Pheasants Forever banquet raises thousands for pheasant management

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Jason Hellie, with his son, Haden, of Whitewater, Montana, proudly holds the grand prize Browning Citori White Lightning 12 gauge shotgun raffled off at the banquet. Photo courtesy of Mike Getman

Local and non-resident upland bird hunters, landowners and others recently packed the Trade Center for an enjoyable and productive 24th Annual Central Montana Chapter of Pheasants Forever fundraising banquet.

It was an evening of many fun-filled activities including a general raffle, silent auction, bucket raffles, several shotgun raffles and a live auction. The Yogo Inn catered an excellent prime rib supper. Jason Shobe led the live auction and entertained the crowd with his splendid sense of humor, as only an experienced auctioneer who personally knows the crowd can do.

“About $16,000 will be netted from this banquet which will fund next year’s management of our Coffee Creek and Wolf Creek properties,” reported Pat Logan, Chapter treasurer.

Cathy Roberts, banquet chairman, who donates more time to this event than anyone else, said, “This banquet was another incredible success. I appreciate the members who helped with the event, and am very thankful to every business and individual that provided donations. We could not do this without their support, which is another reason to shop locally. I can’t begin to list all the businesses who contributed, but each donated item contained information about the donor, and all who attended know which businesses helped us.”

Charlie Pfau, owner of Don’s Store, who attended the banquet, added, “Bird hunters fill up at our gas stations, eat in our restaurants, stay in our hotels, pick up groceries, and buy guns, ammunition and gear from my store. Like many businesses in Lewistown, mine largely depends on public access for recreation. The two Pheasants Forever properties are highly utilized by local and visiting hunters who contribute immensely to our economy. It’s great to have these properties with quality habitat that I can direct hunters to when they can’t find other places to hunt and they really appreciate it.”

Tony Brown, owner of Doc’s, also talked about how business at his restaurant increased when the pheasant season opened.

The Pheasants Forever properties were acquired and are managed for upland gamebird habitat and to provide public access for hunting, but the comments from Charlie and Tony suggest there is an economic benefit of the Chapter’s efforts also. The question is, how much?”

The report “Statewide Estimates of Resident and Nonresident Hunter and Angler Expenditures in Montana,” prepared in 2014 by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, estimates the average expenditure per day of pheasant hunting is $84.11 for residents and $362.52 for non-residents.

Chapter President Craig Roberts, who keeps close tabs on hunting use on these properties, has determined that “each year about 500 hunters sign in to hunt the Coffee Creek property and I expect the use on the Wolf Creek property to be similar, although signing in isn’t a requirement there. These sign-in sheets also show that 67 percent of the hunters are residents and 33 percent are non-residents.”

This data allows for the calculation of the local economic benefits of the Chapter managing these properties for public access by multiplying the user days times the economic value of a day pheasant hunting, amounting to a staggering $175,985.

This is another example of how, when hunters and businesses work together, great things happen. For the hunter, a contribution results in a well-managed property they can hunt. Businesses that contribute to the Chapter’s fund-raising banquet are ensuring hunters come and spend money locally, which is also a benefit to themselves.

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