By Tom Cherveny
They were keeping score at the Governor's Pheasant Opener, and at the end of the day it added up to 52 roosters harvested and some 352 birds flushed.
A good showing for 85 hunters when considering the nose dive we've seen in pheasant numbers.
The inaugural Governor's Pheasant Opener in Montevideo beat the expectations of many, and by all accounts served its purpose of introducing people to the hunting opportunities that are found in the area.
Dave Trauba, manager of the Lac qui Parle wildlife area for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, was among those smiling after the morning hunts. He's been around for the good years too. He noted that even in the best of years an opening day harvest of one bird per hunter would be bragging material.
Hunters and camera-toting media folks were led into the field by volunteer guides, and a few parties just struck out on their own. DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr led his son and daughter, Hunter, 13, and Jocelyn, 11, to a Nature Conservancy property. It was acquired through Outdoor Heritage funds and, consequently, is open to public hunting. Hunter bagged his limit of two roosters. Jocelyn carried a BB gun and, according to her father, totally ventilated a pop can found at the parking spot.
Congressman Collin Peterson and his party headed to lands north of Appleton, where they've opened the season in the past, and had birds flying all over. Party members credit Peterson with some sharp shooting to bag his birds, too.
This writer was part of a party of seven, led by Tom Brusven, that dropped four roosters and flushed plenty of hens. Brusven is chair of Pheasants Forever in Chippewa County and our success had lots to do with the work of that chapter and its members.
It's an active chapter. Brusven said they have to limit ticket sales for the annual banquet to 400 because that's all they can handle.
Or, as Matt Holland, senior field coordinator with Pheasants Forever from New London put it earlier in the day: "They get it in Chippewa County.''
Hopefully, all the media attention focused on the opener helped get that message out there to the
rest of the hunting world.
The most important message of the day came from the many participants who voiced their love for the sport, getting outdoors and the friendships it fostered. Political rivals jested and focused on what really brought everyone together.
Getting birds was a bonus, said Paul Johannes of Willmar, who had the honors of leading the gun dogs in Gov. Mark Dayton's hunting party.
"It was more about the grass, the day, the dogs and everybody being out,'' he said.