It's essentially a Minnesota holiday: Firearms deer opener. At least, it is for us up here on the Whitefish Chain. Half a million people are expected to participated in the tradition of firearms deer opener this year. This year will be even more special because the Whitefish Chain's close neighbors, Pequot Lakes and Breezy Point, are hosting the Governor's Deer Opener.
Events kick off Nov. 3, just two days before opener, with a "Welcome to Camp" outdoor expo at Breezy Point Resort from 4-6:30 p.m. The expo is free and open to the public, full of vendor booths and vendor demonstrations. The first 200 people to attend will receive a free hat from Fleet Farm!
Events that evening include a Mystery Box Chef Cook Off beginning at 4:30, a group blaze orange photo at 5 p.m. by the lake outside Dockside restaurant (prepare to set records with a sea of orange!), and the Bad Axe Award Competition. The competition will test competitors' skills at rifle shooting, identifying tracks, scat and hides, and hometown trivia. The winners get the privilege to display the Bad Axe Award for a year, and a chance to win again next year. Sign up at the MN DNR booth.
Other attractions at the expo will include the Turn In Poachers wall of shame, the world record 8-point buck, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Air Rifle Range, a deer butchering demonstration with Bill Hesselgrave, and more!
At 4:30, the Welcome to Camp Banquet Social Hour begins. Following, at 6:30, will be the Welcome to Camp Banquet, where ticket holders will enjoy a gourmet dinner of duck confit salad and seared venison medallions with roasted mushrooms, a carrot-ginger puree, yukon potato plank, and a gourmet dessert yet to be announced. Those attending the banquet will also have the chance to participate in special raffles and auctions, and to see a live performance of "'Twas the Night Before Deer Camp" by the Greater Lakes Area Performing Arts. Speakers will also present, traditionally including the Governor, DNR Commissioner, and the executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association.
While the expo is free, tickets to the banquet are $35 and can be purchased online at the Brainerd Lakes Chamber Website, or by calling 218-568-8911.
On Friday, Nov. 4, a live radio broadcasting will be held from 5 a.m. to noon. An open afternoon gives hunters the chance to relax or scout out their hunting areas.
Then, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 30 minutes before sunrise, the season begins! Firearms season around the Whitefish Chain is Nov. 5-13 (permit area 242). North of County Road 1 and the Whitefish Chain, firearms deer season is Nov. 5-20 (permit area 172).
To learn more about the Governor's Deer Hunting Opener festivities, visit the Brainerd Lakes Chamber Website or the Minnesota Governor's Deer Opener website. To learn more about state regulations regarding deer hunting, visit the DNR's website.
Have fun, be safe, and good luck hunting!