Habitat & Conservation  |  04/22/2021

11 Ways to Help Save the Uplands


Everybody can make a difference for pheasant habitat and hunting heritage

By Tom Carpenter

The Call of the Uplands® isn’t some made-up marketing gimmick. It is, as I like to fashion such ideas of urgency and impact, The Real Deal. Our uplands are threatened at alarming rates and disappearing at unprecedented levels. Despite all that Pheasants Forever and its partners are doing, we need to do more. 

That’s a uniquely Pheasants Forever idea: that we can always do better and do more. I know that is part of your makeup too: That’s why you joined Pheasants Forever in the first place. Pheasants Forever is you, you are Pheasants Forever, and that means everybody has a role in answering the Call of the Uplands.

I hear that call in the cackle of a rooster pheasant on a fine autumn morning, the song of the wind in the winter grasslands, the whoop of a prairie chicken booming from a springtime lek, and the buzz of bumblebees and melodies of bobolinks from summer’s blooming prairie.

How will you answer the calls of the uplands that reach your heart? 

Here are 11 ways big, small and in-between to make a difference for pheasant habitat, public lands, all upland wildlife, and the hunting heritage upon which our wild places depend.

One of the simplest and most critical things all of us can do is maintain our Pheasants Forever membership. Of course, the dollars are critical to the habitat mission. But so are member numbers: Pheasants Forever carries clout in Washington D.C. and statehouses across the country because we have a robust membership that is active, committed … and has a very loud voice when asked to act. Keep up your membership and consider signing up for easy automatic renewals.  

If you’ve been a member for a few years or a lot of years and see the impact Pheasants Forever has on upland gamebird habitat and public hunting access, maybe it’s time to increase your membership level. Annual memberships above the Associate level are available at Rooster Booster ($75), Magnum ($150) and Sponsor ($250) levels.

Over 6,000 members have committed to Pheasants Forever at the Life Member level. Beyond knowing you’ve made a major commitment to the uplands with forever impact, the best things about being a Life Member are the related prestige (it is a special group indeed) … and the fact that you don’t have to worry about renewing anymore. Plus, “the math” may work out right for a $1,000 Life Membership versus a flow of annual memberships. (Bonus idea: Make your dog a Life Member!) 

Anybody who hunts ring-necked pheasants or prairie gamebirds, or utilizes public lands in pheasant country, should be a member. Don’t let your hunting buddies or acquaintances get away with a free ride. Everybody needs to help pay the way. You helped pay for that WPA or state game area. PF partnered (thanks to you) to help make that walk-in area publicly accessible. Heck, just guilt them into doing their part and helping pay the way. But get them — all of them — to join.

Being a member is essential. Getting active is critical. Everybody has skills, talent and energy to share. I guarantee your local chapter needs all of that from you. Fundraising events need workers. Habitat projects need doers. Hunting and outdoor heritage programs need helpers. Open arms and enthusiasm await. If you don’t know your local chapter, find it here

Straight-up honesty: The generation that started Pheasants Forever is starting to age out. Oh how they made Pheasants Forever a part of their life and used the local-money-stays-under-local-control model to make a difference in their communities. But there comes a time to hand off the reins. Many chapters have “turned over” with a new generation of leadership. But many haven’t. New blood is needed everywhere. Will you become a chapter leader? It changes lives: yours, and that of others.

Don’t have a chapter in your area? Got a group of other committed upland hunters looking to do more for habitat and the outdoor lifestyle? New chapters start up all the time. Plenty of resources and advice are available to help get things going. You can do it. Extend Pheasant’s Forever’s model to your county and community. To get information and discuss the process, write us at: contact@pheasantsforever.org.

Our hunting heritage is critical: It will fund the future of conservation. Even more critical, from a PF perspective, is getting new hunters into the uplands. It’s fine to get new folks in the field for other game, but we must get new hunters hooked on upland gamebirds. Upland hunting has hurdles — chiefly, dogs and their care and training — that turkey and deer hunting do not. Pick out a likely target or two, focus in, mentor them, make them an uplander. Take the Hunter Mentor Pledge

If you own land, you hold the potential for one of the greatest gifts that can ever be bestowed: a place that could become forever public for future generations to enjoy, and to stand forever as a legacy to you and your family. There will be more about land in the next idea, so we will keep it to this concept here: Pheasants Forever can take the lead as an experienced partner in acquiring land from willing landowners and then working with our conservation partners to make that land an upland wildlife haven and forever public. To learn more, contact David Bue at dbue@pheasantsforever.org.

Many members put Pheasants Forever in their wills. We call it The Habitat Legacy Society. No matter what is bequeathed — cash, stock, other assets — Pheasants Forever will put it to excellent use for the future of the uplands. Many Habitat Legacy Society members leave land to Pheasants Forever as well. To learn more, contact David Bue at dbue@pheasantsforever.org.

You’ve read about members who give at extraordinary levels, and there are details on page 13 about becoming a Patron or Gold Patron Life Member, or making a special gift to Call of the Uplands. But there are more ways to make a difference: More people making more contributions really adds up. Give to the Build a Wildlife Area program (BAWA). Make a simple tax-deductible donation. Respond to a PF special appeal. Every dollar counts. Every dollar adds up. Every dollar answers the call of the uplands.

This story originally appeared in the 2021 Spring Issue of the Pheasants Forever Journal. If you enjoyed it and would like to be the first to read more great upland content like this, become a Pheasants Forever member today!