DAKOTA’S GRACIOUS HOSTS

Photo-ops were plentiful in the hoar frost at Johanssen Farms after the second day of the Pheasant Forever wild bird media hunt.
Photo-ops were plentiful in the hoar frost at Johanssen Farms after the second day of the Pheasant Forever wild bird media hunt.

Pheasants Forever hosted the 2012 Media Hunt with outdoor writers and media representatives from throughout the nation.  Aberdeen, South Dakota and Johanssen Farms did not disappoint pheasant hunters with an insightful combination of wild bird hunts.

By Matt Soberg

The 2012 Pheasants Forever Media Hunt went off with a literal “bang” as outdoor writers and media representatives from Alabama to Oklahoma to Brainerd, Minnesota attended to take part in the event.  Graciously hosted by The Habitat Organization, Aberdeen, South Dakota was the destination and a perfect place for such a gathering.

The event was organized by Rehan Nana, public relations specialist, and Anthony Hauck, online editor, both from Pheasants Forever.  These gentlemen ran the show like a well-oiled machine and provided a memorable experience for outdoor writers and hunters.

Even in South Dakota, a public land longtail is a true trophy.
Even in South Dakota, a public land longtail is a true trophy.

Throughout the festivities, presentations were made by Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever’s vice president of government affairs, Justin Larson from South Dakota Tourism, and Casey Weismantel from the Aberdeen Convention Bureau.  Larson and Weismantel discussed the importance of pheasant hunting to the economies of South Dakota from the statewide perspective to the small town local businesses.  Nomsen discussed in detail the plight of the current Federal Farm Bill situation and its importance to the landscape across the prairies for years to come.

The message was clear.  We need to do something now.  Everyone from hunters to farmers to legislators need to work harder to preserve and protect the habitat we currently enjoy.  While hunting, we specifically witnessed the potential of pheasant hunting in the Dakotas while also seeing the changes demanded upon the soil from farmers taking advantage of high corn prices.  Without protecting the current landscape, those opportunites are in dire straits.

From tilled CRP acres to burning habitat, the landscape across our native prairie is changing quickly.
From tilled CRP acres to burning habitat, the landscape across our native prairie is changing quickly.

Day number one consisted of small groups of hunters scouting and hunting true public lands across the Aberdeen area.  Many of the lands including Walk In Acres and other programs that Pheasants Forever helped secure for habitat and future hunting opportunities.  This was a true hunt that showcased the often-times difficult nature of pheasant hunting but also reminded a wary hunter that organizations are making a significant impact to preserve pheasant habitat.  I believe the number of 50,000 acres in the tri-county area surrounding Aberdeen has been secured for public access opportunities.  Don’t look at that number lightly.  It took a lot of time and effort.

The second day showed the pheasant manna from heaven that is hunting in South Dakota.  The hunters were welcomed by Eric Johannsen of Johanssen Farms outfitting near Tolstoy, South Dakota.  The Johanssen crew operates a top-notch, high quality and high integrity operation that includes pheasant and whitetail outfitting.  It was a pleasure to spend the day with Arik learning how it is possible for farmers to successfully farm the land and preserve habitat for wildlife abound.  It is possible, and Johanssen Farms provides an example of the attitude and balance for which we should all strive.

The number of pheasants we flushed was ridiculously phenomenal.  I lost count in 15 minutes.  The bottom line was that all hunters certainly had smiles on their faces at hunt’s end.

Overall, the experience was more than just a “hunt.”  It was an opportunity for those with the talent to communicate the importance of habitat and conservation to witness at the ground level the art of pheasant hunting with the hope to spread the word about all the work that needs to be done to preserve what we love.

Thank you to all involved.

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