Posts Tagged ‘Quail Forever’

Dog of the Day: Jäger

Friday, March 21st, 2014

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Steve Mailloux, a Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever member from Indiana, is enjoying the company of Jäger, his 16-week-old German shorthaired pointer pup.  Mailloux took a hiatus from bird hunting after his best German shorthair passed away 15 years ago, and is now returning to the field with Jäger. “The thought of getting a new hunting companion has been lurking around in the back of my mind for a couple of years so I finally pulled the trigger!” Mailloux said, “His first point had lots of style! I’m looking forward to many years and points to come.”

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor, at ahauck@pheasantsforever.org.

Pheasants Forever Introduces Two New Signature Series Food and Cover Mixes

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

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Food and cover plots fit into almost any wildlife habitat management plan and, let’s face it, they are also really fun to hunt. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have expanded the line of Signature Series Food and Cover Mixes to 15 options with the 2014 additions of Cane Madness and White Lightning.

“There is a strong relationship between the location of food, thermal cover and winter survival for upland birds – so food plots are a critical factor in effective wildlife management,” says Jim Wooley, Director of Field Operations for Quail Forever, “Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever Signature Series Food and Cover Mixes target a host of upland wildlife and big game species, and work all over pheasant and quail country.”

cane_MadnessCane Madness - Cane Madness is a phenomenal mix of high-yielding tall cane sorghums. It creates an abundant food source and cover for birds while also providing “screen habitat” for deer. This blend of the heaviest-seeded forage sorghums is designed to provide what matters most for game birds – cover that stands up to winter, and abundant high energy food. This mix enhances the character of existing winter cover when planted next to it, improves survival rates, and insures peak breeding conditions for birds. It can also provide stand-alone winter habitat and food if established in very large plots. A 25 lb. bag of Cane Madness plants 4-5 acres that can be established with standard planters, grain drills or broadcast seeders. Plant each spring at 5-6 lbs/acre when soil temperatures warm to 60 degrees. Matures in 95-110 days.

white_LightningWhite Lightning - This is a prescription blend of white and cream-seeded sorghum proven to attract both deer and upland birds. Simply put, this special mixture of mild-flavored, light-seeded sorghums will provide great food and safe foraging for game birds, and keep local deer happy as well. Plant this mix next to your existing winter cover to enhance its character and to improve survival by minimizing bird movement. A 25 lb. bag of White Lightning plants 4-5 acres. Establish with standard planters, grain drills or broadcast seeders. Plant each spring at 5-6 lbs/acre when soil temperatures warm to 60 degrees. Matures in 95-110 days.?

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

PF Projects Earn $30K in SportDOG Brand Grant Contest

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Josh Miller, SportDOG Brand regional sales manager, left, presents the Future Forward Fund grand prize grant to Drew Larsen, Pheasant’s Forever’s national habitat education specialist.

Josh Miller, SportDOG Brand regional sales manager, left, presents the Future Forward Fund grand prize grant to Drew Larsen, Pheasant’s Forever’s national habitat education specialist.

SportDOG Brand has awarded a $25,000 grant to a conservation program created by Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. The conservation groups’ “Youth Pollinator Habitat Program” was created to help pollinating species thrive, and the grant funds will be used to launch five new pollinator projects in 2014. These projects will also provide education opportunities for local youth and community groups.

The grant was part of the SportDOG Conservation Fund’s second annual Future Forward Fund contest in which conservation groups submit project summaries for grant consideration. From a starting field of dozens of entries, a panel narrowed the contenders to six finalists, each of whom submitted videos outlining their projects. The sporting community then voted for the most- deserving projects, with the Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever pollinator program earning the most votes.

A runner-up grant of $5,000 went to the Ashland County (Ohio) Pheasants Forever chapter to be used for habitat-improvement equipment purchases.

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

National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic Show Guide A to Z

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

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National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic runs Friday, February 14th through Sunday, February 16th at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee. In addition to more than 300 exhibitors, there will be seven seminar stages with hourly presentations. The event is presented by MidwayUSA.

