The 18th annual Governor’s Pheasant Hunt was held Saturday in Beatrice with Gov. Pete Ricketts attending.

The governor’s team was one of 17 teams competing.

Ricketts said he doesn’t get to hunt as much as he would like, but always makes time for the Governor’s Pheasant Hunt in Beatrice.

“It’s a great tradition and since tourism is the third biggest industry here in Nebraska," Ricketts said. "Hunting actually adds about $848 million to our overall economy. It’s a great way to bring people into the state and show them what a beautiful state that we have.

“The Nebraska Game and Parks does a fantastic job and works with landowners and improve the habitat to pheasants on more acres."

Rick Clabaugh, organizer of the event, said the idea came after reading about South Dakota’s hunt around 20 years ago.

“We didn’t have one in Nebraska and decided to involve some other people and make it a Main Street fundraising event,” said Clabaugh. “We started with five or six teams and now we have a waiting list for people who want to be involved. Over the years we’ve developed friendships and now this is kind of a reunion.

“We’re limited on the teams that we can secure permission to hunt. We hunt mostly CRP ground and there’s not a huge amount of that land available that hasn’t been mowed or taken out of the program.”

Each team is comprised of five hunters, a dog handler and a guide.

“I grew up near Nelson, Nebraska and have always enjoyed hunting,” said Clabaugh. “I think if you’re going to live in Nebraska, you should enjoy all of the resources that are available.

Tim McCoy, Deputy Director of the Nebraska Game and Parks, attended the Governor’s Pheasant Hunt.

“I’ve been hunting since I was probably 10 years old,"he said. "I hunted with my dad and my brother before I could carry a gun I got to play bird dog. We hunted pheasants in southwest Nebraska.

“Hunting has always been a strong tradition in the state. Sometimes people come home for hunting season. We have a lot of visitors come in to the state which stimulates the local economy and it really helps fund conservation in Nebraska.

Ricketts recalled memories from his childhood, growing up hunting.

“I’ve been hunting since I was a teenager with my cousins in Southeast Nebraska," Ricketts said. "Even earlier than that actually, my dad would bring us back pheasant feathers when I was five years old and we thought that was really cool. I also really enjoy turkey hunting and waterfowl hunting.

“The Nebraska Game and Parks does a good job of selling the story of all the great things that we have here in Nebraska."

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