As hunters pour into the state for the pheasant opener, more people are trying to fly into Aberdeen than there are seats on the planes.
That's a positive sign for tourism leaders in the northeast South Dakota community who've been optimistic about this hunting season for months.
As hunters arrived in Aberdeen on Friday, tourism leaders in town greeted them with multiple gifts. Before they left Minneapolis to fly to the Hub City, they met an airline asking if they would change from their overbooked flight.
"They were trying to offer vouchers," Richard Osterhalz said.
Erich Schaffhauser: You didn't bite?
Osterhalz: Nope, too important to go hunting.
Airport management says multiple flights this weekend are booked over capacity as hunters make their way to the Aberdeen area for the pheasant opener. And that's even with the airline offering three flights a day to Aberdeen rather than the usual two.
"Those things are full, complete to capacity and the hard work is finally paying off. Yes, we're very happy," Casey Weismantel with the Aberdeen Convention and Visitors Bureau said.
The visitors’ bureau has been promoting the Aberdeen area heavily. Weismantel says some very loyal hunters make their way back every year. But, there are some new visitors as well.
Weismantel expects hunting visitor numbers to remain strong through mid-November. But the visitors’ bureau is working to extend that.
"People can take part in the late season hunting. We try to talk them into that, to come back for late season, maybe a return trip or second trip," Weismantel said.
The bureau has run a promotion for the third year in a row that gives Aberdeen area hunters a chance at winning a million dollars. Weismantel suspects that could draw some hunters. But several have a story like Osterhalz of Florida.
"Last year we came for the first time, enjoyed ourselves so much that we came back for opening day this year," Osterhalz said.
He hopes to be back next year too. Leaders in Aberdeen hope, like this year, he joins many others trying to make the trip too.
Delta will fly three flights into Aberdeen most days until November 2. It started the three daily flights Thursday.