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Within five minutes of the fourth annual Governor’s Pheasant Opener, there was an opportunity for hunters to bag their first rooster. The crisp, sunny autumn day in Worthington, southwestern Minnesota was praised by all including the 43 hunters and 41 non-hunting guides who were able to harvest an average of one bird a piece.

The hunting at the Pheasant Opener was held mostly on private lands as officials wanted to leave the public hunting lands for regular hunters.

According to Lt. Gary Nordseth from the Department of Natural Resources enforcement division, the regular hunters were also successful with most being able to bag at least one bird. According to Lt. Nordseth, the pressure on pheasant numbers seems to be relieved slightly.

There were numerous young birds seen by hunters on the Governor’s group. This indicates there has been a late hatch, probably caused by a heavy rainfall in June that would have washed out many nests.

DNR regional wildlife manager Ken Varland, stated that his hunting group of three, flushed out 18 birds in total. Many of the birds his group saw didn’t have any colour on them, demonstrating the late hatch. Ken Varland theorises that they would have hatched during or after the August roadside counts, which meant the Minnesota pheasant populations could be higher than expected.

Minnesota Senate analyst, Greg Knopff, had similar experiences with 20 birds being flushed out by his group, but many of them young as well.

Mark VerSteeg who was also on the hunt believes that many of the birds were still hiding in the corn and that there are definitely more birds than hunters believe.

This was certainly a hunt that Governor Mark Dayton would have loved to have participated in. He set up the annual event four years ago but was unable to hunt this year. In February of this year he underwent hip surgery at the Mayo Clinic and had not recovered in time.

Were you on a hunt for the opening weekend? How many birds did you harvest?

Let us know in the comments below.

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