Posts Tagged ‘Quail Forever’
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.
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.
The Big Spur Blog is written by Jesse Beckers, Pheasants Forever’s Regional Wildlife Biologist for North Dakota. If you have a pheasant habitat or pheasant biology question for Jesse, email him at JBeckers@pheasantsforever.org.
Tuesday, August 21st, 2012
There are online shopping destinations galore for the bird hunting gear junky. However, there is only one place you can get upland apparel and also help create wildlife habitat with each swipe of a credit card: The Pheasants Forever Market Place. No conservation group works harder to protect the places you and your bird dog rely on to hunt; no conservation organization does it as efficiently, with 92 cents of every dollar raised going directly to Pheasants Forever’s wildlife habitat conservation mission. So with those statistics of efficiency fresh in your mind, here are my favorite early season items available through Pheasants Forever’s online store.
Columbia’s Omni-Freeze Long Sleeve: Without question, this is the best early season shirt I’ve ever owned. This baby is extremely comfortable and does honestly feel like it is cool on the skin even during those early 80 degree days of the season. The only downside to this shirt is that it’s not made to be tough enough to go through the sticky stuff. Buckle a strap vest over the top and you’re ready to enjoy the sunny days of early autumn in comfort.
Wing Works Vest: Speaking of strap-style vests, there’s no better option than this Wing Works Vest featuring the PF logo. It fits like a backpack, has sizeable pockets and can carry lots of water. The only downside to this vest comes in ruffed grouse hunting. The game bag is pretty open, so it does collect a lot of leaves and twigs. Outside of that, this one’s a winner for early season walking.
Pheasants Forever Logo Blaze Orange Cap: When it comes to lids, I’m a no frills low profile fan. This particular adjustable baseball cap fits my little melon just right and matches all my pheasant hunting gear. If the simplicity of my taste in hats doesn’t mesh with yours, never fear; there are five pages of headwear options for you to consider in the PF store.
Blaze Orange Polo: Ever seen a blaze orange polo shirt in a store before? Me neither. This one is perfect for hot early season days when you are loafing through the tall grass and just want to feel the breeze on your arms.
Browning Badger Creek Quail Forever Short Sleeve Shirt: If you’re looking for a great casual shirt to wear in the lodge OR in the field, this great new Browning shirt is one of the best items ever to feature the Quail Forever logo.
Pheasants Forever Shotshell Dog Collar: Since you’ve already got the credit card warmed up, you might as well pick up a little something something for your best bird dog and this cool new neckwear is just the ticket.
Remember to use your Pheasants Forever Visa Card in the Pheasants Forever Store and earn double points for every dollar you spend. Every time you use your Pheasants Forever Visa Card, U.S. Bank pays a royalty to Pheasants Forever to help us fulfill our habitat conservation mission. Thanks for shopping at the Pheasants Forever Market Place!
Monday, August 20th, 2012
If you haven’t heard – the most recent National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service reports hunter numbers are up 9 percent from 2006 to 2011. Actual numbers increased from 12.5 million hunters to 13.7 million. This is great news because we have only seen a steady decline in past surveys. The preliminary report says 38 percent of Americans 16 and older fish, hunt or watch wildlife and they spend $145 billion (yep, that’s with a “B”) on their recreation. Young people are active too, and of those 6-15 years of age, 1.8 million hunted, 8.5 million fished and 11.7 million watched wildlife.
I believe part of this is due to organizations like Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever and our dedicated volunteers. In the last five years, we have all worked hard at training mentors, holding youth mentor hunts, supporting shooting teams and promoting all this work online and in the Pheasants Forever magazine. We have seen more and more Pheasants Forever chapters getting involved with youth programs and teaching young people to shoot and to hunt. As our members age, they seem to be more interested in passing on the outdoor traditions they love to the next generation. I also believe the increasing interest in shooting is getting more kids outdoors and involved in hunting and other outdoor recreation.
Our numbers prove the scope of our increased efforts. In the last year, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever chapters held 862 youth events (previously no more than 500 had been held annually), including 553 shooting events (which averaged 47 youth per event). More than 41,000 youngsters participated in Pheasants Forever or Quail Forever events!
Whatever it is you love to do — hunt, shoot, fish, camp, work your dogs – make sure you are taking along a kid. How else are they going to learn to love what you do? And if we who care don’t do something, who will? Let’s make sure the next survey shows the numbers increasing even more.
