Pheasant numbers are down in the state according to South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Department estimates.
Pheasant brood survey results show an average of about 1.5 pheasants per mile in South Dakota. That's down 64 percent from last year.
People in the tourism industry are doing what they can to keep hunter numbers and the money they spend from dropping. Game, Fish & Parks estimates pheasant hunters spent more than $170 million in South Dakota last year.
With hunting lodges in different parts of the state, Dennis Foster has received a lot of interest from hunters planning a trip to South Dakota this fall. He knows they'll find birds.
"I'm cautiously optimistic that the numbers are going to show better than the original counts are," Foster said.
Workers with Game, Fish & Parks count pheasants along stretches of road throughout the state during the end of July and first half of August to tally the estimates. Once crops come off the fields, Foster thinks there might be more birds than we can see now.
Whether that's true or not, he doesn't expect visitor numbers to drop along with the pheasant numbers. Workers at the Aberdeen Convention and Visitors bureau have reason to be optimistic.
"We've talked with a lot of the hotel/motels and they're still booked solid. We're adding a third flight coming into Aberdeen," Casey Weismantel said.
Weismantel hasn't heard of any hunters canceling trips because of the lower bird counts. Still, he attends a lot of travel and sports shows and says out-of-state hunters are often asking how many birds there are.
Foster often receives that question too, but he still thinks they'll come.
"They know it's hunting. They know these things fluctuate from year to year so, you know, they're out here for the experience," Foster said.
Aberdeen area tourism leaders hope that’s true. According to Game, Fish & Parks, hunters spent about $42 million in Brown County and surrounding counties last year.