MADISON, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota saw some of the highest sales of nonresident pheasant licenses during opening weekend in some time.

That’s according to state Wildlife Division director Tom Kirschenmann. He reported numbers to the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission on Thursday.

The traditional season opened Saturday, October 21. During that Friday through Sunday, nonresidents bought 10,458 small-game licenses. Add in license sales to nonresident youth and nonresidents for use at shooting preserves, and the total reached 11,445.

Those were more than during the five previous years and were up more than 15% from the 2022 season’s opening weekend, according to Kirschenmann.

Nonresident pheasant hunting is big business in South Dakota. The state Department of Game, Fish and Parks reported that 53,846 residents and 73,887 nonresidents hunted pheasants in 2022 and took more than 1.1 million roosters.

The largest harvest came in 2007 when an estimated 2.1 million pheasants were bagged, according to GFP data. There were 103,048 nonresident and 77,788 resident hunters that season.