Forever the most effective and efficient non-profit upland conservation group on the planet.  The Otter Tail County Chapter epitomizes this success as a diverse group of people with a common habitat interest.  Dozens of public Wildlife Management and Waterfowl Production Areas covering more than 4,000 acres open to hunters now polka-dot the county’s map along rivers and around wetlands as the chapter works diligently to acquire lands in connected corridors to provide the greatest impact for pheasants, prairie chickens, deer, turkeys and migrating waterfowl.


On this, our final day of the 2012 Rooster Road Trip, we hunted two of the chapter’s projects south of Fergus Falls with Louis, Steve and their pair of turbo-charged bird dogs.  Louis runs a fantastic 9-year old named Cocoa, a German wirehair and chocolate Lab mix, and Steve’s retrieving machine is named Coal, a black Labrador and golden retriever mix.


As dark clouds gathered in preparation for the area’s first predicted winter storm of the season, we pushed into the heaviest cover of the trip; a mix of cattails and willows.  According to Andrew’s Garmin Fenix watch, it took exactly 12 minutes and 51 seconds for Louis to swing on a rooster and drop it with his true second shot as we stood chest high in the middle of a cattail slough.  A half hour later, Andrew’s yellow Lab, Beau, led Louis on a 200 yard sprint before Louis filled his daily limit with another true “bang” from his semi-auto.


Like I said, when I’m 70, I want to be just like Louis Kamrowski; happy, in great shape, still hunting roosters and working as hard as ever to make a difference for the future of wildlife habitat.  In a nutshell . . . men and women like Louis are making Pheasants FOREVER a reality for all of us.  Thanks Louis!


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

SODSAVER: Prairie Grasslands Get Needed Support

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

One of the final additions to the U.S. Senate’s 2012 Farm Bill language was the inclusion of the John Thune (R-S.D.) & Mike Johanns (R- NE) amendment to limit insurance on newly converted croplands.  The provisions commonly known as “Sodsaver” are a strong addition to the Senate’s conservation title and were included with bipartisan support as the Farm Bill worked its way through the Senate Agriculture Committee.


U.S. Representative Tim Walz and PF's Dave Nomsen after recent D.C. hearing where Nomsen testified in support of Sodsaver provisions and other conservation programs.

A few minutes ago, a companion House of Representatives “Sodsaver” bill, called the Protect our Prairies Act, was introduced by Representatives Kristi Noem (R- S.D.) and Tim Walz (D- MN).  This bi-partisan leadership is exactly the type of action we need to strengthen a conservation title that will likely reduce overall federal funding for many of our existing conservation programs.  Strategically focused federal policy can go a long way in support of wildlife and conservation priorities despite funding reductions, and in this case will help provide critically needed support for existing native prairie habitats.  An added plus is this “Sodsaver” provision actually SAVES nearly $200 million in federal spending.


However, at this stage of the bill, it’s simply a proposal.  To ensure this policy reaches the final 2012 Farm Bill and ultimately hits the ground for habitat, please consider helping me do two things.  1) Thank Representatives Noem and Walz for their leadership, AND 2) ask your U.S. House Representative to join them in co-sponsorship of the Protect our Prairies Act.


U.S. Representative Kristi Noem (center) after a day hunting with family in South Dakota.


The D.C. Minute is written by Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Government Relations.

Senate Agriculture Committee Fosters Optimism for 2012 Farm Bill

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Senator Amy Klobuchar and Minnesota farmer Darrel Mosel after the Senate Agriculture Committee Hearing on Tuesday

Yesterday in Washington, D.C., I attended a United States Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on conservation programs and the 2012 Farm Bill.  During the proceedings, a bipartisan group of Senators and a collection of farmers from across the country voiced support for a number of federal conservation programs. Given the current political climate, I took the vocal support for our favorite programs, like the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), as a positive signal entering this year’s critical Farm Bill debate.  Watch video of the hearing.


Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) kicked off the hearing articulating her support for public access and the Michigan pheasant initiative, specifically noting her attendance at Pheasants Forever’s State Chapter Meeting in Michigan earlier this month.


She also added, “Conservation helps farmers and ranchers to produce food, feed, fuel and fiber while taking care of the land and water.  The Farm Bill is a jobs bill, and that’s as true of the conservation title as it is for anything else in the Farm Bill.”


Following Chairwoman Stabenow, Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-KS) voiced his support for a strong Conservation Reserve Program in the Farm Bill.


