In January of 2021, Sharon Heinemann decided 20 years was enough. She announced she was shutting down her web-based service, Game Bird Central, which helped gamebird businesses buy, sell and locate eggs, chicks, mature birds and equipment. Heinemann and her husband Steve have been operating Prairie Hill Gamebirds even longer with a specialization of furnishing birds to some of the nation’s top field-trialing organizations. This specialization began with supplying birds to the German Shorthaired Pointer Club of America Nationals, a customer they retain still today.
Not long after, Heinemann began helping connect friends in the industry who were looking for birds or who were looking to sell them. Her efforts grew so she launched the website known ever since as Game Bird Central. Over the more than two decades since, Heinemann has operated the service with one commitment – to treat everyone equitably.
“Game Bird Central would never have worked if I had played favorites. People knew they could contact me and I’d do my best to help them,” Heinemann said. “But 20 years was a long time, and I knew it was time to quit early this year.”
Tim Zindl of Oak Ridge Pheasant Ranch located in Watertown, Wisconsin has known Heinemann for many years and has been a frequent customer of Game Bird Central. The idea that the website would just cease to exist didn’t sit well with him, and he began to work on an idea to save it. Zindl, who chairs the North American Gamebird Foundation, spoke to NAGA President Brian Beavers about whether NAGA should acquire the website, and Beavers agreed it was a good idea. He gave Executive Director Rob Sexton the task of broaching the subject with Sharon, assuring her that NAGA would run the service in the same fashion she had. Sexton asked her to donate the website to NAGA.
“Once people heard I was shutting down the website, I had several folks interested in taking it over,” Heinemann explained. “But I felt strongly it needed to be run by an impartial organization, and NAGA fits that need perfectly.”
Heinemann agreed to work with NAGA to facilitate the transition of Game Bird Central to the organization. She also agreed to keep operating the website until April 1, 2021. This gave Beavers time to appoint a committee to oversee the transition. The NAGA Gamebird Central Committee was chaired by Mike Forsgren of Forsgren’s Pheasant Farm of Pelican Rapids, Minnesota. Sarah Pope of MacFarlane Pheasants and Andy Hairston of Little Canyon Shooting joined Beavers and Sexton on the committee.
The new webpage is www.northamericangamebird.com/naga-gamebird-central, and it operates similar to its predecessor. You need to be a member of NAGA to place an ad on NAGA Gamebird Central. Placing an ad costs $25 and it will be live on the website for one month. You do not, however, have to be a member of NAGA to see listings on NAGA Gamebird Central.
“I am really pleased that NAGA is able to provide this service to the gamebird industry,” said Beavers. “It makes me happy to see Sharon’s legacy continue. She generously donated her baby to NAGA, and we will take good care of it.”