Sioux Falls, SD
With the appearance of blaze orange in the store aisles, hunting season is sure to soon follow. Saturday starts the resident-only season for pheasants.
"All my gear is ready to go. As a matter of fact, it is lined up, guns are ready to go, shells are bought, jackets are ready. I'm just waiting for the season," Dennis Block said.
Block is ready and hopes for a better hunting experience than last year. Numbers from South Dakota's Game, Fish & Parks Department are reason to be optimistic, listing an 18 percent statewide increase in pheasants per mile.
"Compared to last year it's supposed to be a better year and I'm hoping they're accurate in their numbers and their count. And I'm hoping we can find more birds than last year," Block said.
This weekend's season is for public land only, but the entire year could be impacted by what's happening on fields across the state. With the harvest well ahead of normal, birds have fewer places to hide.
"I think it's going to be okay. I think its going to be good. I'm hoping we get some rain tomorrow [Saturday] so the birds will be under cover at noon and we'll go out and get the dogs on them," Dan Carlson said.
And while hunters say the improved numbers do give them extra hope going into the fields this year, they say getting a bird isn't the most important part of their trip.
"I like to get out and enjoy the fresh air, get my dog out and work with my dog," Block said.
"I'm going to work my dogs. I have a couple of Wirehaired Pointers and so we'll go out and have a good time," Carlson said.
And with that outlook, every bagged bird will be a bonus.
One other thing on the minds of pheasant hunters is how dry the ground is and the risk of fire. Some say they plan to carry water or an extinguisher and will avoid driving or parking in tall grass.