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    HotSpotOutdoors.com Family
  • Birthday 07/04/1963

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    St. Paul, MN
  1. Will be trying the Honey Sesame recipe but as a dipping sauce for the kids with fried pheasant fingers (tenderloins). For prep I brine all pheasant meat overnight. 1 cup kosher salt per 1.25 gallons of water. Really helps with moisture retention and really compliments the rich natural flavor of the pheasant. Favorite recipe for pheasant breasts is to dry them completely from the brining and then pound them out thin (no thicker than of a slice of bread). Dust in lightly seasoned flour, dip in a mix of egg & buttermilk and then coat with lightly seasoned panko bread crumbs. Let pheasant pieces rest for 15-20 minutes until the coating sets. Fry quickly in oil in a hot skillet until golden brown. If you get the pheasant pounded to the right thickness the meat will still be very moist with a great crispy crust. Make sawmill gravy from the pan drippings (1/4 flour, 1/4 cup butter, seasoning to taste & then add milk until gravy is the right consistency). Serve the pan fried pheasant & gravy with buttery mashed potatoes. For legs & thighs I like to make soups or stews. A favorite is Gumbo. Take any good Chicken and Sausage Gumbo recipe and substitute pheasant. The big change I make is to cut the brined leg & thigh meat into thumbnail size chunks and wait until the last 1/2 hour of the cook to add the chunks into the gumbo. I pull the lid and add in the pheasant and then patiently bring the pot back to a simmer. Once the gumbo reaches a simmer again I turn off the flame and let the residual heat of the gumbo finish cooking the pheasant. 30-minutes later you can then spoon the gumbo over some already prepared long grain rice. The pheasant pieces will be moist and cooked perfectly.
  2. From what information I can gather winter wheat is second only to diverse CRP type grasslands when it comes to hen usage for nesting and brood rearing cover. General comments indicate perfectly acceptable nest success rates in winter wheat as well but I have not been able to find a definitive nest success % that has been published in any study. Most information suggests pheasants need a 42% nest success rate to maintain stable populations and anything over that will allow for population growth. The only problem with winter wheat is you need early season nesting success and in some years (like this one) when the weather doesn't cooperate the winter wheat won't contribute much towards successful re-nesting efforts. What is the Ag market situation for wheat? Is there enough stable long-term demand to keep prices at a point where farmers would continue to use it in consistent crop rotation? It would be great if that were the case because I could see winter wheat helping to fill the gap left by all of the large block CRP that is exiting the program. Agree 100% that as a society we need to fund conservation programs that incent producers to protect sensitive areas and also incent them to set aside a % of the marginally productive areas in the interest of diversity. What could work in my opinion is a combination of long-term programs like CREP, WRP etc. for the sensitive areas and then short-term (5-year?) CRP contracts where the less sensitive but marginally productive areas are rotated in and out of crop production. To me the big key here is that it needs to be designed as a multi-purpose conservation plan that benefits all wildlife and all conservation needs (clean water, soil conservation etc.) and then sold to the general public as a benefit to all stakeholders. Making an effort like this solely about pheasants, ducks, hunting etc. will just alienate people who don't share those interests but whose tax dollars will be needed to fund the programs.
  3. Been in similar discussions on here before and ultimately just became a couple of guys trying to shout me down by repeating the dead hens can't produce broods argument. Biggest issue in MN is the pheasant range has a little less than 6% of the total landscape in undisturbed grassland. About 15% of the landscape in the pheasant range is disturbed grassland (pasture, hay, small grains etc.)but most of that is involved in grazing for Dairy production or alfalfa which contributes very little to successful pheasant brood production. What information I can gather on the subject is that the carrying capacity of the available winter cover and the available food sources is much higher than the current (or recent) population. Certainly there are isolated or individual situations where this isn't the case but in the macro sense of the whole pheasant range this seems to be true. As you suggest increasing the % of undisturbed grassland (for agricultural purposes not wildlife management purposes) would be the primary key to a big change in pheasant populations and harvest results. Certainly addressing winter cover & food sources in specific situations would be important but that alone is not going to get an average harvest up over 500,000 roosters annually. To get there I think we are talking undisturbed grass percentages that approach 10% of the landscape.
  4. I appreciate your optimism that the problems will work themselves out but in my opinion the Ag economy is anything but a fully functioning market. We have upwards of 50-years of bad history indicating that the Big Ag Lobby and their friends in Congress will find a way to over rev the market yet again and get the majority of individual farmers to go all in on production. Conservation programs (and other forms of subsidy) can be a Band-Aid during the crashes but the boom & bust cycles seem to get shorter and shorter and the strong trend is that every time we come out of one there is less diversity, more impacts and more marginal cropland in long-term production.
