It’s been 8 years since Governor Mark Dayton initiated the Minnesota Pheasant opener that has now become a tradition in Minnesota. This 8th year of tradition would be the last under Governor Dayton’s helm and it was no doubt the largest to date.
As we rolled into the beautiful city of Luverne, MN we were greeted with a picture-perfect snowfall setting the scene for what would be Minnesota’s largest Pheasant opener event to date. Governor Dayton had the foresight to bring the ample opportunities and the family tradition of Pheasant hunting back to Minnesota. This event was a cooperative promotion between the City of Luverne, MN, The Department of Natural Resources, Explore Minnesota Tourism, and many other organizations and landowners to make it all possible. And did they ever! This event was well organized from the beginning to end. Not only did they roll out the red carpet for all those in attendance they even greeted us with a marching band as they presented the colors at the opening ceremonies banquet. The event was packed with things to do from groundbreaking ceremonies for “Rooster Ridge” a 98-acre parcel donated to the public by the local Pheasant Forever chapter as well as the Blue Mounds State Park Prairie and Bison tour. Paul Nester (Midwest Hunting and Fishing, Editor) and I decided to take part in the trap shooting activity as we knew we needed to knock the rust off of not only our shotguns but our shooting skills prior to the Saturday morning hunt.
I have hunted in several states in the Midwest but Minnesota was not one of them that came to mind for Pheasant hunting. Minnesota is known for some of their great grouse hunting but after what I saw on our morning hunt I would say Pheasant numbers are on the rise and your odds of a successful hunt are highly probable.
After an evening of great camaraderie and good food followed up with some great music and conversation, we set out on what would be my first MN pheasant hunt. It was a very cool crisp morning with a fair amount of moisture on the ground making it the perfect conditions for our bird dogs to work the property many landowners gracefully donated access to us all for this hunt. With over 85% of the crops still unharvested in Rock County. And many of the lowland areas filled with water this was going to be a challenge. Upon arrival at our first location, we were greeted with a rooster flying over the truck into our hunting location.
Hunting success is gauged differently by all, some want to shoot limits of birds many others just enjoy the time outdoors, for me personally it’s watching the dogs work the fields and watching other first time hunters take part in the excitement of that first cackle and flush of a rooster. Our group of 5 hunters and two host guides may have only yielded one rooster but the birds were plentiful especially with the conditions we were hunting in. The reports from many of the other 100+ plus hunters were the same. They all experienced a good number of birds but many were out of range and fleeing to the standing crops. Minnesota has done an excellent job of conservation in many areas to bring back the pheasant population and to encourage the next generation of hunters to get out there and enjoy what many of us have our entire life.
The theme for Luverne, MN was “Love the Hunt” and I’m pretty confident the measurement of success from all of those in attendance was just that. They Loved the Hunt as much as we did. We would like to thank Governor Dayton, Explore MN, Minnesota DNR the city of Luverne and all of those that took part in planning and participating in this annual tradition as it’s a weekend we will always remember.
To learn more about hunting in SW Minnesota and the many opportunities it has to offer go to http://www.swmnhunting.com/