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Hunting Big Bang For South Dakotas Economy

September 28, 2011, 10:06 PM by Austin Hoffman

Hunting Big Bang For South Dakotas Economy
SIOUX FALLS, SD - As trees turn an array of colors marking the turn of another season, fall also brings another shade along with it.

Hunter orange will soon be a big part of South Dakota and its economy.

“This is kind of South Dakota’s stimulus package and it actually works,” Owner of Rooster Roost Hunting Lodge Roy Gruenewald said.

From a 16-bed cabin outside of Mitchell, Gruenewald runs Rooster Roost Ranch hunting lodge.

“If you’re up here on opening weekend, you know, you just see the traffic, it’s pretty much all orange,” Gruenewald said.

And it’s not just the lodges that benefit.

“The hotels, the restaurants, Cabelas, the uptown shopping, they all have to see the corn palace,” Gruenewald said.

At Birds, Bucks and Berries lodge near Parker, lead guide Doug Voneye said the same.

“The business we do here at BBB Lodge has a big impact on Parker, and the surrounding communities also. We get probably 95 percent of our supplies from groceries, to shells, license, in parker,” Voneye said.

It’s something that makes a huge impact statewide. In fact, the Game Fish and Parks estimates that resident and non-resident hunters alike spent more than $230 million in South Dakota last year; most of it coming from out of state.

“The local businessmen, they like seeing them come in. We’ve had groups that have been here for the last 4, 5 years and they go in to get a license and they know Jim from way back when, you know, it’s hard to get them out sometimes,” Voneye said.

Nearly 200,000 people picked up a gun and aimed it a ring neck last year. All of which had to buy a license, funding a large part of the GF&P.

“The department operates off revenue primarily from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses. So with the season opening up, people buying licenses, it’s really big for the department,” Regional Wildlife Manager Ron Schauer said.

Schauer said nearly a quarter of their budget comes from the sale of small game licenses. That’s not even including deer, antelope, turkey and all the others.

“We depend on hunters and fishermen because they’re our biggest source of income that we operate off of throughout the year,” Schauer said.

When you think of a hunting trip in our state, you’re probably thinking of a group of men walking through a field, shotgun in hand, maybe even heading to local tavern later that afternoon. But, men aren’t the only ones spending money on hunting trips in South Dakota.

“While their husbands are out hunting, the wives will go, you know, to Sioux Falls or Cabelas, shopping. So I mean they have just as much fun as the guys do when they’re out hunting,” Voneye said.

It’s a tradition that goes beyond the field. And even though bird numbers are down this year and many people are worried it might have affect on how many hunters show up, the outlook is still good.

“Oddly enough we have opening weekend open because we moved a group away from there. From there on we go from the second weekend till one group after Thanksgiving and were solid every day,” Gruenewald said.

For the BBB Lodge, Bookings are also out shooting last year. Now all they can do is sit back, watch the trees turn color, and wait for the strike of noon opening weekend.

“It’s kind of like Christmas when you’re a kid, you know, waiting for Christmas morning to show up, well alright now pheasant season is here now we get to go have fun,” Voneye said.

Pheasant season starts October 15th.

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