Ever since 2003 the Governor of Minnesota, then Governor Tim Pawlenty, has honored the deer hunting tradition in our state with the Minnesota Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener celebration. It mostly just amounts to a bunch of pomp and circumstance for the Explore Minnesota Tourism Department and the Minnesota Deer Hunter’s Association, but rightly so it spotlights a big industry in Minnesota which includes lots of orange-clad participants who enjoy their time spent in the woods.
In full disclosure, back in 2006, I got to host Governor Pawlenty here at the farm for that annual deer hunt. Each year it bounces around to different areas of the state and this year the 2013 celebration is in Fergus Falls, Minnesota beginning on Friday and lasting into Saturday.
Okay, further disclosure I am not a big fan of our current Governor Mark Dayton. Fair to say we don’t share many similar views on politics. But apparently we also don’t share similar views on deer hunting. Ever since becoming governor he makes a token appearance and departs the GDHO event stating he is not a deer hunter and doesn’t want to take part in the actual hunt.
Therein lies my frustration with the current Minnesota Governor. Oh, sure, when he took office he was quick to leave his own impression on the sporting world by starting the Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunt. But he refuses to hunt deer. Why? Claims he’s not a deer hunter and doesn’t care to shoot a deer.
Fair enough, but there’s much more to deer hunting than actually pulling the trigger. How the hell is a politician going to adequately claim they can relate to me as a sportsman when they refuse to experience the sort of outdoors activities that fuel my soul. In Minnesota each fall there are over 10 deer hunters afield for every pheasant hunter, and that ratio is growing each year as folks give up on the AWOL pheasant population.
When Governor Pawlenty hunted with me he spent time with other hunters in my camp. He learned what motivates a person to get up at outrageously early times, dress in layers of warm clothes, and then head for the dark woods to sit and wait.
When Governor Pawlenty hunted with our group he got to experience nature come to life as the sun peaked over the horizon to slowly warm the frosty morning air. He witnessed nature at what I believe is its finest hours of the entire day scurrying to life. Indeed, the deer hunter is sitting in a balcony theater seat watching the drama known as nature unfold 360 degrees in all directions around them. How can life get any better than that?
Deer hunting is very different than pheasant hunting. Oh, sure, both activities enjoy nature in its own unique way…but calling yourself a pheasant hunter in no way provides any understanding as to how life as a deer hunter is enjoyed. There simply is no substitute for experiencing deer hunting first hand.
It’s almost like the backyard bird watcher who enjoys feeding and watching birds from the kitchen window. Gives them a better sense of nature when they can observe it with their own eyes.
But remove that wall and pane of glass and suddenly it opens up a new dimension to be sitting out in the woods motionless and have a Black-capped Chickadee land on the barrel of your rifle completely oblivious to your presence. Or a flock of wild turkeys completely surrounding your tree scratching in the leaves unaware they are being watched ever so closely from a perch above. Or a pair of red squirrels frolicking in the nearby tree attempting their death-defying acrobatics.
Notice I made no mention of deer. That’s right. Deer hunting is so much bigger than just killing a deer and bragging about it to your friends. Of course, I would expect a non-deer hunter to assume bringing home the venison is the sole motivation for being in the deer woods this time of the year. Yet, that’s the sort of misguided notion people have about things when they don’t take time to experience an activity first-hand for themselves.
Surely, if deer hunting is important enough for 500,000 Minnesotans to spend countless hours out sitting in the trees this coming weekend, our state’s chief executive officer can share a few hours of his precious time discovering for himself the many wonders of deer hunting. Governor Dayton, deer hunters deserve that sort of respect and showing of support from you when acting in the capacity of governor of a sportsman-oriented state like Minnesota.
©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.
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