It was a pleasant Saturday morning and three dogs scurried through a field just south of Beatrice.

Suddenly, one dog came to a complete stop -- just his tail wagging frantically.

Two hunters move in, including Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts. The dog flushes the bird into the air.

"Rooster!" shouts one of the hunters.

Ricketts and the other hunter both took aim and fired two shots each into the sky, but the pheasant continued to fly off into the distance.

"Bye, bye birdie," quipped one of the other members of the group.

Ricketts and the other shooter looked at each other with smiles on their faces, dumbfounded that they both missed.

"I think there's a bad sight on this barrel," was one of the excuses, drawing snickering laughter from the others.

It was still early in the day and Ricketts said he was still getting "warmed up."

He was right, because within the next hour, he was able to bring down several birds, drawing congratulations from all his fellow team members.

Ricketts was taking part in the annual Nebraska Governor's Hunt sponsored by Main Street Beatrice.

This year's hunt was cut short for Ricketts due to obligations he had at Saturday's Nebraska football game. The group's guide, Dave Kruse, kept close tabs on the time because he didn't want Ricketts to be late to his next appointment, but Ricketts wasn't as worried about it.

"You know, if I'm a little late and my excuse is hunting, I'm OK with that," Ricketts said with a smile.

Ricketts said he once again had a great time participating in the event.

"It was another great Governor's Hunt," Ricketts said afterward. "It was a beautiful morning, we saw a bunch of birds and you really couldn't ask for anything better."

Early on, the group was seeing more racoons than they were birds, but Ricketts said he wasn't worried about the slow start.

"We didn't see as many birds early and we weren't hitting the ones we did see," Ricketts said laughing. "But we were just warming up. We started seeing more later on and then we started hitting them. It was awesome."

It's the third year in a row Ricketts has been able to attend the event.

"They call it the Governor's Hunt, so I really need to be here," Ricketts said with a smile. "And it's just a great group here in Gage County. It's a great bunch of guys with a great tradition and I want to help foster this great tradition."

It was the 15th year that Main Street Beatrice has hosted the Nebraska Governor's Hunt. It's the second biggest fundraiser of the year for the group. Rick Clabaugh, the organizer of the Governor's Hunt, said it was another "outstanding" event.

"We had a great time," Clabaugh said. "We had pretty good weather and we had some feel good moments, like the Governor's NGage team winning one division. We also had Marc Munford win a gun raffle, which was great because he's been at almost every one of our Governor's Hunts since we started."

There were two divisions and NGage won one division while Pinnacle Bank won the other division.

Clabaugh said hunters were happy with the number of birds they saw, especially quail.

"I've checked in with every team and everybody seemed to be happy with how the event went," Clabaugh said. "We changed the format a little from previous years so that we could get people home a little earlier. I think people were happy with that change."

Clabaugh touted that the event doesn't just help Main Street, but the entire community.

"It's good for other businesses in town," Clabaugh said. "People come down a night or two early and will have to stay in a motel and they'll have to eat and enjoy themselves. So there's an economic benefit to this."

When the Governor's Hunt started 15 years ago, they just had five or six teams. Now they are up to 15 teams, which takes a lot of volunteers.

"We've been able to develop a network of volunteers who are able to help us get good hunting dogs from Omaha, Lincoln and around Beatrice," Clabaugh said. "Our landowners are also very generous and we appreciated them allowing us to hunt their land.

"When you have 15 teams and five members on each team, that takes a lot of volunteers. Some aren't even connected with Main Street in anyway, they're just fantastic volunteers and they've made this even what it is today."


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