Posts Tagged ‘South Dakota’

Rooster Road Trip South Daktota Recap – GSP Edition

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013


From left, German shorthaired pointers “Mojo,” “Chance” and “Jackson.” Photo by Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever

What I’m about to write may come across as being a bit blasphemous, perhaps even somewhat deranged but hear me out, because in the long run I think I made the right choice.

Today I consciously decided to have my yellow lab, Beau, take the day off as we hunted the pheasant rich region of Pierre, South Dakota. That’s right, she sat crated as I chased birds.

After doing some pre-road trip scouting (read: hunting) Saturday and Sunday in North Dakota followed by a hard day’s hunt on Monday, I figured a day off in SoDak would pay dividends as we weave our way through the rest of the trip. After all, the bird dog cavalry was in town.

Linking up with us outside of Pierre was a motley crew of five hunters, five yellow labs, and four German shorthaired pointers. Wasting no time, the proverbial line was quickly drawn on the icy dirt road: Team GSP would go east while Team Lab would head west.  I chose east.

Being a lab guy, I saw this as a good opportunity to experience a different style of bird hunting. You know, the kind where every shot is a well-orchestrated layup and thick cover would be avoided in favor of flowing fields of grass. I was wrong, at least about the thick cover part.

Forming a line with PF Regional Representative, Mike Stephenson, Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist, Jim Ristau, and Habitat Specialist, Justin Derga, we set out behind the four GSPs and cut straight toward a large section of cattails.

With fresh snow revealing recently laid pheasant tracks, we slowly navigated the thick thermal cover. With the exception of a few wild flushes, the dogs repeatedly locked-up on birds that were more than comfortable sitting tight until a well placed (or lucky) boot forced a move.

All-in-all we saw more than a hundred birds in that one section. Of the birds we kicked up within shooting range, most of them were hens but we were able to scratch out five roosters before heading back to the truck. Granted, a couple birds slipped through our patterns and one was smart enough to wait until we were reloading to show himself, but that’s why it’s called hunting, not shooting, even if you’re walking behind a pointing dog. And that’s tough for me to admit.

Who knows? Maybe today’s hunt was just what I needed to push me over the edge and put my name down on that wirehair I’ve been mulling over. But even if that’s so, it won’t be for a couple more years. Right now I’m still loving every second of following Beau because as the saying goes, “flushers have more fun.” Right?

All kidding aside, today was encompassed by great people, stellar dog-work, textbook public habitat and flushing pheasants. Whether you’re team pointer or team flusher, that’s something you can appreciate.

The Over/Under blog is written by Andrew Vavra, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Marketing Specialist.

Pheasants in Advertising

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Everywhere I look, I see pheasants.

I was walking my 14-week old bird dog pup along a bike trail a quarter mile from Pheasants Forever’s National Office this afternoon during my lunch break when I encountered the North Dakota Tourism billboard pictured above.


Say what you will about advertising, this one worked on me.  I’ve been daydreaming about fall hunting trips all afternoon and it’s got me thinking about the power of pheasants in advertising.


North Dakota and South Dakota’s Tourism Departments frequently use pheasants in their advertising campaigns.  Our friends at Federal Premium Ammunition and Browning do as well.  I also recall countless beer neon signs, mirrors and posters “welcoming” hunters to local taverns across the pheasant range.


I’d like to see how many images we can gather of pheasants being used to “pitch” products.  From all the photos emailed, I’ll select the single most interesting pheasant-oriented submission to win the blaze orange Minnesota Wild hat featuring the Pheasants Forever logo along with the Sioux Falls Pheasants logo baseball pictured below.


Blaze orange Minnesota Wild hat featuring the Pheasants Forever logo along with the Sioux Falls Pheasants logo baseball

Send your photo submissions to  Thanks!


The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre.

SODSAVER: Prairie Grasslands Get Needed Support

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

One of the final additions to the U.S. Senate’s 2012 Farm Bill language was the inclusion of the John Thune (R-S.D.) & Mike Johanns (R- NE) amendment to limit insurance on newly converted croplands.  The provisions commonly known as “Sodsaver” are a strong addition to the Senate’s conservation title and were included with bipartisan support as the Farm Bill worked its way through the Senate Agriculture Committee.


U.S. Representative Tim Walz and PF's Dave Nomsen after recent D.C. hearing where Nomsen testified in support of Sodsaver provisions and other conservation programs.

