Redfield celebrates 100 year anniversary of pheasant hunting in Spink County
By Shiloh Appel
When the sun peaked over the horizon at the dawning of a new day on October 30th, it was greeted with cold, crisp air warning that winter lurked just around the corner. However, the cold didn’t stop the festivities about to take place that morning in honor of a long-held tradition that began 100 years ago in Spink County.
That tradition is “good old South Dakota pheasant hunting”. On the morning of October 30th, 2019, a crew of 50 hunters and special guests gathered for a brunch provided by Leo’s Good Food at the Chicago and Northwestern Depot (sponsored by Avera) before taking a group photo and heading out to the field for a commemorative pheasant release held within walking distance of Hagman’s Grove.
Looking back, the first successful pheasant release in South Dakota was held in 1908 right at Hagman’s Grove (just north of Redfield) by H.P. Packard, H.J. Schalke and H.A. Hagman. The sportsmen released three pairs of ring-necked pheasants and the pheasants quickly began to populate the area. Eleven years later, on October 30, 1919, it was “a historic day for South Dakota, when the event that would change the course of the state’s future happened…in Spink County.” One thousand hunters went out and harvested 200 pheasants during the first one-day pheasant hunting season ever held in South Dakota. According to the Game, Fish and Parks, there was heavy snow cover and rain later that day, so pheasants were hard to find.
Nevertheless, pheasant hunting had become a true sport in South Dakota and it would continue to grow over the decades. By 1945, the South Dakota pheasant population was estimated at 16 million birds.
Now, fast forward exactly 100 years (to the day) after the first pheasant hunt in South Dakota. The group of hunters standing in the field not far from Hagman’s Grove formed a small sea of orange as they waited for 50 pheasants to arrive from Collin Klebsch’s farm. The air was still very chilly, and most of the crew was bundled up in hats and gloves, but the weather didn’t compare to the deep snow and rain that marked the first pheasant hunt in 1919. After the pheasants arrived, they were each launched into the open air and quickly took flight, just as their predecessors had 100 years ago.
After the release, the hunters headed out for a Mayor’s Hunt on Ron Wren’s property. Special guests that afternoon and evening included Bernie Hunhoff, SD Magazine Editor-At-Large; Jayme Akin, Mayor of Redfield; Miranda Mack, 2017 Miss South Dakota; Kyle Peters, GOED Commuity Development Representative; Bill Sherck, Minnesota Bound/Ron Schara Productions; Lucas Ramthun, Pheasants Forever Corporate Sales Representative; Paul Nester, Midwest Hunt & Fish Managing Editor; Brock Greenfield, Senator; Author Lonnie Shafer; Travis Schaunaman, Mayor of Aberdeen; Steven Wollman, Spink County Veterans Service Officer; Casey Weismantel, Aberdeen Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director.; Tom Glanzer, NorthWestern Energy Community Relations Manager; Paul Mantz, NorthWestern Energy Economic Development Specialist; Sallie Doty, SD Department of Transportation; Rhet Russell, SD Game Fish & Parks; Jerad Appel, Redfield Chamber President; Clayton Blachford, Grow Spink, Inc. President; George Seiler, Redfield School Superintendent.
The big day came to a close that evening with a large banquet at Shanty Haven. Everything was ready to go and decorated in pheasant feathers and hunting memorabilia as 325 guests arrived. Randy Maddox gave the welcome, Miranda Mack sang the national anthem, and Father Tom Anderson prayed over the prime rib meal, which was provided by Auntie Mimi’s and catered by Redfield FFA students and the Redfield Cheer Team.
Special speakers included Redfield Mayor Jayme Akin, South Dakota Magazine Editor, Bernie Hunhoff, and South Dakota Lieutenant Governor, Larry Rhoden. Mack also sang a few songs before the evening’s winners were announced. Byron Goetsch of Sioux Falls was the winner of the Commemorative Beretta 12 gauge A400 shot gun donated by the Redfield Ringneck Association and Clayton Blachford was the overall winner of the Longest Tail Feather Contest sponsored by the Redfield Area Chamber of Commerce. Blachford received a custom engraved bottle of Gentleman Jack with the Pheasantennial logo on it as his award.
The evening wrapped up at about 9p.m. and each guest received a Pheasantennial book to take home with them full of pheasant hunting memories and photos from Spink County over the last century.