Posts Tagged ‘Rooster Road Trip’
Friday, November 1st, 2013
Five days and 2,200 miles after we left Minnesota, the Rooster Road Trip crew made it back to where it all began; Pheasant Run #1 in Nobles County, Minnesota – the first property purchased and made open to the public by Pheasants Forever – and there couldn’t be a more fitting way to end this trip.
Hunting this notable public piece was on all our pheasant hunting bucket lists. And, at nearly 30-years-old, Pheasant Run #1 still looked prime thanks to the volunteers with the Nobles County Pheasants Forever chapter who use funds they raise to keep the grass growing here and at the other 29 land acquisitions the group has participated in during the last three decades.
This state Wildlife Management Area started as a 40-acre property and has expanded over the years. In fact, this area is in part of a stretch where, if a pheasant hunter was so inclined, he or she could walk nearly seven consecutive miles of public land. These add-ons are also attributed to the efforts of Nobles County Pheasants Forever.
We were joined by chapter board member Nathan Holt and his two black labs, “Nitro” and “Phelps;” board member Chad Nixon and his two yellow labs, “KC” and “Molly;” and board member Bruce Amundson his black lab, “Jackie.” As it turns out, Bruce actually helped start the chapter (#013), so I felt confident with him as my “guide.”
As we spread out across the rolling hills of bluestem, with cattails filling the depressions between, Pheasant Run #1 proved the old adage once again: “Where there’s quality habitat, there’re birds.” Unfortunately, the pheasants were doing what they do best on extremely windy days, flushing wild out of gun range.
Somehow, I was still completely content walking out of that field without a bird. Just knowing the pheasants were there – and will continue to thrive – was enough to check this off as a highlight of my pheasant hunting career.
As the years pass, hunters like us will come and go, bird dogs like “Annie,” “Sprig” and “Beau” will find their first birds here and some, inevitably, will find their last. But, the grass and pheasants will remain thanks to chapters like Nobles County Pheasants Forever. It will be here for the next generation of wingshooters, always calling with opens arms to those who are willing to put on the miles and chase these beautiful birds.
Sadly, time catches up with all of us, and Rooster Road Trip 2013 has to come to an end. From North Dakota to Iowa, we’ve met and hunted with some of the finest volunteers PF has to offer, and I thank each and every one of them for the memories.
It has been an experience of a lifetime for all of us.
Thank you, readers, for supporting Pheasants Forever, our wildlife habitat conservation mission, and for riding along with Rooster Road Trip 2013.
Thursday, October 31st, 2013
Brooks VanDerBeek, 19, a sophomore at Iowa State University in Ames, wrote his paper ahead of the due date earlier this week so he could skip class, rope a buddy into doing the same, and join Pheasants Forever’s Rooster Road Trip for an afternoon of public land pheasant hunting in Iowa.
Brooks didn’t have to twist his friend’s arm too much. Nolan Benzing, 20, is also an underclassman at Iowa State, and he’d already been out duck hunting this morning. Both studying natural resources, VanDerBeek and Benzing are the president and vice president, respectively, of the Iowa State University Pheasants Forever chapter, which was the first college PF chapter to form in the country.
If VanDerBeek and Benzing had a Halloween party to get to later in the evening, they were already dressed for the occasion, though I get the feeling they pull this kind of stuff even when the Rooster Road Trip’s not in town. Hopefully your professor is a pheasant hunter, Brooks, and looks kindly upon you. But if not, you still get an A for the day in our book.
Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
“What is your ideal mixed bag hunt?” For me, it’s an easy answer: pheasant and quail in the same field. Nebraska is known for being a mixed bag state, so I’ve been anxiously waiting to get to day three of the Rooster Road Trip, where Nebraska Coordinating Wildlife Biologist Jake Holt tipped us off there had been a good quail hatch.
Unlike many hunting “tips,” Jake was dead on, and the “Cornhusker State” didn’t let us down. In fact, after nearly five days on the road, it brought us up. How did we do?
This was the best day of hunting for the Rooster Road Trip – ever.
