The big fishing opener in southwest Minnesota was quite a bust. There will always be someone who catches a fish or two, but the reports were pretty much across the board dismal.

The opportunity to go angling this past week was available to me, but I opted to choose a different endeavor.

Pheasants Forever volunteers planted 350 Eastern Red Cedar trees on a new public land acquisition on Friday evening, and then I helped a friend who is going to be the biggest and best up-and-coming Christmas tree rancher add 1,450 trees to his aspiring spread on Saturday. Conditions for tree planting were really good compared to fishing.

The cool weather allowed the trees that were root trimmed and treated with a special compound to keep their roots pretty wet during the planting process. I drove the tractor, but those lucky souls who rode six inches off the ground on the tree planter certainly got an enormous load of dirt blown on them for over six hours. It was still a great alternative to getting banged around in a boat with 35 mph winds for an afternoon.

When it comes to business in general, there are tons of challenges that every organization is dealing with today. That might be a bar/restaurant owner limited to curb side service, a hair salon with no service or a non-profit trying to operate without the ability to do any fundraising.

All of these types of organizations and many others are suffering in some form whether it is a modest, severe or catastrophic situation.

As a wildlife conservationist I know that Pheasants Forever had to cancel or postpone more than 250 fundraising banquets this spring and summer. The parent organization lives off of the revenues derived from the renewal of individual and corporate memberships. Many of these are processed as a part of attending a local banquet.

Nobles County Pheasants Forever initially postponed our banquet from March 20 to May 19, and as the state directive required no big groups, we ended up completely cancelling the 2020 event. The date for next year is March 19.

Any and all tickets sold for the 2020 banquet will be honored at next year's event.

I certainly understand that the plight of a local non-profit having to cancel their annual banquet may not compare to the financial hardships being suffered by many local businesses. We will carry on. There will just be less funds for habitat work until things change.

We worked hard to be ready, and the local committee members put forth lots of effort to make sure we were. It is with great thanks that we reach out to all of our great supporters and members to let them know that we too are looking to brighter days for all. If you have questions about your tickets or membership you can reach out to me at scottarall@gmail.com

There is one kind of bright light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. Because there are very limited opportunities for people to gather, many of those folks have decided to spend their sheltering alone time in the outdoors. This is certainly a great way to spend that time.

The number of spring turkey hunting licenses sold are way up. The number of fishing licenses are sharing the same trend. Fishing licenses sales are up over 40 percent from last year with a total of 354,000 sold as of about a week ago. You would need to go back 20 years to find license sales at this number.

This means that more folks are getting outside and that can be nothing but a positive. The more folks that enjoy the outdoors, the more folks will likely support the important work that game and fish agencies do. These folks had the best spring ever to do seedings and burns and lots of other good work, and were told to just stay home.

What a missed opportunity, seeing as most of this work is done by a single employee in a tractor or other implement. I hope everyone can go back to work soon, but until that happens buy a license and spend your individual or small group time appreciating God’s creatures and the habitats that support them.