Antler sheds. Looking to keep your bird dog busy this offseason? Renowned trainer Tom Dokken is revolutionizing the sport of using dogs to hunt for sheds and presenting at National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic.

Benelli has introduced the new Ethos shotgun for 2014, and you can get your first look at it at National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic.

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New for 2014, the Benelli Ethos.

Cabela’s, World’s Foremost Outfitter, longtime Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever supporter, is presenting sponsor of Rudy’s Youth Village at the show.

Delmar Smith. “To train like a pro…you’ve got to think like a dog.” Well, Delmar has 75 years of experience thinking like a dog, and you can catch up with him on the “Ask the Experts” panel at the Bird Dog Bonanza Stage.

Expert dog trainers. When Delmar Smith, Ronnie Smith, Tom Dokken, Jim Moorehouse and Bob West form a panel for you to ask questions, that’s a combined 260 years of dog training know-how. Each day on the Bird Dog Bonanza Stage.

Free, as in wildlife habitat management plan. Stop by the Landowner Habitat Help Room at the show and you can consult with a wildlife professional about conservation options for your property from anywhere in the country.

Griffons. Wirehaired Pointing Griffons are growing in popularity perhaps faster than any other sporting breed. Learn more at the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Club of America booth.

Habitat. Pheasants Forever’s tagline is “The Habitat Organization.” If your passion is improving habitat for pheasants, quail and other wildlife, the Habitat Hall group of exhibitors is a must.

Is your mouth watering? Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are hosting their own “top chefs” at the show, including wild game chefs Tovar Cerulli, author of The Mindful Carnivore  and David Draper of Field and Stream’s The Wild Chef blog.

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See Hank Shaw on the Wild Game Cooking Stage.

J&L Boykins is one of the man bird dog exhibitors at the show. Check out all the bird dog breeds at the Bird Dog Alley.

K9…you can bet there are a couple of exhibitors listed under this letter/number combo.

Life Membership. Make the ultimate commitment to conservation by becoming a Pheasants Forever Life Member. Visit the Pheasants Forever booth by the show floor main entrance.

Missing. If you’re tired of it, then it’s time for a new gun. Check out all the top makers on the show floor: Benelli, Beretta, Browning…

Native grasslands can offer quality nesting cover for pheasants. Come to the Habitat Stage and learn about diversifying and improving this critical habitat.

Outdoor apparel. Start at the Pheasants Forever MarketPlace on the show floor for your Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever-logoed gear. Your product purchases here support wildlife habitat conservation.

Pollinator habitat. What does it have to do with pheasants and quail? Check out the presentations on the Habitat Stage.

Quail are Scott Linden’s favorite bird to hunt. Stop by the Wingshooting USA booth and meet the venerable television host who’s an expert on bobwhite and western quail species.

Rudy the Rooster is Pheasants Forever’s youth mascot. Visit the Youth Village area of the show and get your picture taken with him.

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Bird dog breeders and bird dog training seminars are the most popular attractions at National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic.

Smith, as in Delmar, Rick and Ronnie. National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic is a rare opportunity to see the three from this legendary dog training family at the same event.

Training. E-Collars. GPS. Pointers. Puppies. Retrievers. Spaniels. If you can name it, you’ll find a how-to on it.

U.S. Bank presents Pheasants Forever’s Visa Card. Stop by their booth, sign up for their card and receive either a hardcover wild game recipe book, a green PF shooters bag or a chance on a Tri-Star Setter 12 gauge shotgun.

Vegan-turned-hunter Tovar Cerulli, author of The Mindful Carnivore, provides a unique perspective on the Wild Game Cooking Stage.

Wingshooting from the good ‘ol days with the L.C. Smith Collectors Association and the Parker Gun Collectors Association.

X marks your next upland hunting spot, and the tourism divisions from the likes of Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota, plus regional tourism representatives and guides and outfitters are here help you book your dream trip.