  5. Cook County. Averaged 5-6 "contacts" per day in 3.5-4hrs per day since Thursday. Harvested 1 bird each day including a young red phase. Better activity/results than the last 2-years but still well below peak years. Dog & I walked trails until we found smaller patches of good cover (young aspen, alder swamps etc.) then walked that cover. Still ran into about half the birds near the trail. I suspect the dispersion is well under way. Did run into one brood still intact in an alder swamp but no shooting opportunities resulted.
  6. Except that all of us (non-hunters included) would benefit greatly from better bio-diversity, cleaner water, reduced flooding and better soil conservation. The problem is as hunters we focus too much (and talk too much) about the specific impacts of conservation programs on specific species populations. What we should be preaching is the conservation of a diverse ecosystem that does not flush pollutants, excess water or soil down stream for someone else to deal with. A properly diverse upland/lowland ecosystem that properly filters & controls storm water run-off will benefit all wildlife and all humans. It may not make for soil bank era pheasant populations but it will keep plenty of them around for future generations to come. I do believe hunters should be financially responsible for our own private land access programs. We need to be willing to pay our own freight when it comes to open fields and walk-in type programs. Non-hunters should not have to foot the bill for us to take advantage of this privilege. As a society we are too deep into the current system to get out without some form of federal program(s) that will incent and/or penalize landowners to implement better long-term land stewardship. We will have to be prepared to compensate farmers to "do the right thing" and if they choose not to participate then we will need to find some way to hold them financially accountable for the costs they are passing on to others with the current farming practices. For the record I come from a farming family and am not looking to require something of others that I would not expect my own family to participate in as well.
  7. Last I will say on the subject. For the record during this discussion I have never said winter cover is not important or that all grassland habitat is what is needed. But I have said that maintaining enough undisturbed grasslands (10% of the landscape) is going to be the key to having a healthy uplands. We simply do not have enough healthy undisturbed grasslands in MN to have a good pheasant population. CRP is on life support in Washington and the major benefit it provides is grasslands and ultimately some element of bio-diversity. Our ability to preserve grasslands in the next Farm Bill will be the determining factor in whether we maintain any sembalance of a healthy farmland ecosystem and ultimately pheasants. With a less than five minute google search I found the three documents linked below that all acknowledge the importance of winter cover. We live in the upper Midwest. No one disputes that fact. However they all point out the single most limiting factor to achieving and maintaining good pheasant populations is a lack of nesting & brood rearing cover. Grasslands. Not my opinion but the opinion of wildlife professionals. Have a good season. http://www.pheasantsforever.org/page/1/pheasant.jsp http://www.pheasantblog.org/jbeckers/pinpointing-pheasant-needs-dense-nesting-cover/ http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/recreation/hunting/pheasant/pheasantplan_final2005.pdf
  8. Landdr - Pheasants die. Their whole life is a killing field. They are born to be eaten in one form or another by all sorts of life forms. I provided information compiled by wildlife professionals and you counter with an analogy between pheasants and apartment dwellers in central Minnesota. Pheasants and people are not the same. Pheasants don't live 80 years like people can. One rooster pheasant and 10 hens can successfully produce 40 or more juvenile chicks in a matter of weeks. One human male (assuming he is not Shawn Kemp) can produce 1 offspring in nine months. The analogy is not valid. The Minnesota pheasant range had many more acres of wetlands and shelterbelts in the late 1970's and 80's than it does now. Why was the pheasant population in MN on life support during that time? During the 1950's & 60's wetlands were being drained at a very high rate yet the pheasant population exploded with the Soil Bank program. The Soil Bank increased nesting and brood rearing cover not winter cover. The evidence directly correlating healthy pheasant populations and healthy grass lands is overwhelming. Healthy nesting and brood rearing cover is what allows pheasants to overcome high natural mortality. You say your area has lots of nesting cover. Is it good brood rearing cover? Is it a rank brome grass monoculture? Non-native cool season grasses are only useful pheasant habitat for about 5-years. Once hatched Pheasant chicks need a diverse grassland with good insect production to survive. Brome grass used in early CRP plantings or left over from abandoned pasture land may be OK for nesting at this point but really doesn't produce many healthy broods. Current CRP contracts require diverse plantings and mid-contract maintenance. These acres if managed as required will produce good pheasant numbers throughout the contract cycle.
