For a couple of days, political differences were put on the back burner as politicians from both sides of the aisle gathered with DNR officials and local landowners, businessmen and sportsmen for the sixth annual Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Opener.

For a couple of days, political differences were put on the back burner as politicians from both sides of the aisle gathered with DNR officials and local landowners, businessmen and sportsmen for the sixth annual Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Opener.

Event organizers were hoping this would be the year Gov. Mark Dayton would bag his first rooster, but the governor went back to St. Paul empty handed for the sixth straight year. Hunting near Milan in a group that included Congressman Collin Peterson, Dayton had a hen pheasant (not a legal target) fly by within range, but no roosters.

“Everybody’s wishing me good luck,” said Dayton at the Watson Hunting Camp prior to going into the field. “I think I need divine intervention.”

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith fared better, bagging her first rooster ever.

Thirty-eight local hunter hosts led 81 guests on Saturday’s hunt. A total of 52 roosters were taken during the morning hunt. The hunting parties walked both public and private lands that were made available through the generosity of local landowners.

The Governor’s Pheasant Opener was a two-day event. On Friday, Dayton, Smith, DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr and Collin Peterson participated in the dedication of the new Mills Creek Gun Range, located just north of Montevideo.

Members of Montevideo High School’s trap shooting team were on hand to give trap and skeet shooting demonstrations.

“They asked me if I wanted to shoot,” said Dayton. “I said I’d save my humiliation until tomorrow.”

On Friday evening, more than 350 people packed American Legion Post 59 in Montevideo for a community banquet.

“We worked so hard to get this hunt together. I’m so glad Explore Minnesota chose us,” said Montevideo Mayor Debra Lee Fader.

The emcee of the banquet was John Lauritsen of WCCO-TV — a former Montevideo High School graduate.

The Chord-Ayres men’s chorus of Milan sang before dinner. City Council President Marv Garbe gave the invocation.


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