Posts Tagged ‘South Dakota Pheasants Forever’
Wednesday, July 10th, 2013
Pheasants Forever is praising South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard for ending a two-year moratorium on land acquisitions by the state’s Game, Fish & Parks Department (GFP). The decision will allow GFP – and sometimes with the partnership of Pheasants Forever – to periodically acquire land that can be permanently protected as wildlife habitat and opened for public recreation and hunting.
Currently, GFP’s Wildlife Division owns less than 0.6 percent of the land in South Dakota. While land acquisitions by themselves cannot offset the drastic reductions in Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acreage in South Dakota (which has fallen to less than 1 million acres), new public parcels can be a valuable, and most importantly, permanent, conservation asset. They’re also purchased with revenue from hunting license sales and financial support from partners (such as Pheasants Forever) as opposed to tax dollars.
“Owning land that is specifically managed to benefit wildlife and those sportsmen and women who buy hunting licenses is an important tool used by GFP in our efforts to provide habitat and accessible hunting opportunity,” says GFP secretary Jeff Vonk. “Having this option as well as the other tools we use — such as our walk-in program through private-land leases and habitat incentives on private lands — will provide the greatest flexibility and success as our biologists and land managers go about their daily jobs.”
One Pheasants Forever member happy to see the moratorium end is Dr. Frank Alvine, who’s scenic 1,000-acre Calico Canyon Ranch is near Winfred, South Dakota. “For the past fifteen years, I have included a provision in my will that gives the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks the first-right-of-refusal on the purchase of this property,” says Alvine, 74. “I’d like it to go to the department to see it protected and shared with others.”
Alvine originally purchased the first portion of the Lake County property in the 1970s. Time, money and hard work have turned what was an “overgrazed piece of ground with severe erosion problems,” as he puts it, into the showplace of habitat that it is today. Mallards dot the different wetlands now brimming with water while whitetail deer browse on the lush cool-season grasses growing on the glaciated hillsides. The occasional bobolink rises from the prairie – its black and white markings standing in stark contrast to the backdrop of green – while the sounds of crowing rooster pheasants are almost constantly in the air. Loftier goals yet remain for the ranch, Alvine says, and the ending of the moratorium brings them closer to reality.
“I watched as my favorite duck sloughs were drained when I was a young hunter, and now I’m watching as we drain even more ground, plow more grass, take out trees, burn cattails – it’s frustrating to watch South Dakota transform before your very eyes,” Alvine says, “We’re witnessing a change in the quality of life for sportsmen in South Dakota. There are certain parcels of ground that were never meant to be broken, never meant to be changed. I’d like to see this property stay this way, and I’d like to see it end up with the Game, Fish and Parks.
-John Pollmann (Twitter: @JohnPollmann) contributed to this report.
Monday, December 3rd, 2012
The calendar has turned to December, and that means just five weekends left in South Dakota’s pheasant hunting season. Overall hunting success appears to be spotty due to the effects of the ongoing drought. Many public and private areas of grass were hayed to help livestock producers in this tough year, and the quality of other grass stands is lacking. More alarming, as detailed in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, is the looming crisis in pheasant country, as the dry conditions have allowed the appetite for corn to reach new levels, resulting in the burning and dismantling of an unquantifiable number of wetlands, cattails draws, fence lines, shelterbelts and groves.
Here with on-the-ground hunting and habitat reports are Pheasants Forever staff members in South Dakota:
My family was able to spend the Thanksgiving Holiday with my In-Law’s, who farm in north-central S.D. I can think of no better way to spend “Black Friday” than to grab a dog and shotgun and go pheasant hunting! Joining me was my son, Zach, and my brother-in-law, Jeff, from Mitchell. Habitat conditions were quite a bit different than past years’ hunts, due to the drying up of wetlands, and with that, the desire to farm these areas. However, we found the remaining habitat like shelterbelts, fence lines, and even harvested crop stubble (wheat) to be productive. From other reports I’m hearing, there seems to be a solid number of hens in all areas of the state, which is very encouraging. So even in areas where bird numbers have not been as strong as last year, the potential for a solid rebound next spring is there. Hopefully, those hens will be able to find a quality place to nest. CRP anyone? Come on Washington, let’s have a Farm Bill!
- Jim Ristau, Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist – Chamberlain, S.D.
