Posts Tagged ‘Quail Forever’

PF Names Six New Members to National Youth Leadership Council

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

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Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever announce six new members to its National Youth Leadership Council. The new participants include Jared Austin of Kansas, Kyle Holden, Donald Ogden and Hunter Spenle of Wisconsin, Travis Smith of Minnesota and Jacob Wietzema of Iowa. Established in 2006, the organization’s National Youth Leadership Council is comprised of 20 young people from around the country nominated by a local Pheasants Forever or Quail Forever chapter. Participants serve as spokespersons for their age group on hunting and conservation issues and advise PF/QF on youth programs.

“We all believe youth are the future of conservation. At Pheasants Forever, the National Youth Leadership Council is our way of putting action behind a phrase in danger of becoming a cliché,” explained Rich Wissink, the organization’s National Youth Program Manager. “I’m excited about the passion for wildlife habitat these six new council members bring to our already talented group of young conservation leaders.”

New National Youth Leadership Council members include:

Jared Austin of McPherson, Kans. – Nominated by the McPherson Area Chapter of Pheasants Forever – Austin is a 14-year-old who enjoys hunting, fishing, and World War II history. He’s active in his local church and a hard-working volunteer with the local Pheasants Forever chapter.

Kyle Holden of Boyceville, Wis. – Nominated by the Red Cedar Chapter of Pheasants Forever – Holden is an eighth grader who enjoys hunting, shooting trap, fishing, team sports, and is a member of his local FFA and 4-H. He’s also assistant vice president of the Chippewa Valley Young Guns Pheasants Forever Youth Club, which was recognized as the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation’s Conservationist Youth Group of the Year for 2013.

Donald Ogden of Irma, Wis. – Nominated by the Lincoln County Chapter of Pheasants Forever – Ogden is an avid trap shooter and enjoys hunting with his yellow Lab named “Samantha.” He also enjoys archery, fishing, FFA and is taking a leadership role in the chapter’s new pollinator habitat project.

Hunter Spenle of Colfax, Wis. – Nominated by the Red Cedar Chapter of Pheasants Forever – Like Kyle Holden, Spenle is also a member of the Chippewa Valley Young Guns Pheasants Forever Youth Club. Spenle serves as the group’s treasurer and enjoys hunting, archery, trap shooting and fishing.

Travis Smith of Cottage Grove, Minn. – Nominated by the Mississippi Longtails Chapter of Pheasants Forever – Smith is a sophomore at Park High School where he was a member and leader on the school’s inaugural trap shooting team last season. He’s also a very active Boy Scout and avid hunter.

Jacob Wietzema of Sibley, Iowa - Nominated by the Osceola County Chapter of Pheasants Forever – Witzema is a 15-year-old who enjoys the outdoors, reading and team sports. He also loves training his bird dog, a wirehaired pointing griffon named “Boomer.” Wietzema is an active member of the chapter and assists with fundraising, habitat and youth events.

“As I read these youngster’s bios and application essays, I couldn’t help but be optimistic about the future of hunting and conservation,” added Wissink. “They share the land stewardship values and passion for sharing our outdoor traditions that is found throughout Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever volunteers across the country. They aren’t just the future, they are leading today.”

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Youth Leadership Council has worked on such important issues as bringing attention to the Federal Farm Bill and its significance to wildlife habitat conservation. In fact, members of the group met with U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives during the last Farm Bill debate to voice their generation’s concerns for conservation. They have also helped pass state legislation to reduce age restrictive barriers to introduce young people to hunting.

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

Action Alert: Pheasants Forever Urges Support of Sportsmen’s Act of 2014

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

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Yesterday, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly advanced the bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014 (S. 2363), moving the legislation one step closer to passage. The Sportsmen’s Act, which boasts the support of many national conservation and sportsmen organizations – including Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever – representing millions of outdoorsmen and women, contains a host of provisions that stand to benefit hunters, anglers and other outdoor recreationists.

The Sportsmen’s Act will enact a variety of measures to facilitate the use of and access to federal public lands and waters for hunting, fishing, and shooting. Provisions in the bill will also help increase revenue for wildlife conservation, hunter education and shooting programs.

We urge Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever members to contact their Senators and ask them to support the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014 (the House has passed a similar piece of legislation). Ask your Senator to:

  • Recognize conservation, wildlife and sportsmen and women by supporting the Sportsmen’s Act of 2014 (S. 2363)
  • Oppose amendments not related to Sportsmen’s Act legislation

Contact your U.S. Senator

We need your help in this final push for the Sportsmen’s Act of 2014. Thanks for your time and consideration, and for supporting Pheasants Forever and wildlife habitat conservation.

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

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.