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Quail Unlimited closes shop

Quail Unlimited, the nations largest quail conservation organization has disbanded. Based in Edgefield, S.C., it has shut its doors. Assets are a warehouse on 75 acres of rural land. At one time, Quail Unlimited had 50,000 members and did good habitat work, with members in many states, particularly in the south, but as for north as the prairie Midwest. It was quite active in Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska.

Quail Unlimited lost members when Minnesota based Pheasants Forever organized a splinter group, naming it Quail Forever. Since PF is large, it overshadowed Quail Unlimited, and QF now has thousands of members and chapters.

Some Quail Unlimited members complained about the start-up of Quail Forever, seemingly forgetting that there was room for both beneficial groups. Now quail habit and promotion of it rests with the newer Quail Forever. It is a growing organization, thanks to Pheasants Forever chapters.

Concealed Carry permitted

in National Parks

If you have, for your personal safety and protection, secured the necessary concealed carry permit, you can now take your handgun into a National Parks.

Concealed guns are now allowed in such places as Yellowstone and Glacier National Park. Only guards, bank messengers or other persons, who carried or transported sums of money, particularly at night, once practiced concealed carry.

Now a great many citizens are packing heat, unbeknownst to anyone on the street. Loaded and concealed guns are now quite common, with smaller more lightweight versions popular. If you take the necessary training that will teach familiarization and marksmanship, concealed carry is now the way to go.

The Firearms Freedom Act

More than a dozen states have enacted legislation that covers gun owners with the protection of

the Firearms Freedom Act. The act declares that any arms made in those states are beyond the authority of the U.S. Congress.

This is important to firearms making states such as New York, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Wyoming. These and other states have the armories that make military and sporting firearms. Colt and Smith & Wesson were big leaders in getting this act passed.

Minnesota Crows

They're back in good numbers -- a sure sign of spring. Minnesota's split crow season is in the month of March and again from July 15 to Oct. 15. With snow on the ground you'll need to wear white coveralls and keep the shotgun down and out of sight while you lure the black rascals into shooting range.

Some hunters are good when using a mouth blown crow call. I've always had good luck with a Johnny Stewart electronic call using a tape or now digital. They cost about $350 and are well worth that.

Crow shooting is a very good way to develop wingshooting skills. When a crow responds to your call and spread out decoys, they appear to be an easy target, but they have a practice of tricky aerial maneuvers, more so than ducks, and certainly pheasants. The range will usually be short. A 30-yard shot is usually average, but there are occasions when they'll hang back and just will not come in. In-such a case you'll need to stop and determine the cause. Crows are wary and can spot if something is wrong quickly.

Probably the best shotgun for taking crows over decoys is a 12 gauge semi-automatic. However, I've taken to a 20 gauge Benelli Montefeltro, at six pounds. Light loads are very satisfactory and number 6 or 7 1/2 shot is what you want.

Crows are intelligent and cunning. They have flight paths and they have communal roosts. They like dense woods, adjacent to farm fields or dairy, beef, or poultry farms. They'll eat about anything but are very fond of carrion. If you can get the offal of animals butchered at a farm, the smellier the better, will lure them in. But a call and decoys work too.

Local crow shooting enthusiasts are out now in this first, short run. Time was when one could gun crows year round, but in difference to some of the native tribes of Mexico, who revere and worship the crow, the Congress established seasons. Secretary Of State Henry Kissinger, back in the Nixon days, was instrumental in getting crow hunting curbed.

Dick Johanssen is perhaps Detroit Lakes' principal crow hunting specialist, taking many birds when seasons are open.

Think spring; think snow geese

During the months of March and April, snow geese are making their way to the far north breeding grounds. Continuing the effort to reduce their numbers, which were destroying their own habitat, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service continues to promote taking these birds in the spring. We do not have the numbers that the Dakotas have, but there is often some pretty good hunting in West Central Minnesota.

Better still, is going into North Dakota. Tim Kjos, who ranches near Kulm, N.D. told me recently that they're at his ranch in the many thousands. He also said that he and his neighbor ranchers welcome hunters, and usually invite hunters to go at it after they secure permission to hunt on their lands.

Camo is critical -- snows have a sixth sense about hidden hunters. Well-concealed pits are an effective way to hunt. Field hunting is preferred to hunting on water, because snows become inaccessible, concentrating in huge flocks.

Snow geese like to come from roosts to stubble fields, digging for grain under the snow. Fields are becoming uncovered now, and this will get better.

Hunting success often depends upon placing hundreds of decoys, on fields where you've seen geese the afternoon before. Of course, you put out the decoys early in the morning darkness. Success in this goose hunting is always hard work, but the furious action at daylight is thrilling and is considered worth the trouble. West central Minnesota is at the extreme east edge of the area where the northern migration occurs. South Dakota's snow goose hunting is already underway with lots of birds coming through.

Fog is great and it is quite common. It adds to your concealment. The arrival and the density of bird numbers depends upon the snow melt.