Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The 25 Best Bird Hunting Towns in America - Pheasant Quail Grouse Partridge

Last year’s list of the 25 Best Pheasant Hunting Towns in America selected locales predominately based in the Midwest where the ringneck is king. Because Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever members hail from all reaches of the United States, from Alabama to Alaska, we’ve assembled this year’s list to include pheasants as well as multiple quail species, prairie grouse and even forest birds. The main criterion was to emphasize areas capable of providing multiple species, along with destinations most-welcoming to bird hunters. In other words, there were bonus points awarded for “mixed bag” opportunities and neon signs “welcoming bird hunters” in this year’s analysis.  We also avoided re-listing last year’s 25 towns, so what you now have is a good bucket list of 50 destinations for the traveling wingshooter!

What towns did we miss? Let us know in the comments section.

1. Pierre, South Dakota. This Missouri River town puts you in the heart of pheasant country, but the upland fun doesn’t stop there. In 2011 (the last year numbers were available) approximately 30 roosters per square mile were harvested in Hughes County. Cross the river and head south of Pierre and you’re into the Fort Pierre National Grassland, where sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chickens become the main quarry. In fact, the U.S. Forest Service manages the Fort Pierre National Grassland specifically for these native birds.  Just North of Pierre also boasts some of the state’s best gray (Hungarian) partridge numbers as well.

While you’re there: Myril Arch’s Cattleman’s Club Steakhouse goes through an average of 60,000 pounds of aged, choice beef a year, so they must know what they’re doing.

2. Lewistown, Montana.  Located in the geographic center of the state, Lewistown is the perfect city to home base a public land upland bird hunt. Fergus County has ring-necked pheasants, sharp-tailed grouse, gray (Hungarian) partridge, as well as sage grouse. You’ll chase these upland birds with stunning buttes and mountain ranges as almost surreal backdrops, and find no shortage of publically accessible land, whether state or federally owned. Two keystone Pheasants Forever wildlife habitat projects are 45 minutes from Lewistown. Located six miles north of Denton, Montana, the 800-acre Coffee Creek BLOCK Management Area is located between a 320-acre parcel and an 880-acre parcel of land – all three areas are open to public hunting. Pheasants Forever also acquired a 1,000 acre parcel known as the Wolf Creek Property, a project which created 14,000 contiguous acres open to public walk-in hunting.

While you’re there: Once the birds have been cleaned and the dog has been fed, head over to the 87 Bar & Grill in Stanford for their house specialty smoked ribs and steaks.

3. Hettinger, North Dakota. Disregard state lines and you can’t tell the difference between southwest North Dakota and the best locales in South Dakota. Hettinger gets the nod in this region because of a few more Private Land Open to Sportsmen (P.L.O.T.S.) areas.

While you’re there: A visit north to the Pheasant CafĂ© in Mott seems like a must.

4. Huron, South Dakota. Home to the “World’s Largest Pheasant,” Huron is also home to some darn good pheasant hunting. From state Game Production Areas to federal Waterfowl Production Areas to a mix of walk-in lands, there’s enough public land in the region to never hunt the same area twice on a 5 or 10-day trip, unless of course you find a honey hole.

While you’re there: The Hwy. 14 Roadhouse in nearby Cavour has the type of good, greasy food that goes down guilt free after a long day of pheasant hunting.

5. Valentine, Nebraska. One of the most unique areas in the United States, the nearly 20,000 square mile Nebraska Sandhills region is an outdoor paradise, and Valentine, which rests at the northern edge of the Sandhills, was named one of the best ten wilderness towns and cities by National Geographic Adventure magazine in 2007. Because the Sandhills are 95 percent grassland, it remains one of the most vital areas for greater prairie chickens and sharp-tailed grouse in the country.  Grouse can be found on the 19,000-acre Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge and the 115,000-acre Samuel McKelvie National Forest, and grouse and pheasants may be encountered on the 73,000-acre Valentine National Wildlife Refuge.

While you’re there: Head over to the Peppermill & E. K. Valentine Lounge and devour the Joseph Angus Burger, a finalist in the Nebraska Beef Council’s Best Burger Contest.

6. White Bird, Idaho. Hells Canyon is 8,000 feet of elevation, and at various levels includes pheasants, quail, gray partridge and forest grouse. Show up in shape and plan the right route up and down, and you may encounter many of these species in one day. It’s considered by many wingshooting enthusiasts to be a “hunt of a lifetime.” Nearly 40 percent of Idaho’s Hells Canyon is publically accessible, either through state-owned lands, U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands or U.S. Forest Service lands.

While you’re there: Floats and rafting adventures are popular on the Salmon River, in case your bird hunt also needs to double as a family vacation.

7. Heppner, Oregon. Nestled in the Columbia Basin, within a half-hour drive hunters have the opportunity to harvest pheasants, California quail, Huns, chukar, and in the nearby Blue Mountains, Dusky grouse, ruffed grouse and at least the chance of running into mountain quail. With the exception of the Umatilla National Forest for grouse, the hunting opportunity is mostly on private land in the area, but the state has a number of agreements in the area for private land access through its Open Fields, Upland Cooperative Access Program and Regulated Hunt Areas.

While you’re there: As you scout, make sure to drive from Highway 74, also called the Blue Mountain Scenic Byway, winding south from Interstate 84 through Ione, Lexington and Heppner.