Seventeen birds ended up in the bag today. Wild, publicly-accessed pheasants AND wild, publicly-accessed quail.
Our first field was a 30-acre parcel with the perfect amount of diverse cover, which produced a diverse mix of birds. Two munsterlanders, my red setter, and Andrew’s Lab, “Beau,” all hit the ground running. Within the first 100 yards a ringneck busted out of range, but luckily, it wasn’t the only bird. Hens were darting left and right past us.
I let Annie range down the line of hunters and she cast over to Andrew. Even though Andrew owns a Lab, he must have some pointer-owner in him somewhere, because he confidently let Annie work and then called over “Point!” No sooner than he said that, two bobs zipped past our line and our shot. Thankfully, those were only the scouts. Immediately after, a healthy 15-bird covey made the grass shake, and we scratched two down.
“Where we have grass, we have birds,” Holt said.
Pushing the field out, pheasants started flushing like grasshoppers in August. A rooster crossed right-left (my favorite shot), and thanks to well-placed Federal Prairie Storm 4’s, it ended up in the pack. Within 80 yards, we put up another covey of birds, and I dropped a cock bird. So, thirty minutes into hunting Nebraska, I had my first Cornhusker ringneck and bobwhite, a sequence I’ll play over and over again in the off-season. Thanks, Nebraska!
Shooting a Browning Citori 725, I had the opportunity to pick and choose my shells/barrel. Knowing I was officially in mixed bag country, I dropped a 7 steel in the top tube and 4 steel in the bottom. Shortly before the end of the field, I managed to bag my second rooster of the day on another right-left crossing shot (Rooster Road Trip Roadies, do you agree with this shell combo? What would you have used in this situation?).
I wish I could tell you names and other shots taken, but truthfully, there was too much shooting and too many birds to keep it straight! What I can tell you is every field we hunted produced in a big way, and these are areas open to you too. The Open Fields and Waters Program is a joint project of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and Pheasants Forever.
The only thing that topped the hunting today was the company. We were joined today by Nebraska Game and Parks Commissioners Mick Jensen and Lynn Berggren. On the ride over, Commissioner Berggren and I discussed his youth growing up hunting pheasants in Nebraska and how he passed his outdoor tradition on to his children. He mentioned how important pheasant hunting has been and still is to the communities in Nebraska, both culturally and economically, and the positive things that are being done, especially with getting youth involved, to carry on the traditions.
From the dog work, to the pheasant/quail combo to the camaraderie, today will probably be one of the best days afield this season. It’s always a pleasure to share the field with people who share conservation and outdoor ethics, and today was no exception. With the last field pushed and photos wrapped up, the Nebraska commissioners and biologists heartily invited us back for a late season hunt, and after the day we had, there is no doubt we’ll be back.
Annie’s Tracks according to the Garmin Alpha: 9.61 miles
My Tracks: 6.30
Tuesday, October 29th, 2013
This trio of German shorthaired pointers locked up on four roosters on a morning hunt at a South Dakota Game Production Area. Pheasants Forever has contributed to prescribed burns and tree plantings at this north-central South Dakota public tract. From left, Jim Ristau, Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist, and his dog, “Mojo,” Mike Stephenson, Pheasants Forever Regional Representative in South Dakota and his dog, “Chance,” and Justin Derga, Pheasants Forever Habitat Specialist, and his dog, “Jackson.” Back right is Andrew Vavra, Pheasants Forever Marketing Specialist.
Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor, at email@example.com.
Monday, October 28th, 2013
Lengthy and outstate pheasant hunting trips require soooo many details to come together to be successful, not the least of which is keeping your best hunting buddy in tip-top shape on the rooster road. After a long day of hunting, it’s nice to come back to a clean, comfortable and warm hotel room. Thankfully, despite being a city of 60K-plus people, such places are easily found in Bismarck, North Dakota
On our morning drives (including the weekend before the trip officially began), we spotted pheasants along roadsides just minutes outside of Bismarck, and found productive PLOTS lands and state wildlife areas not terribly far from town as well. At the end of a long day, we were able to return to one of the 15 or so dog-friendly hotels in the Bismarck-Mandan area.
