As the mornings become crisp, the days shorten and warm layers are brought from the back of the closet to the front shelves. For many, that means long johns and camouflage to accompany wool socks and warm boots, as September holds the dates of many hunting opener days.
Pheasants Forever is a non-profit wildlife habitat conservation group with a chapter in the Williston area. In an effort to raise funds for local habitat management and support for youth hunters, the MonDak Pheasants Forever is hosting their annual banquet at the Raymond Center on Sept. 30.
Being the largest in the area, this Pheasants Forever event is expecting over 600 people in attendance. With games, live and silent auctions, kids and adult raffles and supper, this banquet is an affair for outdoorsmen young and old. Over 100 firearms will be given out including a Veterans gun, kids guns and a benefit gun.
A portion of funding from these events goes to the corporate Pheasants Forever, but much of it stays local. The chapter gives money to the Coyote Clay Target League every year to help them fund their activities and buy firearms and ammunition.
“We are always looking for opportunities to spend money locally,” said MonDak chapter president Jeremy Stahowiak. “By partnering with local ranchers or landowners to improve the habitat of their land.”
Stahowiak says a struggle that the group has is finding landowners who are open to enrolling in some of the projects that Pheasants Forever offers in habitat conservation and improvement.
“We’d like to keep more of the donations local, but we ourselves are not landowners,” Stahowiak said. “We really need local landowners to entertain the idea of allowing Pheasants Forever to come and help improve the habitat for birds and other wildlife on their land. That’s our biggest roadblock, really.”
Known mostly for their big annual banquet, MonDak Pheasants Forever hosts other events throughout the year. They put on a youth shoot in the summer, open to kids aged 4-18 to come and shoot at their age level. In the spring, the group does a seed giveaway to support wildlife habitat. Last year, they provided corn, sorghum, soybean and the option of food plot mixes for purchase. In the winter, they do a “gun grab” event similar to a smaller scale banquet. All of this in an effort of enhancing the land for current and future generations of hunters and conservationists, birds, pollinators and all wildlife.
“The way that Pheasants Forever looks at land improvement is all encompassing,” Stahowiak said. “It's not just about pheasants, it's really just improving habitat for everybody and everything.”
For more information on the MonDak chapter or to purchase tickets for the Sept. 30 banquet, visit the MonDak Chapter 619 Pheasants Forever Facebook page.