Dayton skunked in pheasant opener, but other lawmakers bag birds
MONTEVIDEO, Minn. -- Gov. Mark Dayton has now gone six years in a row without a bird in the Governor's Pheasant Opener he started, and he was upped this year by his lieutenant governor. Lt. Gov. Tina Smith who bagged her first pheasant ever as sh...
MONTEVIDEO, Minn. - Gov. Mark Dayton has now gone six years in a row without a bird in the Governor's Pheasant Opener he started, and he was upped this year by his lieutenant governor.
Lt. Gov. Tina Smith who bagged her first pheasant ever as she joined the governor and 75 other hunters for the Governor's Pheasant Opener hosted Saturday by the community of Montevideo.
"Judge (Dwayne) Knutsen said it was homicide. I could have been charged,'' laughed Smith of the clean kill as verified by her hunting partner, a district judge in Yellow Medicine County.
"It was picture perfect,'' said Knutsen of how the rooster was flushed and dropped by the lieutenant governor.
Things didn't go quite so well for the governor. He had departed the Watson Hunting Camp with optimism, telling reporters he was hopeful of getting his two-bag limit.
"He had a hen fly right over him, it would have been a perfect shot,'' said U.S. Representative Collin Peterson, who was in the governor's party. But that hen-which are not legal targets-was the only pheasant that came within range of the governor's shotgun
that morning, said Peterson.
The governor's party was among 12 different groups led by Montevideo area hosts for the opener. They had access to over 50,000 acres of private and public hunting lands within 25 miles of Montevideo.
This was the second time Montevideo has hosted the Governor's Pheasant Opener. First suggested by Congressman Peterson to Dayton, the event has continued to grow in popularity each year since its start here.
While it wasn't the governor's day, other parties in the hunt fared better, with one group bagging nine roosters by noon. By day's end, organizer Dennis Larson reported that the hunters had bagged 52 roosters.
This year's pheasant season opened across Minnesota with optimism. The annual pheasant count showed that pheasant numbers increased by 29 percent from last year.
But around Montevideo, and indeed throughout the pheasant belt, the corn harvest is behind schedule, making it difficult for hunters to find and flush the birds.
The big crop of corn still standing was very much the topic as hunters gathered to start the hunt, as was talk of providing habitat needed by pheasants. Word that Minnesota and the federal government are on the verge of announcing plans for a new, Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program which would put land in permanent protection was among the topics before hunters took to the field.
Congressman Peterson was joined by U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, DFL-1st District, and U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, a Democrat from Brownsville, Texas. Walz bagged two birds, and Peterson one.
"He stepped on 'em,'' said Peterson in jest.
This was the second year that Vela joined Peterson for the Governor's Pheasant Opener. "He didn't have to do a whole lot to talk me into it,'' said Vela. He said he has found that the hunting culture in Minnesota is very much like that of his home district, the southernmost in the U.S. It's all about camaraderie and good times, he noted.
Along with the thrill of harvesting a bird, Lt.Gov. Smith said she enjoyed being out in the western Minnesota countryside and enjoying exactly what Vela spoke about. "The day was great. I made some new friends. It was great.''