Dakota Country Magazine October 2016 Edition - Page 56

I South Dakota’s Unofficial Holiday (Maybe it should be made official) “It has been a most remarkable journey since South Dakota’s first pheasant season in Spink County in 1919. If you love to hunt pheasants and have been part of this journey, you should count yourself fortunate. There is no place on earth like South Dakota, where ring-necked pheasants have been so abundant for most of the past century and where opportunities to hunt these magnificent birds are so readily available.” That quote comes from the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks’ recent publication, RingNecked Pheasants: Thriving in South Dakota. Count me as one of those fortunate individuals to experience ring-necked pheasant hunting in South Dakota. Since my retirement as a Nebraska secondary teacher of United States History, I’ve made 14 pheasant hunting trips to South Dakota. Seven of those 14 trips allowed me to experience the cultural phenomenon of opening day. With all the fanfare that goes with Rooster Rush it could well have been a holiday. Retirement has given me more time to devote to my lifelong hobby of pheasant hunting. An offshoot of my interest in pheasant hunting has been doing research of pheasant facts and pheasant history. As a result of my trips to South Dakota I began researching the history of South Dakota’s pheasant hunting seasons. Of major importance, I wanted to learn, has the tradition of the pheasant hunting season opener always been on the third by Lonnie Shafer ROOSTER RUSH! Penny, Amie, and Lonnie Shafer enjoying an opening day pursuing ring-necks. Photo by Jeff Shafer. Page 56, Dakota Country, October 2016 www.dakotacountrymagazine.com