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There’s No Place Like South Dakota

SD TOURISM PHP PFJ 13 (1)

My favorite South Dakota pheasant hunting memory? I’m glad you asked, but it’s hard to pick just one.

I’ll never forget those early years out in north-central South Dakota with my family. As teenagers on those December days, my brother and I were relegated to posting field corners, where our bodies struggled to contain heat while our shotguns didn’t. We didn’t hit much in those days, but the spectacle was enough for two boys crazy about hunting.

I’ll never forget standing high atop a hillside watching, at a distance, my dad and his good friend work the sunlit draw below. The winds were howling, and a rooster flushed and banked, immediately putting the wind behind its flapping wings and lengthy tail. It takes a lot of pheasant hunts to calculate a lead like that, but my dad – who’s always been a good shot – swung, pulled the trigger and followed through as that rooster sailed down into the grass. A couple seconds later, the sound of the gunshot finally reached my perch.

I’ll never forget the year the temperatures on our late-season pheasant trip never made it above 10 degrees, while the northwest winds made it feel like -10 to -20 below. Still, the most miserable moment of that trip was when it came to an end.

I’ll never forget the old pickup that stopped on that country road, the man asking us if we needed any help. We were struggling to find a downed bird, so he called his mutt of a farm dog out of the cab and before you blinked it dug that rooster out of the grass. I see why that dog rode up front.

I’ll never forget my own bird dog flushing her first wild South Dakota birds last year. She filled her mouth with rooster feathers, but it was no less fun watching her yip as she chased hen pheasants away – I’m still amazed by the spectacle, but with a four-legged twist.

And I’ll never stop looking forward to my next South Dakota pheasant hunting adventure. This year will be special, as my newest hunting partner, my longtime girlfriend Kaily, will be joining “Sprig” and I for her first trip to “The Pheasant Capital.” I hope South Dakota is always capable of amazing a new pheasant hunter, while stirring up the passion in an older one like me, who in his heart is still a 16-year-old boy posting by an old fence,  warming himself with the hope of just one more rooster.

Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.organd follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.

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4 Responses to “There’s No Place Like South Dakota”

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  1. Scott Siman says:

    Several of us hunted with the same guide (Hunters Dream)for a couple years. Wayne, the owner, gave me some light hearted grief because I put boots on Buck “the best pheasant dog who ever lived” for our 3 day hunt, calling him “City dog”. That changed after one half mile walk when I called Wayne over to the truck and made him count 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 big roosters that he had flushed and retrieved for us in that short walk. I looked up at a smiling Wayne and said “not bad for a city dog”
    Every hunter deserves at least one South Dakota hunt in his career.

  2. Alan Else says:

    This is a Very easy Question! Undoubtedly it’s the Quantity of Birds, but more so the hospitality of the States residents!

    Alan Else

  3. Andrew H says:

    My dads college friend bought 160 acres to hunt pheasants in South Dakota. The same group has been going for over 30 years. I have been hunting there 15 times and it it truly one of my favorite places to be.To me South Dakota is a place of not only amazing pheasant hunting, its a place that holds strong tradition and spending time with close friends. The group we hunt with has stayed in a local family’s basement every opening weekend. Its almost like a family reunion. My dad first took me there when i was 12 and I was immediately captured by the beauty of the landscape and the awesome hunting. As a new dad I cant wait to take my son to South Dakota and pass on the tradition that our group shares every year.

  4. Ken says:

    Too bad the birds numbers are at the lowest numbers since the 1970′s. At least I was able to show my dog a couple good years before the hard winters and lack of cover caught up with the birds.

    My favorite moment was when I first entered SD. I stopped to let the dog out and pheasants just started pouring out of the ditch. I knew then that I would have to live here, but we rarely see anything like that anymore.

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