MONTEVIDEO -- Gov. Mark Dayton will open Minnesota's pheasant season today with all of the fanfare previously reserved only for the start of the state's fishing and deer seasons.
The first-ever Governor's Pheasant Opener will focus on the Montevideo area, where local hosts are leading the governor and other state and federal office holders, state officials and news reporters from Warroad to Worthington on hunts on both private and public lands.
The governor is emphasizing public lands and the accessibility of hunting opportunities in the state. Dave Trauba, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources manager of the Lac qui Parle wildlife area, will guide the governor. Dayton will be accompanied by Mingo, his hunting dog born on the Paul Wolf farm near Clara City.
Whether or not Mingo's return to western Minnesota will give the governor an edge is anybody's guess. The state's pheasant population is down 64 percent from last year, but the Department of Natural Resources rates prospects in western Minnesota as "fair.''
Dayton is keeping a campaign pledge by making Montevideo the site for the first Governor's Pheasant Opener. He made the pledge while participating last year in an annual community hunt.
Former Montevideo Mayor Jim Curtiss, Montevideo hunters including Dennis Larson, and Congressman Collin Peterson had been hosting the annual community hunt for eight years in hopes of someday bringing an event like the Governor's Pheasant Opener to Montevideo.
Current Mayor Debra Lee Fader calls the event an opportunity to let the state see the beauty of the area "through our eyes.''