Ron’s Take: Pheasants Forever magazine is the official publication of Pheasants Forever, a Midwest conservation organization that raises awareness and money to improve upland bird habitats, especially ringneck pheasant habitat. Having grown up and learned to hunt pheasants in South Dakota, I have a soft spot for this bird, even though it isn’t native to North America. Ringnecks fill a niche left empty when humans converted native grasslands and forests to farmland. Pheasants can’t survive on pure cropland, but they do much better with a mix of typical farm fields than any native grouse or quail.
During the mid-20th century pheasants across the northern tier of states flourished in a mix of small farm fields interspersed with weedy patches of waste ground, hay fields, brushy fence lines and lots of annual weeds mixed with the corn. As pesticides and herbicides and larger, more efficient farm implements came into wide use, fields size grew, monoculture advanced, weeds declined and hayfields — especially native grasses — became rare. At the same time predator populations (red fox, raccoon and skunk primarily, but also a variety of native raptors) increased thanks to man-made habitat changes that favored them.
Pheasant numbers plummeted.
After CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) put millions of acres of undisturbed grasslands back, pheasants again flourished. South Dakota’s famed pheasants, which had dwindled to a million birds, climbed back to 10 or 12 million. The glory days are back.
Pheasants Forever, though local chapters, raises local funds to help landowners establish and maintain critical pheasant habitat. They also help landowners understand, apply for and implement a variety of State and Federal conservation programs that benefit upland birds. PF even maintains a few upland habitat areas of its own. Members learn about all this, plus dog training tips, hunting tactics, travel and where to go advice, etc. through Pheasants Forever magazine.
I highly recommend upland bird hunters join PF and read PF magazine.
About Pheasants Forever: Pheasants Forever is dedicated to the conservation of pheasants, quail and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land management policies and programs. Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 130,000 members and 700 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent – the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure.