Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and other deer hunting enthusiasts will visit the Winona Sportsmen's Club in two weeks to commemorate the opening of deer hunting season and begin a weekend-long celebration. The 10th annual Minnesota Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener begins Friday, November 2, and features educational programs, hands-on outdoor skills tests, field trips, the Big Buck Luncheon, and of course, deer hunting.
Winona County has been a premier deer hunting spot for many years. The area boasts a record number of whitetail trophy bucks and a beautiful, majestic outdoor landscape. Area hunters are among the nearly 50,000 Minnesotans who participate in the yearly tradition that sends men, women, and children on the hunt for venison and the perfect set of antlers.
On Friday, young hunters get a taste of big game hunting when the youth field day begins with a hunting-themed outdoor obstacle course.
“This is a great opportunity for 125 area youth to get hands-on outdoor learning experiences directly from qualified and knowledgeable outdoor coaches,” said Mike Kurre, mentoring program coordinator for the Minnesota Department of National Resources (DNR). “When it comes to things like this, the outdoors makes a great classroom.”
Children will learn about animal identification and behaviors from DNR experts, and have the opportunity to shoot bows and air rifles. La Crescent native Ray Howell, founder of Kicking Bear, a La Crescent-based youth hunting organization, will host a program designed to get kids off the couch and into the great outdoors.
Skilled hunters will host a three-hour skills test for adults and children willing show off their throwing and shooting skills. Howell and Kicking Bear staff will test archery and hatchet throwing skills; the National Wild Turkey Federation will test shooting abilities on a BB gun range; and SCI Guns will grade firearm skills.
The Outdoor Olympics, running concurrently with the skills tests, is for adults, sponsors, and guest celebrities who wish to vie for the Bad Axe award and bragging rights for an entire year. Four-member teams will participate in an event that could have them dressing in "deer drag," working their archery skills, deciphering scat, identifying tracks, or throwing a hatchet.
The Big Buck Luncheon follows the morning events and Gov. Dayton is expected to welcome hunters, youth, and Winona area citizens with a brief speech. Participants will get a chance to see the world record-holding antlers of an 8-point buck that was taken in nearby Goodhue County. Winners of the Outdoor Olympics, skills tests, and outdoor obstacle course will be announced after the luncheon.
Other afternoon activities include trick shooting and a clay pigeon shooting contest by the Fabulous Gould Brothers. There will also be guest appearances from Miss Minnesota Siri Freeh and a some Minnesota Vikings players.
An unofficial social hour at 7 p.m. marks the closing of the day’s events. Hunters will be up before the sun appears over the horizon on Saturday, November 3, to hunt for the perfect whitetail.
All events are to be held at the Winona Sportsmen's Club. The Big Buck Luncheon begins at 11 a.m. and is open to the public. Afternoon presentations and activities are free and open to the public. Tickets for the luncheon are $10 and can be purchased at the Winona Visitors’ Center on Huff Street or by calling 800-450-DEER (3337).
For a complete event details visit the Visit Winona website www.visitwinona.com or call 507-452-0735.