Monday, August 13th, 2012
Twenty-three of 25 state quail coordinators from National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) member states were among the participants last week in the annual meeting of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC), the umbrella group of state wildlife management agencies and their partners overseeing the national initiative aimed at restoring huntable populations of wild bobwhites across their range.
While much of the attention naturally focused on quail management in the host state of Texas, the coordinators’ primary challenge has been to develop a first-ever standardized and coordinated monitoring protocol for quail “focus areas.” The focus area approach and standardized monitoring of results are keys to the NBCI habitat-based strategy for restoring bobwhites maximizing limited resources.
The NBTC Steering Committee’s goal is for each of the 25 NBCI states to participate with at least one NBCI focus area (most have or plan more), according to McKenzie, which must be monitored for habitat gains and bobwhite response, not only to provide credible evidence of progress but also to enable improvements in conservation delivery.
“The lack of valid, credible and comparable monitoring data threatens the viability of the entire quail restoration movement because it deprives us of documented success stories, robs sportsmen of confidence and hope, and undermines agency resolve,” explained McKenzie. “NBCI has worked with the state quail coordinators to find a voluntary approach that is not only science-based but also actually quite doable by each state. Unity in bobwhite conservation delivery and monitoring across the range will make the NBTC’s national initiative one of the premier conservation partnerships in the country.”
Quail Forever is a conservation partner in the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI).
Learn more about the NBCI at www.bringbackbobwhites.org.
Thursday, July 19th, 2012
The Nobles County Pheasants Forever chapter has a longstanding history of habitat protection, with more than 2,000 acres in the southwestern Minnesota county protected as habitat and open for public hunting because of land purchases the chapter has participated in. Now the chapter is expanding its efforts in youth conservation education under Pheasants Forever’s new “Adopt-A-Team” program.
Under the Adopt-A-Team program, a Pheasants Forever (or Quail Forever) chapter takes a local shooting team under its wing. The reason is simple – a young person with an interest in shooting is likely to have an interest in hunting and conservation, and an interest in Pheasants Forever’s wildlife habitat conservation mission. And the shooting sports are growing in popularity with youngsters. In Minnesota, for example, there were just 54 kids from three schools in the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League in 2008; this year, 1,500 kids from 100 schools shot clay pigeons. In Iowa, the number of boys and girls participating in shooting sports increased 28 percent in 2012 versus 2011, with nearly 1,800 shooters and 300 volunteer coaches registered with the state’s Department of Natural Resources.
The Nobles County Pheasants Forever chapter adopted the local Worthington Trojans High School Trap Team, making a $1,000 contribution to Pheasants Forever’s FOREVER Shooting Sports Endowment. Each chapter that does this receives a package of five Remington guns, which are given to the selected shooting team for them to raffle off in the hopes of raising at least $5,000. As part of the endowment, Larry and Brenda Potterfield of MidwayUSA match three-to-one whatever each team raises ($5,000 becomes $20,000), and teams are allowed to draw up to 5 percent from their fund annually to cover expenses like uniforms, ammo, clay birds, etc.
Instead of raising just $5,000, the Worthington team went door to door and business to business in their community, raising donations and selling tickets for the raffle. When the last ticket was sold, the team notified John Linquist, Pheasants Forever’s FOREVER Shooting Sports National Coordinator, that they had raised more than $18,000. With the generous Potterfield match, the team will have a trust deposit of over $72,000, meaning it can draw more than $3,500 per year to keep the team functioning.
Considering the strong nature of the local Pheasants Forever chapter, it’s no surprise the high school team rolled up their blaze orange sleeves and set to work raising money to ensure the program continues not only through their graduation, but the next generation’s.
Thursday, July 5th, 2012
A decade ago when I left my front office baseball career, I thought I was also going to be free from the world of acronyms. RBIs and ERAs had dominated my everyday conversations and I was ready to use real words again. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
On my third day with Pheasants Forever in 2003, I was pulled aside and asked to write a press release about “PF signing an MOU with NRCS to deliver CRP.” Not knowing my new colleague very well at that point, I thought he had a speech impediment. I smiled, nodded, and said “no problem” as I set off to decipher the acronym code. As it turns out, a communications position in the conservation world has just as many acronyms as a career in Sabermetrics.
