Pheasant Run #1, the first-ever land acquisition in Pheasants Forever’s rich conservation history. Photo by Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever
Five days and 2,200 miles after we left Minnesota, the Rooster Road Trip crew made it back to where it all began; Pheasant Run #1 in Nobles County, Minnesota – the first property purchased and made open to the public by Pheasants Forever – and there couldn’t be a more fitting way to end this trip.
Hunting this notable public piece was on all our pheasant hunting bucket lists. And, at nearly 30-years-old, Pheasant Run #1 still looked prime thanks to the volunteers with the Nobles County Pheasants Forever chapter who use funds they raise to keep the grass growing here and at the other 29 land acquisitions the group has participated in during the last three decades.
This state Wildlife Management Area started as a 40-acre property and has expanded over the years. In fact, this area is in part of a stretch where, if a pheasant hunter was so inclined, he or she could walk nearly seven consecutive miles of public land. These add-ons are also attributed to the efforts of Nobles County Pheasants Forever.
We were joined by chapter board member Nathan Holt and his two black labs, “Nitro” and “Phelps;” board member Chad Nixon and his two yellow labs, “KC” and “Molly;” and board member Bruce Amundson his black lab, “Jackie.” As it turns out, Bruce actually helped start the chapter (#013), so I felt confident with him as my “guide.”
As we spread out across the rolling hills of bluestem, with cattails filling the depressions between, Pheasant Run #1 proved the old adage once again: “Where there’s quality habitat, there’re birds.” Unfortunately, the pheasants were doing what they do best on extremely windy days, flushing wild out of gun range.
Somehow, I was still completely content walking out of that field without a bird. Just knowing the pheasants were there – and will continue to thrive – was enough to check this off as a highlight of my pheasant hunting career.
As the years pass, hunters like us will come and go, bird dogs like “Annie,” “Sprig” and “Beau” will find their first birds here and some, inevitably, will find their last. But, the grass and pheasants will remain thanks to chapters like Nobles County Pheasants Forever. It will be here for the next generation of wingshooters, always calling with opens arms to those who are willing to put on the miles and chase these beautiful birds.
Sadly, time catches up with all of us, and Rooster Road Trip 2013 has to come to an end. From North Dakota to Iowa, we’ve met and hunted with some of the finest volunteers PF has to offer, and I thank each and every one of them for the memories.
It has been an experience of a lifetime for all of us.
Thank you, readers, for supporting Pheasants Forever, our wildlife habitat conservation mission, and for riding along with Rooster Road Trip 2013.
Low Brass is written by Rehan Nana, Pheasants Forever’s Public Relations Specialist. Email Rehan at RNana@pheasantsforever.org and follow him on Twitter at @RehanNanaQF.