2012 Minnesota Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener–In Pictures

This past Saturday was the Minnesota Firearms Deer Hunting Opener and what has been the tradition now for 10 years running, Minnesota’s sitting Governor honors the blaze-clad sportsman of this state with a special celebration.   Each year the event bounces around to various areas of the state, but the last time it was in SE Minnesota was back in 2006 and that time I am proud to say Governor Tim Pawlenty hunted on my farm.  Read more HERE about that very special day.

But this time around things have changed slightly.   This time the event was held in Winona, Minnesota and not Rochester (or more accurately rural Kenyon, MN).   Moreover, Governor Pawlenty who created the special hunt no longer is Governor.   Now, it is Governor Mark Dayton who maintains the event by making an appearance, but does not partake in the hunt like Pawlenty did each year.

Even so, I give Governor Dayton credit for continuing the GDHO event and for taking the time to make a short appearance.   After all, with over a half million deer hunters in this state helping to stimulate the Minnesota economy to the tune of nearly a billion dollars annually, a Governor should honor the sportsmen and women of the Gopher State.

But enough of the boring stuff.   Let’s show some pictures and check out the fun.   What follows is how we spent Friday at the event enjoying what makes deer hunting in this state so proud.


Banner greeting event attendees.


Da Bad Axe traveling trophy presented to the team who competes and wins the MN Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener Outdoor Olympics series of events.


Of course, we formed a team consisting of Michelle Scheuermann (@LadySportsman), Todd & Dick Rost, and yours truly, Jim Braaten.


There were several events such as archery shooting, outdoor knowledge such as guess the hides, guess the animal tracks, guess the pistol/rifle cartridges…


Even the uniquely outdoorsy axe toss, which by the way, Michelle Scheuermann had never done before. So, we let her represent our team.


Whoa!!! Did Michelle kick butt. She got to throw three axes and the team only got a score if they stuck in the target. SHE STUCK ALL THREE!!! WooHoo!!!


Although only two axes are shown here…they removed the first one so it didn’t get chopped by her pinpoint accuracy. Way to go Michelle!!


There was also a timed obstacle course. Here, Todd is shown getting dressed and he had to do several things such as shoot at a target, pull a deer drag some distance…


And eventually hoist it up into a tree. Talk about working up a sweat! Great job, Todd!


In the end, Team Sportsman’s Blog crushed the competition with our superior skills and knowledge on the outdoors. Psst! In all honesty it was mostly Michelle who now possesses legendary woodsman skills. In fact, she is the only axe-wielding PR guru I know, so look out.


But the MN Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener is more than adults playing silly games. On the serious side of things is the community children by the 100’s who also take part in the learning.


Professionals, like these MN Conservation Officers, teach various stations to instruct more about nature, hunting safety, and how to properly respect the outdoors.


Here, a local Conservation Officer assists a youth in properly fitting a tree stand safety harness to his body for a live demonstration.


But the learning was fun for the kids, too. The shooting duo of Aaron and Steve Gould put on a trick shooting performance showing the kids just how much skill and fun gun handling can be.


While always emphasizing safety, the brothers showed one of the many ways shooting can be fun.


They shot clay targets while doing push-ups.


Their antics typically involved shooting multiple targets.   The kids really seemed to enjoy the performance.


But eventually Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton showed up and was most gracious to the folks in attendance.


He spent time talking about deer hunting and answering questions about the importance of hunting to this state.


Eventually the press conference got underway and media was present from throughout Minnesota, including several neighboring states.


Mark Johnson, Executive Director for the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association–one of the lead organizers of this event–took the stage to announce the special guests.


Tom Landwehr, Minnesota’s DNR Commissioner, took the stage to emphasize the importance of deer hunting in Minnesota.


Eventually Governor Dayton spoke and thanked all the volunteers who make this event possible.


A special group of local volunteers are shown here who the next morning would be taking media and other guests out to their carefully chosen deer stands to hopefully see some action.


Great food was catered in consisting of burgers and chili.


But really there was so much going on throughout the day. Here Todd Rost is down on the range shooting one of the big handguns that shot so sweet.


And Michelle again…what can I say. She test drove one of the new Polaris Rangers and the guys who gave her the keys never thought she would bring it back.

Indeed, another Minnesota Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener is in the books.   We’re told that next year we have to bring the trophy back and defend our coveted title of champs!   I suppose so.   Look out Fergus Falls, MN…looks like we’ll be coming back again with even more to prove next time around.

