Pheasants not on the menu but on the mind; Annual dinner will be held Saturday

Published 10:16 am Friday, February 20, 2015

Even though hunting season isn’t near, the Pheasants Forever Chapter has not forgotten about the bird.

The 15th annual Mower County Pheasants Forever dinner will be held Saturday at the Austin Holiday Inn, with doors opening at 5 p.m. The banquet raises money for the group to either give to people hoping to make their own land more nature-friendly or to purchase land as a group.

“We invest that in either purchasing land that is amenable to raising wild animals — pheasants, deer, squirrels — you know providing a home for the wild animals that are running around,” President Arlen Schamber said.

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Schamber has been happy with the past banquet turnouts, citing about 200 people attend each year.

“We’ve been very fortunate, there are a lot of people in the area that are passionate about pheasant hunting,” he said. “That’s one outdoor sport they like to do, and they’ve seen how with habitat going away and some of the tough winters we’ve had, there just hasn’t been that many pheasants around.”

Because of these issues, the group has acquired more than 350 acres of land along U.S. Highway 218 near the Cedar River, and put in more than $1 million over the years to turn land into public hunting or habitat land.

“We have been able to achieve some pretty good results, and I think that’s why people are interested in supporting us,” Schamber said.

“We use our money wisely, I think, and we are able to do some good things with it,” he added.

Tickets are $55 for dinner and a one-year membership to the Pheasants Forever Chapter, and $20 to bring a guest. Participants are encouraged to purchase tickets beforehand or get to the event early. The dinner — which will feature Hormel VSP cured chops and vegetables — will start at 6:30 p.m., with a silent auction throughout the event and a live auction after the meal. Schamber said there will also be a number of raffles with prizes such as an archery bow and a number of shotguns. There will also be a live German Shorthair Pointer puppy at the live auction, which is a breed that does well in hunting.

“As we go through the night, various raffles are completed and winners are announced and that type of thing,” Schamber said.

The event is expected to last until a little before 10 p.m. Schamber expects a large turnout again this year.

“We’re very fortunate that the people from the community have supported us,” he said.