Birds of a Feather

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Birds of a Feather


By: Governor Kristi Noem

October 20, 2023


South Dakota always seems to come alive in autumn. The air is crisp and cool, the leaves on the trees change to create a colorful masterpiece, and our farmers are preparing to harvest their crops. But there is one particular part of fall in South Dakota that has always put our state on the map. It’s an iconic South Dakota tradition that we’re known for worldwide: pheasant hunting.


We are celebrating the beginning of pheasant hunting season. You know, I think South Dakota is the only state that actively celebrates shooting its state bird! And it’s something we do with pride.


Our pheasant hunting roots run deep in South Dakota – and rightfully so. We have the best pheasant hunting in the world! People come from all over for a chance to participate in my favorite outdoor sport. 


For me, pheasant hunting season always reminds me of my family. Before I was old enough to get my own hunting license, I used to follow my grandmother, Dorris, when she was out bird hunting. My dad preferred big game hunting. And from a young age, my siblings and I went with him. Our family trips were often hunting trips. Those trips were where I learned some of the best life lessons that I still use on a daily basis. Hunting taught me how to be a problem solver.


Hunting was always something that my family did together. Now, as a mother and a grandmother, I’ve continued the family tradition with my own kids and grandkids. I wanted to make sure that my kids learned the same lessons that I valued learning from my dad so much.


Now, I have two little grandkids. It warms my heart to know that future generations in my family will have the same kind of experiences that I did with my grandmother and my dad.


Hunting and guns aren’t political in South Dakota – they’re a way of life. And every year during pheasant season, we welcome people to join our South Dakota family for a little while. Folks get together to hunt, but they also get to experience all that our state has to offer. Our small-town communities treat visitors like one of our own. In South Dakota, we still believe in traditional, down-home, American values. And I hope that our visitors feel that whenever they come here.


In South Dakota, we really are like birds of a feather. And every fall, we flock together to spend time with our friends and families, enjoy the best pheasant hunting in the world, and enjoy the great outdoors.


There is something so special about the rugged Wild West during this time of year. Whether you live in South Dakota or come to visit us, I hope you will take advantage of all that this season has to offer.


Happy pheasant season – I look forward to seeing you all in the field!