Hunting & Heritage  |  12/28/2023

New Year's Resolutions, Upland Style


By Andy FondrickPhotos by Logan Hinners

Top 6 goals for the upcoming year to benefit both hunters and critical upland habitat

As the holiday season winds down and we usher in a new year, there is no better time than now to start dreaming about what 2024 has in store.

The excitement of turning the page and a new year ahead has many people already planning their New Year’s resolutions to better themselves in a variety of ways. That got me thinking, what are a set of goals for an upland hunter to aspire to achieve in 2024?

While they aren’t the typical “hit the gym five days a week” or “finally get that promotion” goals many set on January 1st, I’ve come up with the top six New Year’s resolutions for an upland enthusiast to take on in 2024. This list of goals will not only help to improve your prowess as an upland hunter, but also improve the health of your local habitat and the wildlife that call it home.

1. Become a Member

By becoming a member of Pheasants Forever or Quail Forever, you are making a commitment to protecting critical habitat and the critters that call the uplands home. Whether it’s hunting gamebirds or enjoying monarch butterflies in the summertime, your membership goes a long way in ensuring these treasures are there to enjoy now, and in the future.

If you are already a member, you can make an even greater impact by upgrading your membership or recruiting someone new to join the organization. Remember, more Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever members equal more acres of habitat, more birds, and more public lands to hunt. 



2. Join a Pheasants Forever or Quail Forever Chapter

Many people’s New Year’s Resolutions include bettering their community or giving back to a worthy cause close to their hearts. Others are looking for a group to connect with and bond over a common passion. By joining a local Pheasants Forever or Quail Forever chapter, you can accomplish both! 

Chapter members are key to delivering our organization’s habitat mission across the country and ensuring that healthy habitat is abundant for upland wildlife. These groups are critical cogs in the creation of localized initiatives and permanently protected habitat. 

Your involvement with a local chapter can foster deep friendships and a sense of community while enjoying pint nights, habitat field days, banquets, rewarding youth initiatives, and much more. 



3. Work Your Bird Dog More Consistently

Many hunters find themselves getting ready for opening day and come to realize it’s been months since their bird dog has gotten their nose on a bird or worked a stretch of native grass. By setting a goal to get out and work your bird dog throughout the course of the year, you can be confident they will be ready for that first morning. 

Utilize your public lands (be sure to follow local regulations depending on the time of year) and bring along a bumper to work on retrieves. Work on scent training by planting bumpers or an old rag covered in bird scent before taking your four-legged friend for a routine walk. 

You can also try joining a local training club or group like North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA). This can be a great way to meet other dog owners or trainers looking to better their dogs as well.

Young puppies or a seasoned bird dogs alike, will benefit from dedicating time to work on creating good habits year-round, leading to better days afield.


4. Plant Habitat of Your Own

Whether you have a large chunk of property to work with or a small city lot, your New Year’s Resolution can help provide better habitat in your area. 

Food plots or the planting of winter cover on large properties can help your local birds to make it through difficult weather events or harsh winters. 

Living in the city? Planting a backyard pollinator plot can be a sanctuary for bumble bees or butterflies who rely on those plants to survive. Every little piece of habitat created for birds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife goes a long way in their survival, and it can provide hours of entertainment for you and your friends or family to enjoy.



5. Dedicate More Time to Enjoying the Uplands

Take advantage of the off season by scouting your local hunting area with a camera and take photos to last a lifetime. Double dip on our list of New Year’s Resolutions by getting out and working your bird dog as mentioned in goal number three. Take up snowshoeing or cross-country skiing when the snow gets too deep and bundle up for a whole new adventure. Hunt other species that you may not have tried in the past. More time in the field means more experience to tap into when chasing uplands birds in the fall.

Public lands are open year-round, so get out and explore!


6. Introduce Someone New to the Uplands

You have a passion for the outdoors, you have the gear and the knowledge to share, now it’s time to expand your impact and introduce someone new to the uplands!

This resolution provides a lifetime of memories for someone who may not have the ability to get started on their own, but may also be one of the most rewarding things an outdoor enthusiast can do.

Maybe you start small and introduce one friend who has shown interest in your bird dog in the past, or maybe you go all in and set a goal to introduce as many new hunters to the uplands as you can in 2024 – Podcast Ep. 97: Mentoring Ten Hunters with PF Biologist Emily Spolyar



Bonus – HUNT MORE!

Each of the previous resolutions are geared to making you a better upland hunter or habitat creator, but this is the most universal goal for bird hunters, so make it happen in 2024!

Now is the perfect time to start planning your next hunting season. Maybe it’s a dream hunting adventure to a new state, or simply the desire to get explore your local uplands more frequently than you did the past year.

Can’t wait that long to put up more birds? No need to wait until next season. There’s still time to get out and follow your bird dog in 2024 across parts of the country, so pack up the truck and kick off the new year behind your favorite bird dog!

Andy Fondrick is the digital marketing coordinator for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. When he's not at work, Andy is likely chasing waterfowl and upland birds behind his Black Lab Kona or enjoying whatever sport is currently in season.