Bob St. Pierre

Bob St. Pierre is director of marketing and public relations for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. A lifelong bird hunter, he chases upland birds each fall from Michigan to Montana with his German shorthaired pointer. He's often on the FAN Outdoors show, 6 to 8 a.m. Saturdays on 1130 AM.

Posts about Fishing

Naming Your New Bird Dog Puppy

Posted by: Bob St. Pierre Updated: May 14, 2013 - 10:41 AM

 

My dad with his Brittany featuring an original name: "Bleu Skye St.Pierre"
My dad with his Brittany featuring an original name: "Bleu Skye St.Pierre"

Earlier this week, Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Online Editor, asked me to write a blog about my favorite bird dog names.  Actually, what he said was, “you’ve sort of cornered the blog market on posts about names . . .

Soooo, why don’t you write a blog about some of your favorite bird dog names?”

 

Admittedly, I am a name snob.  A dog name snob in particular.  Ironic coming from a guy named “Bob,” I know.  I get it.  We all have our “issues.”
Well Anthony, challenge accepted.  To start, here are a few of my five categories for coining a good bird dog name.

 

1) Be Original.  I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to beat this theme until I never meet another dog named “Remy.”  Ever hunted in a group with three dogs all named "Remy?"  Think how confusing that is for you, let alone all three of those pups!  IMMEDIATELY rule out names referencing your favorite shotgun (Remy, Reta, Benelli, etc.).  Also eliminate “Drake” and “Hunter.”  A bird dog is a unique opportunity to be creative, personal and original.  Embrace the opportunity.

 

2) Names Tell Stories.  I believe you should have to tell a story to explain your pup's name to someone.  The conversation ends when your pup is named "Phil."

 

3) Pay Homage.  A dog's name is a terrific way to honor someone or something special in your life. However, let it be known naming your Brittany “Spears” is a jailable offense for man, woman or child.

 

4) Sense of Place.  I really like dog names that reference a special place in a person’s life.

 

5) Fit the Breed.  When possible, it's cool to match the pup's name to the breed or your heritage with the dog’s name.  There are lots of fun ways to connect a dog's German, English, French, Spanish or Irish heritage through their name.

 

With those five bits of advice in mind, here are five dog names that stick out as favorites of the hundreds of pups I’ve encountered during the decade I’ve served with Pheasants Forever.

 

1)      Sprig (Original).  Anthony earns honors for coming up with a name for his Cocker as he references his favorite duck, the pintail.

 

2)      Bleu (Stories).  Truth be told, I didn’t fall too far from the “weird tree.”  My dad named his Brittany pup using one of the weirdest decision trees ever conceived. At the time he received his new Brittany pup (it was a gift from me & my brother), my dad was addicted to blue PowerAde.  He also happens to love bleu cheese.  Consequently, it made sense in his mind to name his brand new pup “Bleu Skye St.Pierre” or “Bleu” for short.  It’s odd . . . but, it’s original.  I like original.

 

3)      Kirby (Homage).  It’s not a secret I like baseball.  My first bird dog is named in honor of my childhood hero, Detroit Tigers great Alan Trammell.  Similarly, my co-worker Bill Fisher named his pup “Kirby” in honor of the Minnesota Twins great, Kirby Puckett.  However, the best story of this name came from another Twins great, Kent Hrbek.  Kent was fond of saying Minnesotans named their dogs “Kirby,” but they named their cows “Herby.”

 

4)      Como (Sense of Place). Wayne Carlson, a friend of mine who is also a Ramsey County Pheasants Forever Chapter officer, named his spectacular Brittany after the St. Paul neighborhood where he and his wife, Emily, reside.  I love bird dog names referencing places people cherish.  Dakota, Kota, Montana, and Aspen are other good place-based names that come to mind.

 

Como, a bird hunting machine with a cool name
Como, a bird hunting machine with a cool name

5)      Valborg (Ethnicity).  Bob Larson, Pheasants Forever’s Chairman of the Board, has deep Scandinavian roots.  So deep that he named his bird hunting poodle “Valborg” to honor his heritage.

 

What method did you employ to generate an original name for your bird dog pup?

 

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

 

What’s the Nickname of your Favorite Pheasant Hunting Honey Hole?

