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Governor to have busy opener in Fergus Falls

Published 11:26am Thursday, October 31, 2013 Updated 1:33pm Thursday, October 31, 2013

The 11th annual Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener in Fergus Falls is about a week away. About 125 visitors are expected for events that include a youth field day at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center, an exhibition shoot and a luncheon.

Minnesota’s general firearm deer season opens Nov. 9, with Gov. Dayton and his guests hunting in the Fergus Falls area.

Located among the hills and lakes of Otter Tail County in West Central Minnesota, Fergus Falls is a perfect setting for bringing attention to this annual rite of autumn, said Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association.

“The Fergus Falls area is among the treasures of the state,” said Johnson. “Many lakes, prairies and forested lands make Fergus Falls popular and plentiful for hunting.”

Dayton will be in town Friday for the deer hunting events.

“He’s not a deer hunter,” said Matt Swenson, press secretary for Dayton.

The governor is looking forward to meeting people in Fergus Falls, according to Swenson.

“He is really looking forward to the deer opener,” Swenson said. “He’s looking forward to being out in the Minnesota countryside, in Fergus Falls in particular, in a nice fall atmosphere.”

Just because Dayton won’t be out hunting deer doesn’t mean he’ll miss other festivities.

“He’s going to attend the hunter’s lunch,” Swenson said. “He won’t be hunting.”

Dayton will speak during the luncheon, in addition to Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr, Explore Minnesota Tourism Director John Edman and Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association.

Fergus Falls was selected to host the Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener on its first application. The event won’t necessarily produce a large economic boom, but instead a lot of media attention to the city from reporters who aren’t regularly covering Fergus Falls.

“It’s more of an awareness builder for us,” said Jean Bowman, executive director of the Fergus Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We get to tell all those outdoor environmental stories. It’s certainly rewarding that the state organizations selected us. I think that our community has a reputation for being great hosts for things. People like coming here, and they like coming back here.”

Other events include a trap shooting exhibition by the Gould Brothers, a pair of professional trick shooters and entertainers and a youth field day for local elementary students who will participate in various hunting-related activities.

Those attending will also have a chance to view the DNRs “Wall of Shame” poaching exhibit and antlers from the world record-size eight-point buck taken illegally in Goodhue County.

The Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener is a partnership among the DNR, Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, Explore Minnesota Tourism and the Fergus Falls community to promote hunting and tourism.

Dayton last visited Fergus Falls in 2010 when he toured the Minnesota Veterans Home-Fergus Falls, which he said “was an incredible facility,” Swenson said. He also had a gathering at a downtown restaurant.

As part of the deer hunting opener festivities, a Big Buck luncheon will begin at 12:15 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8 at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center. Tickets for the luncheon cost $15 and are available through the Fergus Falls Chamber of Commerce, by contacting the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association at 800-450-DEER ext. 12, or online at Tickets need to be purchased by Friday, Nov. 1. Money from the tickets goes to cover the cost of the event.


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