HARTFORD, SD (KELO) — Businesses on main streets across South Dakota are catching their breath following a busy weekend with the pheasant opener. All those hunters in the state provide a big boost to shops, restaurants, motels and hotels across the state, especially in smaller communities.
Hunters made a food run to the Coffee Cup Fuel Stop before flushing out pheasants in the field.
“I always grab some jerky, gotta have some jerky, gotta get some fluids in you. A couple of guys the night before, I know they like to get a little wild so I’m sure they’re loading up on Gatorades,” Tyler Starr of Sioux Falls said.
Saturday’s opener was a busy one at the checkout counter.
“We were really busy on Saturday morning! Especially when I came in at 8:00, we had lines backed up about halfway from the front. It was just great,” Coffee Cup cashier Casey Halvorson said.
The store made sure their shelves and coolers were fully-stocked for the influx of hunters.
“We’re talking about the pop coolers, we’re talking about the beer coolers, we’re talking about any type of cooler, we try to keep it stocked because once they come in, they want to grab the food they want to grab, the ice and stuff so they can hit the road and go get those pheasants,” Halvorson said.
Down the road from the Coffee Cup, bookings here at the AmericInn hotel outpaced last year’s pheasant opener.
“Friday night, we were completely sold out. Saturday we were 97-percent sold out and then even Sunday, which is usually slower, we were still in the top 80’s for percentage for occupation,” AmericInn by Wyndham General Manager Stephanie Minckler said.
A favorite hunter hangout was the hotel bar, which ran out of Busch Light over the weekend.
“Whereas normal travelers, if they hang out at the bar, it’s for a little bit. But hunters, I mean they were out until 1 o’clock in the morning last night just hanging out and having fun,” Minckler said.
The AmericInn is booked solid for the next few weekends. And some hunters are already making their reservations for next year as they head home.
“See you next year and hope you catch more,” Minckler said.
Lodgers came as far away as Missouri and New York.
The hotel general manager says hunters rarely make last-minute cancellations because they look forward to opening weekend all year long.