While we had two hotel rooms which required us picking up the extra pet fee (typically a nominal amount at most hotels), the clerk waived the charges by claiming one of our dogs as a “service dog.” “Any dog that hunts is a service dog in my opinion,” he said with a wink. The wallet was left a little fatter, and today we proclaim Bismarck, North Dakota as “The Bird Dog-Friendliest City in America.”
Sunday, October 27th, 2013
Despite a full-size SUV full of pheasant hunting gear and nice shotguns, the most important thing coming with me on this year’s Rooster Road Trip is a piece of paper. Printed on that sheet are the phone numbers and addresses for every veterinary office in the locations of each of the five states we’ll be hunting in the next week.
Last year as a first-time dog owner, my eagerness to hunt with my own dog, combined with my novice skill level, left me woefully unprepared for a dog emergency in the field. With a full offseason to reflect – not to mention a few summertime trips to the vet – I vowed this season to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
I’ve gone ahead and picked up a Sporting Dog First Aid Kit, but it’s not going to just sit in the truck. My vest pockets are now stuffed with the essentials to deal with minor issues and buy precious time if a major one arises.
And that’s where the paper in the glove box comes in. Whether it’s a slight sprain or a major cut from a barbed wire fence, the sooner you get your dog to a vet, the sooner professional treatment begins. In the vast regions of pheasant country we love to visit most, vet offices are frequently more than 30 miles from your location. Cell service is spotty. When minutes, maybe even seconds matter, you have to know where to go and who to call. We’ll be using technology to bring you the best of the Rooster Road Trip this year, but if the worst arrives, I’ll be counting on a paper trail.
Thursday, October 10th, 2013
The Fall 2013 issue of the Pheasants Forever Journal is landing in members’ mailboxes right now. The entire magazine team is thrilled with this issue. From its stunning cover of a flushing rooster to a behind-the-scenes look at the Rooster Road Trip, this issue is filled with great photography and fun stories from pheasant country. It also features a new advertisement from U.S. Bank, one of our organization’s most generous corporate partners.
U.S. Bank is the official credit card provider of the Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever Visa program. And thanks to 2,200 active users of our special Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever Visa cards, U.S. Bank has donated over $600,000 to “The Habitat Organization.” That’s a lot of funds generated for habitat by 2,200 card holders in an organization of more than 135,000 members.
We all have credit cards for our daily purchases – fuel, groceries, Prairie Storm ammo, hunting licenses, Irish Setter boots, etc. – so, why not use a credit card that gives back to the same mission you give so much passion towards? A new couch purchase helps us fund a shelter belt planting project. Your monthly car insurance payment helps us introduce another youngster to the outdoors. A new shotgun at Gander Mountain leads to a new public hunting area.
It’s true. Every time a Pheasants Forever Visa Card application is approved and activated, Pheasants Forever gets paid. Each time a Pheasants Forever Visa Card celebrates another anniversary, Pheasants Forever gets paid. And, each and every time any Pheasants Forever Visa Card is used to make a purchase, Pheasants Forever gets paid. You can make a difference for wildlife through the act of simply putting your Pheasants Forever Visa Card in the front of your wallet and using it for all your purchases. Imagine how many habitat dollars we could raise if 10 percent of our members carried the Pheasants Forever Visa!
And one final point, the folks at U.S. Bank are avid hunters just like you and me. They share our same passion for days afield with bird dogs and flushing roosters. Simply put; they get it! Help us support our shared goals by signing up for the Pheasants Forever or Quail Forever Visa Card today and join us on this year’s Rooster Road Trip beginning on October 28th.
U.S. Bank also happens to be a proud sponsor of every Rooster Road Trip because they agree with our habitat mission and our desire to create public access for all bird hunters. Thanks U.S. Bank and thanks to the 2,200 Pheasants Forever Visa Card holders.
The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing. Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.