Yum… Hank Shaw is a hunter, chef, blogger and author of Hunt, Gather, Cook – Finding the Forgotten Feast. See him on the Wild Game Cooking Stage.

Zero-turn lawnmowers. Check out Wisconsin-based – and Pheasants Forever national sponsor, Scag Power equipment, one of more than 300 exhibitors at the show.

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

A Round of Applause for Beretta Women’s Vest & Sweater

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

The Beretta Women’s Wax Cotton Upland Vest is idea for pheasant, grouse or quail hunting. Photo by Nancy Anisfield / Anisfield Hunting Dog Photography

The Beretta Women’s Wax Cotton Upland Vest is ideal for pheasant, grouse or quail hunting. Photos by Nancy Anisfield / Anisfield Hunting Dog Photography

Get several women bird hunters together and at some point, guaranteed, they’ll talk about how difficult it is to find good women’s upland clothing. Fortunately, several manufacturers have acknowledged that downsizing men’s clothes – vests, brush pants, chaps, etc. – won’t work in terms of functionality or style. Women obviously need clothes proportioned to women’s bodies. In his search for quality women’s hunting gear, my husband, Terry Wilson, owner of Ugly Dog Hunting Company, has too often found a great product, put it in the catalog and online only to have it discontinued a year later. Finding really good women’s brush pants, for example, is particularly frustrating. Only Pointer Brand’s brush jeans have stayed tried and true.

Unfortunately, without naming names, some of the companies making women’s hunting clothing have taken their products to offshore manufacturers with less quality control. Others have found that given economic challenges, the upland market isn’t big enough to support profitable production, so they choose to cut their upland lines altogether, sticking with the broader camo audience.

On a happier note, Pheasants Forever has found two great women’s items backed by the quality and reliability of Beretta. One is the Beretta Women’s Wax Cotton Upland Vest. Pheasants Forever sells the vest for $163.95, and it’s worth every dime. The sturdy wax cotton is pliable and has none of that oily feel or smell a lot of wax cotton products have. There’s plenty of blaze orange visibility with two large blaze shoulder patches and the ample blaze game bag (removable) on the back. It’s got a breathable mesh lining, interior pockets (perfect for keys and cell phone), and two front bellow pockets with flip-out shell holders. And, it looks great – a slimming design with attention to details of trim and color. I get a kick out of the orange zipper. Extra snazzy is the Pheasants Forever (also available in Quail Forever) logo on the front.

I’ve been wearing the vest for a few weeks hunting in the grouse woods, smashing through alders, climbing over blow downs and lugging the usual gear – first aid kit, ammo, water bottles – through thick brush. The vest is quiet and the arm holes are deep enough for easy movement and shooting. It’s comfortable, sheds moisture and never catches while mounting a gun. My only criticism would be that although the game bag is long and deep enough at the bottom, it’s tighter in the upper back area which makes stuffing in a big bird a little awkward. That aside, three gold stars for the Beretta Women’s Wax Cotton Upland Vest.

German shorthair breeder Patti Carter wore the Beretta Techno Windshield Sweater while giving "Raven" a little tune-up on the training table.

German shorthair breeder Patti Carter wore the Beretta Techno Windshield Sweater while giving “Raven” a little tune-up on the training table.

The other product I’m loving is the Beretta Women’s Techno Windshield Sweater. First I wore it shooting 5-stand at our local club, then started wearing it everywhere taking full advantage of its windproof warmth. It’s made of what Beretta calls “thermal control” wool, which, according to the label, is a blend of lambswool and nylon. The Beretta Windproof Membrane is a special wind-blocking nylon lining. The sweater zips up and is super soft, in a medium brown color that goes with everything. Nice touches include the light tan knit collar lining, slash pockets, and elegant PF monogram with the pheasant tail feather. Pheasants Forever sells the sweater for $163.95.