8. Winnemucca, Nevada. Winnemucca claims legendary status as the “Chukar Captial of the Country.” Long seasons (first Saturday in October through January 31), liberal bag limits (daily limit of six; possession limit of 18) and the fact that these birds are found almost exclusively on public land make chukar Nevada’s most popular game bird. The covey birds do well here in the steep, rugged canyons that mirror the original chukar habitat of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the birds’ native countries. Just know the first time you hunt chukar is for fun, the rest of your life is for revenge.

While you’re there: Nearby Orovada, 44 miles to the north of Winnemucca, is known for excellent hunting areas as well as breathtaking views of the Sawtooth Mountains.

9. Albany, Georgia. Buoyed by tradition and cemented with a local culture built upon the local quail plantation economy, Albany has a reputation as the “quail hunting capital of the world” and a citizenry that embraces “Gentleman Bob.”
While you’re there: save an hour for the 60 mile trip South to Thomasville, Georgia where you can visit Kevin’s, a landmark sporting goods retailer devoted to the bird hunter.

10. Milaca, Minnesota. There are places in Minnesota where pheasants can be found in greater abundance, ditto for ruffed grouse. But there are few places where a hunter may encounter both in such close proximity. While pheasants are found primarily on private land here, state Wildlife Management Areas in the region offer a chance at a rare pheasant/grouse double, including the 40,000-acre Mille Laces WMA. The nearby Rum River State Forest provides 40,000 acres to search for forest birds.

While you’re there: For lunch, the Rough-Cut Grill & Bar in Milaca is the place. This isn’t the type of joint with a lighter portion menu, so fill up and plan on walking it all off in the afternoon…before you come back for supper. 

Towns 11-25 and the complete Pheasants / Quail Forever Article

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sage Grouse Resource Technician Job Open Until May 2

Salmon Valley Stewardship

Job Description
Title: Resource Technician
Status: .75 FTE
Location: Salmon, Idaho
Reports to: Executive Director
Start Date: May 15, 2013
End Date: May 14, 2014
Job Announcement Date: April 18, 2013
Job Closing Date: May 2, 2013

Send a resume and letter of interest to info@salmonvalley.org or to SVS, 107 South Center Street, Salmon, Idaho 83467

Salmon Valley Stewardship, founded in 2004, works to promote a sustainable economy and productive working landscapes in the Salmon Valley Region of Central Idaho. The greater sage-grouse is the largest North American grouse species and one of only two sage-grouse species in the world. Sage-grouse depend on a variety of semiarid shrub-grassland (shrub steppe) habitats throughout their life cycle, and are considered obligate users of sagebrush. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), Salmon-Challis National Forest, Challis Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management and the Salmon Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management in conjunction with the Challis Sage-Grouse Local Working Group are working to compile baseline information on sage-grouse populations and their habitat use in the Salmon area. This data will help local biologists and agencies understand the needs of the bird to support decisions related to sage-grouse that will be made over the next few years.
Position Summary:
The Resource Technician’s duties at Salmon Valley Stewardship will be to work in partnership with wildlife management professionals from Idaho Department of Fish and Game, the Salmon Field Office Bureau of Land Management, and the Salmon-Challis National Forest to track radio-collared sage-grouse and assess sage-grouse habitat condition. This position is currently funded as a one-year position but may be extended should additional funding be obtained.
• Familiar with vegetation of the sagebrush steppe ecosystem in the Upper Salmon River Basin of Central Idaho, and an ability to use a dichotomous key to determine or confirm plant genus and species.
• Possess skills suitable for working in remote and rugged outdoor environments, sometimes alone.
• A safe driving record and a high comfort level with operating a 4-wheel-drive vehicle on rough roads.
• A high level of physical fitness (ability to hike up to 5 miles with a light pack).
• Experience using radio telemetry.
• The ability to use a hand-held GPS device.
• Familiarity with downloading GPS coordinates and working within a basic GIS software platform, such as ArcView.
• Self-motivation and initiative.
• Organization and efficiency.
• Willingness to work flexible hours to accommodate field days when necessary.
• Ability to work cooperatively in a team environment.
• Eagerness to learn new skills.
Primary Responsibilities:
• Track radio collared sage-grouse weekly on BLM/USFS managed lands and adjacent private lands where permission can be obtained.
• Using GPS technology record the location or each bird.
• Compile data electronically and work with the BLM to provide the data in a timely manner to other cooperators.
• In addition, and as time allows, the employee would work with other BLM field personnel to collect and compile vegetation data primarily at nest sites or as part of habitat assessments for sage-grouse.
Work Expectations:
Temporary, ¾ time position, with periods of 40-hour weeks during the field season (estimated March – October) and periods of 20-hour weeks during the winter months (November – February). A more specific work plan will be developed in coordination with the successful applicant. Much of the sage grouse project work will be done in conjunction with IDFG and the BLM, and the applicant will most likely be using BLM-furnished vehicles and work space, and will have to meet the standards (defensive driving course, computer security protocols, etc.) required by that agency. The employee would be expected to work as part of the BLM Salmon Field Office team. Should these priority workloads be accomplished other tasks will be assigned on a weekly basis.
$13-$15/hour based on experience. As a .75 FTE employee of Salmon Valley Stewardship, the successful applicant will receive the following federal holidays as paid time off:
Monday, May 27, 2013 Memorial Day
Thursday, July 4, 2013 Independence Day
Monday, September 2, 2013 Labor Day
Monday, October 14, 2013 Columbus Day
Monday, November 11, 2013 Veterans Day
Thursday, November 28, 2013 Thanksgiving Day
Wednesday, December 25, 2013 Christmas Day
Wednesday, January 1, 2014 New Year’s Day
Monday, January 20, 2014 Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Monday, February 17, 2014 Washington’s Birthday

Orignal Article