On Monday, Nov. 12, the NWTF, the local Kinzua Allegheny Chapter and Smerkar Contracting will conduct a Veterans Day Hunt at the Buckaloons, giving several veterans a wonderful opportunity to hunt pheasants over fine dogs with experienced handlers.
The hunt is on the day following Veterans Day since pheasant hunting is not allowed on Sunday.
One obstacle could be getting enough veterans to participate. This is what Giger is up to now, trying to get the word out. Ten veterans organizations just in Warren County have been contacted. Any veteran who is conveniently located is welcome, but the number of hunters is limited.
"We can accommodate 24 pheasant hunters that day," Giger said. "At this point we don't know if we're going to get two people who are interested in this, or if we're going to get 200 guys. It's their responsibility to have their own valid Pennsylvania hunting license. We'll provide ammo, handlers and dogs."
Hunting pheasants is not all there will be to this event. Robbie Anderson has hand-carved the stock of a CZ 20 gauge Mallard O/U shotgun. Anderson is a nationally-known wood carver and he has been devoted supporter of worthy causes. He has made this shotgun into a work of art that is certain to be treasured by some lucky person. The winner does not need to be present at the drawing. Only 1,000 tickets are available. Contact Giger for tickets.
"Robbie will be there all day to do wood carving demonstrations," Giger said.
Another pair of prizes that represent the highest form of outdoors art are prints by Jack Paluh. These and other things will be available to raise funds for projects of this nature.
Giger added that there are several things to do for anyone who would like to volunteer to help with the hunt.
"If you think this is something you might like, we want you involved," she said.
Anyone who wants to help, to buy tickets or if you want to be one of the hunters, contact Giger by phoning (814) 450-1614.
The Buckaloons, also sometimes called 'the bean fields', is a 100-acre open area near Irvine. It is on the Allegheny National Forest land. A habitat project was begun by a local Pheasants Forever chapter. Since that chapter disbanded, the NWTF has started its own habitat project here, working with the national forest. The NWTF has a good track record of cooperative habitat projects on the ANF.
The NWTF started habitat work At the Buckaloons about 1-1/2 years ago. They are working on 120 acres, going past the edges of the field. In the field, 35 acres are to be planted in buckwheat. Another 65 acres has been planted in warm season grasses, clovers and wild flowers.
"That just got planted in July," Giger said. "The Forest Service wants us to put in wild flowers for pollinators."
The pollinators she referred to include bees, butterflies and others.
"That'll be a great place for polts to be in the spring time. They'll be picking insects because insects are such a vital source of protein for them at that stage of life," Giger said.
She pointed out that most of the habitat work done by the NWTF benefits many species of wildlife in addition to wild turkeys. Ward season grasses, for example, provide excellent habitat for many small creatures because it grows in bunches, unlike the European grasses which have replaced most of our native grasses.
"It's no different than the 'Field of Dreams'," Giger said. "If you create the habitat they will come."
Last winter the NWTF did a 7-acre aspen cut. Aspen are short-lived trees which are replaced by other tree species in normal forest succession. By cutting occasionally, aspen stands can be maintained at a younger age which is most beneficial to specific animals.
"That's great woodcock habitat," Giger pointed out. "Deer are going to be in there munching on it. Grouse are going to be drumming on the logs."