I’ve spent the better part of the last two weeks hunting behind gun dogs, from the CRP fields of South Dakota and the rugged canyon lands of Utah to my old familiar duck waters here in Oklahoma.


I killed a few birds, met some wonderful dog owners and got to witness a lot of good dog work. For many of us, working our dogs is the single biggest motivating factor for why we hunt. I question whether I would even continue hunting quail, duck or pheasant if I were dogless. But to hunt our dogs we need birds. And to have birds we need habitat. That correlation between gundog ownership and bird numbers is straightforward: The two are inextricably linked. Now Pheasants Forever is giving us a novel new way to protect habitat and honor our dogs at the same time.

From this story on the Pheasants Forever website:

A $25,000 challenge grant from an anonymous Pheasants Forever member has ignited the most innovative fundraising campaign in the organization’s history. The Bird Dogs for Habitat Campaign challenges hunters to make a donation on behalf of their favorite dog. All donations will be used by Pheasants Forever to fight for improvements to the 32-million acre habitat juggernaut, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

_The $25,000 matching grant donor is inspiring fellow hunters to make a year-end, tax deductible gift to Pheasants Forever in support of the organization’s efforts to fight for the federal CRP in the upcoming Farm Bill debate. A new Congress takes office to start 2011, and the program’s future hinges on Congress reauthorizing it. The twist to this donor’s gift? He wants to connect with the passion hunters feel about their bird dogs and use today’s online and social media tools to raise the funds for habitat.

Think about the roosters you’ve bagged and the pride you’ve felt in watching your pup make a spectacular retrieve. How much is CRP worth to you?”

Through online credit card payments, Pheasants Forever will accept contributions from donors placed in support of 25 different breeds of bird dogs, one for each year CRP has existed. Each $1 donated is equal to one vote for that bird dog breed. In other words, a $100 donation is equal to 100 votes for a particular bird dog breed.

“CRP celebrates a historic 25th anniversary on December 23rd,” explained Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Government Affairs. “I challenge every bird hunter to think about the joy experienced walking a CRP field behind their favorite bird dog. Think about the roosters you’ve bagged and the pride you’ve felt in watching your pup make a spectacular retrieve. How much is CRP worth to you?”

“There is no doubt we’re under the time crunch on this campaign. We have 24 days to raise our donor’s $25,000 matching grant. I believe our members and supporters can exceed that challenge,” added David Bue, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Development. “When you consider Pheasants Forever’s nearly 25,000 Facebook followers, we can instantly talk to the largest online community of pheasant hunters. If each of those folks were to donate just a buck, we’d generate $50,000 for habitat in no time at all.”_

I don’t know who that anonymous donor is, but whoever he is, it’s obvious he gets what it’s all about, and I think I’m going to to go make a donation in memory of a beloved young chessie of mine that died way too soon.

The dog breeds include Labrador, curly-coated, flat-coated, golden, Chesapeake Bay, and Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers, English, German wire-haired and short-haired pointers, English, red, white, Irish and Llewellin setters, Boykin, English cocker, Brittany and English Springer spaniels and other continental pointing breeds like pudelpointers, spinones, munsterlanders, vizslas, weimies and standard poodles.

To donate, click on your favorite bird dog breed and make a donation in whatever amount you desire. After you make a donation you can see your contribution added to the vote total your chosen breed. And from the totals so far, it looks like there are a lot of passionate GSP owners out there.

It will certainly be interesting to see which breed comes out on top.