The annual hunting population boom will soon be upon us as friends, family, and visitors make their way to the fields in search of our state bird, the Chinese ring-necked pheasant. In parts of South Dakota, more people will return for the pheasant opener than holidays and it can be hard to get a seat on an airplane filled with camouflage bird-seekers. As we dig out our orange hunting gear and clean our shotguns, we prepare for one of the great traditions of our state.
As a member of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, I have an opportunity to shape and support conservation programs that boost wildlife habitat and benefit our hunting traditions in South Dakota. During debate of the Senate Farm Bill, I worked to consolidate 23 conservation programs into 13, while reauthorizing the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), a program of great benefit to our state's pheasant population.
Pheasant hunting generates approximately $200 million in revenues for South Dakota. Whether it is the licenses, gas, and gear that they buy, or the nights spent in lodges and hotels throughout the state, it is clear that hunting in South Dakota is also big business.
But as a kid growing up in Murdo, we didn't think of hunting as a business. For me and many other kids across the state, hunting is a way to learn responsibility and spend time outdoors. This year will be no different as sons and daughters across South Dakota walk the fields, shotguns in hand, looking to bag their limit.
Hunting season in South Dakota is my favorite time of year and I can think of no place I would rather be than in a field with family and friends by my side. I wish all hunters a safe and successful hunting season.