©2012 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Minnesota’s Mentored Youth Wild Turkey Hunt Needs Your Help!!

Do you know a youth age 12 to 17 who yearns to be a “first” time wild turkey hunter here in Minnesota?   Perhaps you know a youth who also wants to learn more about turkey hunting and is willing to attend a pre-hunt orientation session to start gaining these necessary skills?   If so, have I got an exciting opportunity for some lucky kids.


That’s right.   Applications are currently being taken by the Minnesota DNR, but the deadline is less than a week away (application must be received by 2/13/12).   To download the application and review the complete details, please link HERE.

This is the 10th consecutive year the Minnesota DNR has teamed up with the National Wild Turkey Federation to provide mentors for qualified youth who desire to experience this unique outdoor challenge.   Over the years, more than 1,500 new wild turkey hunters have been successfully introduced to the outdoors thanks to volunteer adults who show the youth a safe, responsible experience out-of-doors.

A mentored youth turkey hunt is often the best way for first-time hunters to discover how to tag a tom.

To be eligible, a youth hunter must be the proper age on or before April 21; have a valid firearms safety certificate; and be accompanied by a parent or guardian.   Please note the program is for first-time turkey hunters only.   Any youth who has previously purchased or been selected by lottery for a Minnesota turkey license of any type is not eligible.

Most hunts will occur April 21-22, which is the first weekend of the regular wild turkey season.   Nearly all youth will hunt on private land thanks to the generosity of private landowners and the NWTF volunteers who obtained permission.

Participants will be selected through a random lottery.   Applications, maps and general information for the special youth wild turkey hunt are available online HERE.

Now for the important part.   I have it on good authority that so far this year applications for this special hunt are way down—as much as 40 percent compared to last year, for various reasons.   That means there’s a lot of willing, qualified mentors who could be missing an opportunity to make this program work unless we all take time to act now by encouraging a youth to get involved and to apply.

It’s worth noting that the average success rate for the mentored youth hunt in Minnesota is approximately 42 percent.   That’s a full 10 percent higher than the regular hunter success rate.   Why?   Because these youth get paired up with some experienced, skilled hunters who typically do extensive scouting before the actual hunt.   These volunteer adults know the importance of providing a positive experience, so not only do they dedicate their time, but often their best locations for the hunt, as well.

If you have additional questions about this great opportunity either post your question in the comments section below or contact Mike “Cold Front” Kurre at the DNR.   Michael.Kurre@state.mn.us

©2012 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

My Visit To The National Firearms Museum

This past May I happened to be out in Virginia doing some historical touring when I stopped in at the National Rifle Association’s Headquarters—specifically to visit The National Firearms Museum (Fairfax, VA).   Folks, let me tell you…if you ever find yourself out in the Washington D.C. are you owe it to yourself to check out this museum.   What a gem…and best of all, IT’S FREE!!!


Known as "The Mayflower Gun," believed to be one of the first guns to arrive to the New World.

My tour guide for the experience was Senior Curator, Doug Wicklund, who walked me through the entire exhibit and explained the many interesting tidbits of information on display in the museum.   From an Italian Wheel Lock Carbine carried over on the Mayflower all the way to the Lightsaber used by Luke Skywalker in the movie Star Wars…this museum seemingly has it all when it comes to firearms and weaponry.


Actor Mark Hamill used this Lightsaber in the movie Star Wars.

My only regret was I had limited time for my tour as I needed to catch a plane back home a few hours later.   I would certainly suggest a bare minimum to allocate 3 hours for the experience.   Quite honestly, the various galleries are extensive enough a person could easily spend the better portion of a day walking through this unique historical treasure.

I took several pictures as I walked through the museum mostly just to provide an overview as to the appearance and content.   One thing I learned was that attempting to take high quality pictures of the individual firearms (which are all secured behind thick glass) was not often practical.   Still, it’s all part of the museum experience unlike any other to be found.

Here’s the LINK to my photo gallery. (87 pictures, 1 video)

All right, I would be remiss if I didn’t also point out that on The National Firearms Museum website you can actually view a close-up of all the guns on display.   It’s an awesome website.   Be sure to check this out, too.

Someday I will definitely be back to The National Firearms Museum for a second look.   Whether you enjoy history or firearms…but especially if you enjoy the history of firearms, you’ll want to make time to be one of the 40,000 annual visitors who stop by to view this great treasure owned and operated by the NRA.

©2011 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.  No Reproduction without Prior Permission.