Most of our adventures happen within the borders of our home state but there are a handful of special occasions where we log miles. Wild Dakota is not necessarily a place to go, but more of a frame of mind to be in! When we define Wild Dakota as a Team/Television Program the two words put together translate to, “In natural state with friends and family.” For the past 5 years we anticipated the travel to visit our extended family celebrating life with the opening of Minnesota Waterfowl season. For over 40 years, Goose Fest has brought visitors and residents together for fun and festivities in Middle River, MN.
Middle River lies north of Thief River Falls tucked in the NW corner of the state with some of the largest resources of waterfowl habitat in the country! Geographically, if you threw a hat in the center of the lower 48, draw a line straight north to the border, will get you close enough to pick up the call of the goose. Both Dakotas & Minnesota share one of the largest migrations where the Central and Mississippi flyways overlap providing habit for birds to thrive for nesting or passing through. Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge has a primary purpose as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife.”
Just a few miles away, Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area compliments the waterfowl mecca producing a combined 130 square miles of prime habitat with world class Duck, Goose and Sandhill Crane hunting. Whether you want to find a field for a day in the blind, venture out onto the lake for duck hunting, or perhaps walking through the 1000s of acres of state land to find the elusive grouse. There truly is something for everybody.
Each year Middle River & Thief River Falls combine resources to host a 3-day event that celebrates the opening of the annual waterfowl hunting season. Middle River has a population of 300 and over the course of this 3 day festival will swell to upwards of 4000. Highlights include competitions, a parade, dances, numerous food venues, displays, entertainment, a community play, and a flea market. Everything you picture when you think of a good ol’ hometown celebration.
Sponsors like Federal Premium Ammunition work with the MR Community Club and TRF Convention & Visitors Bureau to make this more successful every year by hosting a media event in conjunction with Goose Fest! Nationally known goose calling champion Cory Loeffler turns out some of the best hand crafted duck/goose calls on the market and shares his skills with event attendees. Everyone wins by having communities that work together.
The media event kicks off Thursday evening with a meet and greet. Laura Anderson of TRF and Kaydell Super of MR host media outlets from newspapers, magazines, radio and TV, all coming together for a common cause - to promote Goose Fest! We also get paired up with our weekend hunting host. Lifelong best friends and local legendary waterfowl hunting duo Josh Veselka and Shawn Larson have consistently covered our team in shootable birds. This is not an easy task when it comes to cameras in the field.
They say it takes a different breed to get up every morning, nonetheless when it comes down to business Team WD is here to hunt and feature the resources available! Well before the sun ever peaks it’s light over the horizon we meet to plan and set the spread, attempting to look and sound as natural as possible hiding our identity all the while. Striving to control chance the best we can and scouting distant birds through our Vortex Binoculars. Canada Geese are intelligent and some say these birds have eye sight better than an eagle! But to lure these giant birds close enough to shoot is the rush of the hunt. This rush is the indescribable feeling that once a waterfowler, always a waterfowler. Feet Down, Wings Cupped, that’s the way we like to hunt! Every aspect of the outdoors triggers a chain reaction to the obsessed hunter. The smell of burnt powder, brisk cool fall air, distant sounds of excited birds, strings of migration high in the sky, or a flock locked up on the spread. There are so many different ways to enjoy the hunt that you need to come and experience it for yourself. Middle River and Thief River Falls invite you to start your own traditions here in Northwestern Minnesota. To plan your trip, go to www.visittrf.com. For hunting regulations and public land maps, go to www.mndnr.com. For past Goose Fest videos, go to www.wilddakota.com.