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2017 Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Opener By Gary Howey

  Jack, the DeBruyckere’s English Setter methodically worked his way through the thick CRP cover, as he picked up the running birds scent he would pause and then move forward slowly as he worked his way towards the running bird and the end of the field.

   Jamie DeBruyckere indicated “He’s getting birdy” as she moved up behind the dog, as Jack, had the bird holding tight.

  We were attending the 2017 Minnesota Governor’s Hunt held this year in Marshall, Minnesota.  On this hunt, KWAT Outdoors radio host Don Fjerstad, Watertown, S.D. and I team up with Arlyn and Jamie Bruyckere on their CRP field about 5 miles outside of Marshall.

  This was seventh annual Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant hunting opener, Minnesota Governor Mark Drayton created the Governor’s hunt in 2011, his first year in office and in 2015 he convened the Minnesota Pheasant Summit introducing a ten-part action plan to expand pheasant habitat and increase the number of pheasants in the state.

  The pheasant opener would kick off Saturday October 14 and there were other events held on October 13.

  On “Friday the 13”, Don and I headed to the Sporting Clays range at Shooters Sporting Clays to try our luck on their Sporting Clay range  Going on at the same time, on the opposite side of the property the SMSU High School Trap Shoot Challenge was going on.  In this event, the top ten participants from five Minnesota High School Clay Target leagues would face off in a 250-target showdown for the bragging rights of this inaugural event.

  If you are not familiar with Sporting Clays, there are several throwers strategically placed out in front of the shooter where several clays come out from the throwers in several directions, which include one on the ground, the Bouncing Bunny, simulating the shots you might face in the field.

   It had been some time since I had been on a Sporting Clays course and it did not take me long to remember why I had not pursued this sport, as it was not pretty, but it was enjoyable.

  Also on Friday, we had an opportunity to attend the dedication of the James Meger Memorial Wildlife Area just down the road from Marshall. Pheasants Forever and more than a dozen other conservation groups and large donors made this Memorial Wildlife Management Area (WMA) possible.

  The memorial honors the late James Meger, from the Marshall area who was a renowned wildlife artist. His artwork raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for wildlife habitat as well as conservation groups.

   This WMA lies along a creek with a 155 acres of public access land located just a few miles northwest of his hometown, where the land will bear his name and have one of his works of art at its entrance.

   Marshall, in Lyon County as well as this area of southwestern Minnesota actively promotes hunting and outdoor recreation. One will find numerous public hunting acres within 25 miles of Marshall, as there are 37 Walk-In Access areas totaling just less than 3,000 acres, 20 Waterfowl Production Areas with approximately 3,779 acres and 132 Wildlife Management Areas with another 24,407 acres of public access hunting land. In Lyon County alone, you will find 47 Wildlife Management Areas totaling 11,184 acres. All are open to public hunting.

  As the 10:00 am start of the 2017 Minnesota pheasant season approached, we made our way out to one of the fields that we would hunt.  Approaching the drainage ditch and field, I talked with Arlyn about the land we would soon be hunting.  Arlyn indicated, “we have several areas with good habitat; this one has 10.8 acres of thick CRP, a shelterbelt and a drainage ditch running along the edge of one side of the property for a total of about 35 acres.” [Read more…]