Local conservationist gets young people outdoors

Quail Forever teaches youth the importance of improving natural habitats

Thurman Tucker
Thurman Tucker

Hunting is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a positive outlook for inner-city kids, but, upon reflecting, it does make a world of sense. After all, it’s a cultural component that, at one time was an everyday part of Black life in the country, yet one more tradition that eventually went by the wayside with migrating north to urban America.

“It’s still done in parts of the south. I did it, my father did it, my grandfather did it,” says Minnesota Quail Forever (www.mnquailforever.org) state coordinator Thurman Tucker, “But, not nearly as much as in the past.”

The sport, as Tucker sees it, is a constructive pastime that’s about, among other things, character building and positive socializing. You can, for one, certainly see it in the light that coaching youth how to handle firearms in nature is a great deal better than letting them wind up learning to shoot at each other in the street.

“I am from [Mississippi],” Tucker notes, “and got my interest in wildlife and quail at a young age on my grandfather’s farm. I believe more young people need to be exposed to the outdoors, and I believe this experience will add more balance to their lives.” He has worked with students at North High for The Metro Quail Forever Chapter and with the Southeast chapter “to help these young people get outdoors.”

In this day and age of texting, twittering and otherwise communicating while being detached from actual, personal interaction, part and parcel of hunting is an age-old value, friends enjoying companionship, immersed in the great outdoors while they’re at it. Along with that comes, it practically goes without saying, the proverbial fish tales. Tucker has a humorous recollection of one that got away. A rabbit he and his brothers once had drawn down on with woeful marksmanship. “There were the twelve of us. All shooting. Every single one of us missed.”

An abiding imperative, Quail Forever’s mission states, is “the conservation of quail, pheasants and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land management policies and programs.” The membership base isn’t only hunters; it includes farmers, ranchers, landowners, conservation enthusiasts, bird watchers and Minnesota youth.

“Those that get to know our organization quickly learn that a bond exists between us and we are all deeply committed to improving habitat so that many species can make a comeback in our state and be enjoyed by all for generations to come.” He adds, “Increased efforts by conservation organizations like Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have helped, but we have a long way to go.

“Our team, and the biologists that support our organization, believe that the greatest impact can be made by education.” Thurman continues, “Education for landowners, farmers and anyone living near to open prairie land near to woodland edges and small forests. It doesn’t take a 200-acre farm dedicated to conservation to make a difference. Truly, many small projects in a close community can have a bigger impact than many understand.”

The first nature group Thurman Tucker established was called Bobwhite Quail Society. Then came We’re Taking Care of Nature (WTCN). He manned a booth for years at the Minnesota State Fair where he recruited visitors and asked them to send reports of quail sightings.

He started the first Quail Forever Chapter in Minnesota headquartered in Caledonia, and then went to the Cities and started the Second Quail Forever Chapter, known as the Metro QF Chapter. He still does Bobwhite Quail Field Day as an annual event, hosts quarterly landowners/habitat meetings, has organized a Quail Habitat Seminar and attends a field educational seminar in Missouri every summer, his priority is to encourage good land stewardship.

Thurman was, by the way, Quail Forever/Pheasants Forever Volunteer of the Year 2013 and remains enthusiastically committed to involving youngsters. Thurman’s passion has been working with different youth groups, educating and hands-on experience. He has worked with the different schools organizing field trips, educational sessions and field work excursions.

His goal is to educate and maintain interest in the outdoors. They have built Quail feeders and assisted him in emergency feedings. “We need adult volunteers to help with this effort.”

Toward this end, he wholeheartedly invites interested individuals to join him the last Tuesday of each month at Northeast Bank, 77 Broadway St. NE in Minneapolis on the lower level in the Walter Rasmussen Room. He’ll gladly provide further information about the meetings and organization and can be reached at wtcn.nature@gmail.com.

 

Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.