U.S. Department of Agriculture officials testifying included NRCS Chief Dave White and FSA Administrator Bruce Nelson. When queried about what the Senate Ag Committee should do about a new Farm Bill, Chief White characterized last year’s Super Committee agreement by Agriculture leaders as having “knocked it out of the park” for conservation and recommended following that path.


Administrator Nelson was asked about the future of CRP.  In his response, he spoke about more diversification and targeting of CRP acres, increased use of the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), and expanded partnerships like those with Pheasants Forever to provide local wildlife conservation expertise in the form of PF’s Farm Bill Biologists.


Senator John Thune (R-SD), from the pheasant capital of South Dakota, voiced a need for 1.5 million acres of CRP in his home state to continue South Dakota’s $250 million dollar pheasant hunting industry.  He noted the success of targeted practices like CRP SAFE (State Acres For wildlife Enhancement) and Conservation Practice 37, which focuses on duck nesting habitat.


Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) also voiced her support for an entire suite of conservation programs and noted their importance to Minnesota’s hunters and anglers. Senator Klobuchar also spoke about the importance of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) funding in combination with Farm Bill programs.


All things considered, it was reassuring to hear such a large bipartisan group of Senators talk about the importance of conservation programs.  However, talk doesn’t put habitat in the ground, clean water in our streams or roosters in the air, your senators and representatives need to hear from you now about the future of conservation programs.  Please contact your elected official and let them know that you want to see this verbal support for conservation turn into actions and a new Farm Bill with a strong conservation title protecting our nation’s wildlife and natural resources for future generations. 


The D.C. Minute is written by Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Government Relations.

Live Life Like a Bird Dog

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

PF Member Joe Nicklay's Britt, Daisy

My love of bird dogs is obvious to regular readers of this blog.  Today, I’m honored to share the story of a fellow Pheasants Forever member, Joe Nicklay, and his beloved Brittany, Daisy.  As I’ve said before, the only thing bad about bird dogs is the short length of time we get to spend with them.  

The Day the Bell Went Silent

For nearly fifteen years I’ve listened to the sound of a sleigh bell as it rang in the woods, fields and sloughs.  I followed this sound listening and waiting for it to go silent.  And when it did, I approached with great anticipation, knowing that Daisy had once again located a grouse or pheasant.  She would remain motionless as I approached to flush the bird.  Many of the times I would fail her efforts and the bird would sail off untouched. 


As the years unfolded from her days as an excited puppy when I wasn’t always sure if we were hunting bugs or birds, to her transformation into a seasoned hunter, she became the real joy of fall.  Her endless energy and enthusiasm supplied by an internal drive to endure hours of heat, wet and often cold days when the snow was deeper than she could stand, left all that hunted with her in awe.  If she had any shortcoming it was only a result of me. 


She taught me more than I ever could teach her.  She reminded me daily that life should be approached with a smile or wag of the tail and enjoyed even when it seems less than ideal.  This fall there will be some grouse and pheasants that can breathe a sigh of relief for on Sunday, June 26th, the bell went silent for the final time.   

–Joe Nicklay, Pheasants Forever Member from Finland, Minnesota

Thanks to Joe for sharing his memories, and for reminding us all . . . Time is short – Live life like a bird dog! 

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

October 2011

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Are you counting the days till October too?

As the snow falls out the window behind me again today, I can’t help but think about pheasant hunting season.  Apparently, I’m not alone.  According to our website’s analytics, the most commonly searched term driving pheasant hunters to our website the last few weeks is “October 2011.” 

My hunch is that folks are already planning their 2011 fall pheasant hunting calendar.  While not all states have announced their 2011 pheasant seasons yet, I’ve been able to find opening day dates online for most of the top pheasant hunting destinations.  So here you go! 

2011 Pheasant Hunting Opening Days

(These dates are tentative, please be sure to check your state’s regulations)

Colorado                                                    Not announced till July

Iowa                                                           Saturday, October 29

Kansas                                                       Saturday, November 12

Montana                                                     Saturday, October 8

Minnesota                                                  Saturday, October 15

Nebraska                                                    Saturday, October 29

North Dakota                                             Saturday, October 8

Ohio                                                           Not announced till July   

South Dakota                                             Saturday, October 15

Wisconsin                                                  Saturday, October 15

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

Pheasants Forever’s Ballroom Blitz

Monday, February 21st, 2011

It's banquet season in Pheasants Forever land.

As I shoveled my truck out from a foot of fresh snow this morning, a smile came across my face as I remembered pitchers and catchers report to spring training this week.  Yes, winter still has its icy grip on pheasant country, but not for much longer.  Another clear indicator of spring’s approach is the activity at your local banquet hall.  February, March and April are the months of banquet season on the Pheasants Forever calendar.

