Austin becomes the epicenter of upland bird hunting this weekend as the city hosts the Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener.

Gov. Tim Walz will lead the opening weekend festivities, which highlight the many community attractions in and around Austin. While it is his first pheasant opener as governor, Walz has previously attended the Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener as an invited guest while a U.S. Congressman.

“I’m excited to be in Austin for the ninth annual Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener,” Walz said. “I’m grateful for the generous land owners and countless community members who are going to make this an outstanding opener in Austin this year.”

On Friday afternoon, a land dedication will take place at 4 p.m. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is working with Pheasants Forever and the Austin Area Foundation to create a new wildlife management area in Mower County.

On Friday evening, the public is invited to join Walz and other dignitaries for a community banquet at the Austin Holiday Inn. The event will run from 5-8:30 p.m., with social hour, dinner and a program featuring the governor as well as local community leaders. Tickets are $35 and available by calling Discover Austin at 507-437-4563. After the banquet, a “flocking” will take place with free entertainment by The Voice contestant Chris Kroeze.

Hunters will take to the field Saturday for the pheasant hunt. In the afternoon, the public is invited to enjoy the dog parade and dock dog jumping demonstration in downtown Austin. Later in the afternoon, nationally-renowned recording artist and Austin native Martin Zellar and The Hardways will perform at the Mower County Fairgrounds for a free concert. An Octoberfest celebration will follow at the Austin VFW.

With a population of 24,563, Austin is the seat of Mower County and is located at the junction of Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 218, approximately 10 miles from the Iowa state line. The city actively promotes hunting, travel opportunities and outdoor recreation.

Hunters spend $725 million each year in Minnesota in direct hunting-related expenditures like equipment, food and lodging. That is an average of $1,412 per hunter. Travel and tourism generate $15.3 billion in leisure and hospitality gross sales in Minnesota.

Explore Minnesota and the DNR are assisting Discover Austin in planning the event.

More information and updates on the Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener can be found at