A few minutes ago, a companion House of Representatives “Sodsaver” bill, called the Protect our Prairies Act, was introduced by Representatives Kristi Noem (R- S.D.) and Tim Walz (D- MN).  This bi-partisan leadership is exactly the type of action we need to strengthen a conservation title that will likely reduce overall federal funding for many of our existing conservation programs.  Strategically focused federal policy can go a long way in support of wildlife and conservation priorities despite funding reductions, and in this case will help provide critically needed support for existing native prairie habitats.  An added plus is this “Sodsaver” provision actually SAVES nearly $200 million in federal spending.


However, at this stage of the bill, it’s simply a proposal.  To ensure this policy reaches the final 2012 Farm Bill and ultimately hits the ground for habitat, please consider helping me do two things.  1) Thank Representatives Noem and Walz for their leadership, AND 2) ask your U.S. House Representative to join them in co-sponsorship of the Protect our Prairies Act.


U.S. Representative Kristi Noem (center) after a day hunting with family in South Dakota.


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

Senate Agriculture Committee Fosters Optimism for 2012 Farm Bill

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Senator Amy Klobuchar and Minnesota farmer Darrel Mosel after the Senate Agriculture Committee Hearing on Tuesday

Yesterday in Washington, D.C., I attended a United States Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on conservation programs and the 2012 Farm Bill.  During the proceedings, a bipartisan group of Senators and a collection of farmers from across the country voiced support for a number of federal conservation programs. Given the current political climate, I took the vocal support for our favorite programs, like the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), as a positive signal entering this year’s critical Farm Bill debate.  Watch video of the hearing.


Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) kicked off the hearing articulating her support for public access and the Michigan pheasant initiative, specifically noting her attendance at Pheasants Forever’s State Chapter Meeting in Michigan earlier this month.


She also added, “Conservation helps farmers and ranchers to produce food, feed, fuel and fiber while taking care of the land and water.  The Farm Bill is a jobs bill, and that’s as true of the conservation title as it is for anything else in the Farm Bill.”


Following Chairwoman Stabenow, Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-KS) voiced his support for a strong Conservation Reserve Program in the Farm Bill.


U.S. Department of Agriculture officials testifying included NRCS Chief Dave White and FSA Administrator Bruce Nelson. When queried about what the Senate Ag Committee should do about a new Farm Bill, Chief White characterized last year’s Super Committee agreement by Agriculture leaders as having “knocked it out of the park” for conservation and recommended following that path.


Administrator Nelson was asked about the future of CRP.  In his response, he spoke about more diversification and targeting of CRP acres, increased use of the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), and expanded partnerships like those with Pheasants Forever to provide local wildlife conservation expertise in the form of PF’s Farm Bill Biologists.


Senator John Thune (R-SD), from the pheasant capital of South Dakota, voiced a need for 1.5 million acres of CRP in his home state to continue South Dakota’s $250 million dollar pheasant hunting industry.  He noted the success of targeted practices like CRP SAFE (State Acres For wildlife Enhancement) and Conservation Practice 37, which focuses on duck nesting habitat.


Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) also voiced her support for an entire suite of conservation programs and noted their importance to Minnesota’s hunters and anglers. Senator Klobuchar also spoke about the importance of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) funding in combination with Farm Bill programs.


All things considered, it was reassuring to hear such a large bipartisan group of Senators talk about the importance of conservation programs.  However, talk doesn’t put habitat in the ground, clean water in our streams or roosters in the air, your senators and representatives need to hear from you now about the future of conservation programs.  Please contact your elected official and let them know that you want to see this verbal support for conservation turn into actions and a new Farm Bill with a strong conservation title protecting our nation’s wildlife and natural resources for future generations. 


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

Please Don’t Name Your Bird Dog “Bob”

Friday, November 18th, 2011

PF's Matt Morlock and his English setter, Bob

I am an admitted bird dog name snob.  I realize that and also admit to having named my bird dog after a has-been baseball player from two decades ago – Trammell.  All that said; I encountered a new dynamic with a bird dog on this year’s Rooster Road Trip in South Dakota.


Have you ever been in a field with two hunters named Mike?  Sure, it’s a little confusing, but at least both Mikes can speak for themselves.  However, I bet you haven’t been hunting a field with a bird dog that responds to the same name to which you respond, have you?  Humorously, that’s exactly what happened with Matt Morlock’s English setter, Bob, and I yesterday.