Nearly two-thirds of all our members join Pheasants Forever during the spring banquet season.  As a non-profit conservation organization, our entire existence flows from members.  Members are the dirty fingernails that plant habitat.  Members are the mentors that introduce a new generation to our hunting traditions and land ethic.  And, members are the votes our elected officials pursue with conservation policy decisions.  Plus, Pheasants Forever boasts the unique model in which our local chapters are empowered with the responsibility to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds will be spent – the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure. 

So what Pheasants Forever banquet will you be attending this spring?  Consider this your invitation to join our conservation cause. 

I’ll be emceeing Scott County Pheasants Forever’s 25th Anniversary Banquet this Thursday in Jordan, Minnesota.  When I checked this morning, there were only 18 tickets left available.  If you’d like to join the fun and buy tickets, call Stacy at 612.202.6119.  Hope to see you there! 

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

Opening Day Puppy

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Here's a photo of Trammell on the first hunt of her life. Notice that there are no birds in the bag as yet.

Yesterday afternoon at the office, fellow PFer Rick Young and I were discussing the best time to bring home a puppy if you wanted the dog ready for this fall’s hunting season.  In Rick’s opinion, folks had better be looking hard at breeders now if they are planning to be hunting over a new pup by autumn.  I’d have to agree with that assessment.

My pup, Trammell, was born in mid April of 2007.  She came home with us in early June.  So at 5 months old she hunted ruffed grouse in Michigan and at 6 months old she hunted pheasants in Minnesota.  Okay, “hunted” is an exaggeration.  She went along for a run and learned “how to hunt” from the other dogs.  However, by the end of her first season at nine months of age, she was certainly showing the signs of becoming a darned good bird dog with solid points and confident retrieves. 

Backing off the math from my experience with Trammell, I’d assess that puppies born in February would enter into the 2011 pheasant season in pretty solid form, given proper obedience training and exposure to both gunfire and live birds.

Which brings me to Pheasant Fest in Omaha this weekend; whether you are interested in pointers, retrievers or flushers, attendees will be able to check out a wide array of breeders and litters.  There will be breeds I can’t pronounce (Braque du Bourbonnais), breeds that sound like ice cream (Spinone Italiano) and the most popular breed in America (Labrador retrievers). 

So what do you think, if you could pick the perfect age to have your pup enter into his/her first hunting season, how old would that pup be on opening day?  Drop your comment below.

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

Day 2 – Minnesota

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Bob and Andrew ready for day 2 of the Rooster Road Trip.

Is this November 9th in Minnesota? It’s going to get up near 60 degrees again, which has us wondering if our Rooster Road Trip vehicle is a time machine that’s taking us back to October. No one’s complaining, just de-layering.

One concern heading into the first two days of the trip – in North Dakota and Minnesota – were the firearm deer seasons in those states. We’ve come across very little deer hunting pressure, and competition with other bird hunters has been nonexistent. It’s nice to have the place to yourself!

After getting up (literally) in the dark to hunt at sunrise in North Dakota yesterday, returning to the “gentlemanly” starting hour of  9AM in Minnesota was quite the pleasure. The reality of what we’re trying to accomplish – hunting 5 states in 7 days – is finally creeping into our bones. Translation: it felt good to sleep in.

We started off a few minutes after shooting hours opened at a Minnesota Wildlife Management Area / federal Waterfowl Production Area complex southwest of Madison, Minnesota. For those who don’t know, Madison, located in west-central Minnesota not far from the South Dakota border, is my hometown, and we decided to put my local knowledge of the area to use for the Rooster Road Trip.

The home field advantage paid off at the first area – a spot on which I’d duck hunted a month ago and had seen some pheasants. An hour or so walk had yielded no flushes, when Andrew and his Lab, Beau, worked through the last area of cattails on the tract. Lesson: always finish walks out. Two hens flushed out the front, then a rooster went out the back door. Bob made sure he didn’t have time to close it.

This afternoon, we’ll be hitting two more public areas concentrating on willows and cattails edges. More on that subject from Bob later. For the “Golden Hour” today, we’ll close out at one of the newest pieces of public property near Madison – one purchased with the help of the local Lac qui Parle County Pheasants Forever chapter and Minnesota Pheasant Habitat Stamp dollars.  So more on that to come, too.

If you’re reading this in Minnesota, please be sure to tune into WCCO radio this evening where I’ll be recapping our first two days afield on LIVE OUTDOORS with Mitch Petrie and Mike Max.

Time to hit the road and see if we can yell “Rooster!” a few more times today.