Nancy Anisfield, an outdoor photographer/writer, sporting dog enthusiast and bird hunter, serves on Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Board of Directors. She resides in Hinesburg, Vermont.

Why a Vermonter on the PF Board?

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

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Nancy Anisfield serves on Pheasants Forever’s National Board of Directors and though she resides in Vermont annually makes pheasant hunting trips to the Midwest. Photo by Nancy Anisfield / Anisfield Hunting Dog Photography

Often, very often, when someone finds out I’m on the Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever National Board of Directors their response is a big “Huh?” Then they point out to me (with raised eyebrows) there is no significant wild pheasant population in Vermont and no PF or QF chapter in Vermont. True enough, so I’m always compelled to explain why me, why Pheasants Forever.

I don’t just hunt in Vermont. I hunt in many parts of the country, each year fitting in at least one pheasant trip to the Midwest and one quail trip down South.  As a “consumer” of bird hunting resources – game and habitat – I feel an obligation to give more than my license fee and lodging dollars where I travel. Given the decline in bird populations and loss of habitat in most states, I am compelled to do something to support and replenish the resources I use in the field.

“Priority One” for most hunters is, understandably, supporting the habitat in their home hunting grounds. But there’s an equal responsibility we share when we partake of habitat in someone else’s backyard.  Helping to preserve and restore habitat anywhere in the country is the conservation equivalent of Fair Chase.

Another argument for a non-pheasant-state resident to support PF/QF lies in the work the PF/QF legislative team does – consulting on conservation program legislation, helping members voice opinions to their legislators, etc. These actions influence conservation legislation that, in turn, affects all 50 states.

Although I can come up with other reasons for a Vermonter to support Pheasants Forever, the last reason I usually give is based on the effectiveness of PF/QF as an organization: How PF/QF impacts young hunters today in pheasant or quail country could directly affect habitat and hunting in my region a decade from now.

Let’s say a young girl from North Dakota is on her first hunt, walking the edge of a PF project shelterbelt of tight junipers. She sees her dad’s Lab get birdy up ahead by a thick cluster of bushes. She moves closer, nervously watching first the dog, then the brush. A magnificent rooster flushes straight up. She carefully mounts her gun and squeezes the trigger, her heart pounding the whole time. The bird tumbles down. The dog retrieves it to hand. In those few moments she becomes a hunter for life.

Years later, she’s living in New England. Now she hunts ruffed grouse instead of pheasants. Now her hunting grounds are successional forest instead of buffer strips and grasslands. Now she hunts with her own bird dog and her own children. Some things have changed, but because she had that first place to hunt – and fall in love with hunting – she cares about habitat conservation not just there but wherever she calls home.

Nancy Anisfield, an outdoor photographer/writer, sporting dog enthusiast and bird hunter, serves on Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Board of Directors. She resides in Hinesburg, Vermont.

Farm Bill Extension Expires, PF Presses Congress to Act

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Until national native prairie, or "Sodsaver," provisions are enacted, native grasslands will continue to be susceptible to conversion.

Until national native prairie, or “Sodsaver,” provisions are enacted, native grasslands will continue to be susceptible to conversion. Photo by Matt Morlock / Pheasants Forever

Editor’s Note: Pheasants Forever along with Ducks Unlimited and the National Wild Turkey Federation sent the following letter to President Barack Obama and Congressional leadership.

The Farm Bill extension has expired and, along with it, vital conservation programs will unfortunately be closed for enrollment. As the leaders of Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, we respectfully urge you to pass a comprehensive five-year Farm Bill as soon as possible. Consumers may not feel the full consequences of a lapsed farm bill before January, but conservation felt it immediately.

Farm Bill conservation programs like the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program and Grasslands Reserve Program are now closed for enrollment. These are the most effective tools farmers and ranchers have to conserve bird and other wildlife habitat on private lands, and they will no longer be available without an enacted Farm Bill. This habitat also contributes environmental services to our citizens in the form of flood abatement, soil erosion abatement and clean water.