Matt and I are friends, but rarely have an opportunity to hunt together.  Consequently, we walked the fields next to each other for an opportunity to chat.  The name confusion arose in the middle of a cattail stand that towered over both our heads.  A rooster flushed in front of Matt and he made a nice swinging shot to drop the bird in the middle of the cattails.  That’s when the instructions for “Bob” to do this and do that began.  Add a howling wind to the tall cattails and you can imagine my confusion about what I was supposed to be doing and what “Bob” the dog was being ordered to do.  It made for a fantastic rendition of “Who’s on First.” 


Follow Pheasants Forever’s Rooster Road Trip 2011 at, on Facebook , YouTube, and Twitter (#rrt11). 


The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre.

Pheasant Hunting Intelligence from South Dakota Locals

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

SD DoT: Generic

The Rooster Road Trip parked in the pheasant capital of South Dakota last evening.  Joining us for Thursday’s public lands pheasant hunt will be fellow Pheasants Forever co-workers and SoDak residents Matt Morlock and Mike Stephenson. 


Morlock is a Farm Bill biologist and a habitat expert.  Stephenson is the regional field representative working with all of PF’s chapters in the top pheasant state.  As South Dakota residents, they are obviously seasoned pheasant hunters and spend most of their hunting time on public lands. 


Over a tray of mini tacos at Sandy’s Bar in Emery, I pumped the guys for pheasant hunting tips only the locals would know.  Here’s what they had to offer. 


“Find the small spots,” whispered Morlock.  “Everyone focuses on the big public lands spots, but most overlook the little ones.  A couple of guys and dogs can really clean up on little GPAs, walk-ins and WPAs in South Dakota because these littler areas don’t get near the hunting pressure as the big ones.”


“Take your time,” added Stephenson.  “People see the early flushing pheasants and panic.  They start to run after those flushing birds, but you have to realize you’re not hunting those birds.  You should be focused on the ones that are holding tighter, so take your time and let your dog use its nose.” 


So armed with those tidbits of local South Dakota pheasant wisdom, we’re ready to release the dogs.  It’s time to pheasant hunt the pheasant capital.  It’s 10AM.


Follow Pheasants Forever’s Rooster Road Trip 2011 at, on Facebook , YouTube, and Twitter (#rrt11). 


The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre.

World’s Largest Pheasant Has Some Work Done

Friday, July 15th, 2011

The "World's Largest Phesaant" in Huron, South Dakota. Photo courtesy of the Dakota Inn

From the “Only in South Dakota” section of today’s news, the “World’s Largest Pheasant” in Huron, South Dakota, is undergoing a restoration. Looks like it will be in tip top shape to greet pheasant hunters this October.

From KELOLAND Television:

A committee in Huron has raised $20,000 restore the “World’s Largest Pheasant.”

The group has also raised $8,000 from businesses and residents to maintain the pheasant for the next 10 years.

A sign at the statue will list all names of donors.

Local artist Schaun Schnathorst and his brother, Bob Carlson, have been working on the 40-foot-long by 28-foot-tall bird since May. They’ve been doing repairs, priming and painting.

It’s scheduled for completion in August, weather permitting.

Field Notes are written and compiled by Anthony Hauck Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauck.

Hungarian Partridge: The Most Under-Rated Game Bird

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

Photo courtesy of Roger Hill

What upland bird flushes in a covey like quail, occupies the big grasslands of the West, rivals pheasant as table fare, and is open to hunting as early as September 1st in some states?  The answer: Hungarian partridge

Also known as a gray partridge, “Huns” are larger than a bobwhite quail, but smaller than a hen pheasant.  The males have a beautiful chestnut colored horseshoe mark on their breast, but it’s difficult to identify gender on the wing.  Although upland hunters encounter Huns from Illinois to Oregon, the highest Hun concentrations exist in Montana, North Dakota and across the border into Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

If you’ve been in search of Huns before, you know they occupy slightly different grassland habitat than pheasants or sharp-tailed grouse.  In particular, Huns tend to be found around wheat fields and seem to relate to “structure.”  By “structure,” I’m referring to that lone bush in an expanse of grass or that rock pile in the middle of a cut wheat field.  For whatever reason, Huns connect with those odd places on the landscape.  I also have had tremendous success targeting Huns near abandoned farmsteads. 

