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In his first time hosting the Governor’s Pheasant Opener, Tim Walz bagged a rooster despite windy and wet conditions in Austin.

“This weekend was about conservation, community, and companionship,” said Walz, in a statement released by his office, “but I am proud to report I was able to bag a bird, which made the weekend even better.”

Saturday’s hunt was exclusively, or largely, on private land — a courtesy, by tradition, to avoid using up public grounds surrounding the host city, which this year was Austin.

Walz was joined by Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Sarah Strommen, Explore Minnesota Director John Edman, members of Pheasants Forever, as well as local elected officials and Austin Mayor Tom Stiehm.

The 170 hunters who joined the governor took a total of 44 roosters, including the governor’s bird.

This was Walz’s first pheasant opener as governor. He’s previously attended as a guest of Gov. Mark Dayton, when Walz was a Congress member.

The DNR says the its annual survey indicates Minnesota’s pheasant population is down from last year, but birds are still abundant in some areas.

The Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener was established in 2011 to highlight Minnesota’s hunting heritage and the economic impact the sport makes across the state. Next year’s opener will take place in Fairmont.

Star Tribune staff writer Dennis Anderson and the Associated Press contributed to this report. Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482