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Dedicated outdoors devotee, Kankakee Daily Journal, Feb 01

Challenge part of ice fishing’s allure, Dale Bowman, Feb 01

Youth program gives hunting situations, Quad City Times, Feb 01

Midwest Summer Fishing Report, Dale Bowman , Jul 21

Ticks are becoming growing problem, Jeremiah Haas, Jul 19

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Versatile Hunter

Woodford County Pheasants Forever Youth Hunt

Wed, February 20, 2013

On Saturday, February 16 approximately 25 youth hunters and their guardians descended upon Oakridge Sportsmen’s Club near Mackinaw, IL for a chance to enjoy a hunt paid for by the Woodford County Pheasants Forever.  Guides and dogs were provided by the Spoon River NAVHDA Chapter.  The day started out with a welcome and raffle ticket distribution for the youth hunters.  You could see the smiles on both the parents and young hunter’s faces when they walked in the door.  It was going to be a good day for all.  After a warm welcome, safety talk, and introduction to the guides, the hunters were given their hunting fields and told to go have some fun.  A brisk wind and 25 degree temps didn’t stop these groups from heading out and making the most of this extraordinary opportunity.  Many of the kids had never hunted pheasants before; others had hunted pheasants but never harvested any.  Regardless of experience level, it was obvious that the kids were happy just to be out with the company of their friends, family, and some incredible pointing and flushing dogs.

Lunch time came and went with some exceptional food provided by Oakridge, a gun raffle provided by Woodford County PF, and the second round of youth hunters got their chance at some birds.

This day’s event went off without a hitch and we were told that it was the smoothest run youth event for Woodford County with the most birds harvested and overall good experience.  I can say that in my field I saw some smiling young people, many of which had never harvested a bird before and/or seen a good pointing dog in the field.  I saw some great parenting and educating in the field as well. I saw and heard parents and guides provided guidance from safety to basic hunting morals and ethics, to natural history education.  Many times I watched as the youth hunters did their own safety checks and did not shoot on somewhat unsafe shots—this was often without prompting.  What an event and what an experience that made me look forward to my first times in the field with my son. . . . 

A big thanks goes to the PF Woodford County Chapter, Spoon River NAVHDA, and Oakridge Sportsmen’s Club. 

Oakridge Sportsmen’s Club has been around for quite some time and is both a membership and daily fee hunting and shooting club.  Five stand and an excellent sporting clays course overlooking the Mackinaw River valley are available, as well as tower shoots, and pheasant, quail, and chukar hunting on some excellent sorghum and native CRP grass fields.  All in one place!  Their bird quality is second to none with some of the most excellent pen-raised birds I’ve ever experienced—that includes this year’s quail!  Good flying pen raised quail are often difficult to find but Oakridge has them.  They’ve also figured out how to set them for a natural “covey rise” experience—although you’ll be lucky to hit these little speedsters.  I guarantee you that if you’ve experienced natural quail hunting you won’t see any difference.  They will literally embarrass you.  What may be most unique about Oakridge is the owner’s hearts—they go out of their way to make the hunting and shooting experience second to none and offer up the club to all sorts of charity organizations and events, often at a discounted price. 

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State By State Breakdown of Outdoor Recreation Numbers

Wed, February 20, 2013

Taken from the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership Website:

http://www.outdoorindustry.org/advocacy/recreation/economy.html

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Pheasant Hunters Unlimited Association Competition

Sun, February 10, 2013

Last Thursday night I found myself reading the rules for an upcoming dog trial.  I’d been asked to judge a Pheasant Hunters Unlimited competition on Saturday morning that I quite honestly had never even seen in person.  I’d heard many stories of these events from various dog trialing and testing friends of mine over the years and now it was my turn to not only see it, but see it up close and personal.  I was just hoping not to anger any competitors!  That meant I was nervous and I don’t like being unprepared for anything.  I’m a man who likes as much order in his life as possible, which doesn’t always bode well for dog trialing.  After competing in well over a dozen different trials and/or tests I still like to think I know what is going on and have a plan.  That’s about the time that your dog decides he has a different plan in mind.

This particular competition was to take place at Lick Creek Game Preserve in Pekin, IL.  Lick Creek’s grounds are second to none, especially late in the season when many other clubs are hurting for remaining cover.  They accomplish this by planting and maintaining nearly 100 acres of native prairie grass, mostly in Big Bluestem and Indian Grass. Nothing beats natives for holding up to harsh winter temperatures, snow, and ice.  Jeff Yergler runs Lick Creek along with his boys and his good friend, Don Grandy.  They know how to put on a first class hunting experience and Jeff knows how to cook wild game.  Lick Creek also offers fishing memberships and excellent deer hunting on their nearly 1,000 acre private property.  Check them out at www.lickcreek.com.  This was also Lick Creek’s first dealing with PHU and they were ready for the challenge.
 
PHU events consist of single and double hunt ‘runs’ in which a hunter (or two) are given a field filled with a set number of birds.  Pointers and flushers are allowed, although in separate competition and under separate ruling.  They are then given 20 minutes and their one dog to find and harvest each of these birds with as few shells used as possible and in as little time.  A judge (or two) accompanies each hunt to record shells used, points (or flushes) and retrieves made, birds bagged, and time.  Competitors cannot run in the field and they must start in the same spot before each run.
 
I was judging doubles.  The morning was clear and cold with a biting southeast wind.  Actually some pretty good conditions for a pointing dog trial.  Each set of hunters and dogs I judged were different with differing hunting styles and ideas on how to hunt each field most efficiently.  Some hunters talked to their dogs a lot, some a little.  Some hunters never missed a shot—others missed more than once.  Some hunters were relaxed, others up tight.  Dogs differed somewhat as well—although all the dogs I judged moved at a good clip.  This day I judged English Pointers and German Shorthair Pointers.  It’s always a joy watching a good pointer with tons of drive and natural ability pick apart a field.  We hunted two different fields and each field was a bit different.  The second field was much thicker and the dogs had a tougher time picking out birds.  By the time it was all said and done, the hunters with the most relaxed demeanors and a darn good English Pointer won the doubles competition with a time of 4 birds in the bag in about 10 minutes. Singles had a winner with three birds in under 3 minutes!  Oh, and did I say these events are for money?  Yea—and when there are a good number of entries it can be in the thousands of dollars.  If you make it to nationals, we’re talking tens of thousands . Entry fees start around $300 or so.  Competitors are vying for money and the awards for their dogs that might give credit to their breeding lines.  I could definitely see this being addictive—gambling with your hunting dog in a way!

What a blast I (and everyone) had and I couldn’t stop myself from thinking that “Brahms and I can do that”.  Of course, every proud hunting dog owner thinks the same, but the honest truth is that many of these dogs run about twice as fast as my dog does in the field.  I suppose age and experience can potentially beat flat out speed, but most of these dogs have seen thousands of birds at a very young age.

To top it all off, Jeff prepared his famous deer hash and biscuits for all participants, judges, and bird planters alike as scores were read.  Everyone left happy and with a full belly.  I sure look forward to seeing (or competing in??) the next PHU event.

For more information about the organization and/or future events, take a look at phuhunt.com.

Bob and Kory with Lady-Doubles Winners!

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