Posts Tagged ‘Minnesota’

Minnesota Preview – Flushers Gain Home Field Advantage on Day 3 of Rooster Road Trip

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Members with Lyon County Chapter of Pheasants Forever pose at the Rolling Hills Wildlife Management Area, an upland project which the chapter contributed to, with Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton at the Governor’s Pheasant Opener in 2012.

Members with Lyon County Chapter of Pheasants Forever pose at the Rolling Hills Wildlife Management Area, an upland project which the chapter contributed to, with Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton at the Governor’s Pheasant Opener in 2012.

Home field advantage is on our minds this evening as we travel through the night from South Dakota to our resident state of Minnesota. The work being done by chapters in the southwestern part of Minnesota is nothing short of incredible- land acquisition and wildlife habitat projects completed by our devoted chapters span across most counties near the city of Marshall. Pheasant hunting is a tradition for the Lyon County Pheasants Forever members who will be joining us tomorrow, and we are looking forward to our time afield with these individuals- many of which have been part of Pheasants Forever since 1982.

Our sponsor for day three of the 2014 Rooster Road Trip is Explore Minnesota- an organization dedicated to all things Minnesotan. Looking at a list of the “20 Reasons to Explore Minnesota” on their website this evening, #19 (in no particular order) on the list is “Wonderful Wildlife.” The work done by Pheasants Forever in Minnesota contributes to this notion, and with some luck, we hope to prove their list correct with roosters in our game pouch.

If you’re looking for additional reasons to visit MN for a hunting trip in the future , check out the wing shooting story on the Explore Minnesota website for more information on starting your own Rooster Road Trip in the state!

Wednesday, November 5th

We’ll be hunting in Minnesota’s southwest corner with the Lyon County Chapter of Pheasants Forever based in Marshall, Minn. In addition to the Rooster Road Trip crew, five committee members from the local chapter will be joining us for the hunt.

Season Dates: October 11, 2014 through January 4, 2015
Daily Bag Limit: 2; changes to 3 on December 1, 2014 through end of season
Possession Limit: 6; changes to 9 on December 1, 2014 through end of season
Field Notes: The highest pheasant counts were in the southwest, south-central and west-central regions, where observers reported 28 to 62 birds per 100 miles driven. Hunters will find good harvest opportunities in these areas.

Non-resident Licensing

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources offers a convenient website to purchase your non-resident hunting license, view hunting regulations, and read pheasant hunting prospects across the state. Non-residents will pay both a small game fee ($103) and pheasant stamp ($7.50) to hunt the entire season, with 72-hour licenses also available ($75).

Pheasants Forever’s Impact in Minnesota

Pheasants Forever Chapters: 74

Pheasants Forever Members: 24,336

Pheasants Forever Expenditures in Minnesota: $67 Million

Habitat projects completed by Pheasants Forever in Minnesota: 26,390 projects

Total habitat acres improved by Pheasants Forever chapters in Minnesota: 240,958 acres

Follow along to the 2014 Rooster Road Trip at www.RoosterRoadTrip.org and be sure to mention #RRT14 in all your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts.

Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Online Editor.  Follow Anthony on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF or email Anthony at AHauck@PheasantsForever.Org.

Field Report: Despite Heavy Rains, Hopes for Repeat Late Hatch in Southwest Minnesota

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

MnDNR

Heavy rains have fallen in recent weeks in the Marshall, Minn. area. A pheasant destination for resident and nonresident hunters alike, many are wondering how excessive rain totals – more than 20 inches in some areas of southwest Minnesota, and more than 10 in the Marshall area in the month of June – could be affecting the pheasant hatch.

Nick Simonson, president of the Lyon County Pheasants Forever chapter, posed these questions to Nicole Davros, upland game project leader for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources:

Q: In what condition was the pheasant population coming out of the winter months?

A: Our pheasant population made it through winter better than expected, and we had very few reports of winter losses. Although winter 2013-14 brought severe cold and some deep snow, it helped that the cold and snow didn’t come at the same time in the core of our pheasant range (west, southwest, and south-central portions of the state).

The central and east-central portions of our state had it worse as they experienced extreme cold and deep snow for a good portion of the winter. I’ve been hearing roosters crowing off of every corner of every Wildlife Management Area that I’ve visited this spring and summer.

