PHOTOS Page 3

At the time Governor Tim Pawlenty was in the waning stages of a difficult election season running for a second term.   Fortunately for Minnesota Sportsmen, three days later he was re-elected to serve yet another four year term as Governor of Minnesota.

Not many state governors are such positive promoters of our hunting heritage, as is Tim Pawlenty.   Minnesota sportsmen can be quite proud that we have a governor who appreciates not only what the sport means to many families, but also to the Minnesota economy.

A great deal of work went into planning and preparing for this event months in advance.   Here, Tony performs some maintenance activities to the stand where the Governor would eventually sit several weeks later during the hunt.

Of course, knowing that so much media attention would be associated with what happens on the farm we didn't want to take any chances.   That meant an extra special effort was taken this year to ensure everyone could enjoy a safe hunt.

That evening after the Governor departed the farm, Mike sits in the deer stand now aptly re-named "The Governor's Stand".   It's a great stand both for comfort and position.   It overlooks a river crossing and sits at a narrowing where many shooting opportunities ordinarily exist.

Just about two weeks before the Governor sat in the tree stand a remote deer camera snapped this photo of 4 does standing right underneath.   We knew there were plenty of deer in the area as we had them patterned as for their movement.

Of course, when the throngs of hunters enter the woods on opening morning things have a tendency to change just a bit.   The Governor didn't even see the resident wild turkeys in the area that love to roost in the trees only about 30 yards away.   Such is hunting!

Leading up to the deer opener celebration on the farm we were told to prepare for several dignitaries from both the Governor's office and the Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources.   Here, Tony checks out the placement of one of many new ladder stands that we placed in the woods to accommodate our future guests.

We were also told by security that they wanted the entire perimeter of the farm well posted to prevent trespassing.   Needless to say, with all the security present on that day it would not have been wise for anyone to pick that day to trespass on the Braaten Farm.

The Minnesota Deer Hunting Opener has always been about camaraderie in our deer camp.   It's not about who shoots the biggest deer or the most deer.   Instead, it's a celebration of enjoying time with fellow hunters who often don't get to see each other but for one time each year.   The hunt may be our annual excuse to get together, but its the fun people who show up in camp that makes it all worthwhile.

No doubt about it we feel very fortunate to have been selected the host location for the Minnesota Governor's Deer Hunting Opener for 2006.   Over the years we've entertained many interesting characters in our hunting camp.   We also pause to mourn the loss of a handful of hunters who have passed on to higher hunting grounds.   Deer hunting is a celebration of life that is a time-honored tradition in many families.   It's an excuse to forget about the pressures in life and to just have a little fun.

We quickly learned that Governor Pawlenty is a very likable, down-to-earth sort of guy who also thrives on having a little fun.   The sort of hunter, in fact, that we prefer to have in our deer camp.

And, of course, it didn't matter what the age...young or old, he just wanted to have some fun during this event.   He told Arvella to put deer antlers on his head...she thought that would be disrespectful of the Governor, he didn't care...he insisted she do it anyway .

In the end, celebrating the Minnesota Governor's Deer Hunting Opener is about exposing a new generation of future hunters to this great sport.   Governor Tim Pawlenty recognizes the importance of introducing new participants to the heritage of hunting, and in our opinion that's partly what makes him such a great guy.

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2006 James Braaten
Page Last Updated on 12/09/2006