Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

Continued: Anderson: Hunt clubs help sustain wild-bird hunters -- and vice versa

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: December 21, 2013 - 11:03 PM

Additionally, clubs that offer released birds can be great training grounds for young dogs, while offering veteran canines opportunities to stay fresh.

Increasingly, some shooting preserves — among them Wings North, Wild Wings, and the Horse and Hunt Club — also offer sporting clays or trap ranges.

And some are used by wildlife groups such as Pheasants Forever to offer mentored, daylong youth hunts, which might include gun and safety instruction, lessons in conservation and opportunities in the field to target a bird or two. Often a meal is also involved.

So in some ways shooting preserves help sustain wild bird hunters and wild bird hunting. And vice versa.

“Shooting preserves need hunters, and to sustain hunters, wild birds and wild-bird hunting are also needed,’’ Chad Hughes said.

By contrast, in Britain and throughout much of Europe, very little wild bird “hunting’’ exists as it’s commonly practiced here.

Instead, “shooting’’ on large, private estates — some as sprawling as 20,000 acres — is the way the sport is undertaken. Sometimes this involves “walk-ups’’ through row crops such as beet fields, often by a half-dozen guns or more. But the preferred method is driven bird shooting, in which men (“beaters’’) with spaniels and similar dogs push through a woods and drive birds over waiting shooters (“guns’’).

Whether large numbers of U.S. hunters could, or would, shift to something similar if wild birds declined significantly here is an open question.

Doubek, of Gold Meadows, worries less about the future of wild birds — they will always be around, he says — than about access to good hunting ground.

“The average guy gets frustrated when he goes to a wildlife management area and sees 20 trucks there,’’ he said. “That’s what helps our business. Everyone today has a fast-paced life, and when hunters come here, they and their dogs can head out knowing they’ll have the ground to themselves and that they’ll see birds.’’

As the economy has improved, phones at the state’s shooting preserves have rung more often, said Bette Bensch, who with her husband, Les, owns Viking Valley Hunt Club near Ashby, Minn.

“During the recession, we didn’t suffer as much as a lot of businesses did because hunters and fishermen will find a way to hunt and fish, no matter what,’’ Bensch said. “Still, we’re definitely seeing an uptick this year.’’

The increase might be due in part to the dramatic falloff of pheasants in South Dakota, where ringnecks were down 64 percent this year.

“We have clients come from all over the country,’’ Bensch said. “They stay for two or three days and get much the same experience they would in South Dakota.’’

Hughes, Doubek and Bensch say their immediate concern is the weather. Some snow is nice for their business, but not deep drifts of it. And they don’t want temperatures so low hunters choose to stay inside.

Such was not the case Tuesday, when Allie, Mick and I were happy enough in the elements, trudging through thick willows and stripped crops, looking for the 10 birds that had been released where we hunted.

A few hours passed. But we put all the pheasants to wing and took home a bag full.

Afterward, in the cozy confines of the comfortable Wings North Lodge, Hughes put a pheasant Alfredo pizza in the oven, and we talked birds and bird hunting — wild and otherwise.

  • related content

  • Scavenger hunt shows off Minnesota in winter

    Saturday December 21, 2013

    Participate in a scavenger hunt called “Checkpoint MN,” featuring 10 locations marked by signs around the state, and you could receive prizes from snow bikes to getaway packages.

  • Looking for winter adventure? Check out these four state parks

    Friday December 20, 2013

    Early snow and cold have made this December the best start to the winter recreation season in years.

  • Thickets of willows are among the many landscape features at Wild Wings Hunt Club near Pine City, Minn., that seek to imitate coverts encountered while wild bird hunting.

  • Chad Hughes, co-owner and manager of Wings North Hunt Club shown behind bar in Santa hat, said his club draws clients from Duluth as well as the Twin Cities and central Minnesota.

  • Birds released and harvested were tallied on a board at Wings North Hunt Club near Pine City.

  • Wild or not? A rooster pheasant showed off his splendid feathered coat. The bird is one of thousands released each year at state hunt clubs.

  • In pursuit of a bird burrowed deep in a snow- and ice-covered marsh, Allie, a yellow Labrador, dug in, following her nose.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets - Z. Wheeler 12:10 PM
Miami - H. Alvarez
Philadelphia - C. Hamels 12:10 PM
Atlanta - J. Teheran
Boston - R. De La Rosa 12:10 PM
Tampa Bay - D. Smyly
Minnesota - P. Hughes 12:35 PM
Baltimore - K. Gausman
Pittsburgh - G. Cole 1:15 PM
St. Louis - L. Lynn
Milwaukee - J. Nelson 1:20 PM
Chicago Cubs - J. Turner
Detroit - D. Price 3:05 PM
Cleveland - C. Kluber
Seattle - C. Young 3:05 PM
Oakland - J. Hammel
San Francisco 2 Suspended
Colorado 2
Arizona - T. Cahill 3:10 PM
San Diego - T. Ross
San Francisco - T. Hudson 4:40 PM
Colorado - F. Morales
Washington - G. Gonzalez 7:10 PM
Los Angeles - R. Hernandez
Texas - C. Lewis 7:10 PM
Kansas City - Y. Ventura
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 23 FINAL
(2) Alabama 33
Rice 17 FINAL
(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
Marshall 42 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 27
UC Davis 0 FINAL
(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 FINAL
(6) Auburn 45
(16) Clemson 21 FINAL
(12) Georgia 45
Liberty 29 FINAL
(23) North Carolina 56
Ohio U 17 FINAL
Kent State 14
Louisiana Tech 16 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 48
Stephen F Austin 16 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 55
Fresno State 13 FINAL
(15) USC 52
Southern Miss 0 FINAL
Miss State 49
Texas-El Paso 31 FINAL
New Mexico 24
North Texas 7 FINAL
Texas 38
(1) Florida State 37 FINAL
Oklahoma State 31
(14) Wisconsin 24 FINAL
(13) LSU 28
Idaho 0 Postponed
Florida 0
South Dakota 13 FINAL
(3) Oregon 62
(25) Washington 17 FINAL
Hawaii 16
Utah State 7 FINAL
Tennessee 38
SMU 0 FINAL
(10) Baylor 45
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 30 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Toronto 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 3:30 PM
Calgary
Indiana 3:00 PM
Chicago
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close