OAKLEY — Kansas Sam Governor Brownback hosted the inaugural Kansas Governor’s Ringneck Classic on Nov. 18-20 in Oakley. Approximately 68 hunters joined the Governor for the hunt. The weekend began with a community dinner on Friday night, then hunting and an awards dinner on Saturday, followed by a bonus hunt on Sunday.
“It was a beautiful, cold Kansas day, and I hope I can speak for all the hunters when I say that I had a fabulous time,” Brownback said. “I especially want to thank the city of Oakley and all of northwest Kansas for hosting the hunters. I also want to thank the Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and everyone who helped to plan this event and make it possible.”
The Ringneck Classic was held to showcase Kansas as the premiere destination for pheasant hunting in the Midwest.
“Kansas is consistently ranked as one of the top three states in the country for pheasant hunting,” Brownback added. “This is an underutilized asset for our rural communities. If we do a better job telling folks about the high-quality hunting available here in Kansas, we will pull more of those tourism dollars into Kansas.”
Brownback used a shotgun passed down to him from his grandfather. He shot four pheasants, reaching the limit for individual hunters within three hours of beginning the hunt, and accompanied hunters for the remainder of the day.
“Hunting, and specifically pheasant hunting, is part of our heritage in western Kansas,” Kansas Secretary of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Robin Jennison said. “Northwest Kansas has traditionally been one of the state’s best pheasant hunting regions, and I am confident ‘The Classic’ will grow to be a prominent part of our Kansas hunting tradition. The hunt also will allow us to showcase the many other tourism opportunities in northwest Kansas.”
Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer also joined Jennison and the Governor, along with Kansas State Senator Ralph Ostmeyer and Kansas state representatives Gary Hayzlett and Don Hineman.
“Pheasant hunting in northwest Kansas has a long and cherished tradition,” hunt organizer Raelene Keller said. “The Oakley community is thrilled at the opportunity to represent Kansas and Governor Brownback as hosts for the inaugural hunt.”
Four soldiers with the 1st Infantry, Second Brigade at Fort Riley were Brownback’s special guests: Bronze Star recipient 1st Lt. Josh Willis and sergeants Christopher Dean, Justin Hillman, and Brad Slickers. All four men returned from duty in Iraq on Nov. 4, 2011
“These young men’s sacrifice is incredible,” Brownback said. “I’m honored that they were able to participate in the hunt. They are wonderful young men, and I had a great time with them.”
Hunters participating in the two-day event included George Brett, former Kansas City Royals baseball player; Tom Watson, professional golfer. Two live music performances highlighted Friday and Saturday nights. Heath Wright, with the country-western band Ricochet, performed live Friday night at Oakley High School, and Wright and Nashville singer Chuck Wicks each performed live on Saturday night at the banquet.