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2018 Sioux Falls Pheasant Fest Sets Records

March 04, 2018 by

Sioux Falls Pheasant Fest Sets Records

Finally, after many years of anticipation, our home state of South Dakota gets to enjoy its first Pheasant’s Forever “Pheasant Fest”.  And enjoy it they did!

History & Background

I’ve attended every Pheasant Fest since the beginning.  The first one was in 2003 at the Radisson in Bloomington MN.  Early on I learned how important this event was for networking.  I met the gentleman that created the UGUIDE website and we are still partnered on that front today 15 years later.  The show was very small back then and you did not know when the next one would be.  At first they occurred every 2 years and now they are every year and you know when the next one will be as it is announced at the current event.

Records

The Minnesota location usually holds the record’s for the highest attendance.  That’s no longer the case as the Sioux Falls show boasted close to the 29,000 attendees mark and sets the record for 3rd highest attendance ever.  In addition, the Friday and Saturday night banquets have never sold out at any of the previous Pheasant Fest, but they did in Sioux Falls this year.  Those are big fund raisers for the organization.  It took much pleading and many years to get this show to the state of South Dakota but the huge success will bring it back in due time.  Probably about 5 years in the normal rotation.  Next years show is a first time event in the state of Illinois’ in Schaumberg.   I should also give a shout out to my local towns Pheasant Forever Chapter who won “Chapter of the Year” in 2018.  They recently formed 3 years ago and are called the Fort Randall Chapter near Lake Andes and Armour SD.

Politics

South Dakota has many political seats up for election in 2018.  Kristi Noem and Marty Jackley are running for Governor and both presented their “Pheasant Initiatives”.  Lead Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Rep. Dave Nomsen applauded the candidates for talking “pheasant”.  While we can be sure that these initiatives are about getting votes it remains to be seen how impactful they are at doing what is most impactful to all in the state and that is raising the natural production annually of the states bird, ringneck pheasants.  I would advocate and support a new coalition:  “The 11 Million Pheasant Coalition”.  That was the states pheasant population at its most recent height in 2008.  Hitting that mark regularly would solve a lot of problems for the state, generate a lot of revenue and make a lot of people happy.

2018 Farm Bill

Probably the best timing of this event was to allow for discussion of what impacts pheasant numbers most in many states and that is the Federal Farm Bill.  We are currently experiencing the 24 million CRP acre conservation cap in the existing farm bill.  Demand for more acres by producing farmers is up, grain prices are flat and a new farmbill is needed soon.  Target expansion of CRP acres is set to be between 30-40 million acres nationwide.  Food stamps, crop insurance and conservation will be on the battle lines.  The current farm bill expires in Sept 2018.  A more important benchmark to hit as an outcome of this latest farmbill is the South Dakota statewide 1.5 Million CRP acre mark which has proven to support some of the highest bird numbers on record.  PS.  Bringing Pheasant Fest back to Sioux Falls on the eve of each expiring Farmbill (like it was this year) might be a great idea.  Seems like great timing to put conservation as a priority in the next farmbill.  Farmbills expire every 5 years and require new legislation to reauthorize its objectives.

How do we produce more pheasants?

Did you know 2018 is the Pheasantennial in South Dakota?  The 100th official pheasant season in the state!  We have data going back that far and know where the highs and lows are.  We know what it takes to produce high pheasant numbers.  It works in concert with nature but aside from things we can’t control we know there is no greater producer of pheasants than CRP.  It’s biologically scientific.  But CRP acres are not the only place pheasants are produced.  Production acres like winter wheat have been proven to be about half as productive as CRP which is very significant.  We may never go back to the huge weedy fencelines and cornfields we had in the early pheasant booms but production acres can certainly deliver on birds today.  It is time for conservation organization’s to no longer just focus on conservation acres but all must focus on ALL the acres including production acres as well.  Not just our birds depends on it. Our society does as well.

Additional Resources

Main Article from Pheasant’s Forever on the 2018 Sioux Falls Pheasant Fest

Noem & Jackley Pheasant Plans

Many Good Related Articles on Aberdeen Outdoors

Posted in: News, Pheasant Outlook, Conservation, Habitat Management


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