The Great South Dakota Un-Holiday

There was a time in my life when the third Saturday in October was just another day. Of course that was before I moved here to South Dakota. Now, I realize that there are holidays and there are holidays. Each holds a special meaning and importance. We stop and take a moment each December 25th to remember the reason for the season. We kick off a new year about a week later. Many in our community (myself included) bow our heads and thank the Lord on Easter Sunday. July Forth brings out the flags, the parades and the fireworks. There are others. I won’t list them all.

 

This day – the third Saturday in October is not an official holiday (though some may think otherwise). It is a day that countless people have been planning on and working toward for months. From airport to interstate people arrive to help us celebrate our un-holiday. Some have said that the population of the rural counties actually doubles this day. Many people have friends that they invite in to share our experience. Others arrive strictly drawn to the event. The influx of celebrants is so great that we would be hard pressed to find a vacancy sign today.

 

The opening day of the Pheasant Hunting Season is special to many people but it influences every South Dakota resident in some fashion. For some it is the start of a business cycle that will run through January. For others it is their Black Friday, when the annual business budget actually goes from red to black.

 

In South Dakota the biggest revenue generator is Agri-business, the second is Tourism. To us in the Northeast quarter of the state, tourism means hunting. There are many people in my area that cater to hunters. Whether it be for fun or for profit, they have been getting ready for this day for a while. The tax revenue this event brings in is a significant portion of the South Dakota state budget. From government to business to the family farm that allows hunters to walk in, the vast majority are involved in some way. There is reason that Cabela’s chose Mitchell, South Dakota for an anchor store. It wasn’t our burgeoning population. It was this day and this season.

 

My situation is not unlike many who live outside of town. I have a small hobby farm that is surrounded by three large shelter belts. I always expect a knock at my door on this day. Men and sometimes women dressed in denim and orange looking to walk my property seeking the opportunity to shoot our state bird. This year it was no different. The official opening of the season was high noon and the first knock came eighteen minutes later.

 

I look forward to this time of year. Not because I am a hunter (I’m not), but because of the people I meet. I have made some great friends over the years because of this un-holiday.

 

So let me say what is written in orange and on signs throughout the state…

 

Welcome Hunters!

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Published in: on October 21, 2012 at 10:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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