MN Deer Hunters Association Two Rivers Chapter seeking committee members

Jessica Stölen-Jacobson
Montevideo American-News

In March of 2009, the Two Rivers Chapter of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association was formed in the Montevideo area to serve an approximate fifty-mile radius with a mission statement of providing assistance to children and Veterans. Since then, the group has grown to 18 committee members and community members numbering around 200-210. The group provides a number of activities for children and Veterans throughout the area, including assisting other organizations with like-minded philosophies to host events such as the Veteran’s Hunt held recently at the Heartland Preserve in Granite Falls.

Minnesota Deer Hunters Association has a number of chapters throughout the State.

The group is looking for more committee members to help with the organization and execution of their annual activities. Some of those activities over the years have included organizing archery in area schools, firearm safety classes, an annual archery shoot at the Chippewa County Fair each year, a children’s hunting day at Heartland Preserve, raffle ticket sales throughout the year, and an annual banquet. The group has also been responsible for funding the organization of Trap Teams at area schools, donating the funds to help get the leagues formed until the teams could be self-sufficient. “We kind of base it all on the idea that it’s not a hand-out, it’s a hand-up,” says MDHA Two Rivers Chapter board member, Brad Lindemann.  “We like to see you get going so that we can take something else on,” adds Secretary Cory Johnson.

The Chippewa County Fair Archery Shoot each year is another way the MDHA Two Rivers Chapter gets people going on the sport of archery. “Any kid can go up and try archery if they’ve never done it before,” says MDHA Two Rivers Chapter Treasurer and Region 8 State Director Dustin Shourds. “We also chip in and help with the Pheasants Forever youth hunting event where we have different stations for throwing pheasants for the kids. There’s a bunch of different stations for kids to try. They get to experience the outdoors and different types of hunting.”  The group also makes a donation of funds for gas in the pontoon boats used each year for the Let’s Go Fishing organization and life jackets for the Take a Kid Fishing event.

The group raises funds primarily through the annual banquet held at the end of February, beginning of March each year. The 2022 banquet is scheduled for March 5th at the Montevideo VFW. Those wishing to attend can purchase either individual tickets or sponsorships, and both purchases automatically provide community membership for the purchaser. Besides the meal, the banquet is the opportunity to win a variety of prizes through games, raffles, and more. Businesses in the area communities donate gift certificates and other items for prizes and a silent auction each year. “We also get random people that just write us a check because they appreciate what we’re doing. That’s always nice,” says Shourds. The raffle tickets, sold all year, help to fund the group's activities, but also provide funds for three $500 scholarships that are awarded annually for graduating seniors who are going into a trade school and have helped with volunteering in the past. “It goes right back to the core things that we want to do,” says Shourds.

The MDHA Two Rivers Chapter committee meets regularly throughout the year in Montevideo, but between January and the annual banquet date, meetings can be more frequent in order to prepare. “Our committee does a lot of work,” says Shourds. “From the outside, it probably doesn’t seem like a lot to put on a banquet, but it takes a lot of time. The different events we put on for kids and whatnot takes a lot of manpower.” Despite the group's name, Shourds emphasizes that the group is not only for those who are avid deer hunters. “It’s also for those who like to give back. To volunteer. Those who have that dedication and desire to give their time and energy,” he says. Those wishing to join the committee can be from anywhere within the area. Meetings are generally held in the evenings.

Minnesota Deer Hunters Association’s state board was formed in 1980 in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. “It started with eight guys who hunted. Deer numbers were way down then, and they wanted more state funds focused on growing the deer habitat and population,” says Shourds. Over the years since, the organization has grown to 65 chapters with around 20,000 members. Shourds says he was compelled to join after learning that the funds raised by the group stay local. “All of the money stays in Minnesota. With other organizations that are national, the money goes to other places. All the money we raise, we get to keep half of that local and the other half goes to the State headquarters for things like administrative fees,” Shourds says. The Two Rivers Chapter of MDHA has raised over $200,000 alone in the last 12 years. “That, in turn, has gone right back into our community,” Shourds says.

With those local funds, the group is also able to make donations to those in need in the surrounding communities. The group recently donated to the track chair fundraiser for local hunter Lance Tebben, and regularly donates to local benefits for community members who have had medical issues, and other various needs. “Any time something like that comes up that involves hunting or affects anyone in our community that does some good - we love helping with that kind of stuff,” says Shourds.

Those looking for more information on how to become involved can find that information on the MDHA Two Rivers Chapter Facebook page or can become a committee member by contacting Brad at 320-226-2405 or any committee member they may already know.