From 2006 to 2011, 1.3 million acres of native grassland were converted to cropland in the Great Plains, most of which occurred in heart of the duck factory. This is a rate of land conversion our country hasn’t seen since the Dust Bowl. It is not only vital for the birds our organizations work to protect that these lands are conserved and restored, it is vital to our country’s citizens. We could be recreating the dust storms of the 1930s without the conservation programs in the Farm Bill that encourage private landowners to maintain the grasses and prairie habitat that prevent erosion.

Outdoor recreation, including hunting and bird watching, contributes $646 billion to the U.S. economy each year. The industry also creates 6.1 million American jobs – more than the oil and gas, finance or real estate sectors. These jobs cannot be exported and fuel rural, local and our national economies. Conservation measures in the Senate Farm Bill, like re-coupling conservation compliance to crop insurance and a national Sodsaver program, are critical to ensuring this positive economic impact continues.

On behalf of our more than 1.5 million members and supporters, we ask that you use your leadership to expeditiously pass and enact a comprehensive five-year Farm Bill with a robust conservation title that includes re-coupling compliance to crop insurance and a national Sodsaver program.

Thank you for your consideration of our perspectives.

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

No “Versatile Champion” Title This Year, Yet Still the Ultimate Reward

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Nancy Anisfield sends “Scratch” on a 100-yard blind retrieve at the NAVHD Invitational Test. Photo by Rick Holt

Nancy Anisfield sends “Scratch” on a 100-yard blind retrieve at the NAVHD Invitational Test. Photo by Rick Holt

“Scratch,” my German shorthaired pointer, and I just got back from the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association’s Invitational Test. The Invitational is a multi-day event designed to evaluate hunting dogs for “superior ability, versatility and obedience in all phases of work and a variety of hunting situations.” It is a pass/fail test. Dogs that pass are awarded the title “Versatile Champion” with a “VC” placed before their name in all pedigree records and registries.

At the Invitational, the dogs must run a one-hour field hunt in a brace, being scored by three judges on search, backing, pointing, steadiness and retrieve. They must complete an off-lead heeling course, a 100-yard blind water retrieve, honor another dog’s duck retrieve at the water, and do double mark water retrieves. Throughout, the dogs are also being scored on nose, desire, cooperation and obedience.

NAVHDAprogramWe trained for the event since Scratch qualified last September. To prepare, we’ve put on about four million road miles, since it’s important for the dogs to train on strange fields and water. Between Scratch and my husband’s dog, “Rudder,” who was also testing, we planted about four million pen-raised chukar this summer. The search for just the right water to practice the blind crossing seemed endless. And I’d wake up at 3 a.m. analyzing why Scratch would veer wide before coming to me on his retrieves or how I could get him to stop surging forward in his heeling.

Despite getting so amped up before his turn in the field that upon release he exploded like a ballistic missile, Scratch had a terrific field run. During training he’d occasionally creep while honoring the other dog’s point, but on test day he was solid. His retrieves were straight and clean. On the blind retrieve he went straight across like a pro. He even settled down enough for a passing score on the dreaded heeling course. Then it was time for the double mark which I never worried about because he’d been doing it perfectly for months. Until test day.

In short, everything I worried about, he did well. The one thing I didn’t worry about, he blew big time. We did not pass. (Fortunately, Rudder saved the family honor with her new Versatile Champion title.)

The road to the Invitational is nerve-wracking and somewhat obsessive. It’s also a journey of discovery about facing a challenge and working towards a goal in partnership with your hunting dog. But the VC title isn’t the highest prize. Getting to know other handlers and their dogs– sharing the disasters, surprises and success – is the reward.

NAVHDA couldn’t run this major event without the support of its conservation partners and corporate sponsors. Pheasants Forever / Quail Forever is one of NAVHDA’s Conservation Partners. For that, Scratch and I say a heartfelt “thank you.”

Nancy Anisfield, an outdoor photographer/writer, sporting dog enthusiast and bird hunter, serves on Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Board of Directors. She resides in Hinesburg, Vermont.