Hopefully you’re already a member of Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever or one of our conservation partner organizations. If you are, then you’re probably all too familiar with the world of conservation acronyms from websites and publications. Consider this stream of conscious list as an example of the acronym clutter in conservation communication: EQIP, FSA, SAFE, EBI, CRP, CREP, PLOTS, PF, QF, CRP-MAP, DU, RGS, RMEF, TNC, QDMA, NRCS, MOU, CSP, LCCMR, REAP, RIM, LSOHC, WIHA, WIA, NRCS, SWCD, BWSR, EPA, DNR, KDWP, NBCI, SEQSG, FWP, GRP, TSP, TA, EFRP . . . get my point?
In my opinion, all the acronyms involved with creating wildlife habitat and improving water quality cloud the public’s comprehension of what’s happening on the landscape for habitat, wildlife and hunters. For this reason, I detest acronyms and try to use the words spelled out as often as appropriately possible.
Acronym Trivia: The acronym WHIP has a conservation and baseball meaning. Do you know both meanings?
Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012
I was walking the dogs the other day out behind my house when I stumbled across it, an ugly, spindly little thing that hadn’t been there before. It looked harmless enough, just a sprig of raggedy evergreen poking out from the leaves covering the ground. It didn’t look evil. In fact, it looked like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. Cute almost in a homely sort of way. I bent over, gently grasped its slender little stem… then ruthlessly yanked it out of the ground and threw it over the fence. Tree homicide never felt so good.
Having struck a blow for quail (at least in my mind), I happily resumed my walk. What was so horrible about this tiny little plant I had just joyously murdered? Oh, just about everything. Given enough time, it would have grown into a giant, sprawling, water-sucking, habitat-stealing eastern red cedar, which I like to call the cockroach of the tree world. Eastern red cedars are a type of juniper that, while native to my area of the southern plains, has historically been confined to deep canyons and other areas relatively immune from fire. But the eastern red cedar’s range has exploded in recent years, forming dense stands of – quite literally – impenetrable, sterile forest where prairie used to be. I’ve watched eastern red cedars slowly choke out some of my favorite hunting spots over the past 15 years or so, and as someone who’s worn out a chainsaw or two trying to beat them back on my in-law’s property, I can attest to both the eastern red cedar’s perniciousness and its profligacy.
This devil tree does absolutely nothing for quail, or virtually any other wildlife for that matter, and it’s quite literally taking over the quail-hunting landscape in my home state of Oklahoma. Which is why it did my eastern red cedar-hating heart good recently to see the good folks of the Central Oklahoma 89er Quail Forever chapter donate $20,000 to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation for the purchase of a cedar-cutting machine that will be used on the state’s wildlife management areas. Not only is it a great example of how local QF chapters’ dollars stay local, it’s a great use of those dollars as well. I for one can’t wait to see all those newly-cut cedar trees slowly turning brown as the dogs and I walk past them this fall.
That doesn’t mean, however, that I will stop waging my low-level personal warfare against eastern red cedars. Like some weird, demented anti-Johnny Appleseed, I long ago made it a point to stop and pull every eastern red cedar seedling I came across while out walking or hunting. A largely symbolic gesture, I know, especially compared with the absolutely real difference that my QF chapter’s contribution will be making with this new cedar-cutting machine. But that’s OK, they both still make me feel good…
What little gestures do you make or symbolic blows do you strike for your local quail?
Chad Love writes for Quail Forever (Pheasants Forever’s quail conservation division) from Woodward, Oklahoma. He is a lifelong quail hunter and “bird dog guy” who also writes for Field & Stream, including the magazine’s “Man’s Best Friend” gundog blog.
Tuesday, March 20th, 2012
Last week at the North American Wildlife & Natural Resources Conference, it was my pleasure to present United States Fish & Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe with a plaque commemorating 25 years of the Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program.
During the presentation, I reflected back on the Program’s 25-years of habitat successes and the people responsible for those achievements. My fond memories included folks like Jim Gritman, who initiated the Partners program, and Carl Madsen, who wrote the very first private land contract under the Program.
Just two weeks ago it was my honor to help Partners program biologist Kurt Forman brief the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission on the plights of prairies and wetlands due to the loss of acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. We also discussed the variety of ways CRP is of critical importance to the Prairie Pothole region that includes North and South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa.
