Riege: Anticpating the pheasant opener

Published 6:50 pm Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The pickup truck rolls along a gravel road early in the morning and crunches to a stop in a farmyard surrounded by corn, soybean fields and slough grass. The hunters crawl out of their vehicle and shake hands, greeting people with hugs and smile. The wafting smell of fresh baked bread and coffee pours from the farmhouse with the help of the screen door. The newly arrived hunters quickly unpack some items and allow their stiff-legged dogs to run free in the yard. The talk that filters from the group mentions such things as posting, pushing and what other areas look like. Jim asks “what is the ditch like down at dead end?” and Kirk asks, “Where do you want me to go?” I asked; ” if everyone had enough Remington shells this year?” In previous years some of the party discovered that opening day you have a tendency to go through more shells because of lack of practice and excitement. It is a “homecoming” the beginning of many days when friends and families reunite. The opening day of the season – any hunting or fishing season – is always a big event. In any given state we have perhaps a dozen openers for which we may participate.

But when you say, “The Opener” you must be talking about the pheasant season. I know that there are other candidates. Fishing season for trout and walleyes or bass are celebrated after months of staring at ice lock lakes. In fact, the spring “openers” take on a sort of mysticism that corresponds to the time of year. Still, every other opener falls short of the first day of pheasant season.

Governor Mark Dayton is extending a special invitation to the general public to join him in celebrating the third annual Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener on Oct. 11, and, Oct. 12, 2013, in Madelia, Minn.

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As stated in the invitation, this event honors and promotes Minnesota’s longstanding hunting tradition. Each fall brings a season of anticipation, excitement and companionship for hunters in our state. And like Madelia, communities across the state welcome those who carry on the fine tradition of hunting. “It is a huge year for our small city,” said City Administrator, Dan Madsen. “It is truly an honor to have two events like this, and we are excited to share our community and what we have to offer.” Madelia has been fortunate to have the help and support of the City Council, the Chamber of Commerce, Watonwan County Pheasants Forever and the Madelia Sportsmen’s Club, as well as countless other volunteers and organizations that have offered their assistance. With a population of just over 2,300, it will likely take all of these volunteers and more to pull off this year’s events.

Madelia has been fortunate to receive support and sponsorships from over 30 companies including Polaris, Sound Gear, Beretta, Benelli, Winchester, Browning, CZ USA and Runnings.

This year’s events include: sporting clay ranges and youth trap shooting ranges; “Best of the Best” tournament, featuring four of the top exhibition shooting acts in the world; Tim Bradley (Benelli), Scott Robertson (Beretta), Aaron and Steve Gould (Winchester) and the 2013 Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener’s banquet and reception, which will include a live music performance by Austin’s very own Minnesota-based singer/songwriter Martin Zellar and the Hardaways, all taking place on Friday. A limited number of tickets to the Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener Banquet are available and are on sale now at City Hall in Madelia.

On Saturday, the 2013 Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener pancake breakfast will kick-off a fun day of pheasant hunting for the community, state leaders, dignitaries and other hunters who will participate in the event, among enthusiastic hunters across the state.

This is the third annual Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener, initiated by Gov. Mark Dayton in 2011. Previous host communities were Montevideo and Marshall. Madelia boasts more than 8,600 acres of public hunting land located within 20 miles of Madelia, which is located 20 minutes west of Mankato and just over an hour and a half southwest of Minneapolis.

More information, event details and updates can be found at www.mnpheasant.com, or by calling City Hall at (507) 642-3245.