By Ken Beach, Highland Pheasants Forever – Chapter #108

Anyone who had the pleasure of meeting and working with Pat Martin knew you could find him where things were “a little wilder.”

Pat embraced the unpredictable and most of all liked the outdoors where wild things roam free. He was integral in leading Illinois’ Highland Chapter of Pheasants Forever for more than 30 years, and though he left us earlier than any of us would have liked, he made countless positive impacts on the wildlife of northwestern Illinois. He was steadfast in his dedication to preserving wild spaces where nature can thrive. The Highland Chapter was number one in the state and in the top ten nationally during Pat’s involvement.

Recently, Mickey Martin, his wife of 58 years, and their beloved daughters, worked with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to place a memorial stone at the Dublin Highlands Pheasant Habitat Area west of Freeport. It commemorates Pat’s work on maintaining wild places in this corner of Illinois. The stone marks the corner of West Dublin and South Heitter Roads, where the state established public hunting grounds approximately 20 years ago. Pat was instrumental in acquiring the property and opening it to public hunting.

Pat Martin, of Freeport, first recruited a number of like-minded individuals to establish a Pheasants Forever chapter in 1986. He had witnessed a large reduction in upland game and could see the loss of habitat being critical to maintaining wild places for wildlife to flourish. Pat wanted to educate the community on the importance of these wild places and all the animals they harbored. He saw habitat as the center of the wild spaces he loved so much. Pat often said, “We should have five acres in every section (square mile) set aside for wildlife.”

Pat felt inspired by PF’s values and formed the Highland Chapter in support, raising funds for habitat restoration and development. This habitat was instrumental in growing back all wildlife populations in the region, but most importantly of making the people in the region more aware of the need to formulate and implement a detailed plan to protect some of these areas for wildlife.

The Highland Chapter led Illinois in habitat development for many years. As chapter president, Pat was not satisfied with just the local chapter or the hundreds of thousands of dollars raised for northwestern Illinois. He wanted more for the entire state.

He worked with many adjoining regions to develop their own chapters, helped the state develop the PF Illinois State Council, and was instrumental in adopting the Pheasant Stamp, which later became the Habitat Stamp for small-game hunting, providing resources for the state to acquire public lands for wildlife protection and hunting.

Pat became a big advocate for the Dublin Highlands acquisition. Habitat Stamp dollars helped acquire this public hunting ground in Stephenson County.

the commemorative stone to honor Pat Martin

Stop out and see the commemorative stone to honor Pat Martin and all he has done for the “wild things” in our area. Dublin Highlands is a public hunting grounds. Those interested in hunting this 122-acre IDNR area must have permits/registration for access during the hunting seasons.

The Highland Chapter of Pheasants Forever continues to provide much needed habitat projects and fundraising.

If you live in northwestern Illinois, join us! Contact President Steve Quittschreiber at 815-541-9290.

This story originally appeared in the 2022 Winter 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!