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Scott Rall: A cure for cabin fever

I have written over the years about Pheasants Forever and the many things they do to promote wildlife habitat and youth outdoor education.

The organization started in 1982. The Nobles County chapter started in 1986 and was the 14th chapter to organize.

Back in 2003 the national organization of PF decided to have a national event to help celebrate and showcase their ongoing habitat efforts.  The official name of the annual event is now the National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic.

It has been held all over the Midwest.  Just like some lucky souls can go to the Super Bowl every year, I have attended the Pheasant Fest every year since 2003.

Tickets are only $10. They did skip 2004, then went annually each year since.

The event has been held in Des Moines, Kansas City, Omaha, Madison, Wis., St. Paul, Milwaukee and Minneapolis. This year for the very first time it is being held in Sioux Falls -- basically in our backyard.

Sioux Falls is all geared up for the event and tickets have sold at a fever pitch since they went on sale.

They are using the entire Sioux Falls Convention Center and Denny Sanford Premier Center for the whole three days.  The dates are February 16-18.  The doors open on Friday at noon and the event kicks off at 11 a.m. with a bird dog parade.  

That is a parade of almost every breed that has ever been used to chase animals with wings in all of North America and other countries as well.  There are breeds I have never seen and in no way could ever pronounce. If you have never seen this, you should make sure you are there in time to take it in.

Cost to enter is only $10. If you purchase a $35 annual membership to either Pheasants Forever or Quail Forever you get in all three days for free. If you can show them your South Dakota hunting license you also get in for free.  

Sorry, but a Minnesota hunting license won’t do the same thing.

The show floor closes on Sunday at 4 p.m. There is a banquet both Friday and Saturday night, but getting a ticket now for these might prove difficult.

The amount of displays at the show floor will amaze you.  There are more than 400 booths displaying everything from guns to dogs to hunting lodges to all sorts of men’s and women’s apparel. There is no way for me to cover them all here.  You will just need to make the trip to Sioux Falls to see for yourself.  

I once spent an entire day and did nothing but pet puppies and adult dogs. Each breeder is just waiting to tell you their story as to why they think you should have a dog of their breeding. You can even take your dogs along for the day and maybe even find them a new protective hunting vest or, at least, a new collar.

There are many different stages where educational events take place all day long.  On the Bird Dog Bonanza Stage, they host some of the most successful dog trainers in the nation.  They have one question and answer session where more than 150 years of dog training experience can be accessed all at one time.  I love sitting in on these sessions.

If you happen to be sitting in one of these seats on Saturday at 10 a.m. Tom Dokken will teach you how to train your dog to hunt for shed antlers. The session includes antler scent to each participant and a free training DVD. It is a $50 value, free.

There is a wild game cooking stage.  They host nationally-renowned chefs from all over the United States.  Hank Shaw will be presenting, and he is offering a wild game dinner prepared anywhere in the United States to the lucky person who bids the highest at one of the banquet auctions. You can also learn how to turn those normally discarded legs and thighs in to Pheasant Tinga by Jack Hennessy at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

This is a family-friendly event.  There is an entire section of the showroom floor dedicated to kids. That area is called Rudy’s Youth Village.  Kids can participate in air rifle shooting, air soft shooting, laser shoot, archery, cooking wild game for the entire family, outdoor photography and a whole bunch of other stuff in the activity center.

There will be a pollinator stage where one and all can learn about the importance of wild bees, honey bees, butterflies, and a whole host of other important insects.

This is one presentation nobody should miss. This subject matter is vitally important.

With another three inches of snow having fallen as I write this, it is no wonder we are getting a little bit of cabin fever. We are scheduled to get accumulating snow just about every day the week of February 5 as I am writing this. Why not get out of the house and take the kids to an event like this one, that has never been this close before?

I can’t say if and when the National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic might make it to Sioux Falls again. As a writer for The Globe I received 20 free admission passes to this event.  I will make them available for free on a first come, first served basis by stopping into my day job office at LPL Financial Services at 1321 Smith Avenue, Worthington MN 56187.  

There will be a limit of two per person. When they’re gone they’re gone. This is one of my favorite events every year.