Pheasant hunting season takes flight

DREW CARROLL Managing Editor

Every year during the middle of October, many South Dakota residents and non-residents flock to the fields on the hunt for South Dakota’s state bird.

Saturday, Oct. 17 marked the opening day of the 2015 pheasant-hunting season in South Dakota. The opening weekend of the pheasant season has a large impact on the South Dakota economy, as it brings in many out-of-state hunters.These hunters spend money in South Dakota on a wide variety of items, including gas, hotel rooms, ammunition, hunting licenses, apparel, guns and food.

 One such business in the state that sees the effects of the opening weekend of the pheasant season is Manolis Grocery in Huron, S.D. Todd Manolis and Gus Marcus currently operate the business. 

Manolis, an SDSU alumnus, said that throughout his time in the business, he has easily met people from every state. Manolis says the store, which offers deli sandwiches and alcoholic beverages along with a selection of groceries, sees increased business during the opening weekend of the pheasant-hunting season.

Opening weekend also provides friends and families a chance to spend time together. Pheasant hunting allows residents of South Dakota the chance to meet and build relationships with people who visit the state in search of the colorful bird.

 Ryan Walker of Murray, Ky. said he has made the trip to South Dakota the last eight out of 10 years and that his dad has came to South Dakota every year since 1992. According to Walker, his group has been hunting with Lance Reilly, a landowner near Wolsey, S.D., for the past 14 years. 

“Mostly my favorite part is the camaraderie of hunting with family and friends and all the friends we have made up here in South Dakota. We look forward to seeing everybody,” Walker said. “Hunting with my dog, that’s always enjoyable. Even if we are not seeing birds, just seeing him hunt hard and hunt correctly adds more enjoyment to the trip.”

 Manolis also enjoys seeing fresh faces and catching up with old friends during the opening weekend of the pheasant season. 

“I love to meet new people and love to see people that come back. I enjoy getting reacquainted with old friends and sharing our hunting stories,” Manolis said.

 This year’s statewide average number of pheasants per mile is just under four, which is up 40 percent from the 2014 number, but down 32 percent in the 10-year average, according to the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks. The SDGF&P also says that there are slightly less than two birds per mile in the Brookings area. This number is up 46 percent from last year and 56 percent lower than the 10-year average. The pheasant-hunting season is open until Jan. 3, 2016.