The Minnesota Governors Pheasant Hunting Opener is one of my favorite annual events.
Held in Austin this year, the #MNGPHO was established in 2011 by Gov. Mark Dayton.
The event focuses on Minnesota’s hunting heritage, cultural traditions and the economic impact of the sport.
Hunting is a longstanding tradition in Minnesota and these kinds of events bring together a host of novices, experts and enthusiasts.
I would fall into the novice category.
Nonetheless, we spend the morning walking through the tall prairie grass together, feeling the turn of the fall air, and the warm, soft mounds of dirt beneath our boots.
Talking about life and things that are important to us, we quickly find commonality.
Taking part in this event always fills me with a deep appreciation for the practice and those that lawfully participate in it.
It is important to note that while I am not a hunter myself, I grew up surrounded by those that practiced the sport, most often to sustain their families.
Many hunters strongly promote bird conservation through habitat preservation and responsible hunting.
Pheasant hunters have helped sustain many state wildlife agencies with their hunting license fees having deposited roughly $1 billion into agency budgets for conservation work.
This has benefited hundreds of wildlife species by restoring grasslands and wetlands to improve biodiversity, reduce soil erosion and improve water quality.
The habitat projects and land management help create filters to keep drinking water and surface water clean and double as rainwater basins to minimize flooding downstream.
Conservation organizations like Minnesota’s Pheasants Forever, Inc., started in 1982 by and for pheasant hunters, serves hundreds of thousands of members, raising hundreds of millions of dollars to improve habitats.
Many pheasant hunters, as do other game hunters, do not limit what they buy to licenses, they also spend on equipment and the trips themselves, bringing revenue to towns for lodging and nutriment.
You can drive by any bar in prevalent hunting areas and see canvas signs plastered near the entrance inviting hunters in.
Shooting is most often associated with protection or hunting, but it has also long been a stress-relieving, recreational activity.
Even if all I do it carry a camera, trudging through the uneven fields all morning long is brutal leg workout that beats even the best days at the gym.
For me, watching the dogs work is the greatest thing about bird hunting.
Does your family have hunting traditions for the opener?
Read more about the Annual Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener here, and see the festivities below.