Dakota Datebook

UN Pheasants

Thursday, November 16, 2006

It had only been a little over a year since the end of World War II, and the world’s superpowers were already taking up arms. They were to invade North Dakota. Why not, after all? It was pheasant season.

On this day in 1946, the citizens of Minot and Hazen were still reveling over the recent arrival of thank you letters from international hunters. Representatives from China, Russia, Great Britain, France, and the United States arrived in Minot on October 17 to partake in one of North Dakota’s favorite pastime: pheasant hunting. They spent that evening in Minot, and the next morning, the party embarked on their hunting expedition.

The parties divided into different cars, and headed south toward Hazen, hunting along the way. The Russian delegates, Lieutenant General Sharapov and Lieutenant Colonel Roudol, and US Brigadier General Cabell displayed their marksmanship by reaching Hazen first with their limit. They waited there as the other parties worked their way through the fields to Hazen. Their bags for the day were later served to them that night when the Hazen Community Club served a variety of local delicacies, including roast pheasant, roast beef, fried fish, baked beans, raw hamburger, and potato salads. The parties then retired for the night to rest for another day of hunting.

The next day, the groups reported considerable luck during their hunt, although British Admiral Symonds-Tayler was upset about some of the poor shots. He said, “What a bloody rotten bunch of shots these fellows are!” The Pioneer reported that it was Symonds-Tayler, however, that was having the worst luck. Regardless, what some might have lacked in marksmanship, they made up for in enthusiasm. General Ho Ying Chin, second in command in China, said, “We’ve had a wonderful time here. I hope that we shall be able to come back here to hunt again.” This was quite a compliment considering their prey originally comes from China, and North Dakota remained a top destination for pheasant hunting. The Russian delegates showed reluctance to return to Minot after the hunt that day, and urged the guide to take them through new hunting areas. The Russians turned to diplomacy to get in one last hunt: “Just one more field,” they said, “and then we’ll go.”

Late that afternoon, the parties left again for Minot. The next day they returned to New York. Their stay in the state had been brief, but their experience remained with them for a long time afterward. U.S. delegates Rear Admiral J. J. Ballentine and Brigadier General Cabell wrote letters of thanks to the citizens of Hazen and Minot, commenting them on their food, sincerity, and hospitality. Moreover, the letters pointed to Hazen as a model American town. The letters stated, “We experienced the most generous and friendly hospitality and the sheerest pleasure imaginable….You cannot know how much the members of the hunting party appreciated your genuine hospitality.…It particularly delights the officers of the United States delegation that the time could be spent as the guests of a small town like Hazen, for there are found the roots of our national life, domestic and foreign. You have portrayed Americans in the traditional light of sincerity and friendliness which we all admire and emulate and you may be sure that anyone who knows people like those in Hazen will be inspired with confidence in American sincerity and good intentions. Thus, you have not only shown us all a very good time; you have contributed directly to the good will, and thus the efficiency, of the United Nations.”

The next time a critic of firearms claims that guns can only cause harm, one must only point to the hunting party of 1946 to show how in some instances, they can unite—at least for a short time.

By Tessa Sandstrom

Sources:
“‘Thank you’ letters received from UN hunters,” Napoleon Homestead. Nov. 14, 1946: 2.
Hazen Star. Oct. 24, 1946: 1.

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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