You won't find the word "citiot" or the phrase "city idiot" on Wikipedia, but folks across Minnesota's pheasant range have made it a frequently used part of their vocabulary in recent autumns. In places like Windom, Litchfield, Dawson, Jackson, and Padua, locals use the term daily and dread the coming crush of city idiots. As Saturday's 2009 Minnesota pheasant hunting opener approaches, let me offer a few suggestions on how to avoid becoming the target of such a label.
Consider spending Friday night at a hotel near where you plan to hunt for the opener. At the very least, wake up an hour or two earlier this year, so you aren't one of the Twin Cities pheasant hunters racing out of suburbia on highways 12, 212, 169, or 94 at 7AM to find the first WMA off the highway just in time for the 9AM opening bell. Don't be the guy that splits two groups of hunters only 400 yards apart to make your own mad dash to the center of that WMA with shotgun blasting in every direction at 8:57AM.
Show a Little Respect for the Locals
Minnesota families across the pheasant range don't mind if you come to their little part of "heaven" for a day trip to chase roosters. However, they do want you to show a little respect. Remember, for a lot of these folks, farming is their livelihood. So, don't shoot at roosters when they are flushing toward tractors, houses, or people. Don't go crashing through standing crops. And, for crying out loud, know and obey trespass laws. One pheasant hunting trespasser will ruin it for the rest of us forever in the mind of a landowner.
Eat Local and Order the Hot Beef Commercial
A couple of years ago, I ordered a hot beef commercial off a café lunch menu. I'd never heard of a hot beef commercial before. Turns out, it's an open face hot beef sandwich with mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy. It was phenomenal. This hunting season, give back to the community growing the birds you're chasing by simply having breakfast or lunch at the local establishments. You may find a new favorite hot dish!
Hang Around for the Golden Hour
Citiots walk hard through the middle of the day burning themselves out well before the "golden hour." Many are already on the highways back to suburbia by 3PM completely missing the best hunting hour of the day. During the final hour of the day, pheasants fly into grassy roosting areas like WMAs and WPAs after having spent their entire day filling their stomachs under the safety of corn stalks. Many PFers hunt only the final hour of the day and successfully bag their daily limit every time.
Set a Good Example
During a day of hunting, we all make a lot of choices; should I drive down this unmarked road, I don't know if that bird is on public land, that farmer has a goofy hair cut and maybe I should make fun of him to my buddies, et al. The world is becoming less and less forgiving of our blaze orange and camouflaged group, so we must never give others a reason to point their finger at us. Let's all do our part to end the use of the term "citiot" by making good choices this season.
On Monday, September 21st, Moorhead will become the center of the pheasant hunting universe. You see, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is coming to Moorhead's AmericInn Lodge for a listening session with farmers, landowners, hunters and concerned citizens about the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).
CRP is undoubtedly the most successful conservation program in modern times. It is the single biggest reason Minnesota's pheasants have rebounded over the last decade. Unfortunately, over 4.2 million acres have expired nationwide since 2005; and over the next five years, another 21 million more acres are slated to expire.
Pheasants Forever members in attendance last night during the country's first listening session in Washington state have reported back that the USDA is considering a drop in CRP enrollment to 24 million acres nationwide. In Pheasants Forever's view, this is completely unacceptable and we urge all of our members and supporters to take immediate action by contacting the USDA in opposition of this proposal. That makes participating in the public comment period and public meetings about CRP the most significant action you can take as a Minnesota pheasant or duck hunter.
It’s important that the USDA hear from Minnesota's concerned sportsmen and women, landowners, business owners, and individuals with views in support of CRP. Comments don’t need to be detailed and lengthy to be effective. Participants should tell the USDA leaders who they are and why CRP is important to them.
Here are a few suggestions from Pheasants Forever about key CRP messages to consider:
5PM to 7PM on Monday, September 21, 2009
AmericInn Lodge and Suites
If you can't make it to Moorhead on Monday, there are other options to voice your support for CRP. Public comments on CRP are due by October 19, 2009.
• Email comments to CRPcomments@tecinc.com
• Submit comments online at the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov
• Mail comments to: CRP SEIS, c/o TEC Inc., 8 San Jose Dr., Suite 3-B, Newport News, VA 23606
• Fax comments to: (757) 594-1469