The 2013 Pheasant Opener is in the books. How’d it go for you?
Fortunately for me, I wasn’t out for a bag limit today. It would have been nice, but once the corn comes off and the weather pushes the birds into the heavier cover, I’ll be out every day trying to fill the freezer. The event I attended in Madelia was to celebrate the tasty import and continue the push for more habitat so we can grow the population-and the popularity-of pheasants.
This marked year three of the Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener, an annual gathering started by Governor Dayton in Montevideo/Watson in 2011. Like before, there was a public land dedication at this year’s event, giving hunters another option for walking-and more importantly more habitat for the birds.
Despite the rare October thunderstorm that worked my windshield wipers into a frenzy, I enjoyed my drive to Madelia. I traveled through Granite Falls and Redwood Falls, through the Upper Sioux Agency area along the Minnesota River. The scenic route was a pleasant surprise.
I arrived at the Madelia Golf Course for a round of sporting clays. You heard that correctly, they had sporting clays set up on the fairways of the course. In fact, Bill Sherck and I used a golf cart to move from station to station. My trusty Beretta strapped into the bag holder along side Bill’s new toy, a 1930s Parker side by side.
What kind of meal would you expect at a pheasant opener dinner? If you said steak and chicken kabobs, you’d be the winner. It was an adventurous offering that included couscous and hummus. (At least I think that’s what I was told.) But the gigantic tent full of hunters walked away full and happy.
We got a sneak peek at the new critical habitat license plates that will be available November 1st:
Rumors of a duck plate coming next were swirling….
Ron Schara’s Raven and my lab Mika started out Saturday morning together with a little stretching at the hotel before we got started. Then it was off to our chosen field.
I had the chance to pick the brain of a couple DNR guys like Southern Region Wildlife Manager Ken Varland, a 29 year veteran of the Minnesota DNR. In between hen flushes, I learned about types of grass and how the land we hunted had been crops not too long ago. Now it was a flourishing prairie, holding a large number of whitetail deer, pheasants and other wildlife.
There may have only been 2 roosters out of the dozen birds we flushed, but it was nice to see land get converted to crp in this day and age of high commodity prices.
We also had the chance to be a part of a new public land dedication. More public land available for wildlife in the spring and hunters in the fall.
The announcement was also made that Worthington would be the host of the 2014 Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener. Hopefully we have a short winter and an easy spring, so we can knock down a few roosters next year.