Hunting & Heritage  |  12/31/2019

Grateful for the Uplands


By Bob St.Pierre

As I write this, I’m tapping on a keyboard with a twelve-week-old bird dog puppy asleep on my lap. Life is good. That’s the moral of my message as we enter 2020. At this time of making New Year’s resolutions for more and better things in the year ahead, I’m going to do the opposite: I’m going to be grateful for a healthy family, a home filled with bird dogs, a job that I love, and the adventures our cherished uplands provided in 2019.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a Pollyanna to the habitat troubles holding down America’s pheasant and quail populations. Nor am I oblivious to the long-term ramifications resulting from the precipitous decline in hunters and conservation funding our country is currently enduring. I am a realist, and these are intimidating problems.

I, however, have faith. Faith that Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever members are an army of evangelists spreading the upland gospel to the masses. Faith that Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever chapters are shaping a landscape-level habitat mosaic with nesting habitat filled with diverse grasses, beautiful flowering stands for broods and butterflies, and winter cover for food and warmth.

I have faith the magic of the uplands will inspire a new generation of conservationists. Faith in Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s 200+ biologists who are hard at work offering landowners 8 million acres of CRP opportunity.  Faith that those CRP acres will create fresh new habitat for the birds, the bees, the butterflies, and for me and you. EIGHT MILLION ACRES!
As that puppy on my lap stirs, I am filled with hope for the decade ahead with little “Gitche Gumee.” Her name comes from the Ojibwe name for Lake Superior and loosely translates to “Big Water.” I think it is a fitting name for what lies ahead of us – lots of big blue water to navigate.

But you know what? I love that big water. I love the anticipation of discovering what lies over the horizon. Whether it’s big water, big woods, or big prairie, my life’s best adventures have been earned with my own two feet, challenging my own brain, behind a bird dog chasing the next rise. I love the thrill of exploring the next rise. I love the uplands. I loved 2019. And I love the challenges ahead. 

And if I can boil down my philosophy on the uplands – and on life – into a single sentence, it would be this: If you always follow the dog, good things are sure to rise.

Bob St. Pierre is vice president of marketing for Pheasants Forever.