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Minnesota Governor’s Deer Opener is a blast

November 22, 2018

Tom Claycomb

I got invited this year to the 2018 Minnesota Governor’s Deer Opener in Hinckley, Minnesota, and jumped at the chance. I attended the 2017 event last year in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and had a blast. This year promised to be even more fun.

The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association ramrods the event, and Bri Stacklie is the event and publications coordinator. I write for the Minnesota Whitetail Magazine and became acquainted with her through that. The event kicks off on Thursday afternoon with a big banquet.

Preceding the banquet, the MDHA puts on a lot of seminars. I was sponsored by Riton Optics and put on a Glassing for Big Game seminar and sponsored by Knives of Alaska and Smith Consumer Products and put on a Knife Sharpening/Choosing the Proper Knife seminar.

One bad thing about conducting seminars is that you don’t get to attend the other ones. I like going to seminars because I always learn something. As the seminars concluded, we were funneled into the big dining area. Along the perimeter, there were a lot of raffle tables set up. Crosman had donated one of their Rogue break-action airguns, Mossberg had a booth, Riton had donated a scope, Smith’s some knife sharpening stones etc.

This year the dinner was actually a big selection of hors d’oeuvres. They were great. There were then speakers and the night closed after the drawings.

The next morning they had a breakfast for us starting at 5:30 a.m. There were 11 booths set up for outdoor radio stations to conduct interviews. That’s one thing unique that I’ve noticed in Minnesota. They have a ton of outdoor radio stations.

I just happened to be seated by Leslie with the DNR. It was very interesting talking to her about what they’re doing to combat chronic wasting disease and the challenges that they face. I then went out to meet Loren and Arlene Rabe. Hosts had been assigned to visiting writers and I’d be hunting on their land.

Loren took me down to the stand that I’d be hunting out of and then drove me around the immediate area. We saw numerous deer in the area, which is always a good sign. His son-in-law Evan and his grandson Carter would be hunting in the woods north of me. That night in a nearby small town, the Lion’s Club was putting on a dinner for the local deer hunters. We ate there then went to bed.

The next morning found us in our blinds before daylight. I was going to be hunting with a Mossberg Patriot Revere .30-06 tipped off with a Riton Optics MOD 5 4-16 scope and using Swift A-frame 180 gr. bullets. The day started off with a beautiful sunrise. It couldn’t have been over two seconds after legal shooting time that the lead started flying. I wish that I had of kept count of how many shots were fired. I counted Sunday morning and in the first hour there were 29 shots and that didn’t include follow up shots. And there were more shots fired on Saturday morning. It was a bad morning to be a buck.

It couldn’t have been 30 minutes after daylight that I heard Carter’s rifle bark. After the morning hunt I trekked back to the house and surer enough, I found one happy little camper. But to be honest, I don’t know who was happier, Loren, Evan or Carter. We jumped on the 4-wheeler and went down to retrieve his buck.

What a big bodied deer. It had to of been a solid 190 pounds and a nice 8-pointer to top it off. We threw it in the 4-wheeler trailer and took it up to the shed and hung it up to skin. I whipped out my Diamond Blades knife “The Summit” and let Carter try his hand at skinning. You should be able to find a pic of Carter skinning his deer on the Knives of Alaska Facebook page. We finished skinning it and then let it hang overnight to go through rigor mortis.

That afternoon I hunted in Carter’s blind which is an elevated box blind set in the middle of the woods. I saw a couple of grouse and that was it. As the sun dropped, I went up to the house to tell everyone bye before I went back to the motel.

But Arlene had fried up some sun fish and crappie for us. It was the best dinner ever. I’m not kidding. I bet we ate at least four skillets full of fish and then had apple crisp for dessert. I could not have eaten one more bite.

The next morning found us in our blinds again. Wow, I heard 29 shots in the first hour. Another bad morning to be a deer! Loren had a lot of relatives and friends with land around that we could have hunted but where we were at looked fine so we kept hunting it.

Daylight Savings Time had hit so we even got done with hunting in time to run down the road to the local farm church then run home and boned out Carters deer.

By now there was a light snow. Arlene whipped out a pot of chili for us which was ready as soon as we made the last cut on Carters buck. It soon came time to leave. We all hugged each other bye and Arlene slipped me a few jars of her awesome strawberry jelly and even one jar of peach. As I’m typing this article, I’m on a plane headed home. Now if the little TSA rustlers didn’t find my jelly, I’ll be fine. I should have locked it in my gun case!

Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop.

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