VIP Hunt showcases Montevideo area as hunting destination
MONTEVIDEO -- The North Shore and Minnesota's lake country may beckon in the heat of summer, but come autumn and the start of the hunting season, Montevideo Mayor Debra Lee Fader wants you to know there is really only one destination.
MONTEVIDEO - The North Shore and Minnesota’s lake country may beckon in the heat of summer, but come autumn and the start of the hunting season, Montevideo Mayor Debra Lee Fader wants you to know there is really only one destination.
That would be western Minnesota, where Montevideo and the surrounding area serve as the starting point for some of the state’s best waterfowl and upland game hunting.
It’s the point the community intends to make Oct. 18, when it hosts the 12th annual Montevideo VIP Hunt.
The hunt is offered for anyone interested in exploring the area’s hunting opportunities, or conversely, anyone who is happy to tag along with a spouse that hunts for the opportunity to enjoy all of the other amenities the area can offer. Local guides will lead groups of hunters to private and public lands in the area to chase pheasants.
“It’s an opportunity to showcase what Montevideo and the surrounding area have to offer for hunting, wildlife and fishing,’’ Fader said. She and Ruth Ann Lee, owner of Hollywood on Main in Montevideo, are helping lead this year’s VIP Hunt.
Both are well-aware of how important hunting is to the region’s economy. Restaurants and lodging - such as the Sportsmen Inn owned by the mayor and her husband, Brad - are among the businesses that benefit directly from the influx of hunters in the autumn.
Fader and Lee said the money brought to the region each autumn by visiting hunters benefits many other businesses as well.
It’s important to continue to market the area as a hunting destination if the economic benefits are going to continue, the mayor said.
Fader and Lee are part of a group that took on the responsibility to continue the annual hunt, which the city of Montevideo and Montevideo Chamber of Commerce originally helped sponsor. This year’s hunt is being supported by a variety of sponsors, such as the Watson Hunting Camp, Ice Castle Fish Houses and the Montevideo Visitors and Convention Bureau.
The VIP in the title hails back to the day when former Montevideo Mayor Jim Curtiss, Dennis Larson and other hunters and business owners in the community launched the effort by hosting elected officials and political candidates on a hunt. They saw it as an opportunity to introduce them to what the area offers, from waterfowl hunting at the Lac qui Parle refuge to pheasant hunting on the western prairies.
U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson is among those who joined for the first VIP hunt, and he has been returning ever since. He is among those who will help host this year’s event.
Headquarters for the event is the Watson Hunting Camp, where owner Chuck Ellingboe makes it his business to introduce hunters from all over the country to hunting in the region. Ellingboe said he continues to see new faces at the camp every year and sees this as a very important opportunity to market the regional economy.
This year’s hunt will start with an 8 a.m. breakfast and get-together at the Watson Hunting Camp. Participants will be divided into small groups, each with a local guide.
Pheasant numbers across the state are not great this year, but Ellingboe said the Montevideo area offers prospects as good as or better than anywhere else.
Hunters will meet for lunch at the camp after the morning hunt, and have the option to go out on a guided hunt in the afternoon if they wish. As is tradition, the hunt will also feature a celebration at the Hollywood on Main in the evening. A 7 p.m. dinner will follow a 5:30 p.m. social hour. DJ Systems will offer music for an evening dance.
During the day, a gun show featuring a variety of vendors will be conducted at the American Legion in Montevideo .
While it’s all about having a fun time, Fader and Lee said the real benefits come down the road. She and her husband have hosted many hunters throughout their years at the Sportsmen Inn, and know that once people make that first trip here, many other visits are sure to follow.
And it’s not just hunters who return, she is quick to add. “I think people are really impressed with our area when they see what we have to offer,’’ she said.
To learn more about the hunt, visit www.watsonhunting.com or www.facebook.com/monteviphunt .