Posted by: Bob St. Pierre Updated: May 2, 2013 - 8:34 AM

 

Chances are only a few hunters refer to the Pintail Pass Game Production Area in South Dakota by its official name. Pheasants Forever File Photo
Chances are only a few hunters know the Pintail Pass Game Production Area in South Dakota by its official name. Pheasants Forever File Photo

It’s been my experience bird hunters attach a nickname to their very favorite spots.  Most of us don’t use official state-designated names like “Mud Lake WMA” or “Stan Musial WPA.”  Instead, we invent colorful names like “Scotch Double Rooster Hill” or “The Red Zone.”  As a self-diagnosed obsessive compulsive organizer, I thought it’d be fun to categorize the naming conventions used most often in titling a bird hunter’s favorite spots.  I’ve come up with three primary categories:

Descriptors

The most obvious nicknames are derived by the geographic or topographic attributes of a piece of property.  These names are descriptive enough for insiders to know exactly the property being referenced, but also vague enough to keep outsiders away from favored covers.  Examples include; “The Triangle,” “Big Bluestem,” “The Berry Patch,” “Circle Slough,” “The Horseshoe,” or “The High Line.”

The Former Owner

My radio partner, “The Captain” Billy Hildebrand, is notorious for naming his favorite spots in reference to the land’s previous owner.  In most cases, these spots are now officially-named public Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs) in the central Minnesota county where Billy grew up.  However, during Billy’s youth, these same spots were privately owned by family, friends and acquaintances.  Consequently, the Green Lake WPA is simply known by Billy and his hunting pals as “Schuler’s.”

Historical Happening

These places earned their name as a result of a classic event taking place amongst friends, family or bird dogs.  Over time, these pieces of property are the ones we hold dearest because of their link to loved ones and memories.  Examples include, “Nester’s Hallow,” “Trammell’s Triple-double,” “The Opener,” “Miracle Shot,” “Numero Uno,” and “The Chicken Ranch.”

Does the name of your favorite hunting honey hole fit into one of these three categories?  What’s the nickname of your all-time favorite spot? 

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever's Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

The Importance of Prescribed Fire in Habitat Management

Posted by: Bob St. Pierre Updated: April 26, 2013 - 1:53 PM

 It’s taken a long time this year, but winter’s icy stranglehold across the upper Midwest has finally begun to relent . . . we hope!  Meteorologists are forecasting a balmy April weekend ahead which should liquefy the last remaining piles of snow throughout most of the pheasant range.  Finally, we’re at spring’s doorstep, which means it’s a perfect time to start thinking about habitat management.

One of the most important tools for improving habitat is prescribed fire.  Controlled burning in early spring accomplishes three main objectives in habitat management.  First, burning limits the growth of woody vegetation helping maintain the prairie as a distinct ecosystem.  Second, the fire burns off the duff layer of built up plant matter that hasn’t fully decayed over the last few years.  Third, prescribed burning releases the nutrients bound in the plant litter stimulating vigorous new growth, which is more attractive nesting covers for ground nesting birds.

 

 

Burns can be very dangerous if not done properly.  Grasses produce extremely hot fires and can spread rapidly.  Pheasants Forever’s habitat specialists and chapter volunteer burn crews are trained in completing safe and effective prescribed burns in many of the pheasant range states.

Prescribed fire can be an especially important tool in the mid-contract management of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands, as well as on state and federally managed wildlife lands.

What's the biggest limitation to utilizing prescribed fire as a habitat management tool?

The answer: the general public does not understand the value of prescribed fire to the prairie ecosystem.  Fire is widely viewed as bad.

Stop and think about it for a moment; what maintained prairies as unique ecosystems prior to urbanization?  The answer: Massive grass fires started by lightning.

A well-planned and safely executed prescribed burn is an incredibly successful way to manage habitat for pheasants and quail.

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

Designing shelterbelts for pheasant winter cover

Posted by: Bob St. Pierre Updated: April 22, 2013 - 4:22 PM

Like most businesses, the Monday morning conversations at Pheasants Forever revolve around the weekend’s hunting and fishing adventures with a side of weather talk.  My morning started off with a fascinating lesson on shelterbelts from Ron Leathers, Pheasants Forever’s Public Finance Director and a certified wildlife biologist.  Considering another winter storm is forecasted to hit Pheasants Forever’s National Headquarters in Minnesota again this evening, it seemed appropriate to post today about winter cover in spite of it being April on the calendar.

A shelterbelt’s effectiveness in creating winter cover for pheasants, as I learned during my conversation with Leathers, centers on proper design.

This graphic illustrates a typical shelterbelt layout in relationship to wind direction and farmstead
This graphic illustrates a typical shelterbelt layout in relationship to wind direction and farmstead


Northwest

Because winter winds and snow blow from the north and west, shelterbelts should be constructed with the idea of blocking these winds from the areas you are most focused on “protecting” from the elements.

