Editor's Note: Third of a series of stories leading up to this weekend's Governor's Pheasant Opener.
MARSHALL - The planning for the second annual Governor's Pheasant Opener this weekend has been extensive, organizers said. But the preparations weren't confined to the pheasant hunt - visitors will be getting a taste of the Marshall area's communities and businesses, too.
The Pheasant Opener and the events surrounding it are a chance to promote tourism and showcase the Marshall area as a hunting destination, said Linda Erb of the Marshall Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"It's exciting for us, because we've never been able to participate in the biggest events like the fishing opener," Erb said. "We want to show people the area and get them exposed to it."
Erb said this weekend will be all about communicating what the Marshall area has to offer to visitors. Two of the biggest offerings, she said, are a good pheasant population and plenty of land ideal for hunters. In addition to public Wildlife Management Areas, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' Walk-In Access Program opens up a large area of private property for seasonal hunting.
"We've been very well-received at outdoors shows, because of this property," Erb said. "We are really looking forward to having legislators come down and see what those programs are doing."
And while hunting will be in the spotlight with the Governor's Opener, Erb said communities throughout the Marshall area can also benefit. While in the area, visitors will see opportunities for other activities like golfing, antiques shopping and sporting and cultural events.
"It is economic development," Erb said of the marketing opportunities the weekend's hunt provides. "We're promoting the whole region."
Erb said the CVB hopes the governor's hunt will help southwest Minnesota catch the eyes of sportsmen or members of the media from other parts of the state.
"We would love for a sportswriter to pick up on what we have to offer," Erb said.
Erb said one big part of promoting the area through the Governor's Opener has been developing a website to act as a comprehensive guide for hunters. The Southwest Minnesota Hunting site, www.swmnhunting.com, includes information on everything from local outdoor supply businesses, restaurants, dog-friendly lodgings and more. One key feature of the website, she said, is a selection of online and GPS maps highlighting all the public hunting locations in a four-county area.
"There are Google Maps that will take you from hunting site to hunting site," Erb said. Combine that with links to area businesses and hotels, "And you can print it out and have your hunting schedule for the day."