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The Quail Forever Upland Bird Hunting Super Issue is the rare magazine that I read cover to cover.

It's a throwback to an era when sporting magazines took us on hunting and fishing adventures across North America. Instead of articles about hunting deer, elk, bear and African game, though, the Quail Forever Upland Bird Hunting Super Issue is devoted solely to upland bird hunting across North America.

Quail Forever is an offshoot of Pheasants Forever and occupies the niche left barren when Quail Unlimited disbanded about a decade ago. Until Quail Forever arrived, I feared that my Southeast Arkansas Chapter of Quail Unlimited Browning Auto-5 Light 20 dinner gun was the last relic of upland bird conservation in Arkansas.

Quail Forever is much more aggressive and much more committed to restoring upland bird habitat across North America than QU was. Arkansas, and the Southeast in general, is a priority area for Quail Forever's efforts, and its presence in Arkansas is conspicuous. The organization has three chapters in Arkansas. The Big Rock Chapter is based in Little Rock. The Arkansas River Valley Chapter is based in Russellville, and the Northeast Arkansas Chapter is based in Jonesboro.

Quail Forever biologists work closely with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's wildlife management division, and the organization helped bring about the issuance of a bobwhite quail license plate to boost awareness about conserving upland habitat.

The organization, with a strong commitment from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, is slowly overcoming the inertia that has stalled upland bird management in Arkansas for decades.

I'm a magazine junkie, and Quail Forever is the best magazine published by a private conservation organization. Elk Country, published by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, is a close second. Its articles are always excellent, and its photography is peerless.

I'm also a bird hunting junkie, and this latest Upland Bird Hunting Super Issue is equivalent to a television binge-watching exercise.

I have learned about prairie chicken hunting opportunities in Minnesota. The Land of a Thousand Lakes once supported vast numbers of prairie chickens, but lost them as forests reclaimed cropland. They are slowly recovering in places enough to justify a limited controlled hunt.

I hunted prairie chickens once in Kansas in 1999 with Warren Montague of Waldron and George Buckenhoffer of Atlanta. Buckenhoffer actually got a prairie chicken, which is actually a type of prairie grouse.

Another article is about hunting Hungarian partridge and chukars, and another about ruffed grouse. I hunted them in 2010 in Idaho with David Sikes, outdoors editor of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Sikes replaced the Caller-Times' longtime outdoors editor Buddy Gough, who moved to Madison County and for years wrote for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

I killed my first ruffed grouse on that Idaho hunt, and we encountered sharptail and sage grouse in an area named for Ted Trueblood, an Idaho sportsman and longtime contributor to Field & Stream who advocated conserving native upland habitat.

Sikes and I got tired of chasing rangy local hunters and their equally rangy pointers. Instead, we poked around the benches above Idaho's Brownlee Reservoir and enjoyed a fine morning hunting Gambel's quail, another first.

Of course there's an article about hunting pheasants in South Dakota, which I did with some friends two weeks ago. I've been smiling ever since and can't wait to go again.

Magazines like this one sparked an intense interest in hunting when I was a boy, and writers like Trueblood, Charlie Elliot and others led me to where I am now. These aren't the usual how-to, where-to roundups that dominate the pages of most hunting magazines nowadays. They are experiential and authoritative, and they don't pummel you with a conservation sermon. The message is subtle, and it accentuates the relationship between sport hunting and conservation.

Someday I hope to see an article in Quail Forever about the great quail hunting in Arkansas. That will take some time and some hard work, but it's coming, and Arkansas bird hunters can help bring it about by joining Quail Forever.

Meanwhile, these articles have me thinking about doing a cross-continent bird hunting tour next autumn.

Sports on 09/27/2018

Print Headline: Articles a treat for bird hunters

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