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Sports show has something to offer for every hunter

Sports show has something to offer for every hunter Sports show has something to offer for every hunter

Those sports show thingies are starting, and one of the biggest will be back in striking distance of our area this year.

Pheasant and Quail Forever’s Pheasant and Quail Fest will be back in the Minneapolis Convention Center this year, from Friday, Feb. 14, through Sunday, Feb. 16. It’s the largest upland bird hunting sports show in the world. But it doesn’t stop there, it will have something for pretty much everyone.

For those interested, it doesn’t matter what you prefer to hunt. Most hunters like to chase a ringneck or two from time to time. And even though I prefer hunting ruffed grouse, I spend time chasing ditch parrots each fall. I couldn’t resist, cuz right now some misguided soul who wishes the pheasant could be the King of Gamebirds is sputtering something about the true King — the ruffed grouse — calling the King a “limb chicken.” It’s all in good fun. It’s winter in Wisconsin; bird hunters get bored.

All kidding aside, there will be all kinds of displays, booths, manufacturers and seminars. The equipment used to upgrade and manage pheasant habitat is the same used for food plots and forest trails. The seminars on cooking game cover big game and fowl. The tourism panels will have info on Kansas bird and big game hunting, and South Dakota will have the same.

Plus, if you’re not interested in hunting with dogs, they’ll direct you to the pheasant locations that organize group hunts with drives and blockers and such. There will be big game seminars as well. The aftermarket gizmos for tricking out a vehicle for upland trips work just as well for the big game hunter or icefishermen. And the dog gear used for bird dogs is the same stuff used by houndsmen.

Combine the trip with a stop at Cabela’s on the way to or from, maybe get a room and make a weekend trip out of it. Let the kids swim, soak in a hot tub, enjoy a different cuisine, or just relax. It’s something to do. I’ve never talked to anyone that went that wasn’t impressed, and I’ve been to a lot of sports shows that made me depressed I wasted the time. The show travels the Midwest. Last year, it was by Chicago and we had a major winter storm that weekend — the kind you don’t travel in — and Chicago is a bit far for a day trip. So if you are looking for something that won’t disappoint, give it a try. Pheasants Forever has a serious web page dedicated to what will be at the show and the seminar schedule.

It supports Pheasant Forever, but anyone who has done any habitat improvements for pheasants has found it did the same for whitetail deer and many more species of animals, birds, and insects like butterflies. Which brings me to another point: why not support the organizations that fight for habitat and our way of life? From the local club to the state or national organizations, it is how our voices get heard.

We were sitting in camp last October talking about our Ruffed Grouse Society chapters and events our chapters do, when one of the most diehard grouse hunters said he doesn’t belong to RGS. I did a double take. He plans his fall around ruffed grouse hunting trips with only three days each week spent working from October to gun deer season. He even sells puppies to grouse hunters; that’s right, he makes money off of grouse. His license plate is well known throughout the state. You see it, and you know he’s a grouse hunter.

We wonder why we have such a problem getting habitat work done on public lands but politicians are jumping for joy to create a nature trail, a bike trail, and visitor center for Horicon Marsh. It’s because we shoot ourselves in the foot. The RGS membership nationally is less than one-third of the total grouse hunters in Wisconsin. I bet it’s the same for deer hunting organizations that focus on habitat. The politicians don’t have to fear our groups; those that oppose us are more organized.

And the same applies to the local sportsmen’s club. Why not support the club with your membership? And don’t get me started on using the range without a membership. Why not be a member? And “the cost of dues” doesn’t cut it anymore.

Enough on that. Think about going to the show, you’ll have a good time, so will the kids; they have a big kids section.