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Schools of thought: Outdoor report

Mark Sahli, columnist for The Pioneer Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

This month had no interruptions by any West Fargo team winning a championship and the winter sports season is just getting started.

What is coming to an end is the 2017 hunting and open water fishing seasons. This winter has been unable to decide what to do, so ice fishing is off to a slow start and except for furbearer seasons, most of the rest of the hunting seasons will be closing in the next few weeks.

As one who loves the outdoors and can never get enough and who also whines to whoever will listen that I do not get out enough, the season came and left fast.

My reflection or school of thought report for this year was decent to successful. My visits with others ranged from terrible to successful.

Everyone who partakes in our outdoor activities has differing expectations and their schools of thought vary accordingly.

My first priority during fall hunting is pheasant hunting and more importantly getting the dogs out and doing what they love to do. Any birds harvested is always a bonus and filling a limit is double bonus.

With that on the table, it is time to bring to light some concerns I have with organizations who are in business to "help" make our hunting more productive, successful and ultimately more enjoyable. The organization that is closest to my personal knowledge is Pheasants Forever (PF). The organization was formed in 1982 in Minnesota. It was a great grass roots organization with a purpose second to none. The intent of the organization was very close to my interests and beliefs and I bought into it wholeheartedly. Along with some buddies, we started the local Fargo area chapter back in 1995.

Twenty-two years later, I believe less strongly in their purpose.

The concept of keeping money raised local and using for local projects is still intact, but I have been seeing trends over the years which cause frustration and some lack of trust in their cause.

The most notable observance is listed in every issue of their magazine, PF Journal. Quite simply it lists a top-heavy administration with so many more executive positions each year. Vice presidents, and newly formed directors are listed for numerous areas. Some people who I have met or known over the years, have been promoted and I say good for them, but there are many new names along with new positions and titles.

The regional reps were the lifeblood and did the legwork for the banquets and helping chapters get started in raising money for habitat. They now have field managers and directors of field managers and on and on.

With all of these positions we should have habitat busting at the seams in all the states where chapters are located. We do not, and we are losing habitat constantly.

What led to this school of thought and criticism was an article in the last issue of PF Journal. The author wrote about all of the great hunting opportunities for Pheasants and ducks in North Dakota. Maybe the author should have checked with some of my sources who struggled to find either species due to lack of habitat and moisture. The other ironic thing he referenced was all the great public land in North Dakota.

Yes, North Dakota does have some great land thanks to private landowners and game and fish efforts, along with federal land projects, which did not have funding from conservation group efforts or dollars. To put a wrap and a bow on this topic during our Christmas season, I do not want to bash Pheasants Forever as a whole or any other outdoor group as they mean well. I do however, want to bring attention to you as to be aware of these groups top-heavy corporate structures and migrating from the original grass root efforts. Don't be afraid to ask where your money is being spent. Is it for the betterment of hunting and fishing and other outdoor activities or is it for more corporate salaries?

This has poked my inner bear and made me put wheels in motion and another school of thought in place for the new year. Looking forward to 2018.

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