Snow Catch

According to Leathers, snow will pile for up to 10 times the height of your first row of trees.  In other words, if your front row of trees are 10 feet high, then snow will pile up behind that row for 100 feet.  Consequently, it’s important to recognize the need to have considerably more than 100 feet behind that first row if you plan to provide any suitable amount of winter cover.

Lift Trees

The center of any shelterbelt should feature a section of the tallest trees in the planting.  These “tall lift trees” help to reduce wind speed and provide better protection for the core winter cover beyond the snow catch and lift trees.

Thermal Cover

The inner-most portion of a shelter belt should include four or more rows of thick thermal cover, like evergreens.  This thickest of covers provides ground level protection from wind and heavy snows during severe winter storms.

Shelterbelt cross section in color

Added Benefits of Shelterbelts

A well-designed shelterbelt can effectively protect buildings and roadways from drifting snow and can cut winter heating bills by 30 percent.  Shelterbelts aid in livestock ranching by trimming feed costs by affording protection from chilling winds.  And a beautiful grove of trees can also increase a farmstead’s property value.

Ron showed me this shelterbelt around a wetland as an example.  It features a good snow catch and interior lift, but the spacing is too narrow and it lacks protection from the north.  As a result most of the cover tends to fill in with snow without maximizing winter cover potential for pheasants.
Ron showed me this shelterbelt around a wetland as an example. It features a good snow catch and interior lift, but the spacing is too narrow and it lacks protection from the north. As a result most of the cover tends to fill in with snow without maximizing winter cover potential for pheasants.

You can learn more about shelter belts, winter cover and other important tips for creating habitat on your own property by purchasing Pheasants Forever’s Essential Habitat Guide for a mere $2.95.  It’s priced so affordably because we want it in the hands of anyone interested in creating habitat.

Farm Bill Biologists

Another source of expertise are Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologists.  These professionals are specialized consultants in conservation programs and habitat planning. Not only can they help landowners design shelter belts and other specific habitat projects on your property, they are also experts in local, state and federal conservation programs that may provide cost-share opportunities.  For our full list of Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologists, follow THIS LINK.

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

Field Trial Dogs Produce Great Hunting Puppies

Posted by: Bob St. Pierre Updated: April 22, 2013 - 9:38 AM

 When searching for a bird dog puppy, the inevitable question surrounding whether or not you desire field trial bloodlines always comes up.  Put me into the category of guys who have said the following about field trial dogs in the past:

“I don’t want a high-wired, big running dog with a bunch of titles.  Pure and simple, I want a hunting dog.” 

Over my ten years with Pheasants Forever, exposure to hundreds of bird dog experts, and personal hunting experiences over countless pups and breeds, my opinion on field trial dogs has changed.  Personally, I’m still not interested in running my dogs in trials.  My focus remains hunting and putting birds in the bag.  However, I do have a greater appreciation these days for dogs with the ability to win field trials and hunt tests. 

Ultimately, successful field trial dogs carry the genetic capacity to both mentally and physically out-perform their peers.  For guys looking to train a hunting pup themselves, this is an incredibly important benefit.  Who wouldn’t want to start with the best ingredients?  A field trial pup with personal training will more easily adapt to your hunting style, than trying to “coach up” a puppy with less superior genetics.  It’s a logical equation. 

Minnesota Bird Hunters Field Trial
Placing at the Minnesota Bird Hunters Field Trial were, from left, Ophelia, owned and handled by Neil Anderson, 3rd place; Berg Brothers Prairie Hawk, owned and handled by Scott Berg, 2nd place; and The Texas Liberal (“Molly”), owned and handled by John Edstrom, 1st place.

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending the Minnesota Bird Hunters Field Trial near Milaca, Minnesota.  The event was hosted by Berg Brothers Setters.  I enjoyed the company of some fantastic “dog guys” and appreciated the exciting dog work on display.  At the end of the day’s run, John Edstrom, Pheasants Forever’s own Merchandise Manager, and his English setter “Molly,” earned the top award of the Gun Dog portion of the trial. 

Edstrom had this to say about his perspective on the overlap between successful trial dogs and hunting dogs.  “The very best trial dogs are all hunted, and hunted hard. Just like Molly, the successful trial dogs become hunting dogs in the fall. That is the secret to a good performance at a trial. Without that experience they do not know how and where to use their genetics and talent. They need to learn where to look for birds, how to use the wind etc. You will hear this said about trial dogs “he/she is a good bird dog.”  If the dog is not a bird dog, it is just running not hunting, and those dogs will not win a trial or put birds in your game bag.”

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever's Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

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