Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Minnesota Dove Opener 2009

In the middle of all of dad's funeral arrangements, I snuck off to the duck camp to participate in the 6th Minnesota dove opener. You might wonder why I left in middle of everything, but really needed to do it for my own closure reasons. I needed to be up there alone and feel the finality of dad being gone. It may not be what you'd do, but it is pretty much exactly what I needed.

I was the guest of my buddy Don and his outfit, and we hunted a couple of spots of his in nearby Starbuck.

Dove hunting means a ton to me. I was part of a small team that aggressively lobbied to get dove hunting reinstated in Minnesota after a 60 year hiatus. While many other groups tried to do the same thing, our approach was much different. We leveraged some of my marketing and direct response background, and were able to create a strong groundswell at the constituent level. It was a new approach, and we were fought the entire way by an incredibly well funded anti-hunting / animal rights machine.

The end result was the bill passing by one vote in the legislature, and this signing by Governor Pawlenty. It remains one of my more proud moments.

So why fight that battle? Simple. Hunting as a lifestyle is dying. The complexities of kids' schedules, myriad time distractions, fractured homes, urbanization, and the methodical battle against hunting by the animal rights lobby have very quickly eroded the ranks of those who hunt. Our numbers decline, our average age continues to rise, and our future remains bleak.

But dove hunting is a great pursuit to introduce kids to the outdoors. It is done when the weather is warm. Doves are abundant and offer many opportunities. There's not the need to sit still or remain quiet. It doesn't require a lot of expensive gear. So while I don't have any children of my own to introduce to this lifestyle, I felt it important to do all I could to provide others with an easy "gateway" introduction to hunting and the outdoors, and keep that way of life alive.

Here's the end result. Judge for yourself.

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