Brainerd Dispatch: Governor's Deer Opener: Hundreds hear of hunting the deer
BREEZY POINT—"I'm not a deer hunter, but after this, I could be," commented Tim Terrill of Breezy Point.
He was one of about 500 browsing the offerings of the 14th annual Minnesota Governor's Deer Opener in Breezy Point Thursday night. It was hard not to feel like part of the hunting party among all the orange and storytelling floating around the room.
After all, this area is known by many locals as a slice of deer hunting heaven. Towering trees, thick swamps and freshwater vistas were just a step outside of the Breezy Point Resort, the host site of the event.
No doubt the deer surrounding the resort were made well aware of the hunting season as blaze orange was coming out of the woodwork and even filled the beach area in front of Dockside at Breezy Point Resort.
Inside the resort were hunters, outdoors types and just plain curious folks from the community, as well as state dignitaries supporting Minnesota's tradition. At the dinner, before the night before deer opener, the sound of an accordion pierced the air as steam rose from the roasted venison and mushrooms served to the hungry crowd.
The event was the second one like it to return to the Brainerd lakes area. It's an opportunity to show the area businesses off and what the outdoors area offers by inviting the community and media outlets here from around the region. This area is the only one to have had two Governor Deer Openers according to Brainerd Lakes Chamber President Matt Kilian. He said the area was well deserving of the selection.
"It's the ultimate outdoors destination," Kilian said. "I'm really proud of the area. I'm really proud of the community."
Kilian noted about 500,000 people hunt in the state, about $750 million in economic impact is seen in the state and locally it's a huge impact, too.
"Look how much blaze orange is sitting in the restaurants this weekend and that's a pretty good indicator of what the impact is," Kilian said.
The event blew through the first 200 Mills Fleet Farm blaze orange hats in a hurry. Those attending visited the 30 different booths offering a look at outdoors products, services, venison processing, youth sports and conservation offerings.
About 300 were expected for the evening banquet and at least 25 media outlets were represented at the event, looking to share what the Pequot Lakes-Breezy Point area had to offer.
"Our media attendance is higher than it's ever been," said Bri Stacklie, event chair.
In addition to the Outdoors Expo open to the public and a banquet for those with tickets, an outdoors expo focused on youth was also offered for about 200 Pequot Lakes students. Gov. Mark Dayton attended the gathering and answered questions from the youth expo event. While Dayton does not hunt deer, he wished the hunters the best of luck on their adventures.
During the evening meal, which had local guide Walleyedan as emcee, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan spoke about his adventures around Breezy Point. He said he once hunted from the steps of an old church nearby. "It was a pretty good spot," he said.
Nolan knew the surrounding woods well. He also commented the tradition of deer hunting was important because it brought together friends and family—and it brought them outdoors. He even took some inspiration from Yogi Berra in stating, "Deer hunting is 50 percent getting your deer and the other 90 percent is about being with your family."
"Deer hunting is a great American tradition and one we need to protect," Nolan said in closing. The crowd clapped in agreement.
Not afraid to offer some guidance to the group, Walleyedan noted having spent the past week in the deer stand, bowhunting, he knew the deer rut was in full swing.
"The chase is on," Eigen said.
Those attending were eager for the opener to arrive.