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Perham Sportsman's Club forms

Sportsman's Club board members, from left, Craig Swanson, Nick Adamczyk, Frank Vorderbruggen, Wayne Enger (standing in back), Steve "Gabby" Gabbard and Randy Vroman. Not pictured is Jim Johnson.

There's a new fraternity for those who love the outdoors: The Perham Sportsman's Club.

"A group that keeps our outdoor passion alive," is how President Craig Swanson describes the new organization.

Actually, the club was reorganized from a similar group of outdoors enthusiasts which had been inactive.

"We are all things to all sportsmen," said Craig Swanson, one of the founders of the official, non-profit organization. "From shooting, fishing, hunting, trapping, and management of habitat to youth programs."

The group, led by a seven member board, is considering buying property for various club projects and purposes. Youth education, conservation and self-funded projects are among the goals.

"My goal is that, when my sons are in college, they can come home and fish in the morning, hunt pheasants in the afternoon, and go deer hunting in the late afternoon," said Swanson.

The group is also planning to build a clubhouse, and an indoor and outdoor Archery range. They are looking at 34 acres, southwest of Perham, according to Swanson.

A long range rifle range is planned. The group released 2,000 pheasants this summer and plans to raise and release 10,000 next summer.

"It started with a personal project to raise pheasants. A couple of guys helped me out, and the idea of a club grew and grew," said Swanson. "The more you talk, the more the dreams grew. It grew so much; there was no turning back. There wasn't a grand plan--it just sort of evolved."

The Sportsman's Club recognizes that Perham is the center of some of this state's finest outdoor recreational opportunities, noted Swanson. Perham is located in a unique geographic location. Lakes, streams and forests are mixed within the prairie landscape. This diverse landscape is what encourages more and more people to live, work and vacation in the Perham area. Many opportunities exist within a few miles for those who seek the outdoors.

The club recognizes that outdoor recreational opportunity is not a guarantee and can never be taken for granted.

Habitat is actually improving in some respects.

Perham once had a large population of pheasants, but farming practices changed and there wasn't sufficient habitat.

"Now, we have a lot of land in CRP (a land conservation program that takes land out of ag production), so the habitat is coming back," said Swanson.

One farming practice can actually help wildlife. With the amount of irrigation in the area, there are four corners on every irrigated field that are not cultivated--which provides habitat for pheasants.

Predator control is an area the club will focus on--in particular skunks and racoons, who prey on ground-nesting birds like ducks and pheasants.

If you release pheasants in an area that is overpopulated with predators, it won't make any difference about whether or not you have habitat.

"Nobody traps predators. The trappers are growing old and dying off," said Swanson.

"All of the activities that were available to our fathers or grandfathers are still available to us today," states the club's literature. "But time changes all things and sportspeople have learned to adapt to those changes. In Perham, we do not hunt ducks like we used to. Yet, we have more deer than at any time in history. Pheasants do not exist in great numbers, but grouse and turkey are abundant."

Monthly programs will range from topics such as how to butcher deer, how to cook venison, how to remove Y-bones from a northern, how to make food plots work, predator control, new products and demos.

"Most of us have common goals and ideas. We will not all agree on the details by which we choose to recreate in the outdoors, but we should all agree to support healthy and diverse wildlife and fish populations to hunt, view and enjoy. Our land, times, and hunting practices continue to change, and we have a desire to adapt with the change. We seek to enhance, preserve and bring new experiences to our area," states the Sportsman's Club literature.

"We exist without prejudice. Shooting sports, archery, fishing, bird-watching, and trapping are all inclusive."


Sportsman's Club officers a diverse group

The new Perham Sportsman's Club board was selected very strategically.

The intent was to assemble a board with a diverse interest in the outdoors, according to President Craig Swanson.

Frank Vorderbruggen: He's the "gun guy," who has extenisve knowledge with rifles.

Randy Vroman: A trapper, with an understanding of predator control.

Wayne Enger: The "habitat guy."

James Johnson: The "fish guy."

Nick Adamczyk: Representing outdoors retail, of Gene's Sport Shop, and youth advocate.

Steve "Gabby" Gabbard: Archery and bowhunting enthusiast.


Sportsman's Club plans projects

•Raise and release pheasants

•Build a long range rifle range

•Build indoor and outdoor archery range

•Build a clubhouse for social aspects of the club and allow the other outdoor/game organizations to use it

•Predator control and education

•Indoor gun range - handgun, rim fire, air rifle - all guns

•Wildlife habitat education

•Game fair

•Ice fishing big event

•Dog education, training

•Gunsmithing contacts

•Joint efforts with fishing clinics