Rooster Road Trip 2016 - Upland Nation, an annual digital showcase of upland hunting on public land habitat & access projects, takes to the field October 24th – 28th and November 14th – 18th. This is the sixth report from this year’s tour.
We didn’t hunt at our last afternoon stop on this week’s Rooster Road Trip. As if our battered crew wasn’t enough – Andrew Vavra’s outstanding lab, “Beau,” is nursing a paw injury and the other bird dogs in our pack are moving at half speed, worn down from a week in the field and on the road – a hellacious wind and an unseasonably hot afternoon conspired to put an early wrap to our week-long adventure. Thankfully, morning cloud cover had kept the sun at bay, and the first walk of the morning at a Wildlife Management Area west of Marshall produced a pair of nice roosters.
But before departing for home, we wanted to visit a spot where another adventure could soon start or finish, for our group or anyone else, at the Meger Wildlife Management Area.
Famed wildlife artist James Meger passed away in 2011 following a battle with cancer. It was a loss that reverberated across the Pheasants Forever and wildlife conservation community. Not only was Meger in select company as one of a few artists to win the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Waterfowl Stamp and Pheasant Habitat Stamp competitions, his works helped in Pheasants Forever’s fundraising efforts as a record six time “PF” Print of the Year artist. This helped the upland conservation group’s chapters raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to put toward wildlife habitat projects.
As a native of Lyon County, the Pheasants Forever chapter there has led the effort to honor Meger with a newly-created state Wildlife Management Area in his name. The Lyon County Chapter of Pheasants Forever, with the help of other conservation partners, closed on two tracts of land near Meger’s hometown of Minneota, Minnesota.
According to Nick Simonson, Lyon County Chapter of Pheasants Forever president, a number of projects are being carried out this year to establish habitat on the area. “Conversion of marginal acres on the property to grasslands will provide not only nesting cover for upland game, but also a wide variety of native flower species to sustain local populations of pollinators such as honeybees and monarch butterflies. The existing tree cover will be improved to benefit local deer and turkey populations and to provide winter cover for a variety of songbirds and other wildlife species,” Simonson reports. The tentative schedule is for the area to be dedicated as a memorial to Meger in the autumn of 2017 and subsequently be open to public hunting and outdoor recreation.
Looking across this new area, the mind starts to wander. Imagining the bean field as restored grassland. Envisioning the first rooster flush with the pup. Wondering if, in the future, this same group’s schedules will align to come back here. To reconnect. To hunt. At either the beginning or the end of another Rooster Road Trip.
-Anthony Hauck, Rooster Road Trip 2016
Up Next: Rooster Road Trip resumes November 14th
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