OAKLEY, Kansas – Kansas Sam Governor Brownback hosted the inaugural Kansas Governor’s Ringneck Classic on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The city of Oakley and the surrounding area were the gathering points for the event. 70 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 and 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. 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,” said Governor Brownback.
The Ringneck Classic was held to showcase Kansas pheasant hunting as the premiere destination for pheasant hunting in the Midwest.
Governor Brownback continued, "Kansas is consistently ranked as one of the top three states in the country for pheasant hunting. This is an underutilized asset for our rural communities. If we do a better job telling folks about the 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 and Parks 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 tourism opportunities that exist in Northwest Kansas.”
Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer and Secretary of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Robin Jennison also joined 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. The Oakley community is thrilled at the opportunity to represent Kansas and Governor Brownback as hosts for the inaugural hunt,” Hunt Organizer Raelene Keller said.
Four soldiers with the 1st Infantry, Second Brigade at Fort Riley were Governor 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 earlier this month.
“These young men’s sacrifice is incredible. 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,” Governor Brownback said.
70 hunters participated in the two day event, including George Brett, former Kansas City Royals baseball player; Tom Watson, professional golfer; Ed Hearn, former Kansas City Royals player and Founder/Speaker Bottom of the Ninth. Heath Wright with the country-western band Ricochet performed live Friday night at Oakley High School, and Nashville singer Chuck Wicks performed live on Saturday night at the banquet.