SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The opening weekend of the South Dakota pheasant hunting season is complete.
Sioux Falls Regional Airport Executive Director Dan Letellier says about 1,800 hunters per day flew into the airport last Thursday and Friday.
As quickly as pheasant hunters arrived in South Dakota, they’re now heading home.
“Yesterday afternoon it was like dang, it’s over (laugh). It’s like we just started, but yeah, great time,” South Carolina pheasant hunter Sid Farmer said.
Sid Farmer is a retired firefighter from Greenville, South Carolina. His hunting party meets every October northwest of Pierre.
“Started coming up about 14 years ago and I was able to kind of sneak into the group, so this is my seventh year,” Farmer said.
Farmer’s group hunts at Sargent Ranch Lodge.
“Hit our limit every day, had a blast. Sargent Ranch is kind of an all-inclusive thing, so we fly into Sioux Falls and drove up, some of the guys flew into Pierre and they just picked them up. It was a great time,” Farmer said.
Pheasant hunters like Farmer provide a shot in the arm to the local economy in Sioux Falls and small towns across South Dakota.
“This is their Christmas, so to speak, and those hunting numbers are watched very closely. They count on that business to get them through,” Experience Sioux Falls Executive Director Teri Schmidt said.
Schmidt says the opening weekend was a successful one, even for the hunters who didn’t bag their limit.
“For a lot of the people, they’ll tell us well, if we don’t get our birds it’s okay because we get to see the guys or the gals from last year, it’s kind of a reunion thing, so all good,” Schmidt said.
Farmer’s reunion is already booked for next fall.
“Some of the guys left guns in the gun safe up there so they don’t have to pack their guns back, so we’ll be back next year same time, same place,” Farmer said.
Opening weekend is in the books, but the traditional pheasant hunting season in South Dakota runs through January 31, 2022.