Staff Photo // Volunteer Dan Schneider runs the Deer Creek burn crew, and nothing makes him happier than a good burn.
The chapter assists many CREP landowners by establishing and managing their fields
By James Harris, PF Regional Representative for Ohio and West Virginia
The Deer Creek chapter of Pheasants Forever serves some of the most critical pheasant and bobwhite quail territory in Ohio. This dedicated group of volunteers has embraced a unique opportunity to impact upland bird habitat on both public and private land in their communities.
Ross, Fayette and Pickaway Counties make up the core of the Scioto River Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), responsible for nearly 70,000 acres of grassland habitat in the Scioto River watershed. This is the primary reason wild pheasant hunting is still possible in Ohio.
Lack of equipment, physical ability or knowledge of management techniques can present a significant barrier for landowners that may otherwise want to participate in the CREP. The chapter assists many CREP landowners by establishing and managing their fields, helping them meet the standards of the program.
In addition to the private land habitat in Deer Creek PF’s territory, there is also an ample amount of state-owned public land providing opportunity for sportsmen and women to hunt wild pheasants and other game. The chapter partners with the Ohio DNR’s Division of Wildlife (DOW), volunteering their sweat equity and know-how to help accomplish management objectives on DOW properties. Through the renewed Habitat Share program with the DOW, the money spent and the time committed to doing this work by Deer Creek and other Ohio chapters can be leveraged 3:1 with Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act funds (commonly known as Pittman-Robertson or P-R funds).
Staff Photo // A Deer Creek PF burn gets going.
Since 2015 the chapter has burned over 1,628 acres of upland habitat in Ross, Pickaway and Fayette counties. In that time, the chapter also reclaimed and restored almost 300 acres of upland habitat on local state properties, and they have loaned out their native seed drill on dozens of projects. On top of all the habitat work, Deer Creek PF introduced 348 youth to pheasant hunting and sponsored numerous other outreach events in their region over the last six years.
During the challenging times of 2020-2021 the Deer Creek chapter of Pheasants Forever never wavered on delivering Pheasants Forever’s habitat mission. Even without the ability to hold fundraising events, they spent $31,825 improving habitat on local public areas, contributed $1,600 to Ohio Build A Wildlife Area, funded the Ohio Grassroots State Programs, underwrote their memberships normally acquired at their banquet, and supported the Legislative Action Fund and No Child Left Indoors Fund.
As we make our way through and out of the pandemic, the chapter is looking forward to getting back to some of their more traditional fundraising to continue fueling the important work they accomplish. This group of volunteers takes pride in the extensive habitat work they do through prescribed fire, woody removal, invasive species control, herbicide application and seeding.
Deer Creek PF is a chapter that gets their hands dirty, their boots muddy and their backs sore, all for the sake of the uplands.
James Harris is a Pheasants Forever Regional Representative for Ohio and West Virginia
This story originally appeared in the 2022 Summer 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 member today!