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Hunters Think Pheasants & Fire Danger

October 19, 2012, 4:55 PM by Perry Groten

Hunters Think Pheasants & Fire Danger

Thousand of hunters are pouring into the state on Friday, prepared to spend millions of dollars hunting pheasants.

But this year's hunt comes with a word of warning. Despite recent rains, the prolonged drought means the fire danger is extremely high in many of the areas where people will hunt.

The weather outside the Sioux Falls airport was chilly Friday, but there's always a warm greeting inside the day before the opener. Hunters say the friendly reception and "one stop shopping" never gets old.

"We get our licenses, buy whatever we need, shells and stuff. We particularly enjoy the Chamber of Commerce coffee cups," Charles Cowney of Hot Springs, Arkansas said.

But while everyone's here to have fun, many are well aware of the drought.

"We had burn bans all summer in our part of the country,"  Cowney said.

"Yeah, I heard it was real dry,"  Alex Turner of Anderson, South Carolina said.

Turner will be hunting in the Winner area. The Game, Fish & Parks officer in Gregory County says recent sprinkles dried up in the fierce wind without reducing the fire danger. In fact, there were two small grassfires in the area on Thursday. 

Turner says his party of 15 hunters knows first hand what can happen.

"I think you have to be careful about that. We've seen a fire start from a vehicle before so we're real careful about that, but that would be a story for another day," Turner said.

But for now, Turner and the others are just going to enjoy a little South Dakota hospitality.

"Everybody is just great. Everybody wants you to come out and enjoy yourself. We always look forward to just feeling like we're being welcomed,"  Turner said.

The Game, Fish & Parks Department says hunters should avoid driving vehicles through uncut grass along section lines and be careful where they park. 

Bird numbers are good and the weather forecast is looking dry.

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