Are Possession Limits Additive Over State Lines?

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

Anthony, Andrew & I pose for a picture in my front yard before launching our Rooster Road Trip.

As we embark on the Rooster Road Trip, it’s obviously important for us to follow the letter of the law in each state we visit to pheasant hunt.  Most issues are pretty clear (non-toxic vs. lead shot, shooting hours differences, private lands access programs, etc.). 

However, there is one issue we began to get concerned with addressing: possession limits in hunting five different states consecutively.  Are possession limits additive based on the number of different state licenses you have to hunt pheasants in your possession? 

For instance, how should we identify birds bagged in North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Nebraska to make sure a conservation officer in Kansas doesn’t issue us a citation for having more than the possession limit for pheasants in Kansas on their opening day? 

Likewise, is it legal for us to bag our South Dakota 3-bird individual limit by noon and cross over into Minnesota with those SoDak birds in the truck to chase Minnesota roosters till sundown? 

To obtain the answers, I emailed the wildlife department of each state’s natural resources agency.  Turns out, these questions aren’t asked very often.  Easy to see why!  And, yes, I’m probably over-estimating our expected success.  However, I live by the “better safe, than sorry,” mantra.  Anyway, here’s what I’ve found. 

Pheasant possession limits are additive by the state licenses in your possession . . . mostly.  The best guidance offered was to bag each bird individually with the hunter’s name, license number, the state harvested, and date.  They also all reminded me that it’s important that each bird has the proper body parts left on for identification (wing, head and/or leg).  

Although the burden of proving wrong-doing falls upon the state conservation officer, it’s pretty guilty looking for three guys to be in possession of a couple dozen birds in a cooler on Kansas’ opening day.  Our Road Trip would certainly present trouble for a conservation officer that encounters our ugly mugs. 

The solution may be to simply fire up the Smokey Joe each day and cook our harvest as we go.  At least that will give us a few built-in recipe blog entries along the way. 

The other recommendation given was for us to gift birds to folks in the state we’re hunting.  For instance, in Minnesota the law requires the donor to write his/her name and address, along with the recipient’s name and address on the bag.  The law also requires the donor to date the gift, including a description of the gift (number of birds and species), and the license number the animals were taken under.   

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

A Bird Dog’s Life List

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Me & Tram after putting a checkmark next to ruffed grouse on her life list.

Over the holiday weekend, I caught up on some reading.  An article in the most recent issue of The Pointing Dog Journal particularly caught my attention.  The piece titled “My Bucket List” was written by Tom Davis, also a contributor to the Pheasants Forever Journal.  As the name implies, Tom writes about the hunting adventures he’d like to have before he passes on.  It was an interesting read and likely follows thoughts many of us have this time of year as we review our calendars, health, and dog power for the coming autumn.  I wrote a similar blog post a year ago titled “My Bird Hunting Bucket List.” 

However, what really grabbed my attention was Tom’s tally of the wild upland game bird species shot over his bird dog.  Turns out, this sort of “Bird Dog Life List” is fairly common.  A couple of guys; Joseph A. Augustine (English Setters) and the renowned Ben O. Williams (Brittany) have even penned bird dog hunting books on the topic.  The consensus is twenty different North American upland game birds constitute a “Grand Slam.”    

So as I look toward my own German shorthaired pointer’s fourth season, I have taken inventory on Trammell’s own bird hunting life list.  Here is Tram’s current tally: a) species I successfully shot over her point, b) the year it occurred and c) the state in which it took place.

  1. Ruffed Grouse, 2007, Michigan
  2. Pheasant, 2007, Minnesota
  3. Timberdoodle, 2007, Michigan
  4. Hungarian Partridge, 2008, Montana
  5. Sharp-tailed Grouse, 2008, Montana

In some respects, I look at that list and feel guilty.  There’s the greater prairie chicken I missed in South Dakota’s Fort Pierre Grasslands last year.  And there’s the doggy plane ticket to Georgia I couldn’t afford preventing bobwhite quail from hitting her list. 

On the other hand, three seasons with Tram have been the best three seasons of my hunting career.  And if you consider the dozens of states and subspecies necessary to reach double digits, a guy could go broke chasing this list.  Plus, I’ll be in the Fort Pierre Grasslands in three weeks and I smell redemption.  Come to think of it, I’ll be in Nebraska (bobwhite quail) and Kansas (lesser prairie chickens) in November too.  Hunting season is here and things are looking up!

In the comment section below, post the following: a) your dog’s breed, b) your dog’s name, c) your dog’s age, and d) how many birds on his/her life list so far?