Scott Rall: Local hospitality at its best at Governor's Opener
BY SCOTT RALL
The Globe outdoors columnist
The Minnesota pheasant season is less than one month away and starts on October 13. This will be my 44th pheasant hunting opener effort.
There is a certain level of anticipation every year. This year is no different. The roadside count numbers are out and the state is up 19 percent statewide. This may be true for the state, but in the southwest corner of Minnesota my experience of wildlife watching does not show an increase.
If there are many birds, there are many hunters, and in years with less birds there are less hunters. I will hunt anyway, regardless of the current populations. I get to watch my dogs work and this is the best part of the hunt. Eating pheasants is great table fare, but I won’t starve if I don’t get many.
For the last seven years and this year as well, I have been spending time at the Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener. They have been held in Montevideo, Marshall, Mankato, Madelia, and in Worthington in 2014. This year it is going to be in Luverne.
Our neighbors to the west have been planning the event for almost a year and I am more than a little excited to attend.
The event is designed to attract media types to the community and highlight their unique offerings in both the hunting world and also in the business community.
The event normally generates about $850,000 in free media coverage to the town that hosts it. The invited guests are newspaper reporters, outdoor columnists, blog writers and radio personalities. There are even some television outlets that will also be there.
They are all there to participate in the hunt and then write a story about their adventure. Many of the hunters have very little hunting experience, so there are not very many birds harvested during the three-hour hunt on the Saturday opener.
The hunt takes place on private lands so no locals are displaced by the governor’s invitees crowding out other hunters on public lands. I know the sub-committee is still looking for a few extra places to hunt for this event, so if you have any land in Rock County or the west edge of Nobles County please give Rick Peterson a call at 507-290-0924.
The landowner that allows hunters on their land for just a few hours on Saturday gets two free tickets to the big Friday night banquet to be held at the Grand Prairie Events center in downtown Luverne. They also get their name in the hat for several $500 gift certificates. A pretty good deal overall.
The production in Luverne might be the very best Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener ever. They have been working really hard to showcase both the event and their community. They have a few events and productions that have not been offered by all of the other host communities.
They will be having the Gould Brothers in town with a trick shooting exhibition. They are two brothers who are some of the best shotgunners in North America. I have seen them several times and can’t wait to see them again. They are doing their thing on Saturday afternoon.
There is also a bird dog parade on Saturday afternoon as well. On Friday night after the banquet they have the band “The Church of Cash” playing the Take 16 Brewery. They will be playing again Saturday afternoon for a while as well.
There will be some tickets for sale to the Friday night banquet, and if you would like one you can call the same number that was listed earlier. You will need to do this early as the event will be sold out long before the event date.
One of the things I enjoy the most is the reconnection I get to many folks who are kingpins of conservation in Minnesota. DNR commissioner Tom Landwehr and his second in command, Dave Shad, and many other agency personnel will be there. I learn a lot from these folks each and every time we get together. There will be representation from all of the major conservation groups as well. There will be lots of interaction with like-minded people.
I have lots of friends who are planning on staying in Luverne on Saturday night as well. Hopefully the weather will cooperate, but if it doesn’t it will still be a good time.
It will also be announced where this event will be held next year.
I heard from a little bird that there were five communities that have never hosted the event before which have all submitted applications for 2019. So it will be interesting to see where I will be going next year.
You should mark your calendar and attend the open to the public events in Luverne. They are going to do this up right. I just know it.