Last weekend Beatrice again hosted the Nebraska’s Governor’s Pheasant Hunt. The Governor’s Pheasant Hunt is the brainchild of Rick Clabaugh. Clabaugh partnered with Main Street Nebraska to host the event and, as they say, the rest is history. The event is now 18 years strong and still going! A total of 17 teams were entered in this years event and that was an all time high! I have been fortunate enough to be the Master of Ceremonies for most of that time. It is an invitation that I jump at the chance to accept!
The weekend started at the Beatrice Gun club where the renewing on old friendships began along with some clay target shooting, tuning up for the hunt. There was a Friday evening banquet where Nebraska State Senator Tom Brewer described some of the long distance shooting matches he has participated in and recently won a World Championship in Bulgaria with his son-in-law.
Saturday morning everyone gathered for a pre-hunt breakfast, which was attended by Governor Pete Ricketts. After the breakfast was over and a quick review of the rules for the hunt, all teams left for the field by 7:30am.
This year I hunted with Team Piper Jaffery & Company. My teammates were Jay Spearman of Piper Jaffray, Rick Kentfield, Superintendent Lewiston Consolidated Schools, Brian Daake, Chief of the Beatrice Fire and Rescue Department and Jeromy Seggerman, also with Beatrice Fire and Rescue. Our guide for the day was Phil Cook, of Beatrice and his dog Thor. Our other dog handler was Marc Walter, of Lincoln and his dog Buddy.
We arrived at our first field shortly after sunrise. It was just above freezing. A light northwest wind blew into our faces and cause a bit of a sting on the face and nose. It was a beauty day for pheasant hunting!
Upon arrival, Cook presided over a quick planning session before we headed into the tall grass. Thor and Buddy immediately began working the tall cover for scent. It is enjoyable to watch well trained dogs work.
As we walked, each step caused frost to break free from the weed stalk it was clinging to and shower into the sunlight. Hundreds of sparkles and glitter fell to the ground. It didn’t take long before a rooster rocketed out of the grass in front of Kentfield. He dropped the bird with a single shot and we had our first bird of the day!
The second bird for the day was exciting. We were pushing through chest high grass when we heard the rapid cackle of a rooster taking flight. Everyone looked toward the sound but no pheasant emerged! From where I stood I could see grass moving and I heard another cackle, but still no bird. The grass moved again and a stifled cackle was heard. The grass was so tall and thick that the pheasant attempted to fly but could not get through the canopy of grass above it. Thor was on his trail and got the pheasant before it could get airborne. Good dog!
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We moved to our second field and continued our hunt. Kentfield connected with another bird. I managed to add a fourth. Spearman and Seggerman both dropped roosters. Chief Daake added another rooster to the day’s tally. Everyone on the team now had at least one bird. We had one more field to walk before check-in time. By the end of that field, everyone had a chance to get in some wing shooting and we finished the day with 10 peasants. Not a bad day in the field.
For the official results of the 2019 Nebraska Governor’s Pheasant Hunt:
Cargill Meat Solutions won Division 1 with 14 pheasants
Diode Communications won Division 2 with 15 pheasants, 3 quail
One additional detail from the event, James Machmueller, of Schuyler, won the Winchester shotgun raffle.
It was a great weekend. I am already looking forward to the 2020 hunt!
Just a reminder…for many people, this will be a three-day weekend due to the observance of Veteran’s Day. If you have an opportunity, thank a Vet. It is only because of their dedication and service that we have the freedom to have a long weekend. Keep every active duty serviceman and woman in your prayers…and for those who understand…Semper Fi!