The Last Great Stronghold For Pheasant Hunting
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:
Pheasant hunting comes as naturally as the changing colors of autumn here in South Dakota. Our hunters look forward to opening day like kids looking forward to Christmas. When pheasant season begins, the hunters are everywhere. In Eureka, Mitchell, Faulkton, Winner, Armour, Miller, Vivian, Hoven, or Huron areas on a Saturday morning in mid-October, you’ll see orange armies of hunters ready to hit the fields.
Some of my fondest memories are of walking with friends and family through wooded draws and fields of harvested corn, just waiting for the cackle of a flushing rooster pheasant. Many South Dakotans have memories like these. Parents instill the tradition in their sons and daughters as soon as they’re old enough. It has become a part of our way of life.
In fact, the fall hunt is a tradition almost as old as South Dakota itself. This will be the 98th year that South Dakotans have pursued ring-necks in South Dakota. During the first season in 1919, about 1,000 hunters bagged a total of 200 birds. Compare that to last year when more than 150,000 hunters bagged around 1.2 million birds and spent over $170 million in South Dakota.
This year, the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks reported a slight decline in its Pheasant Brood Survey. Though we would like to see increases every year, the numbers for 2016 are still good. This year’s pheasants-per-mile index is still higher than 2014’s index and twice as high as 2013’s. There will be good pheasant hunting opportunities in South Dakota this season.
South Dakota’s pheasant hunting experience is second to none and it draws hunters from across the globe. Our state is the last great stronghold for pheasant hunting in the world; and to help us keep it that way we established a permanent funding source for wildlife habitat work called the South Dakota Conservation Fund.
If you’re interested in helping us preserve this century-long tradition in our state, I hope you’ll consider giving a donation to that fund. To donate, go to the South Dakota Community Foundation website and search “South Dakota Conservation Fund.”
Happy pheasant hunting to you and yours.