I’ve heard mixed reports, but the overall consensus has been fairly tough hunting. In my experience, in the field where there is habitat, the birds will be found. Much of my successes have been in cattails – long days for a bird or two. And with the weather being as fair, birds have been wild and not holding for a young pointer.
- Mike Stephenson, Pheasants Forever South Dakota Regional Representative – Emery, S.D.
Pheasant hunting has been a little slow in much of the state, the birds are bunched up and pretty wild. If you are in for a challenge, this is the year. You need to hunt quiet and fast, especially on public ground. I would head for the “off the beaten path” spots along the Missouri and out west for the best results. This is a different style of a hunt, as you’re not walking food plots and tall grass; rather you are going to be targeting woody draws and more linear cover. On a more positive side, the reports on the grouse hunting have been excellent this year!
- Matt Morlock, Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist II – Volga, S.D
Hunting in northeast South Dakota has been pretty hit and miss. Some of our best success has come out of hunting new Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) walk-in areas with quality grass right before sundown. We’ve been seeing good numbers of birds, but due to milder weather and no snow, they are busting out early and are tough to keep in gunning range. Although it’s been difficult hunting, I think we should consider ourselves fortunate this year. The rate of grass conversion and the amount of cattail sloughs being burned is jaw dropping. It will be difficult to say what the bird numbers will look like next year with the significant loss of habitat taking place this fall.
- Ben Lardy, Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologist – Webster, S.D.
In Sanborn and Jerauld Counties, most guys have been shooting a bird or two per day. I talked to a group of guys that was hunting last weekend on public and private ground south of Mitchell, and they saw plenty of birds.
- Scott Groepper, Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist – Woonsocket, S.D.
Have you been pheasant hunting in South Dakota this year? If so, post your own report in the comments section below.
Tuesday, September 18th, 2012
Some bird dogs end up in our lives the result of months, even years of planning, with research, time, money and travel all invested into the process. And some bird dogs end up in our lives because of this little thing called “impulse,” when right time meets right place and a pair of eyes and a helpless looking face runs a straight line to the heart, conscience be darned.
He was born July 8th, 2011. His mother struggled through the birthing process, which included a C-section, and passed away during labor, along with seven of the nine puppies she carried. Two male German shorthaired pointer pups clung to life, and the owners of the late mother did not know how to keep them alive.
As chance would have it, a lady who raises boxers had a litter delivered the same day. When she heard about the two orphaned GSP pups, she and her boxer adopted them, weaned them and nurtured them to health.
Word spread in the community, and one of the pups was claimed. But a few more weeks went by, and one lone pup remained, a hunter-to-be just needing a chance.
Having just moved to Emery, South Dakota, as Pheasants Forever’s new regional representative, 23-year-old Mike Stephenson had a bird dog in his future plans, but wasn’t seriously considering getting a pup just yet. Still, when a Pheasants Forever chapter member told him about the little pointer, Stephenson decided to have a look.
“It seemed like I had to take the ‘Chance’ at this four-legged pup who sat patiently staring at me with those irresistible puppy eyes,” Stephenson said. Soon, there was company in the cab as Stephenson drove around South Dakota to Pheasants Forever chapter meetings and banquets.
“Chance” made his first point and retrieve at just three-months-old. “’He’s been a great companion and my best friend,” Stephenson says, “As much as I don’t want to say this – as I’m young – he’s probably the dog of my lifetime.”
Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011
How, exactly, does South Dakota sustain its incredible ringneck population? The short answer is with the help of conservation groups like the Grant County and Clear Lake Pheasants Forever chapters. Recently, the two chapters, along with multiple partners, helped purchase 600 acres of prime upland habitat with the intention of turning it over for public access.
The former owner of the property sold the land for an under appraised value, and did not put the land up for public auction. On board with Pheasants Forever’s wildlife habitat mission, the seller wanted the land he cherished and opened for others to enjoy. Located in Grant County east of 367th Ave, this property will be open to the public for hunting and other outdoor recreational activities as a new state Game Production Area (GPA).
Each local Pheasants Forever chapter contributed $5,000 to the land acquisition, monies raised at their respective Pheasants Forever banquets. “This project is a great example of what Pheasants Forever can accomplish with local chapters working together,” said Mike Stephenson, Pheasants Forever’s South Dakota Regional Representative, “This land will be open for the public to use forever and the project leaves a legacy that will connect with future South Dakota hunters and Pheasants Forever members.”