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Tuesday, 24 October 2017 08:55

Hunters of a feather flock together for Taber Pheasant Festival

Written by  Demi Knight
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Hunters participate in the biggest hunting event of the year at the 2016 Taber Pheasant festival. Hunters participate in the biggest hunting event of the year at the 2016 Taber Pheasant festival. Alberta Conservation Society

Canada’s biggest hunting festival is back for its seventh year, along with a lavish culinary affair.


The Taber Pheasant Festival makes it’s seventh appearance this October 21- 28 and has hunters across the province excited to be in attendance once again.
Vice President of ACA, Ken Kranrod says this week-long festival is a great event not only for hunters but also to stress the importance of conservation throughout Alberta and the role that these hunters play in it.
“It’s a great event for hunters to attend because it showcases the importance of hunting and how it relates to conservation, agriculture and economics.”
“Hunters and anglers really drive conservation,” added Kranrod of why this festival is such a great event for the community. “The fact is that we do not and can not do it alone. We rely on a vast amount of partnership with other conservation organizations, hunters, anglers, local businesses and private landowners and individuals to make conservation possible across the province.”
As the cool fall winds blow, the leaves fall crisply from trees, the town of Taber readies itself for the biggest event of the year, the ACA rejoices in a hunting extravaganza that sky rockets conservation efforts and people’s understanding of these necessities not just across the communities involved but throughout the entire province.
The week-long festival which was initiated in Southern Alberta in 2010 by the ACA, has since gained popularity and earned the name of the country’s biggest annual hunting event. As 5,100 birds are released across 40 different locations throughout the municipal districts of Taber, hunters rejoice in the opportunity to fine tune their skills, enjoy the company of other like-minded people and show off their talents.
With novice hunts running throughout the weekend on October 21-22, regular hunts follow along for six days after, Kranrod says that this festival has something for everyone to enjoy.
“This is also a great event for hunters to bring kids or first-time hunters to. Since we have the novice hunts that are geared towards kids and first-time hunters. They provide a very safe introduction to pheasant hunting. They’re also a great way to show people that hunting is not what you think it is; it’s a great activity to be involved in and we show them how to be successful in it and enjoy it.”
Although all participants are encouraged to get outside and have fun, there are some rules to be followed which include any one hunter enrolled in the festival can only hunt once a day and a total of three times during the week of the festival.
These rules are put in place to keep the weekend enjoyable for everyone, especially with the growing success of southern Alberta’s largest pheasant festival.
“40 separate landowners agreed to be part of the festival and let people hunt on their land. This just reaffirms that hunting is important and also showcases partnerships involved in conservation,” says Kranrod of the event, before adding the tremendous growth and popularity this festival has seen over its seven years of being active.
“Essentially, the festival has become bigger, more established and more diverse. It still holds true to what it was in its very first year, but now we have more sites and more birds, more partnerships with land owners, many more partnerships with Alberta businesses, as well as being way better known throughout the hunting community and Alberta.”
However, it’s not just the hunting that brings hundreds towards Taber in the brisk October weather, but the lure of multiple activities taking place throughout the week for many members of the public to enjoy.
From guest speakers, demonstrations and interactive social activities to the main course of the festival’s culinary event. This fantastic addition to the festival which delights the taste buds of all that attend has local chefs Sean Cutler, Mark Ingram, and Alan Daoud cooking up some pheasant treats.
“What we were finding is during the week after the sun goes down there was kind of a lull so we wanted to add events. The Culinary Guest Chefs (culinary event) is one of most successful,” says Kranrod.
“These chefs come from Calgary and they prepare pheasants in a variety of ways and then the guests can interact with the chefs and get the recipes. It adds a whole new element and dimension to pheasant hunting that’s really great.”
With the Pheasant Festival gaining more and more traction each year, it’s not just the hunters that this festival benefits, but it also adds great economic value to the town of Taber. With its growing popularity throughout not just Alberta but bordering provinces too, the festival has gained traction on pulling in crowds from all over to get involved with the event, either through participating or through sponsorship. In fact, in the year of 2014, the event saw a large incline in input and facilitation from local businesses, organizations and resident than ever before, giving the whole festival a better sense of community and local ownership.
The year of 2014 also saw 700 hunters, where 90% were from within the province, but the remaining 10% traveled from British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and even the United States to participate in this annual affair.
As the years go on, the cultural and economic benefits to the town as well as interest and participants continues to grow.
“Local businesses really notice it on their balance sheets,” says Kranrod. “Business goes up, and now for some businesses within Taber it has become their busiest week of the year and that’s great. It’s very important to ACA, because vast majority of conservation in Alberta occurs in rural areas.”
 The 7th annual Pheasant festival returns this year on October 21st to highlight the importance of pheasant hunting and the role in plays in conservation throughout the province as well as to engage local businesses, land-owners, hunters and individuals in an event that has beneficial impacts on the economy, conservation efforts and partnerships within Alberta.

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