Photo courtesy of Roger Hill

My favorite aspect of hunting Huns is their propensity to hold well for a pointing bird dog.   Additionally, after the first flush, one can often mark a landing covey to get a second chance.  Don’t count on a third opportunity though.  It’s been my experience that a covey of Huns’ second flush sends them into the neighboring area code. 

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre.

Can You Name That Classic Shotgun?

Friday, June 17th, 2011

A 1921 South Dakota hunt near Lake Thompson.

Pheasants Forever member Robert R. Waring, Georgetown, Texas, sent this photo of his father Roy James Waring (1898-1988) after a 1921 hunt near Lake Thompson, South Dakota, his home state.

Roy’s fowling piece is a common one, but the story is unique. Robert tells me his father purchased the gun second-hand in 1920 for $50, two weeks wages back then!

“My dad was an excellent shot. I still have that shotgun and will someday pass it on to my grandsons,” Robert wrote.

In case you’re interested, the vehicle is a 1921 Ford Model T roadster. “In 1923, dad purchased a Dodge coupe with a heater and windup windows. He was tired of freezing to death in the T, which had neither.” Robert wrote.

Like his son today, Roy hunted into his 80s. “Dad taught me how to hunt and obey the safety rules. I still go to South Dakota to hunt pheasant every year.”

What an inspiring story. Pheasants Forever has the most dedicated members and hardcore hunters! I’ll post the answer Monday.

Answer: The gun, of course, is a Winchester Model 12, 12 gauge with 30-inch barrel….perfect for shooting the many ducks he has hanging from the Model T.

The Model 12 was, appropriately enough, first made in 1912. We’re all pretty familiar with this gun, so here’s some Model 12 war history you may not know: More than 80,000 Model 12 “trench” models were purchased during World War II by the United States Marine Corps, Army Air Forces and Navy, mostly for use in the Pacific war (1941-45) against the fanatical Japanese who were fond of mass suicide charges when things went bad for them – making the Model 12 a perfect defensive weapon in such instances.

It was also used against the North Koreans (June 1950) and Chinese, who invaded in October 1950, during the Korean War and against the North Vietnamese in the Vietnam War (American involvement was from 1950-1973). So many Model 12s were sold to the military, that few were available for civilian use, thus opening up the market for Ithaca to produce and sell a similar shotgun.


The Nomad is written by Mark Herwig, Editor of the Pheasants Forever Journal and Quail Forever Journal. Have a classic photo you’d like to share? Send your pre-1980 upland hunting related photo to Mark at

My Five Bird Hunts before The Rapture

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Moments before The Rapture

You may have heard California’s Rapture-predicting preacher has revised his math.  It turns out the world is going to end on October 21st instead of May 21st as originally warned.  What’s that mean to a bird hunting fanatic like me?  With some bird hunting seasons opening up in mid September, I estimate to have about five bird hunting weekends left before the planet explodes. 

Here are the five hunts I’d like to make happen before the coming autumn Rapture.

1) Yooper Grouse Opener: It’s a family tradition to return back home to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to open the ruffed grouse season with Dad & Mom.  If the world is coming to an end, this one is the most important for me to squeeze in one more time.

2) Hells Canyon: While I hope to be headed north, not south, following The Rapture, I have to chase birds in Hells Canyon one time before I die.  While I’ve never been there, I’ve read about and been told stories of magical days in which hunters have shot pheasants, quail, grouse, chukar and Huns all in a single day.

3) Fort Pierre Prairie Grouse: In the last two seasons, I have fallen in love with the Fort Pierre National Grasslands.  Although my pup has had close encounters with rattle snakes and porcupines, I have experienced some of my most memorable days afield in search of prairie chickens and sharp-tailed grouse. 

4) Pheasant Opener: It has become a treasured tradition to open the Minnesota pheasant season at the cabin of FAN Outdoors radio host’s Billy Hildebrand in central Minnesota. 

5) A Walk Alone: I enjoy time spent afield with others; however, given my druthers, my most treasured hunts are alone behind my shorthair.  It seems that if the world is going to end, I’d find peace walking a patch of prairie with my pup Trammell. 


Knowing the world is coming to an end early this fall’s hunting season, what will be your final five hunts? 

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre.