Habitat & Conservation  |  03/20/2020

10 Outdoor Upland Escapes for Spring


Even in these challenging times, getting up and getting outside is essential. Try a few of these springtime activities with your family.

By Marissa Jensen

With spring officially here, it’s a great time to get outdoors and explore what’s in your area. Many families are searching for ways to stay active, both mentally and physically, during these hard-to-navigate weeks. Fortunately, time in the outdoors can be spent alone or with close family and friends with whom you share a home. Here are ten activities to get you motivated and excited about getting up and getting out!

Bird Watching

The reverse migration is currently underway, with many birds already flying north. The migration provides a wonderful opportunity to grab a pair of binoculars with a field journal and record what you find. Remember to buy your Federal Duck Stamp, which benefits a variety of wildlife species, including migratory and upland birds.

Spring Turkey Hunting

Did you know that much of the same wildlife habitat that Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever works to improve also benefits turkeys? With spring archery and shotgun seasons open or soon opening across the country, now is the time to start planning a hunt at your nearby wildlife management area or public access site.

Photo by Logan Hinners

Take Your Bird Dog Hiking

Bird dogs are feeling the social distancing blues just like their owners. Grab a leash and hit your local hiking trails to burn off steam. Take the opportunity to work on the basics and prep for the upcoming season.

Plan Your Pollinator Habitat Project 

Got milkweed? Longer days and warmer weather are quickly approaching. Take time to start planning what mixture to plant that benefits pollinators in your own backyard. Don’t want to wait to start seed outdoors? With a little soil, water and help from the sun, you can start seeds indoors. Then learn tips and tricks on how to successfully plant your own habitat.

Photo By Tom Carpenter

Read a Conservation Journal or Novel

Introduce a budding conservationist in your home to the works of Aldo Leopold or break out the latest Pheasants Forever or Quail Forever Journal. Not a member? Now is the perfect time to join and start receiving one (or both) of our journals. There’s even a magazine for the little whistler in your lives: Our award-winning Forever Outdoors magazine is designed for kids 16 and younger.

Visit A Prairie Grouse Lek

Have you ever heard the boom of the prairie grouse in the spring? Viewing blinds offer a glimpse into the world of these incredible and unique birds – both sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chickens. During the spring, male prairie grouse will congregate on a lek or “booming grounds” to perform their unique dance in hopes of catching the eye of a nearby female and intimidating a lesser male. Along with the dance, the males will let out a deep, tympanic boom which is created by inflating air sacs along their necks. Check with your state game department to see where there is an opportunity to view a lek in your region. 

Photo by Marissa Jensen

Cook a Wild Meal Together

Wild game in the freezer? Time spent together in the kitchen can be a great way to bond. Take this time to create new memories and recipes together. Use the keyword “recipe” to browse this site for ideas.

Hunt for Sheds

Hit the field by yourself, with loved ones and of course your favorite four-legged companion, and try your luck at shed hunting. New to the game? Learn how to train your bird dog to become a shed-hunting machine with tips and tricks by Tom Dokken. Keep in mind that some areas may be practicing limitations with bird dogs due to nesting season. Visit your state’s regulations page before hitting the fields.

Photo by Cayla Bendel

Public Lands Clean-Up

Give back to the public places that we have come to enjoy. Pick up trash at your local wildlife management area or other favorite public lands site. The day could even provide a bonus find for your efforts with a deer shed or morel mushrooms.

Get Ready for the Upland Season

Fall will be here before we know it and it’s never too early to start training yourself for the physical demands of hunting. Additionally, start discussions with someone new that you would like to invite along this year. Discuss scouting techniques over the phone as you plot out your paths using OnX Maps. Next, you can peruse our online store and start creating your want list and purchasing for fall.

Take some time in the upcoming weeks to get outdoors, breathe in the fresh air and feel the sun on your face. Continue to check back for more opportunities to get outdoors and “find your wild.” 

Marissa Jensen is Education & Outreach Program Manager for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever.

Please consider joining or renewing your support for Pheasants Forever by clicking on this link and helping us protect these critical areas and our cherished traditions.