Many of our wildlife managers have reported the same. I’ve taken this as a good indication that our pheasant population made it through winter just fine.

 

Q: What impact do you anticipate this rainy spring to have had on nesting attempts up to this point for pheasant hens in southwestern Minnesota?

A: We typically start getting reports of broods in late May, but that hasn’t happened this year and we’re instead only now beginning to get a few reports of young broods. Our brood observations to date could be indicative of a delayed hatch, or they could be indicative of reduced chick survival due to the recent rains. If enough hens have been delayed or forced into re-nesting, such that hatching has been delayed, this could end up being a positive as it would mean the peak hatch was offset from the onslaught of rain we had last week. Too much rain in a short period of time, especially when paired with colder temperatures, can lead to reduced chick survival, especially during the first few weeks of growth.

 

Q: Do you expect mostly eggs to have been destroyed by recent rains, or was there a period where some broods hatched, but were then taken out by spring weather events?

A: It is really hard for us to know the answer to that question. Again – we didn’t have reports of broods in May like usual so this could indicate that the hatch was delayed compared to a “typical” year.

Further, roosters are still crowing like crazy! And we’re not seeing that many hens, which serves as an indication that they are still incubating their clutches or are in deeper cover with their young broods. So I’m willing to speculate the hatch has been delayed based on weather conditions in early spring and based on what we are currently seeing now. Overall, I worry more about the rain affecting young chicks than eggs. Hens are very faithful to their nests. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that they only take one 20-30 minute break throughout the day during incubation, and they most certainly will stay on their eggs to keep them warm and dry during a rainstorm.

The one caveat to my concerns about rain affecting chicks more than eggs is that much of our remaining habitat is on low ground, so the major rainstorms we’ve had may be wiping out those nests on lower ground. And if there is one positive to all this rain, it’s that it hasn’t been paired with too cold of temperatures such that eggs or chicks would’ve gotten too cold.

 

Q: Last season’s pheasant hunting was saved by a very late hatch. What is the timeframe of the drop-dead latest hatch we can expect in southwestern Minnesota in a given year?

A: I wouldn’t put a date on a “drop-dead latest hatch.” Nothing would surprise me. Hens are known to be persistent re-nesters in that a hen will keep laying a fresh (albeit slightly smaller) clutch if her previous eggs are lost. However, if she successfully hatches a clutch and loses her chicks, she won’t re-nest.

In fact, last fall we had a report of birds that were generously estimated to be 3 weeks old at the start of the early duck season. Backdating with that information, those eggs would have been laid at the very end of July and the chicks would have hatched at the end of August or early September! However, late-hatched birds may have lower survival rates through winter. For example, they may not have enough time to put on fat reserves before an early-season snowstorm hits. They may also have less time to learn their environment than birds hatched earlier in the year, which may also give them a survival disadvantage once the snow hits.

 

Q: Without a solid hatch, what is your prognosis for the 2014 pheasant hunting season in southwestern Minnesota, based on the variables we have experienced in the past year, up to this point?

A: I’m not yet ready to speculate on how our population will look going into the fall. We’ll just have to wait and see what August brings! I’m less concerned about the timing of the hatch than I am about our habitat conditions. The simple fact is that we’ve lost a lot of CRP. We need to figure out a way to make conservation economically viable for private landowners.

 

Q: At what point should people be concerned that most hatches failed?

A: A late hatch is better than no hatch!

Even though we saw fewer birds in August during our roadside surveys last year, we speculated that hens were still on nests or under heavier cover with their young broods. And that turned out to be the case as many people were pleasantly surprised at how many birds were available come the pheasant season. Despite a rough opening weekend due to weather conditions, I received many reports that pheasant hunters who kept at it for the entire season were able to get their limits. They worked hard for the birds they got, but the birds were out there!

Overall, I think we need to be more concerned about the loss of habitat that has occurred over the past several years. In 2007, our pheasant harvest peaked at 655,000 roosters – the highest total harvest since 1963! Although this has been partially offset by gains in other cropland retirement acres (CREP, RIM, and WRP) and state- and federally-owned acquisitions, our pheasant harvest has been steadily declining nonetheless. And the worst CRP losses are yet to come. That’s the scary part.

Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

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

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.