If there is an un-official holiday in my home state of South Dakota, it is the opening day of pheasant season.
This Saturday, October 18, at 12:00 pm Central Time, friends and family who have gathered from all over the country, will step into the fields in search of pheasants and fellowship. They will assuredly find both.
As a kid growing up, we always had hunters out for opening day. I can remember how exciting it was to hang out with them for the weekend. We got fed plenty of candy over the weekend from the grateful hunters. We had hunters from near and far. Some of our best family friends have been made through pheasant hunting. In the 1950s, some hunters from Indiana stopped at my grandfather's place and asked if they could hunt pheasants. My grandpa asked if they knew the difference between pheasants and livestock. They said they did and they continued to come back to our family farm for almost 40 years. They even made a special trip back to South Dakota when my grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary because of the friendship that ensued from hunting together.
Now that I am older and have kids of my own this tradition means even more to me. While my oldest, who turn six in a week, isn't old enough to hunt, this will be his third trip to pheasant camp. Sharing a tradition with your son that you grew up with fills a father's heart with pride and sears memories into your mind that time can't erase.
With a ratio of 14 pheasants per person residing in the state, this year's hunt should prove to be another great one. While there is a limit on how many pheasants you can shoot, there is no limit on the fun that can be had at pheasant camp for young and old. I hope everyone has the opportunity to share traditions like these with their children.