Wayne Crowe was one of the founders of Hancock County’s Pheasants Forever chapter and, over the years, he has served as president, banquet and habitat chairpersons.
Along with his work helping landowners, Wayne has also converted his 80-acre farm to include conservation practices, both Conservation Reserve Program and Wetlands Reserve Program land. He has hosted and organized youth and ladies hunts, donated to conservation fundraisers, spent hours planting wildlife habitat and improving upland grasses.
This year, at the state Pheasants Forever meeting, the formation of the Ohio Pheasants Forever Hall of Fame was announced. The initial class was for six members who have volunteered their time for nearly a quarter of a century.
The inductees included members from Logan, Hancock, Hardin and Seneca counties, but it was Wayne that was chosen to be the first member of these conservation heroes.
Why does Wayne work so hard?
If you ask him you won’t really get an answer. He deflects any praise toward those who have helped him over the years and to the landowners who chose to convert some of their property to benefit upland wildlife.
Real heroes do that. If it wasn’t for Wayne, I doubt that the Hancock County chapter would exist with the vitality that it does.
I also know why Wayne does it.
He loves bird dogs and has spent his lifetime walking forests and fields in their company while searching out pheasant, quail, grouse and doves. He wants others to experience what he has grown to respect and enjoy while instilling some part of his appreciation and love for wildlife in them.
He has watched wildlife habitat decline across the country and, rather than wave the white flag of defeat, he has mounted his own campaign to preserve his personal heritage.
Pheasants Forever offered the perfect avenue for this passion, building upon the philosophy that change must first occur outside your own front door.
While dogs don’t live forever, I know that Friskey and Biscuit, Wayne’s first two Brittany spaniels, are still hunting the fields with Wayne anytime he leaves his porch while their descendants tag along.
Along the Way:
Gordin Todd Walls was a young man who loved wildlife. He focused much of his time working on the family’s farm to improve wildlife habitat, an improvement he knew would increase the survival of our native animals by providing food and cover.
He enlisted the help of the Hancock County chapter of Pheasants Forever and planted warm season grasses. Todd would often make his way to the fields just to touch the grass and feel the existence of the lives he was nurturing.
Todd was also suffering from a congenital heart defect that required many surgeries and a lifetime of pain, things he sometimes had to acknowledge but that would never slow his smile or his desire to work with his habitat improvement projects.
Todd’s health was turning badly and, on Aug. 23, he asked his parents to have a bonfire overlooking the habitat he had cultivated. Family and friends came to share in the celebration of Todd’s indomitable spirit.
After the fire died, Todd was riding home with his father on an ATV when he asked to be taken to the fields he loved.
He wanted to see the grasses he had so carefully nurtured. He wanted to touch them one last time. The next day, Todd’s spirit was lifted to a higher plain.
For some, time on earth is short, but the quality of that spark cannot be extinguished.
• Today-tomorrow: Tri-State Gun Collectors Show, Allen County Fairgrounds.
• April 12: Fish Fry, So-Han-Co Sportsman’s Club, 5 p.m., 10560 Madison Township 31, Arlington.
• April 13: Ham Shoot, Fostoria United Sportsmen’s Club. Traps open at 10 a.m., 1324 U.S. 23, Fostoria.
Abrams is a retired wildlife officer supervisor for the state Division of Wildlife in Findlay. He can be reached at P.O. Box 413, Mount Blanchard, OH 45867-0413 or via email at email@example.com.
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