Minnesota's deer hunt is big business for the state, but promoting it doesn't come all that cheap.
It creates 5,300 jobs and $260 million in retails sales according to the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
Last weekend, Gov. Tim Pawlenty held his 7th Governor's Deer Opener. He took the state airplane to Thief River Falls, where he attended the Friday luncheon, went out and shot -- maybe -- a buck on Saturday, then left on another plane (paid for by Iowa Republicans) to make a speech to Republicans in Iowa, home of the first-in-the nation test for would-be presidents.
The $3,144 tab for the state plane to ferry the Pawlenty party to the hunt wasn't charged to Pawlenty's budget, but to the Minnesota Department of Tourism and the Department of Natural Resources. The flight took only an hour but the plane and pilots had to stay for a day in case an emergency required the governor to fly back to St. Paul. The cost of their time, hotel, and meals isn't known.
But the plane didn't fly back empty after the governor left. Deputy Chief of Staff Paul Anderson, Greater Minnesota Press Secretary Alex Carey, the governor's security personnel, a representative from the Office of Tourism, and one from the DNR hitched a ride back.
The cost is likely a wash over commercial air service to Thief River Falls from the Twin Cities, which costs $500 round trip. But you have a 15-minute layover in Chisholm/Hibbing.