The Farm Bill Heads to Conference Committee

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Pheasant habitat and pheasant hunting depend on a conservation-friendly Farm Bill. Photo by Roger Hill

Pheasant habitat and pheasant hunting depend on a conservation-friendly Farm Bill. Photo by Roger Hill

“What is going on with the Farm Bill?” is the question filling up my inbox and voicemail.  It’s been more of a challenge to answer that inquiry in recent weeks than at any time in my career.  Frankly, it looks like the answer will remain murky for the foreseeable future.  Here’s what I can tell you:

Farm Bill Clears House

You may recall the 2012 Farm Bill died without ever reaching the full House floor for a vote.  Last month, the 2013 Farm Bill made it to the House floor only to be surprisingly defeated on June 20th with very little precedent for “what happens next.”   In another unpredictable turn, the U.S. House of Representatives abruptly brought the Farm Bill back to the House floor for a vote on Thursday, July 11th.  This time round, the Farm Bill went before the House with the controversial Food Stamp legislation completely removed from the rest of the Bill, presumably to be dealt with separately at a later date.  The resulting Farm Bill passed in a “split House” vote of 216 to 208.

Now What?

So, we have a comprehensive Senate Farm Bill with a strong conservation title; including CRP funding, WRP funding, a national Sodsaver provision and a re-linking of conservation compliance to crop insurance.

On the House side, we have a Farm Bill that doesn’t mirror the same components from the Senate (i.e. Food Stamp language).  Also, the Conservation Title in the House version doesn’t include a crop insurance connection to conservation compliance.  Additionally, the Sodsaver language in the House version is regional, rather than national like the Senate’s bill, in scope.

The two incongruent Farm Bills are now on to a Senate and House conference committee with the challenging task of rectifying the differences between the two bills for a full Congressional vote.  And the clock is ticking.  The current 2012 Farm Bill extension expires on September 30th and President Obama has also promised a veto of any Farm Bill reaching his desk without Food Stamp language included.

Clear as mud?  No question.  That’s why it’s so important Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are part of this process at every step.  We remain vigilant in our push for a new Farm Bill before the September deadline.  America’s wildlife, water resources and outdoor traditions depend upon strong federal conservation policy.  Rest assured, we are in D.C. fighting for roosters, quail, and hunters during these challenging times.

In the coming days and weeks ahead, please stay tuned to this blog and our social media outlets (Facebook & Twitter) as we will be issuing Action Alerts to help put pressure on our elected officials to vote in support of strong conservation policy.

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

Frequently Asked Food and Cover Plot Questions

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Your autumn and winter food and cover plot starts in the spring. Now that planting season has arrived, you may haves questions about establishing your Pheasants Forever Signature Series Food and Cover mixes.

Why do I need food plots on my farm? High-quality grain food plots play a critical role in the relationship between food, cover, movement and winter bird mortality. The logic is simple. Locating well-planned food and cover plots adjacent to heavy roosting cover provides a dependable source of high-energy food. Having food right next door to winter cover helps establish safe foraging patterns, and minimizes movements – so predation and weather losses are reduced.

What makes PF food plot mixes special? Our biologists have developed Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever grain and forage mixes to provide the food and cover that the wildlife on your farm need. Through continual improvement of our products, we have formulated very specific blends that are adaptable to most growing conditions, and that maximize benefits for your wildlife.

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Larger food plots projects – 3 to 10 acres – typically provide the most benefit to upland wildlife. PF File Photo

Are specialized mixes worth the extra cost? Seed cost will likely be the smallest expense in your overall food plot spending, yet it is the foundation of your effort to improve food resources for wildlife. Buy the very best seed that you can for your food plots. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever food plot products come to you after extensive development and research, and following years of successful establishment on farms across the country. And they come to you with the full backing of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, two of the most respected private conservation organizations in the nation.

