Pheasant Hunting: A South Dakota Tradition
By Governor Kristi Noem
I grew up hunting. Dad took us big-game hunting, but it was my Grandma Dorris who made bird hunting such a big part of our family heritage. Still today, it’s something that brings my family together. (And how grateful this mom is for that!)
As much as pheasant season is a family tradition for us, it was our family business for years as well. When things got tight after my dad passed away and we were hit by the Death Tax, we looked to diversify. They say: “When you don’t know what to do, do what you know.” Well, that’s exactly what we did. We focused our attention on hunting and started up a hunting lodge. It was hard work, but I loved it.
Small businesses like this are spread across South Dakota, and they come alive this time of year. Overall, outdoor activities support around 18,000 full- and part-time jobs in South Dakota. This fall sport connects rural South Dakota with visitors from across the country who spend more than $175 million each year.
With such a significant impact on our economy and our family dynamics, I’m committed to enhancing our state’s pheasant habitat. We need to protect this way of life for the next generation.
Over the past decade, substantial changes have occurred across South Dakota’s landscape. CRP has been reduced from its peak of about 1.7 million acres to below 1 million acres. Additional grassland acres have been converted to agricultural row crops. Replacing this lost habitat and providing alternative incentive-based programs is more important now than it’s ever been before.
This year, I’ve set into motion my plan to advance habitat and protect our outdoor culture. My expanded Hunt for Habitat program taps into auction tag and raffle licenses to raise money for habitat. Our nest predator bounty program is focused on reducing predators. We’ve partnered with producers to offer options for trying something new with their least productive acres. And we’re crowdsourcing for solutions too. We want everyone to be involved in this effort – it’s all about getting families outside together, mentoring new hunters, recreating with respect, and introducing kids to the adventure of nature.
As South Dakota’s Sportsman-in-Chief, I’ll continue working to promote our state and our hunting culture. And don’t you worry… we’ll be hitting the fields too! I love that my kids still get excited about this South Dakota sport. It’s like a little piece of my Grandma Dorris still lives on through their excitement for Opening Day.
To all of the hunters reading this, have a safe pheasant season. Hope to see you out there!