The National Pheasant Quest and Quail Classic

Posted February 2, 2012 at 2:00 pm

By Kenneth L. Kieser
Northeast News
February 2, 2012

Snow crunched as the English pointer ran through a huge field. Suddenly the muscular dog came to a complete stop, hesitated, and then froze in deliberate point. The hunter moved slowly towards the pointer, deliberately picking each step.

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Pheasant habitat may be disappearing. The Pheasants Forever Conference in Kansas City will answer many of your questions. Photo by Kenneth L. Kieser

A shiver flushed through the pointer’s body as excitement set in. This was his moment. The man moved closer while anticipation of a covey rise grew with each step – for both hunter and dog.

He finally reached the statue-like pointer who was intensely starring at the quail. Another step drew a flush of thundering wings from heavy buck brush. The Brrrrr sound of 20 sets of wings making a bid for escape was loud.

The man twisted right, correcting his lead on a bobwhite quail before squeezing the trigger. His 20-gauge double barrel shotgun made a fine explosion as a quail folded in mid air. He quickly lined up another bird. His double barrel shotgun roared to complete a Missouri bobwhite quail double while feathers were still drifting down. Heavy winter air held the excellent smell of exploded gunpowder longer than usual – a smell that hunters live for.

By now the pointer had collected his wits and made a picture-perfect retrieve of the first quail. The second bird required more effort from the dog’s keen nose. His shot had only broken a wing. The quail burrowed in heavy cover, its color blending in with the dead grass, leaves and weeds.

The pointer started moving back and forth, smelling the ground. Occasionally it paused to sniff around, but then continued moving through the grass and weeds. The dog knew that quail was there.

Problem was, a quail has to be on the ground awhile before a strong scent is apparent – even to a well trained, sharp-nosed dog. The dog started digging its nose under the grass. Comically, some grass lay across the pointer’s nose each time its head lifted. But finally the English pointer’s nose dropped one last time and brought up the quail. The hunter smiled and awarded the dog with a drink of water.

Do you miss the good old days of hunts like this? Organizations like Quail and Pheasants Forever are trying to bring back quail numbers in association with fish and game departments and other organizations. For the first time, the nation’s biggest event for pheasant and quail hunters and bird dog enthusiasts is coming to Kansas City.

Pheasants Forever’s National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic will be held Feb. 17-19 at the Kansas City Convention Center in downtown Kansas City, Mo. The event will be presented by Cabala’s.

The annual convention, outdoor trade show and dog showcase hosted by the country’s leading upland conservation organizations, Pheasants and Quail Forever, National Pheasant Fest has topped the 20,000 attendance mark at each of the last six events.

The Quail Classic portion of the 2012 event will be a first as well, representing the strong tradition of bobwhite quail hunting and conservation found in Kansas, Missouri and across the Great Plains and southeast United States. Both the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and the Missouri Department of Conservation will be participating in the event.

Kansas and Missouri are home to a combined 47 local Pheasants Forever chapters and 34 Quail Forever chapters. With more than 10,000 Pheasants Forever and/or Quail Forever members in the two states, Howard Vincent, Pheasants Forever, Inc.’s National President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), says it’s time to bring the organization’s premiere event to Kansas City.

“Kansas is one of the elite states for pheasant hunting and wildlife habitat conservation, and Missouri has positioned itself as a clear leader in efforts to restore bobwhite quail populations,” Vincent said. “Kansas City is the perfect meeting place to have fun celebrating both great game birds.”

“On behalf of the entire Kansas City hospitality industry, it is my pleasure to welcome this prestigious event to the Heart of America,” said Rick Hughes, President and CEO of the Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association. “Kansas City is full of outdoor enthusiasts, and I have no doubt that visiting attendees will enjoy exploring our fair city.”

All things bird dog-related have been the biggest attractions at previous National Pheasant Fest events, and that’s expected to be the case at the inaugural appearance in Kansas City. Upwards of 40 different sporting dog breeds will be represented, dog training seminars will occur throughout the three-day weekend, and attendees will have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with breeders, trainers, and dog kennel and club representatives.

A “Youth Village” is another popular show attraction, where kids and teens can participate in archery and air rifle ranges, a casting booth, Laser Shot and more.

For additional inquires regarding National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic 2012, including exhibitor information, contact Brad Heidel, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s Director of Corporate and Special Event Sales at (651) 209-4956 or bheidel@pheasantsforever.org, or Anthony Hauck (651) 209- 4972 or AHauck@quailforever.org