It’s been a great partnership and Pheasants Forever was pleased to offer our congratulations to the entire Partners program team. They’ve done a great job helping private lands farmers and ranchers complete wildlife habitat projects these past 25 years.
The D.C. Minute is written by Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Government Relations.
Saturday, January 28th, 2012
I remember the first time I ever met Kim Price. It was at SHOT Show in 2005. Pheasants Forever was investigating the formation of Quail Forever and Kim owned Covey Rise, the nation’s only monthly publication dedicated exclusively to the bobwhite quail.
“I bet you couldn’t even hit a quail over a pointed covey,” Kim poked me. “Son, after shooting those basketball-sized pheasants all fall long, a covey of quail would eat you alive.”
It turns out Kim was right about my shooting prowess, but he grossly underestimated the survival instincts of a flushing rooster.
“B Saint P, that basketball was hummin’,” Kim giggled after a rooster flushed behind two empty barrels of his over/under a few years later on a South Dakota prairie.
Kim was a man who favored over/under shotguns, laughed easily, recognized good habitat, loved bird dogs, enjoyed writing and appreciated solid journalism; which is to say we were fast friends.
Around the marketing department, my team affectionately referred to Kim as “Sweet Home” referencing his Alabama roots, southern drawl and steadfast support for our PR efforts. As you probably heard, or inferred by now, Kim passed away last week after a lengthy battle against cancer. He was a champion for quail and for pheasants, he was the epitome of a professional, and he is a friend I will miss forever.
I conducted the following Q&A for a blog post last year. I thought it appropriate for all of you to learn a little more about my friend Kim from his own words.
Kim N. Price
Born in what town: Alexander City, Alabama
Current Town of Residence: Alexander City, Alabama
Family: Wife, Janet; Chilluns, Whitney, Matt, Chase, & Griffin
Occupation: Owner and President of Price Publications, Inc. , publishers of three weekly newspapers and Covey Rise, national quail hunting publication
Dogs: Baxter, a Boykin Spaniel and Herkimer, Collie/lab mix
Favorite place to pheasant hunt: South Dakota
Favorite place to quail hunt: Thomasville, Georgia
Favorite pheasant hunting shotgun: Beretta Lightweight 12- gauge
Favorite quail hunting shotgun: Browning Citori 28-gauge
Best pheasant hunt of your life was: My first time six years ago in Clark, South Dakota, and my last time in Kansas.
Best quail hunt of your life was: Albany, Texas at the Stasney Cook Ranch. We saw probably 60 coveys on the roads driving into the ranch, and over the next two days the dogs found about 70 coveys.
How did you first get involved with Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever? I was asked to serve on the national board to help institute Quail Forever as part of a national organization seeking to restore quail populations across the Northern Bobwhite’s landscape. I also serve as treasurer now.
What is your favorite aspect about serving on the National Board? Conservation is my life and PF/QF is truly all about conservation. Our board is made up of dedicated conservationists who give of their time to work on important conservation issues whether locally at a chapter meeting, at a quarterly national board meeting, a committee meeting or working on pushing conservation issues in Washington, D.C.
What is the single biggest challenge facing Pheasants Forever in the future?
My biggest concern not just for PF/QF, but for all conservation organizations is the loss of critical conservation programs in the 2012 Farm Bill. That one issue is the great challenge for Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever. Fortunately, PF/QF is the hands-down leader in conservation work in Washington on the Farm Bill and PF/QF has an awesome respect among the decision-makers – I know because I’ve seen it in person. It’s about habitat. The loss of sensitive brood rearing habitat and food cover areas that could get plowed under due to a lack of Farm Bill program funding could be disastrous. The Conservation Reserve Program alone helped return pheasant populations to the landscape and without CRP and other conservation-friendly programs, pheasants, quail and other upland species are in for a rough time down the road.
Times are bleak for America’s bobwhite quail. What is it going to take to turn the tide?
