This past Saturday was the Minnesota Firearms Deer Hunting Opener and what has been the tradition now for 10 years running, Minnesota’s sitting Governor honors the blaze-clad sportsman of this state with a special celebration. Each year the event bounces around to various areas of the state, but the last time it was in SE Minnesota was back in 2006 and that time I am proud to say Governor Tim Pawlenty hunted on my farm. Read more HERE about that very special day.
But this time around things have changed slightly. This time the event was held in Winona, Minnesota and not Rochester (or more accurately rural Kenyon, MN). Moreover, Governor Pawlenty who created the special hunt no longer is Governor. Now, it is Governor Mark Dayton who maintains the event by making an appearance, but does not partake in the hunt like Pawlenty did each year.
Even so, I give Governor Dayton credit for continuing the GDHO event and for taking the time to make a short appearance. After all, with over a half million deer hunters in this state helping to stimulate the Minnesota economy to the tune of nearly a billion dollars annually, a Governor should honor the sportsmen and women of the Gopher State.
But enough of the boring stuff. Let’s show some pictures and check out the fun. What follows is how we spent Friday at the event enjoying what makes deer hunting in this state so proud.
Banner greeting event attendees.
Da Bad Axe traveling trophy presented to the team who competes and wins the MN Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener Outdoor Olympics series of events.
Of course, we formed a team consisting of Michelle Scheuermann (@LadySportsman), Todd & Dick Rost, and yours truly, Jim Braaten.
There were several events such as archery shooting, outdoor knowledge such as guess the hides, guess the animal tracks, guess the pistol/rifle cartridges…
Even the uniquely outdoorsy axe toss, which by the way, Michelle Scheuermann had never done before. So, we let her represent our team.
Whoa!!! Did Michelle kick butt. She got to throw three axes and the team only got a score if they stuck in the target. SHE STUCK ALL THREE!!! WooHoo!!!
Although only two axes are shown here…they removed the first one so it didn’t get chopped by her pinpoint accuracy. Way to go Michelle!!
There was also a timed obstacle course. Here, Todd is shown getting dressed and he had to do several things such as shoot at a target, pull a deer drag some distance…
And eventually hoist it up into a tree. Talk about working up a sweat! Great job, Todd!
In the end, Team Sportsman’s Blog crushed the competition with our superior skills and knowledge on the outdoors. Psst! In all honesty it was mostly Michelle who now possesses legendary woodsman skills. In fact, she is the only axe-wielding PR guru I know, so look out.
But the MN Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener is more than adults playing silly games. On the serious side of things is the community children by the 100’s who also take part in the learning.
Professionals, like these MN Conservation Officers, teach various stations to instruct more about nature, hunting safety, and how to properly respect the outdoors.
Here, a local Conservation Officer assists a youth in properly fitting a tree stand safety harness to his body for a live demonstration.
But the learning was fun for the kids, too. The shooting duo of Aaron and Steve Gould put on a trick shooting performance showing the kids just how much skill and fun gun handling can be.
While always emphasizing safety, the brothers showed one of the many ways shooting can be fun.
They shot clay targets while doing push-ups.
Their antics typically involved shooting multiple targets. The kids really seemed to enjoy the performance.
But eventually Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton showed up and was most gracious to the folks in attendance.
He spent time talking about deer hunting and answering questions about the importance of hunting to this state.
Eventually the press conference got underway and media was present from throughout Minnesota, including several neighboring states.
Mark Johnson, Executive Director for the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association–one of the lead organizers of this event–took the stage to announce the special guests.
Tom Landwehr, Minnesota’s DNR Commissioner, took the stage to emphasize the importance of deer hunting in Minnesota.
Eventually Governor Dayton spoke and thanked all the volunteers who make this event possible.
A special group of local volunteers are shown here who the next morning would be taking media and other guests out to their carefully chosen deer stands to hopefully see some action.
Great food was catered in consisting of burgers and chili.
But really there was so much going on throughout the day. Here Todd Rost is down on the range shooting one of the big handguns that shot so sweet.
And Michelle again…what can I say. She test drove one of the new Polaris Rangers and the guys who gave her the keys never thought she would bring it back.
Indeed, another Minnesota Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener is in the books. We’re told that next year we have to bring the trophy back and defend our coveted title of champs! I suppose so. Look out Fergus Falls, MN…looks like we’ll be coming back again with even more to prove next time around.
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