Jim Stauft, California
California's Jim Stauft knows the importance of improving habitat for widlife.
Hometown: Rohnert Park, Calif.
Home Chapter: Petaluma Poults Chapter in Petaluma, Calif.
Notable Fact: Jim is the president of the Petaluma Poults Chapter and serves on the California state board. He stays active working with youth and doing conservation and habitat work through the NWTF, California Fish and Game, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, California Wild Fowl Association and California Deer Association.
NWTF: Jim, how did you get started in hunting?
JS: My grandparents passed the hunting tradition down to my parents, and my parents passed it down to me.
NWTF: What did it mean for you as a child to be able to hunt with your parents?
JS: Oh, it was very exciting! There was a social aspect to it and quite a bit of camaraderie. The adults got us involved in target shooting, trapping, fishing and just being in the outdoors in general. They also taught us to be true stewards of the land.
NWTF: Jim, I hear you are an accomplished bow hunter.
JS: Yes ma'am. I've hunted on every continent, but I haven't hunted in Russia.
NWTF: How is turkey hunting different when you hunt with a bow?
JS: It's definitely a lot more challenging, that's for sure. It is very gratifying to tag a turkey I have taken with a bow. I have to incorporate different calling techniques and have limit my movement.
NWTF: How was turkey season for you this spring?
JS: Fantastic! California's turkey season opens to youth one week prior to the start of the regular season, which has really increased youth hunters' odds of success over the years. A Petaluma Poults Chapter member and I took 22 youth hunting this past spring, and 21 of them had successful hunts.
NWTF: In addition to working with youth, you invest a lot of hours doing habitat work.
JS: Yes. Last year alone, I did 374 hours of habitat work.
NWTF: Tell us about some of your habitat work.
JS: I farm for wildlife, which includes preparing the land and the soil to accept seed, plus mowing, disking, planting and fertilizing.
In the Foley Canyon area, summers are extremely hot so a lot of ground water disappears. The ground water that is left is not palatable for wildlife because the area was heavily mined at one time and the mercury level in the water is too high. I recently helped install an extensive water drinking system in the Foley Canyon area and now help maintain that system. We have close to 35 cultivated acres in Foley Canyon where we worked to eradicate non-native vegetation there that produces no food or shelter for wildlife. Now we have wild pigs and bear that had never been seen in the area before enjoying the fresh, cool water there.
We are also doing telemetry work and releasing turkeys in the Knoxville Wildlife Area in northern California. We wanted to prove that once nuisance turkeys are relocated to a wildlife area, they will not return to urban areas. We found those turkeys to be very content to be in the wildlife area. It has been rewarding to see the turkey population increase in the Knoxville Wildlife Area and to see increased hunter access there, too.
NWTF: What drives you to invest so much of your time in habitat work?
JS: Being able to be outdoors and toil in the soil, so to speak. A hunter came up to me last year and said, "God bless you for helping hunters with all the habitat work you do." It is so gratifying to have another hunter thank you for the work you're doing.
NWTF: Why do you continue to support the NWTF?
JS: The NWTF's goal is to make sure that hunters and non-hunters alike get to continue to enjoy outdoor activities. The NWTF is committed to seeing that our hunting heritage continues. I'm very proud to be an NWTF member. Of all the organizations I belong to, the NWTF is head and shoulders above the rest.