  9. Brittman is correct every MN pheasant hunter would benefit from reading the MN DNR Long Range Pheasant Plan. Cliff notes on the plan are this. The plan's goal is to establish an average population of 3-million birds in the known pheasant range. Not 3-million birds every year but a healthy bird population that would in fact flucuate bewteen 1.5 million birds in tough years and 4.5 million birds in prime years. Pheasant populations will always be fluid and weather impacts matter year-to-year but good habitat always gives the birds the opportunity to recover and pheasants have the capability of recovering very fast. There is approximately 30-million acres in the MN pheasant range and in order to produce 3-million pheasants the DNR estimates that there needs to be 3-million acres (10%) of undisturbed grass. Undisturbed grass can loosely be defined as grass or other grassy type cover that is bio-diverse (contains forbs etc.), at-least 10" tall by April 15th and would remain undisturbed until at least August 1st each year. Given those requirements areas of pasture land, hay fields, winter wheat etc. while somewhat abundant don't consistently contribute much to pheasant production. Especially in the last couple of decades when changes in farming practices have removed almost all of the bio-diversity present in small grain & hay production. A lot of the DNR analysis outlined in the plan is based on looking at pheasant habitats in 9 square mile blocks. In order to maintain the stable population levels represented in the goals each 9 square mile block would require 600 acres (10% ot total land mass) of undisturbed grass land and one block of wintering cover that is within at least 1/4 mile of a viable food source. A viable block of wintering cover is defined as an emergent wetland of at least 10 acres in size that is predominantly cattails and low brush (willows etc.). Wetlands are the prefered winter habitat but 3-5 acre shelterbelts can be substituted if they are least 10 rows wide and consist of low conifers and shrubs. Winter cover with tall woody cover is not ideal because it gives airborne predators a vantage point to single out prey. My point in the other thread was that grasslands are the key to increasing and stabilizing pheasant populations. Winter cover is very important to pheasant survival but the quantity of winter cover required is relatively small. If you drive through West Central & S.W. MN it is not difficult to find mutiple 10-acre blocks of wintering cover in almost any 9 square mile area. A lot of this winter cover could use some improvements (tall trees cut, food plots planted etc.) and some TLC but adequate quantities are usually present. What is not consistently present in those 9-square mile areas is the 10% (600 acres) of undisturbed grasslands. That shortfall of productive nesting and roosting cover is why increasing acreage in CRP and other conservation programs will be vital going forward. In addition land use dedicated to hay, pasture & small grain production is getting transferred to into corn & soybean production at a rate of about 6% a year. What that means going forward is conservation programs will carry an even heavier the load in regards to water quality and soil conservation. CRP, CREP etc. need to stay if we want to maintain some sembalance of water quality and bio-diversity in our farmland ecosystems. A nice secondary benefit to that purpose would be better pheasant populations.
  10. OK. Now I'm starting to get the picture. PF doesn't put a pile of pheasants in my backyard so therefore the efforts to preserve habitat anywhere else are worthless. That's your baloney right there. Want a little straight talk? Entitlement attitudes among outdoorsmen who put their short-term satisfaction ahead of viable long-term conservation efforts is the biggest threat to maintaining any degree of a healthy farmland ecosystem. That outlook is way too pervasive and if the next version of the Farm Bill goes bad for conservation look for all of Minnesota's pheasant range to become an agrarian wasteland just like it was during the late 70's and 80's. For those who think it is all about weather show me that correlation between weather and pheasant numbers during the 1980's when nesting & brood rearing habitat was nonexistent. Pheasant numbers were in the basement year after year in MN at that time. In fact that population crash is what prompted individuals to start PF in the first place. Winter habitat in MN while not abundant is plenty adequate for pheasant survival. The real limiting factor is healthy nesting and brood rearing habitat. That habitat is beginning a free fall right now and this season of poor bird numbers is just a sign of what is to come. Weather matters year-to-year. Good habitat can have an impact for a decade. Unless something changes in regards to Farm Bill Conservation Policy the next decade looks bleak.
  11. Must have been hibernating between years 2002 & 2009 when the MN pheasant harvest doubled from 250,000 roosters annually to over 500,000 roosters annually. That increase in populations and bird harvest was a direct result of PF, DU and a few other habitat organizations successfully lobbying congress and the Bush Administration in the late 1990's to expand the conservation title in the Farm Bill. Since 2009 conservation acreage in MN has decreased substantially and will continue to decrease unless PF & DU can pull a rabbit out of there collective hat while preparing for the next Farm Bill in Washington. Funding organizations like PF & DU over the next couple of years will be critical to the cause of maintaining viable habitat.
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  13. American Gundog on the Sportsman's Channel. The best upland hunting TV in many years. All wild birds. All over the country. No comp'd hunts, planted birds or endless endorsements for some high end lodge most of us could never afford. They took a couple year hiatus but looks like new episodes coming in July 2011. I'd also encourage buying DVD's of past seasons. They are inexpensive and worth having. See link below: http://americangundog.com/index.html
  14. I had a good hunt up there a week ago. Bird numbers seemed to be pretty good with some young ones still hanging around the trails. Did you see many others hunting? I saw a lot of cars\trucks on the main Forest Roads but almost no one walking the trails. Also how were the leaves? They were still pretty thick a week ago. Good luck on your future hunts. This is a good year to introduce your hunting partner to the game.
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