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Pheasant Opener

The Outdoors
Lead Summary
Scott Rall, outdoors columnist

So, the 2022 pheasant opener was a few days back, and I had a very unusual one.
Worthington was selected for the location to host the 2022 Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener.  We were selected late and only had about 100 days to put the weekend event together.
It may seem like not a very big thing, but to have the governor out and about only three weeks before the election is a very big deal for everyone involved. This event was a partnership between the governor’s office, Explore Minnesota Tourism, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and my home chapter of Nobles County Pheasants Forever.
The devil is in the details on an event like this. We had a series of media tours all day on Friday, and there were over 30 different media organizations present to cover the event.
As the media tours were taking place, I attended a listening session with the commissioner of the DRN, Sarah Strommen. We talked about all kinds of public land issues and how to get more folks engaged in the outdoors.
The Friday schedule also included a land dedication on a project I have been very involved with for the past three years.  My chapter has logged over 1050 volunteer hours on this parcel.
At least 650 invasive cottonwood trees along with 400 others were removed and burned. Prescribed fire was completed on 250 acres, and 16,000 pounds of scrap iron and wire were recycled at the local recycle center. Two semi loads of tires were removed, and they were also recycled. In addition, 150 acres of poor grass habitat had been converted to native plants and forbs, and the place is starting to look really nice.
The governor and the lieutenant governor were on site for the dedication, and they both talked about the importance of public lands and conservation in general. The dedication also had 25 FFA students seeding four acres into a super cool pollinator planting.  I cannot wait to see what that will look like in three years when it is fully developed.
A community gathering happened Friday evening, and I was lucky enough to end up at the local watering hole and had a chance to visit with some of the most influential partners in the world of conservation. Relationships are the key to success in the conservation world, and I felt good about the outcome of my conversations.
As for the hunt portion of the weekend, we hosted and guided the governor and the lieutenant governor on private land for a few hours on opening day. For the very first time in the history of the Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener, the governor shot his limit of birds within only a few hours. The weekend was a complete success.
As a passionate public lands advocate and the event chair, I was questioned by a few people whose political views were different from our current governor’s. All I ask of any Minnesotan is this question. Is the conservation and proper management of our lands, waters, forests and wildlife resources a red or blue issue?
It is certainly not. This event put a great focus on issues that are at the core of my life. Conservation, public lands, clean water and wildlife management are all on that list. Regardless of your political position, conservation takes everyone at the table. You simply cannot divide this critical issue down any political line no matter how hard you might want to. Any attempt to do so just widens the divide.
Spending a weekend with the governor, lieutenant governor, many conservation professionals, non-profits like Pheasants Forever and many of my friends in the DNR shines a light on our hunting heritage and the importance of wild places. There is no way to see this as anything other than a positive.
We will all get to make up our own minds here in about three weeks. All I can do is encourage you to keep wildlife resources on the front burner when you decide.
Scott Rall, Worthington, is a habitat conservationist, avid hunting and fishing enthusiast and is president of Nobles County Pheasants Forever. He can be reached at or on Twitter @habitat champion.

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