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A Habitat Obituary

A Habitat Obituary

Pheasants Forever’s Anthony Hauck posted a great tribute to his favorite slough, which sadly is no more. It got me thinking about another conservation failure. One I experienced firsthand.

The gently rolling hills in central Pennsylvania were replete with switch grass, and it wasn’t uncommon for my father and I to flush two dozen pheasants—real, honest to God wild pheasants—in a single afternoon.

Hardwoods surrounded the fields and thrived with ruffed grouse. If you walked deep enough into the trees, you’d discover a swamp teeming with wood ducks in October and mallards and blacks by Thanksgiving.

The nearby, soft earth also held an ample supply of woodcocks, which arrived like clockwork as soon as the leaves began to turn.

It’s the spot that made me a bird hunter for life. And, while I would’ve done anything to save it, today you’d never know it once provided such wonderful habitat. It’s been heavily developed, and the remaining land is farmed fence-to-fence. To this point I’ve been too bitter to write about it. Hauck too has experienced this emotion, but his blog post suggests adopting a healthier attitude:

"Seems like a good time to blame. To throw hands up in the air and do nothing. But it’s as good a time as any to try and make a difference. Before somebody else’s favorite slough runs out of time."

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