'Rooster Road Trip' rolls into town
WORTHINGTON — Five states in five days. Some might say it’s an extreme feat, but not for Anthony Hauck, Andrew Vavra and Rehan Nana.
The three men, who work at Pheasants Forever national headquarters in White Bear Lake and travel through the Midwest promoting wildlife habitat conservation by hunting on public land, call this annual event their Rooster Road Trip. This is their fourth trip, during which they are calling for attention to habitat preservation at a time when grasslands and natural habitats are being depleted.
“What we try and do is work toward helping resource agencies purchase land and making it open to the public,” Hauck explained. “The land then becomes permanently protected as a wildlife habitat.”
There has been a major loss in grasslands during the past seven years. In the last 10 years, though, Pheasants Forever, has acquired more land than in the first 20 years of the organization, which has helped to offset the loss.
The three hunters, who also created a blog (www.roosterroadtrip.org) and post photos and videos of their hunting trips, travel to North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota to hunt on public land. Their main aim: to show people that despite the loss of habitat and the decrease in ringneck populations, there can still be good public-land hunting.
“None of us own land of our own — and many people in urban areas don’t, either — so we rely on public land to go hunting,” Hauck said.
Worthington is the last stop on the trip. So far the guys have bagged 38 birds — the most in their four years of their travels.
Since the start of Pheasants Forever, it has acquired and turned over to resource agencies about 169,000 acres while improved habitat on 9 million acres. In Nobles County alone, the Nobles County Pheasants Forever chapter has protected more than 2,000 acres in southwest Minnesota.
“We have about 25 active members in this chapter, and recently Worthington was chosen to host the 2014 Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener,” said Nathan Holt, a Nobles County Pheasants Forever chapter member. “It shows that all the hard work that we do here travels beyond county borders.”
There were 125 sponsors for last year’s Nobles County Pheasant Forever banquet, and more than 450 people attended. The banquet normally raises about $25,000 for the organization, and that money stays in southwest Minnesota.
“It just shows how important this is to the community,” Holt said. “Last year was also the highest net amount of money that was raised — it exceeded the last 30 years.”
Even though the trio’s five-day journey is coming to an end, Pheasant Forever’s work doesn’t.
“We really rely on and appreciate all the volunteers that are involved with Pheasants Forever,” Hauck said. “Protecting wildlife habitats and land conservation doesn’t happen unless people decide to do something about it.”
Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.