Grenoble: Pheasants, chicks and ruffed grouse are on my mind

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Publications across the state are rife with advertisements about outdoor shows, the sportsman’s winter grasp on sanity. No Steelers in the Super Bowl so woe is us.

Our big local show, known as the Jaffa Outdoor Show, is less than a month away now. I have no information yet on the entire program only my own small part in it. As we have been doing for several years now, my friend and super-caller Joanie Haidle and I will be doing a couple seminars, and the dates are Feb. 23-26. But keep your eyes open because information will be gushing forth soon.

We know that because of budget concerns, the Game Commission is shutting down two of the state’s pheasant farms.

Now they are further paring their involvement with two long-running programs that enabled groups and individuals to raise pheasants for release in their local areas.

The Pheasant Chick Program, started in 1933, provided day-old pheasant chicks free of charge to sportsmen’s organizations with approved propagation facilities. And those programs enabled properly permitted organizations and individuals to buy chicks and eggs to raise and release.

Each of the programs served to augment the pheasant releases the Game Commission conducts each year before and during the pheasant hunting season. The birds that went to sportsmen’s organizations were released on lands open to public hunting. Purchasing chicks from approved growers is more cost-effective according to the Game Commission. And in making the switch and eliminating 14 positions that had been held by game-farm workers, the agency expects to save $1.5 million in the coming year.

The Board of Game Commissioners also is discussing creation of a $25 permit that would be required for all adult pheasant hunters, and would further help pay for the state’s propagation program.

Unlike most state agencies, the Game Commission in not funded by tax dollars. It relies primarily on revenue generated through the purchase of hunting and furtaker licenses — the fees for which are set by the General Assembly and have not been adjusted for inflation in nearly two decades.

“Cost-cutting measures, like the changes we’re implementing to the pheasant propagation program are necessary to balance the agency’s budget until a license-fee increase finally is approved,” R. Matthew Hough, the Game Commission’s executive director, said. “We’ve had to make a lot of difficult decisions in recent years, and a lot of them probably went unnoticed because initially we cut in areas we knew would have the least impact on those who rely on the services we offer. But as we’re forced to make bigger and more significant cuts at the program level, there’s no avoiding the impact to services. Unfortunately, more cuts will be needed to balance the budget for the coming fiscal year, and Pennsylvania’s citizens and wildlife resources have begun feeling the impact.”

This is one impact that will be strongly felt by sportsmen across the state. Perhaps grouse and woodcock hunting will pick up some new fans this fall.

Talking grouse hunting, tell tall tales, eat good food and repeat is the theme of The Ruffed Grouse Society’s fund-raising conservation banquet to be held at the Genetti Hotel in Williamsport, on Saturday, Feb. 18. This will be a dandy affair, I can tell you from experience. They put on lavish, fun nights when they hold a banquet.

Ruffed Grouse or American Woodcock membership is not required to attend the banquet or purchase dinner tickets. All sportsmen are welcome. Since this event includes a prepared meal, pre-paid tickets are needed and required for attendance. Contact for tickets or information.

Events for the evening will go like this:

n Social hour, 6-7:30 p.m.

n Dinner and guest speakers, 7:30 p.m.

n Live auction and drawings following dinner

The dinner ticket includes:

n Drink ticket for bar (21 and over)

n Entry for door prize raffle

n Served hors d’oeuvres and appetizer display

n Dinner buffet and dessert with multiple entree and side choices

The guest speakers and topics include:

n Dr. Linda Ordiway, wildilfe biologist, Ruffed Grouse Society

n Habitat: What’s Missing and How RGS Assists in Enhancing and Creating It Through Membership

n Lisa Williams, grouse and woodcock biologist, Pennsylvania Game commission

I’m looking forward to attending the annual convention of the National Wild Turkey Federation at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville the middle of February. It’s been a few years since I was able to go and I have a lot of catching up to do with friends and hunting buddies that I have not seen for awhile.

I was one of the founding members of NWTF back in the early 1970s and was the first woman member of their Board of Directors. Shortly thereafter I attended the formation meeting of the Pennsylvania chapter of NWTF in State College and later became the first woman president of that State Chapter.

Sound like I’m boasting? Perhaps, a little. But it took a lot of hard and dirty work to get these organizations off the ground and I’m happy to have contributed even the smallest part to the effort. It gave me the fantastic privilege of meeting some of the most famous outdoor people of that day, like Fred Bear, the famous bowhunter and Will Primos, the famous call manufacturer.

Usually it just seems to me like some kind of dream I had.

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