Ever watch a Governor skydive?
I hadn’t either before attending the Annual South Dakota Governor’s Pheasant Hunt this weekend. During Governor Dennis Dauggard’s address at the dinner on Friday night, it was revealed that a bet had been placed regarding the Dairy Queen in Madison, SD. If they would sell 32,000 blizzards in a single day, he’d go skydiving.
They sold 38,000. Here’s the video:
He survived his flight over South Dakota but over 1000 pheasants did not. In fact, the final tally was 1,112 roosters taken by the 30 teams that would hunt on Saturday. My team, (Team 10) would include Jim Spies, from the Game, Fish and Parks Commission, Josh Spies, wildlife artist, along with our landowner hosts, Clay and Hunter Roberts. Clay’s father was the Marlboro Man!
We also had Pete Lien, who was Cupcake the Rodeo Clown!
The day started out with a quick overview of the land we’d be hunting on and Clay talked about how this farm had been a part of his family for over 100 years. In the last 25 or so years, he’d gone to great lengths to manage the land for wildlife habitat, with food plots, watering holes and strategic shelter belts framing sections of tall grass. It was a beautiful piece of property that offered our group of hunters pheasants, grouse and prairie chickens, along with the occasional flash from a whitetail deer.
Habitat is taken seriously in South Dakota. You can see it when you drive the countryside. You could hear how important Clay felt it was as he described the process of preparing the property for management. There is even an award given to landowners who’ve gone above and beyond in preserving habitat, the Brent Wilbur Habitat Award. This year it was given to Dr Alex and Annie Frank.
I was pleasantly surprised to see an Invocation and prayer at the beginning of both dinners. There was even a reading from Job.
Results from the field were mixed. Some hunters experienced the flurry and pandemonium of a sky full of South Dakota roosters, while others put on a lot of miles for there birds. Our group finished with 16, including 3 that I lucked into within a 30 second span.
A “honey-hole” slough was targeted and the group dove in. Mika and I were given flanker duty and we worked our way up the edge. A farm building would be in my way that require going around. “There are some weeds up there by the building, make sure you go through there.” Hunter Roberts offered before a small ridge separated us. About 40 yards from the weed patch, two roosters lifted into the air. Mika’s tail went into hyper-mode and I started to sprint behind her. As we arrived, the weeds exploded with pheasants and before the dust cleared, three roosters would hit the ground. Unfortunately I was the only shooter in range or else our numbers may have been a bit higher.
While we did see some deer, there was evidence of the EHD outbreak from the previous two years. On their quick walk during the pheasant opener this year, 12 bucks were found that had succumbed to the fatal disease.
This was my first time pheasant hunting in South Dakota and I shot two limits in three days. The numbers may be down, but birds can obviously still be found. Of course, it’s a testament to the work that’s been put into habitat and conservation. While habitat is disappearing here to some extent, there still seems to be an emphasis on keeping and creating it. I’m not sure why other states can’t take it as seriously as it seems South Dakota does. Don’t we owe the young hunters out there some land for them to hunt on the rest of their lives?
Thanks to South Dakota for inviting us!