The Heartland Region Pheasants Forever chapter will hold their annual fundraising banquet Friday, Oct. 19.
The event is open to the general public. A social will start at 5 p.m. at the Huron Event Center, with dinner at 7 p.m., and an auction following at 8 p.m. Many items will be up for bid, including many shotguns and rifles, art prints, hunting decoys, and other sportsman’s gear, said Heartland Region President Brad Cranston.
“We will also have the well-known artist, John Green, at the event. He will actually be finishing one of his paintings at our event,” he said. “Then once he is done, we will auction that off.”
To get tickets to the banquet and auction, call Cranston at 350-7281 or get to JT’s Elite Auto & Sports in Huron.
Cranston talked about what the Pheasants Forever organization is and how it impacts the greater Huron region.
“We try to align our local chapter with the national mission, which is to lead the effort in conservation of pheasants through habitat improvements, public awareness education and lead management policies and programs,” said Cranston. “Our function is to facilitate this mission locally and we do that with programs and different projects at the local level,” he said.
Every year, Pheasants Forever hosts a youth hunt. This year’s hunt was on Oct. 6. “We had about a dozen kids this year and we spent a lot of time talking about firearm safety, field etiquette, and land conservation techniques — things like that.”
They are also hosting a women’s hunt on Saturday, November 3. Anyone interested in the women’s hunt should call Lisa Baruth at 354-0682.
One example of how the organization works with landowners in the conservation effort is their food plot seed giveaway. “Each year we give free feed for pheasants to landowners,” said Cranston.
Pheasants Forever also partners with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Game Fish and Parks and other service organizations. “We’ve also put down $70,000 in grass projects — it really makes a lot of difference, because there’s a lot of acreage in our region that has been rebuilt as a habitat,” said Cranston.
They provide funding for local projects, including the 4-H youth shooting sports team. “We send the kids through all of their competitions and also support them at the state level,” he said. Pheasants forever also gives two SDSU scholarships, worth $1,000 apiece. “Recently one of our scholarship recipients was hired a land management employee for Game, Fish and Parks,” added Cranston.
Pheasants Forever is unique in that every dollar that the local chapters raise stays with the local chapters to use within their own communities. “It’s the only service club of its kind that allows us to keep 100 percent of what we make, which makes it easy to control what projects to get involved in.”
Unfortunately, in recent years, the chapter has seen a trend of decreasing membership. Reasons for that are that the older generation of hunters are not wanting to go out every year and hunt, but the younger generations aren’t filling in the gap. Which is why the local Pheasants Forever chapter has been focused on getting more youth into hunting.
“We want to get the kids reinvested into the programs. We have a ‘No Child Left Indoors,’ program which has been really important for us,” Cranston said. “We spent a lot of time doing mock pheasant hunts for really young kids, 5-year-olds, just getting them exposed to it. We don’t use real firearms, but it gets them exposed to safety and how to work with fence lines and educating them.”
The other demographic they are trying to hone in on is getting more women interested in hunting. “It’s no longer just dads that are going out hunting, it’s a family affair,” Cranston said.
Due to the severe drought, national and state government agencies have granted permission to open the Conservation Reserve Program acres. Cranston said he understands the purpose, but is still concerned for state pheasant populations. “That’s a huge loss of habitat,” he said. “We need to concentrate on that loss and make some of that up. If you couple the drought impact with the long-term trend of trying to move acreage out of the CRP program, that habitat is lost and we are talking about an industry that gives us well over $10 million.”
The banquet and auction is next Friday, so don’t miss the opportunity to support the local pheasant hunting industry with conservation and education efforts.
For the complete article see the 10-11-2012 issue.
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