The country’s largest gathering of pheasant-hunting enthusiasts opens today in central Iowa. The 2010 National Pheasant Fest runs through Sunday at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. Mike Schmitz of Greeley is president of the Iowa Pheasants Forever State Council. He says the family-friendly event is filled with activities, educational workshops and more than 900 exhibitors.
Schmitz says kids can shoot lazers, archery and do mock hunts, while a variety of outdoor vendors will be represented, from gun makers to apparel companies to ATVs and 40 breeds of bird dogs. Fifty-two firearms will be raffled off at Pheasant Fest, with proceeds going to purchase new public hunting and recreation areas in Iowa.
The Build a Wildlife Area program puts 100-percent of the funds raised into land acquisitions utilizing state, federal and other grants. Pheasants Forever, the Iowa DNR, Iowa County Conservation Boards and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service launched the campaign four years ago.
Since then, more than 1,000 acres have been opened to public hunting and outdoor recreation. He says that habitat land is key to providing a home for the pheasants to thrive. Schmitz says in 2007, National Pheasant Fest came to Iowa for the first time and attracted more than 25-thousand people to the event.
Single-day tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children. Weekend tickets sell for $30 and include a hat and an annual membership to Pheasants Forever. For more details, visit: “www.pheasantfest.org“.
By Janelle Tucker, KMCH, Manchester