South Dakota's version of the deer hunt going to the birds

South Dakota State Roundup

Published January 1, 2000  | January 2000 issue

In Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, deer hunting is the biggest complement to fishing when it comes to outdoor economic development. But in South Dakota, the pheasant is king.

From mid-October to mid-December, pheasant hunters are expected to have flushed $100 million into the state. This year's hunt was also enhanced by a big increase in the number of birds—this after huge losses of birds just two years ago due to a severe winter.

Pheasant hunting is strongest in the eastern half of the state—not coincidentally, also the heart of agriculture, which provides good habitat for pheasants. Given low grain and livestock prices, many farmers supplement their incomes by renting land to hunters, particularly on the opening weekend, when as many as 100,000 hunters try their luck.