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Making a Difference For Wildlife By Gary Howey

  On a recent trip, I stopped at a cafe and sat down with a group of locals having coffee. Not long after I sat down, the main topic of our conversation turned to hunting and how it changed over the years.

  Several of the individuals were expressing their pessimistic views about where hunting has gone and why they no longer participate in the sport.

  They felt that the sport had literally gone to H—, placing the blame on everyone but themselves.

  Well, being the quiet reserved shy type person that I am, I jumped right in with both-feet, feeling them out and trying to figure out why they felt this way.

  One was a well to do businessman and another landowner, both of which could do a lot to help promote or improve hunting. Unfortunately, it looked to me as neither of them did anything to promote or help to improve the hunting in the area.

  My first question that I directed to them, asking if they were involved in any of the conservation groups such as Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, The Wild Turkey Federation, Whitetails Unlimited or the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.  I guess I knew their answer, but I wanted to make I had one before I went on.

  Their reply was no, they did not belong to any of them because all they did was to take our money; my reply to him was, really?

  They like many others really were uninformed and did not have a clue as to all that these organizations do for wildlife and to the sport of hunting.

  Then I proceeded to explain at length the numerous things these organizations have or can do for wildlife and the hunting in the upper Midwest.

  All of the above-mentioned groups have either purchased land that is open to hunting as well as contributing funds to enhance and develop wetlands or other wildlife habitat.

  These groups also have mentor hunts, taking kids out into the field, highlighting safe hunting practices and conservation while giving many of these kids their first opportunity to go hunting.

  Again, their reply was, really, we did not know that!

  Then proceeded to explain how these groups work closely with the Game, Fish & Parks and DNR to help purchase land or develop wildlife habitat on the public land.

  Then, that dumb look came over their faces as they realized that instead of complaining all these years about how bad hunting was and that hunting was becoming a rich man’s sport that perhaps there was something they could have been doing to improve both the habitat and hunting.

  Next, I asked the landowner what he raised on his land and what type of conservation practices he used and his comment was that he had a corn/bean rotation depending on what was bringing the highest prices.

  Well as anyone knows, wildlife cannot live in corn and beans, sure, mature corn makes a great place for wildlife to hide, but there is no value there when it comes to nesting or roosting areas for birds or bedding areas for deer when first planted.

  He went on to explain that he irrigated much of his ground, doing his best to plant on the contour to keep erosion at a minimum.

  As our conversation continued, I asked him what he planted on the pivot corners, his answer was native grass, which he indicated wasn’t much good for anything so bailed it and used for bedding. [Read more…]

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PF Announces 2014 South Dakota Habitat Accomplishments & Awards

Dedicated chapters, opening of regional headquarters highlight 2014 endeavors

Brookings, S.D. – March 17, 2015 – Pheasants Forever improved habitat for pheasants and other upland wildlife on more than 43,000 acres in South Dakota in 2014. This includes 1,319 wildlife habitat projects completed by the state’s 34 chapters that improved 20,156 acres for wildlife, as well as 23,314 acres impacted by Pheasants Forever’s Farm Bill biologist program.

“The success and longevity of Pheasants Forever in South Dakota can be attributed to the incredible work of our South Dakota volunteer chapters and their mission to conserve wildlife habitat,” stated Mike Stephenson, Pheasants Forever’s regional representative for South Dakota. “With the opening of our new regional headquarters, the dedicated chapters throughout the state and the addition of Farm Bill biologists, Pheasants Forever in South Dakota is set to do great things in 2015.”

Complementing the efforts of South Dakota chapters and volunteers, 2014 marked a historic moment for “The Habitat Organization” with the opening of Pheasants Forever’s first regional headquarters in Brookings. Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever’s long-time Vice President of Government Affairs, permanently moved to South Dakota and was appointed as director for the new office. The move came amidst organizational efforts to address substantial habitat losses and land use changes in South Dakota, which have resulted in a dramatic decline in pheasant numbers.

Pheasants Forever in South Dakota 2014 Chapter Habitat Accomplishments

Type of Project
2014 Projects:
2014 Acres
Historical Project Totals
Total Acres Benefited
Food Plots
1,180
16,512
21,730
263,834

Land Acquisitions
2*
207*
62*
12,040*

Nesting Cover
73
2,784
2,113
77,172

[Read more…]