By Bret “T-Bone” Amundson
WHO NEEDS SOUTH DAKOTA?
Governor Mark Dayton addressed the 300+ attendees at the Governor’s Pheasant Opener Banquet at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall with one clear message: Who needs South Dakota?
South Dakota may stake it’s claim as the premiere pheasant hunting destination, but Minnesota held it’s own this weekend. A quick scan across a swath of prairie grass revealed numerous orange vests with pointy tail feathers jutting out the sides.
Each group that left “camp” on the lawn of SMSU returned at noon with birds in hand. Governor Dayton didn’t quite get lucky, but plenty of birds were cleaned by a couple of (un) lucky volunteers.
Hunters from all walks of life were seen afield. Action Track Chairs were crawling across the landscape. Big dogs, small dogs, retrievers and pointers all weaved back and forth, sniffers to the ground.
Despite the warm and dry conditions, plenty of birds were flushed. In fact enough birds were flushed to make you forget that you were in Minnesota.
Governor Dayton started the Governor’s Pheasant Opener last year after a couple years of being prodded by Rep. Collin Peterson. Peterson took Dayton out to the Montevideo area 3 years ago and did a little arm-twisting. In the relatively short time, it’s clear that this event is here to stay.
An entertaining Governor took to the podium Friday night, aimed across the border to the west and let ‘er rip with both barrels. Saying “why should South Dakota get all the credit? Pheasants don’t know where the border is.” The line of the night may have been his suggestion that if he doesn’t bag a bird, then maybe one can be dropped from a helicopter nearby for him.
Although a close second was when the Governor thought that people there cared more who the DNR Commissioner was than the Governor, pointing to DNR Commish Tom Landwehr and referencing Landwehr’s comments earlier about the need for more pheasant habitat saying, “Tom if you’re for grass, then I’m for grass… maybe we should clarify what kind of grass we’re talking about”.
Collin Peterson’s message to the crowd was the need to find a way to stop destroying habitat. The need for big sections for wildlife as small acreage of CRP won’t do it, because predators will clean out any birds in the area. The larger tracts of wild are needed to give pheasants, ducks and other wildlife enough area to avoid becoming lunch.
It was also announced that next year’s Governor Open will be held in Madelia.
by Bret “T-Bone” Amundson