Photos By Matt Addington
Giving thanks to those that embody the habitat and heritage missions, and make them come alive
Story By Tom Carpenter
It would be easy and obvious to write a Thanksgiving Story about the moments of fall. Roosters flushing from bluestem and cattails. Quail exploding out the other side of a plum thicket. One last hanger-on sharptail hunkering in the snowberries ahead of my bird dog. And other such magical upland moments.
But not all those moments would relate to hunting. One last sip of coffee before stepping off. The smell of a crushed head of yellow coneflower raised to my nose before I scatter another pod of seeds to the wind. The buzz of October bees in the purple asters of October: one last sip of nectar against winter.
That’s the easy stuff.
Let’s instead talk about what’s hard: The work the Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever family is doing to save the uplands and grow the upland hunting tradition … and in particular, the work of our chapters and volunteers.
It is one of the privileges of my life to visit such folks in the fall and celebrate the work being done for upland habitat and our hunting heritage:
» Becoming a part of the Knife River Chapter family in North Dakota
and meeting this dedicated group of volunteers who are creating places for pheasants, butterflies, bees, songbirds and hunters. Folks such as Lexi Huntimer, National Youth Leadership Council member and one face of the future of PF & QF. What a treat to share a field with her, her dad and chapter president Randy Huntimer, and an entire cast of characters (and I do mean characters) who you will get to read about in a future issue of Pheasants Forever Journal.
» Joining Iowa’s Marshall-Tama Chapter (in both a figurative and literal sense)
to experience the uplands with folks like former president Steve Armstrong, new president Luke Engel, and a cast of characters perhaps even more colorful than the North Dakota contingent, in their very special corner of the Hawkeye (though some would say Cyclone) state. Hunting an acquisition the chapter spearheaded. Joining in the pride as they showed off a bean field that is part of a new property that, when closed on, will be native prairie grass and host roosters, maybe some quail, and young hunters … such as Will Tyrrell and Luke Jacobson, each of who shot their first rooster on the same swing on the land of PF supporters Tom and Monna Ohlfest. Pure hunting thrills and, all hoped, glue to anchor these young hunters to the PF and QF mission forever.
» Hunting the public lands of southwestern Minnesota
where the Nobles County Chapter (led by PF legend Scott Rall) has put thousands of acres on the landscape where hunters from all over can go to find quiet, wide-open spaces … and roosters. I watched my son Ethan and friend Asher shoot roosters over points from Lark on such a place … another next-generation pair of young people experiencing the uplands and finding success thanks to the work of Pheasants Forever chapters and volunteers.
That’s what I am thankful for this November. You. Chapter board member, volunteer, dues-paying member, generous donor and supporter at any and every level of giving. What you, what we, are doing for the uplands and for young outdoorsmen and women, makes a difference.
I see it in the moments of fall. And of thanksgiving.
Tom Carpenter, editor at Pheasants Forever, wanders rooster country all fall but becomes a quail hunter each January.