Must I use herbicides? Weed competition is the most serious threat your food plot will face. Thus, we recommend some sort of herbicide treatment. Food plots planted without weed control will have highly variable results. Weed problems can be addressed by tillage, chemical suppression, or a combination of both. A few weeds in a food plot will actually improve the diversity of the area for wildlife. However, severe weed competition that causes the primary planting to fail can waste your food plot investment, and puts your wildlife in a bad position when winter arrives. Pay attention to weed control recommendations on the bag for best results for your planting.

Do I need fertilizer? Food plots are a crop, and you should fertilize just as you would your garden. Nutrients in your planting area are easily assessed before the planting season with a simple soil test (farm co-ops, and/or USDA offices routinely do this at low cost), and you should amend the soil accordingly before you plant. Rotating grain food plots into areas previously established in legume browse may save money on nitrogen, but nearly all food plots need some supplemental nutrients. Legume food plots do not need nitrogen, but normally require some soil supplements to optimize the stand. Several PF/QF mixes carry micronutrient seed coatings to help our seed to get a jump on early growth. Even so, primary fertilization is almost always a must-do operation.

How do I decide which mixes are right for my farm? Examine your habitat objectives for your farm, what you would like to accomplish for wildlife, and what your desires are for hunting and wildlife viewing. Look particularly at winter food and cover conditions. If this habitat is limited, you will need grain food plots to assist game birds, and may benefit other wildlife by establishing browse plots, as well.

When is the best time to plant? Take cues from agricultural operations occurring in your area. While this will give you a general idea when to plant, not all types of seed can be planted at the same time. Detailed planting instructions are on the back of each Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever food plot mix. Read those guidelines carefully and follow them exactly.

What about planting my plot? Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever grain and green browse food plot mixes can be established with standard planters, grain drills, or with broadcast seeders mounted on a tractor, ATV or pickup truck. Complete planting instructions are on each bag. If you do not have your own equipment, it can often be rented from USDA offices, local implement dealers, and wildlife agencies. Pheasants Forever habitat specialists, private contractors, or a neighbor also may be able to assist you in planting your food plot. For more information on food plot design and other considerations consult the Pheasants Forever Essential Habitat Guide.

What’s the best design for my winter food plots? Grain food plots should restrict unnecessary travel, and provide high quality food and supplemental winter cover. Birds crossing hostile territory for food invite losses from predation and weather, so two critical design factors include locating food plots next to winter cover, and adequate size (3-4 acres or larger is best). Blocks will be preferable to linear plantings, and placement on the windward side of winter cover improves that habitat. If winter cover is scarce, 10-acre plantings of grain mixes with heavy leaf structure can provide all the food and shelter that birds need. In general, green browse plots will provide no winter cover for most upland birds, but will provide foraging areas for deer.

How large should my food plot be? Unfortunately we cannot predict when wildlife will most need supplemental winter food resources, so plan grain food plots for the worst case weather scenario, each and every year. Don’t create a project that will be buried by the first blizzard. Your food plots will be used by many kinds of wildlife. Deer and turkeys consume a lot of grain and will exhaust small food patches well before winter ends. Thus, larger food plots (3-10 acres) are always most desirable. Select a food plot mix based on the cover and food values you need, and carefully assess the critical factors of size and location for your farm.

How long will my food plot last? In general, a grain based food plot will last only a single season (particularly if deer use it heavily) and almost without fail you will need to re-establish this kind of plot annually. In rare instances of low wildlife use, the grain from one year will carry over to the next on the stalks. Allowing a plot like this to grow up into annual weeds provides excellent brood habitat. Green browse food plots (blends of clovers, alfalfa, etc.) may last several years or may need to be re-planted each year (combination leafy forage/root crops like turnips).

What other factors should I consider? Food plots alone are not going to “bring back the birds.” Well-placed food patches can help bring more hens through winter in better condition. At that point, however, the other habitats you have established on your farm (nesting cover, brood rearing habitat, etc.) will play the leading role. Be sure you focus on establishing and managing those important areas for wildlife as well.