You won't find the word "citiot" or the phrase "city idiot" on Wikipedia, but folks across Minnesota's pheasant range have made it a frequently used part of their vocabulary in recent autumns.  In places like Windom, Litchfield, Dawson, Jackson, and Padua, locals use the term daily and dread the coming crush of city idiots.  As Saturday's 2009 Minnesota pheasant hunting opener approaches, let me offer a few suggestions on how to avoid becoming the target of such a label. 

Avoid Crowds
Consider spending Friday night at a hotel near where you plan to hunt for the opener.  At the very least, wake up an hour or two earlier this year, so you aren't one of the Twin Cities pheasant hunters racing out of suburbia on highways 12, 212, 169, or 94 at 7AM to find the first WMA off the highway just in time for the 9AM opening bell.  Don't be the guy that splits two groups of hunters only 400 yards apart to make your own mad dash to the center of that WMA with shotgun blasting in every direction at 8:57AM. 

Show a Little Respect for the Locals
Minnesota families across the pheasant range don't mind if you come to their little part of "heaven" for a day trip to chase roosters.  However, they do want you to show a little respect.  Remember, for a lot of these folks, farming is their livelihood.  So, don't shoot at roosters when they are flushing toward tractors, houses, or people.  Don't go crashing through standing crops.  And, for crying out loud, know and obey trespass laws.  One pheasant hunting trespasser will ruin it for the rest of us forever in the mind of a landowner.

Eat Local and Order the Hot Beef Commercial
A couple of years ago, I ordered a hot beef commercial off a café lunch menu.  I'd never heard of a hot beef commercial before.  Turns out, it's an open face hot beef sandwich with mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy.  It was phenomenal.  This hunting season, give back to the community growing the birds you're chasing by simply having breakfast or lunch at the local establishments.  You may find a new favorite hot dish!

Hang Around for the Golden Hour
Citiots walk hard through the middle of the day burning themselves out well before the "golden hour."  Many are already on the highways back to suburbia by 3PM completely missing the best hunting hour of the day.  During the final hour of the day, pheasants fly into grassy roosting areas like WMAs and WPAs after having spent their entire day filling their stomachs under the safety of corn stalks.  Many PFers hunt only the final hour of the day and successfully bag their daily limit every time.

Set a Good Example
During a day of hunting, we all make a lot of choices; should I drive down this unmarked road, I don't know if that bird is on public land, that farmer has a goofy hair cut and maybe I should make fun of him to my buddies, et al.  The world is becoming less and less forgiving of our blaze orange and camouflaged group, so we must never give others a reason to point their finger at us.  Let's all do our part to end the use of the term "citiot" by making good choices this season. 

I hope you all have a fun, safe, and successful start to the 2009 pheasant season.
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Attention Minnesota Hunters: Be in Moorhead this Monday to Save the Conservation Reserve Program