A South Dakota Tradition
By U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)
We are fortunate to be home to the country’s best pheasant hunting, and opening day of pheasant season is a weekend South Dakotans look forward to all year. I’ll once again be spending opening weekend near Presho, hunting with family and friends.
One of the aspects of hunting I enjoy so much is the camaraderie. Our kids grew up learning to hunt, and all four are planning to join us in the fields this fall, along with their own families. My oldest grandson will have the opportunity to mentor hunt this year. While the grandkids are still young, they look forward to hunting season as much as we do! They enjoy helping dogs chase down birds, and afterward we all enjoy a meal together as we share stories about that day’s hunt.
I first learned about hunting when I was just 3 or 4 years old, when my dad, Grandpa Don, and the man who raised my dad, John Kauth, took me out hunting with them for the first time. However, I was introduced to the sport on the day I was born—the opening weekend of 1954. Each birthday, my dad reminds me about how I messed up his hunt that year!
Hunting is more than just a hobby for South Dakotans, it’s also a big source of income for many of our small businesses. Each year, people from all over the country visit our state to hunt in the best pheasant habitat in the nation. They stay in our hotels, dine in our restaurants and enjoy all of the other things South Dakota has to offer. We’ve had a tough year in South Dakota with this summer’s drought, and there will be fewer birds out there, but I’m confident hunters will still be able to have a successful season – both South Dakotans and nonresidents alike.
Hunting plays a large role in land conservation, as well. One of the best things we can do as sportsmen and women is continue to promote the use of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres. It’s a good program for farmers, because it provides them with an additional source of income and it’s good for hunters because it creates excellent habitat for deer, pheasant and water fowl to nest. As we continue discussions on the upcoming farm bill, raising the number of CRP acres has been a top priority of mine.
We’re looking forward to enjoying some fresh air, hunting a few birds and making even more family memories this season, and we hope you, your loved ones and friends will do the same. We wish all South Dakotans safe, fun and successful hunts!