Continuing a tradition he began in 1986, Gov. Terry Branstad took to the fields with members and guests of the Webster County Pheasants Forever chapter for his annual Iowa Governor's Pheasant Hunt.
A warm breezy morning found them on the edge of a large plot of land owned by Gus Macke, just west of Lake City.
Branstad came properly equipped with a shotgun given to him by his father, Edward Branstad, in the early 1960s.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Gov. Terry Branstad, right, hits the tall grass with landowner Gus Macke near Lake City Saturday morning during the Iowa Governor’s Pheasant Hunt. The event is hosted by the Webster County Pheasants Forever Chapter.
And three shells.
"I used those and then some," he said later, "I don't think I got any."
While his group encountered plenty of birds, Branstad said that many of them flew up too far ahead of the party for an in-range shot.
He also had some friendly shooting competition in his group.
U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, hunted with him.
"He outshot me," Branstad said, "This is my first time this year."
The group ended up doing well though; they accounted for eight of the 43 birds harvested.
This was the second time the Governor's Hunt has been held in Webster County; the last was in 1997.
He selected it for a simple reason.
"They have a strong chapter here," he said of the local group.
Kirk Seltz, president of the Webster County Chapter of Pheasants Forever, was happy to host the hunt.
"It's quite an honor," he said.
Getting all the pheasants in a row to make it took a lot of work.
"We lined up the guides and grounds, plus arranged the meals," he said.
He said they had 14 guides - most with dogs - and about 1,000 acres to hunt on in Webster, Sac and Pocahontas counties - plus one critical element, the landowners.
"They're the ones that put the habitat on the ground," Seltz said. "We couldn't do it without them."
Mark Moore, of Dayton, was one of the more than 80 hunters who participated. He hunted on land just west of Fort Dodge.
His group didn't have much luck.
"We didn't see anything there," he said.
Another plot at least produced a flying rooster.
"The four of us scared one," he said.
Harry Armstrong, of Badger, was serving as a guide with his Viszla, Sophia.
He considers being part of the hunt an honor and gives credit for being invited to guide to his dog, Sophia.
"It's nothing I've done," he said, "It was the dog."
Alan Viaene, of Fort Dodge, was part of Branstad's group as well, he brought the skills of his black Labrador retriever, Gauge, to the hunt too.
"We were all trying to help him be successful," he said, "It was a nice, casual and enjoyable hunt."
In addition to being a success, it also helped provide for the future of the sport.
Seltz said that proceeds from the hunt will be used toward the purchase of an 80-acre plot of land near Badger.
"We want to leave it for youth hunting during the early part of the season," he said.