Habitat restoration. I know that sounds basic, but it is. States with on-the-ground programs are making a difference using federal and state programs available to landowners. That is key. Since the 1980s bobwhite quail have lost much of their reproductive and successional habitat. Farming practices changed, timber practices changed and fire was removed from the habitat for too long. That closed the timber canopy – ever heard of Kudzu – and quail had no place to live under the tall Southern pine forests. Predators began dominating the shadows and populations started declining in the 70s. By the 1980s, some states, like my own Alabama, had seen as much as 80 percent to 90 percent loss of bobwhite populations. That is significant. Quail Forever’s goal is to get as many on-the-ground chapters working with as many individual landowners on a contiguous basis to promulgate quail restoration. Along with state wildlife quail biologists – many who serve on the National Bobwhite Technical Committee – and federal agencies like the Farm Service Agency, we can work together to make this happen. In a perfect world, the “Deep South” would have just as many Farm Bill biologists helping landowners plan, plant and burn so the landscape benefits Mr. Bob. I asked FSA Administrator Jonathan Coppess at the recent Pheasant Fest in Omaha if it is possible for states and FSA to team up with QF chapters to get these Farm Bill biologists on the ground. He said he would work to help us notify his state managers in the south. That cooperation is what it will take because it represents the biggest opportunity for faster landscape change. Then, we will see bobwhite populations return. They may never get back to the 1960s, but they’ll be back to a point you can go on the back porch and hear that ole man whistle again.
I’ll miss you Sweet Home. I’ll rejoin you down the road for a hunt, so remember to leave a few birds in those coveys for seed.
Saturday, October 15th, 2011
In the classic baseball movie The Sandlot, a young team of rag-tag ballplayers spend the majority of the film trying to retrieve a baseball autographed by Babe Ruth – one they mistakenly play with and hit over the fence into the jaws of an angry junkyard dog nicknamed “The Beast.”
After a series of misadventures, the boys finally get the ball, defeat the beast and return him to his rightful owner, the supposedly mean Mr. Mertle. They soon find they could have saved themselves a whole lot of grief. “Why didn’t you just knock on the door,” the friendly-as-could-be Mr. Mertle says of the ball, “I’d have gotten it for you.”
Though a fictional story, that line by old Mr. Mertle has stuck with me over the years, serving as my constant reminder that if you want things in life, you need to ask. The same goes whether you’re looking for a date with the pretty girl…or access to John Doe’s pheasant habitat honey hole.
But with private landowners controlling much of the wildlife habitat in the United States, the fact is simply finding spots to enjoy their favorite outdoor activities remains a roadblock for many hunters and anglers.
There is some positive news to report. The most recent Farm Bill contained an “Open Fields” provision that provides $50 million which is already helping states develop and enhance access or “walk in” access programs. While a strong leap forward for hunters, anglers and conservationists, it is still a drop in the bucket.
Conservation groups like Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, along with state and federal natural resource agencies work hard to create public hunting areas. Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs), state forests and national forests all provide excellent habitat and sporting opportunities. However, gaining access to private land is an often overlooked and underutilized hunting opportunity.
One of the big differences I’ve noticed between those who get what they want and those who don’t boils down to one simple behavior: Whether they’re willing to ask for it. I’ve read articles ad nauseum about private land and how to gain permission to it. While the art of asking or negotiating is important and can be perfected over time, I suspect the bigger obstacle for many – whether it be the fear of asking or the fear of rejection – is getting over the hump and making “the ask.” It needn’t be “The Beast” we treat it as, and you can take matters into your own hands this fall – literally – by using them to knock on “Mr. Mertle’s” door. There are millions of real farmers, ranchers, and private landowners just as nice as the mythical Mr. Mertle waiting to meet you and me.
I was a teenager the first time I asked a landowner for permission to hunt their property. My buddies and I had targeted a slough so full of northern mallards, it looked like a funnel cloud was rising out of it – and we were the storm chasers. We must have driven around the section a dozen times before we finally mustered up the courage to make our way up the landowner’s driveway, and then proceeded to sit in the vehicle for another eternity arguing which of us should make the death march to the door. Unable to verbally draw straws, we decided the safety-in-numbers approach was the next best option.
Much to our surprise, we were greeted by a kind, elderly woman who not only granted us permission, but seemed genuinely excited about doing so. As I recall, we were invited in for milk and cookies, but politely declined – ducks on the pond and all.
My best friends and I spent that cold, blustery November evening harvesting some of the plumpest ducks I’ve ever seen in my life, and it will forever be one of my fondest memories. The broad smile on her face as we presented her with one of those freshly plucked greenheads has stayed with me equally as long. I’d created a new hunting honey hole for a lifetime.
Living proof that sometimes, you get what you ask for.