Last week, the Pine Ridge Wild Turkey Hunt Committee announced that its annual autumn turkey hunt will be renamed as The Governor’s Pine Ridge Wild Turkey Hunt (Turkey Hunt). Committee Chairman Carl Larsen made the official announcement at the Diplomats event, held at the Holiday Inn Express in Chadron.
“We are pleased to once again add the Governor’s support and name to this long-held event,” said Larsen. He then presented Governor Ricketts with a jacket that includes the Turkey Hunt’s new logo as well as the Governor’s name.
“The Pine Ridge Wild Turkey Hunt is an outstanding event that brings together Nebraska’s turkey hunters every year,” said Governor Ricketts. “From enjoying the natural scenery of the Pine Ridge, to forming new friendships, to experiencing the thrill of the hunt, it consistently delivers a great experience. The folks in Chadron are gracious hosts, and their generous hospitality typifies the kind, welcoming spirit of our state. I am honored that the Turkey Hunt will once again bear the name of the Governor’s Office.”
This year’s Turkey Hunt will take place October 9-10, 2019 in the Chadron area. First held in the mid 1990s, the two-day, invitation-only hunt has welcomed many state, regional, and national leaders over the years. In 1998 it was officially named the Governor’s Pine Ridge Wild Turkey Hunt, but the reference to the Governor was dropped from the title in the early 2000s. Without a Governor who hunted or a committee interested in continuing the event, the Turkey Hunt went dormant until 2010 when it was resurrected. It has taken place annually since then.
“We have had the opportunity to introduce over 100 different hunters to the Pine Ridge experience, and we’re thankful to the 20+ local landowners who make the event possible by participating with us,” said Deb Cottier, Director of Northwest Nebraska Development Corporation, the host organization for the Turkey Hunt. “The goal all along has been to acquaint business leaders, and elected and appointed officials, with our part of the state. Building relationships has brought many opportunities to our door,” she added.
Governor Ricketts took part in the Turkey Hunt in 2018, having a successful hunt. He has proclaimed Nebraska as the best place to hunt turkeys in the United States on account of the abundance of the birds throughout the state, the ease of obtaining a permit, and the state’s lengthy hunting seasons.
“Governor Ricketts will assist us in welcoming and hosting new hunters to our area, identifying additional prospects to invite to the hunt, and continuing to promote the sport and experience of the Pine Ridge. We are extremely happy to have him as our spokesperson,” said Cottier.
Wild turkeys have become plentiful statewide since being reintroduced by the Game and Parks Commission in the 1950s. Currently, Nebraska has two hunting seasons, and turkeys can be found in every county of the state.
The Pine Ridge area is where turkey hunting started in Nebraska, and it remains a popular spot to hunt wild game. The economic impact of hunting in northwestern Nebraska cannot be overstated, as tourism is the second largest industry in Dawes County—in terms of number of jobs and revenue generated—behind agriculture.