ESTELLINE, S.D. (KELO) — Pheasant season is here in South Dakota, and hunters are taking to the golden fields.
It’s opening weekend, and hunters here at the Dakota Ringneck Lodge are bringing in roosters.
“It was literally perfect spring for pheasant hatches because it was dry all spring, we really didn’t get our first rain until around the towards the end of June,” owner Andy Hansen said.
Owner Andy Hansen says they are already fully booked until late December.
“Most of the hunters that we have come through it been coming for many years. It’s just the friendship that you build with them. And it’s fun to see with them,” Hansen said.
One of these groups has been making the trek here from Chicago for close to two decades.
“It’s wonderful to get the group together. We enjoy being together being out in the field together and having a lot of fun together. The Hansen’s make us feel like we’re at home, and we have a ball here. So we keep coming back,” hunter Rick Battistoni said.
“There’s nothing like walking through that field with those dogs out in front of you and God help you if you miss because if you miss the dogs give you that stare, that says like, ‘Hey, I’m working here! The least you could do is knock them down,” hunter Bill Hanson said.
Over the last few years, the group has had some new additions.
“The original group of guys had been doing this for a lot of years and are getting older. So now we’ve started bringing our sons up,” Battistoni said.
A generational tradition will more memories to come.
“What’s really neat is we hear these guys making their own memories and we hear them out in the fields in that and laughing about this and that… a lot of the day is filled up with new memories that they have that now we’re laughing about stuff that you know that they did,” Hanson said.
Owner Andy Hansen said they hosted over 30 hunters this weekend, the busiest the lodge has ever been for opening weekend.