Monday, November 26th, 2012
A few months back, a friend of mine opened up to me about his secret passion for woodcock hunting. I, too, have an undeniable love affair with the American timberdoodle. This migrating aspen and alder tornado is an awesome game bird for pointing dogs and an under-appreciated challenge for wingshooters.
This same anonymous friend shared with me a woodcock recipe to transform the timberdoodle from a meat equated to flying liver into a white linen delicacy. I’ve bagged 15 woodcock this season and sautéed every single one to rave reviews employing his recipe. Unfortunately, I’ve exhausted my timberdoodle freezer reserves; consequently, last evening I substituted Nebraska’s Rooster Road Trip quail for woodcock in my newfound favorite recipe. Whether you’ve got timberdoodle, quail, ruffed grouse or a pheasant breast in the freezer, I believe you’ll find this recipe easy, tasty and addictive.
- 3 de-boned quail breasts
- Olive oil
- Chef Paul Prudhommes redfish blackening seasoning
1) Brush the quail breasts generously with olive oil
2) Liberally sprinkle the breasts with Chef Paul Prudhommes blackening seasoning
3) Sauté the breasts on medium-high heat in a frying pan for 3 or 4 minutes
4) Flip the breasts over and sauté for 2 or 3 minutes
5) Serve with a side of Brussels sprouts, mushrooms and wild rice
Monday, November 5th, 2012
The opportunity to hunt quail in Nebraska and Kansas has been one of my favorite aspects of the Rooster Road Trip over the last three years. As I’ve blogged about many times, I grew up hunting ruffed grouse in the “Northwoods,” and when I encounter a covey of bobwhites I can’t help but draw similarities to ruffs. Both birds only give you a split second opportunity and their flush is often heard before viewed.
There are definitely unique aspects of bobwhites too. A bobwhite’s covey rise is a whirl of motion challenging the wingshooter to select a single bird without falling into “flock shooting,” in which you simply look at the entire flock without properly aiming at an individual bird. “Flock shooting” will almost always result in a miss.
However, it’s the sound of a bobwhite’s covey flush I enjoy most about the bird. Unlike the chainsaw-like explosion of a ruffed grouse or the cackling bad-ass attitude of a ring-neck, a bobwhite covey sounds like twenty throwing stars whirring threw the air if an army of ninja warriors had just entered the scene to fight Chuck Norris. (Obviously, Chuck Norris could triple on bobs with one shot).
So with each visit to “quail country,” my affinity for bobwhites grows more intense. As today’s Nebraska hunt produced more coveys than ring-necks, my mind started to wonder about the public land quail hunting version of the Rooster Road Trip. I can pretty easily come up with Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas as four states on a hypothetical Quail Forever “Quail Quest,” but the fifth state is a bit debatable. Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, New Mexico, Arkansas, Arizona, Mississippi and Alabama are all conceivably doable based upon geography, but I have not personally experienced a quail hunt in any of these states.
What do you think the fifth state on a “Quail Quest” would be for the best public lands quail hunt?
Tuesday, December 13th, 2011
David Schager joined Pheasants Forever during PF’s Rooster Road Trip 2011 last month. The Carmel, Indiana resident’s name was randomly selected as the grand prize winner from the online event’s membership drive for a Browning Citori 12 gauge shotgun.
Pheasants Forever’s Rooster Road Trip 2011 visited five states in five days, including lands that Pheasants Forever has played a significant role in opening up to public access; either through land purchase, restoration or legislation. The effort focused on how important pheasant hunters that are Pheasants Forever members are to creating and improving publicly accessible habitat.
Special thanks to Browning, one of the sponsors of Rooster Road Trip 2011, for providing Browning PF hats to those who joined Pheasants Forever during the event, and the grand prize. Congratulations David, enjoy your new shotgun, and thanks to you and all members who signed up during the Rooster Road Trip for supporting Pheasants Forever and wildlife habitat conservation.
If you’d like to join Pheasants Forever, the nation’s leading upland conservation organization, visit www.PheasantsForever.org/Join. No organization does more to improve wildlife habitat for pheasants and quail, and we can only do it with your support.