More interested in staunch pointers and covey rises than labs and cackling roosters? Here are the many quail-specific events, exhibitors, and activities at the National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic
Don’t be fooled by the location, our 2023 National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic, held February 17-19 at the Minneapolis Convention Center in downtown Minneapolis, has plenty to appeal to die-hard quail hunters. That “Quail Classic" in the title is not just for show. In fact, there’s a ton of quail-related, quail-centric, and quail-exclusive things to do, see, and watch at this year’s event. So if you’re more interested in staunch pointers and covey rises than labs and cackling roosters, here are just a few of the many quail-specific events, exhibitors, and activities.
Working Lands for Wildlife Quail Symposium
New to the Quail Classic this year, the WLFW Quail Symposium on Friday is a must-attend for all quail fanatics, with an all-star slate of speakers. The symposium starts at 1 p.m on Friday afternoon (full agenda below) in Room 205c at the convention center. Tickets are free, but we encourage you to RSVP here if you are interested in attending.
» 1:00 Welcome and Introduction
Quail Forever’s Partnership with the USDA’s Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) Northern Bobwhite, Grasslands, and Savannas Framework with Dr. Jess McGuire: Science and Bobwhite Framework Coordinator, Quail Forever
» 1:30 Habitat. A loaded Word
Dr. James Martin: Associate Professor, University of Georgia
» 2:00 Opportunities for Quail Management in Working Landscapes
Dr. Mark McConnell: Assistant Professor of Upland Birds, Mississippi State University
» 2:30 Temperature Considerations for Quail Managers
Dr. Dwayne Elmore: Extension Wildlife Specialist, Oklahoma State University
» 3:00 Southeast Public Quail Lands: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Implementation
Dallas Ingram: State Quail Coordinator, Georgia Department of Natural Resources
» 3:30 Questions with Presenters
Also new this year for the the Quail Classic 2023, the main stage at the Minneapolis Convention Center combines conservation stakeholders and national policy issues to provide an in-depth analysis of wildlife habitat conservation efforts throughout the nation’s upland landscapes. Join us for special presentations with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Farmer of the Year recipients, Congressional & USDA leadership, and conservation group CEOs. Of particular interest to quail folks will be Saturday’s forum on the 2023 Farm Bill.
Bird Dog Stage
Ronnie and Rick Smith are synonymous with both pointing dogs and being mainstays on the Bird Dog Stage. This year both star trainers are back, and their seminars will offer a wealth of valuable information for making you and your dog a better team. In addition, Josh Miller will cover the basics of training your retriever, Mike Wieben is back to talk about shed dog training, and veterinarian Seth Bynum will discuss nutrition. And new this year, Jerry Snetsinger will be demonstrating how to remove dogs from traps. These seminars will be like getting a one-on-one session with some of the best bird dog trainers in the business.
Josh Miller (SportDOG) speaking on the Bird Dog Stage.
Habitat Help Desk & Desk
Quail Forever is “The Habitat Organization” and true to that mission statement, helping landowners meet their habitat goals will take a big role in the weekend’s events. The Habitat Help Desk is an area of the show floor dedicated to helping farmers and landowners meet their conservation and habitat goals on their property.
Landowners can consult with trained wildlife biologists to gain insights into management activities, as well as what local, state and federal voluntary conservation programs may be available for their property. Additionally, there will be other opportunities to learn more about soil health, habitat management and precision agriculture. Stop by for an opportunity to see first-hand the importance of habitat diversity and management thru virtual reality, a ground-level view of how different habitat types function.
In addition, there are numerous habitat speaker topics that apply to quail, including talks on the Partners for Fish & Wildlife program, gardening for monarch butterflies, restoring quail habitat in Arkansas, making the most of your back 40, and a forum on the 2023 Farm Bill.
You can’t have quail without pollinators, and the Quail Classic’s Pollinator Pathway is the place to be to learn all about the many critical links between pollinator habitat and healthy quail numbers. The Pollinator Pathway will provide information on popular pollinator species, habitat programs being implemented to provide quality habitat for a host of grassland and wildflower-dependent species and pollinators that are important to quail, as well as lots of hands-on learning activities and technical assistance.
Learn how to provide quality habitat for a host of grassland and wildflower-dependent species at the Polliantor Pathway.
Public Lands Pavilion
Making its third appearance at Quail Classic is the Public Lands Pavilion, our stage and exhibitor area celebrating the country’s 800 million acres of prairies, forests, mountains, and public lands open to all Americans for hunting, hiking, and exploring. Some of the quail-related content includes a forum on the connection between upland birds, trout, and the shared habitat mission of Quail Forever and Trout Unlimited, public land quail coast-to-coast, and a discussion on the issue of corner crossing on public lands.
Quail Forever is the fastest growing segment of our organization with members representing the Southeastern United States, Great Plains, Desert Southwest, and Pacific Northwest. Make sure to check out the Quail Coast-to-Coast seminar on the Public Lands Pavilion stage: our panel will cover quail hunting tips and tactics for the variety of quail species across all of these geographies featuring Mark McConnell, Dr. Jessica McGuire, Chad Love, Nate Akey, Dallas Ingram, and moderated by Andy Edwards.
Quail Coast-to-Coast will occur Friday at 4pm, Saturday at 1pm and Sunday at 10am on the Public Lands Pavilion stage.
Path to the Uplands
Back by popular demand, this unique stage presented by ALPS OutdoorZ will serve as a platform for dynamic individuals to share their passion for the wide-open spaces and serenity that is provided by upland wildlife habitat. Different motivations drive our interest in these common grounds, but these presenters will aim to tell a compelling story including how they got started, why they are still connected, and inspire others to get involved.
Some of the topics relevant to quail hunters include: hunting gear basics, improving your shooting technique, owning a versatile hunting dog, planning a DIY bird hunt, and photo tips from the field.
Path to the Uplands stage speakers: Ben Brettingten (onX), Dave Miller (CZ-USA), Eric Thompson (Hard Wired Outdoors), Sam Soholt (Public Land Tees), Tina Dokken (Franchi USA), and Travis Frank (The Flush).
The Quail Classic isn’t just about bird dogs, quail habitat, and quail conservation. It’s also all about the bird hunting stuff we love to browse, and this year there is much indeed to look over. From guns to gear to destinations and every conceivable thing in between; if it relates to quail hunting or quail culture, you can find it here. Here is a by-no-means-complete list - just a taste, really – of what you can find at this year’s show.
Looking for a new quail gun? Peruse the offerings from Benelli, Beretta, Browning, Upland Gun Company, Weatherby, Mossberg, and CZ-USA. If you’re looking for a new vest, check out the options from Browning, SCHEELS, ALPS OutdoorZ, Hunt Redi, Final Rise, Chief Upland, Filson, or Orvis.
Quail hunting destinations more your game? There are a number of lodges and outfitters offering quail hunts attending the show.
Bird dogs are always a big part of the show, and if you’re interested in a new pup, started dog, or a completely new breed, there are breed clubs, breeders, breed rescue and hunt test organizations ready to answer your questions, including the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association. In addition, there are dog boxes and kennel manufacturers like Ruff Land, dog food companies such as Purina Pro Plan, collars from SportDOG Brand and a plethora of other dog-training products.
In fact, with hundreds of exhibitors packed into this year’s show, there’s literally something quail-y for everyone. The only real question with so much to choose from, is where to start?
The 2023 National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic will take place at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis on February 17-19. Tickets and more information can be found at: PheasantFest.org.