HECLA, SD -
The Hub City is hunting for late-season hunters.
Aberdeen sees a steady flow of visitors hoping to bag birds. It usually slows down this time of year, but that's starting to change.
Hunters shooting pheasants in northern Brown County is nothing new, but doing so through December is becoming more common.
"I've had the lodge for the past 28 years and last three or four years, it's really starting to pick up," Bill Mitchell said.
Mitchell owns a lodge near Hecla. He housed hunters through Christmas last year. He's had such a demand for late season hunting this year, he's had to turn some people away.
"We're seeing a little bit further extended stay. People actually looking toward that late-season hunt as opposed to coming out for the opener all the time," Casey Weismantel said.
Weismantel works for the Aberdeen Convention and Visitors Bureau. He says the bureau has been promoting late-season hunting heavily.
It's good for the local economy because it keeps hotel rooms full later in the year. But the late-hunting experience has perks for hunters too.
Frank Shea came from Michigan. He chose this time of year so he could hunt both deer and birds. He says holidays would make it tough, but he wouldn't necessarily be opposed to a trip later in the year either.
"Probably getting kind of late but maybe, yeah, if I could swing the time," Shea said.
Tourism leaders are hoping more people can swing the time to try out a late-season hunt. They've seen an increase but are still trying to attract more.
Tourism leaders are okay with visitors dropping a traditional pheasant opener hunt to take a trip later in the year. Since the opener is well known, they're confident those vacant spots will quickly fill.
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