The South Dakota Governor’s Hunt

Hunter Roberts, Jasmine, looks over her birds
Hunter Roberts Jasmine, looks over her birds

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!

Former Congressman and Marlboro Man, Clint Roberts.
Former Congressman and Marlboro Man, Clint Roberts.

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.

I didn't make it to Wall Drug, but Wall Drug made it to me!
I didn’t make it to Wall Drug, but Wall Drug made it to me!

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.

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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.

Bret Amundson, Mika and a limit of South Dakota roosters.
Bret Amundson, Mika and a limit of South Dakota roosters.

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.

What's left of last year's EHD.
What’s left of last year’s EHD.

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.

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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?

Christopher Roberts holds up some SD roosters
Christopher Roberts holds up some SD roosters

Thanks to South Dakota for inviting us!

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  1. Bret: It was a pleasure Hunting with you and the rest of the group. We did indeed have a great time and a great hunt. I always consider hunting one of those special times that friends get together and enjoy the common love of the outdoors and getting to know one another just a little bit more. Hope that we all can stay in contact and continue to care for the wildlife and their habitat for years to come. I would like to give a thanks to the Robert’s family for their hospitality. It is evident that they are great stewards of their land. For all of the Robert’s family “Thank you for what you have done for the Great State of South Dakota”.

    R. Todd Brua
    High Performance Engineering, Inc.
    Sioux Falls, SD

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