The first weekend of pheasant season, for South Dakota residents, was last weekend. The second weekend, also open to out-of-staters, is this weekend. It is the Rooster Rush that a great percentage of South Dakotans wait for every year.
Governor Kristi Noem continued this year’s promotion and celebration of Rooster Rush with a visit to the fourth graders at St. Joseph Elementary School, Wednesday, Oct. 16. Taking a nod from what former First Lady Linda Daugaard loved and did so well, Noem read a book for the kids.
The book choice was the traditional, almost made-to-order book “The Mystery of the Pheasants” by Mark Meierhenry and David Volk, and illustrated by Susan Turnbull. Noem brought her own copy, signed by her, and left it with the students. The story in the book gives the history of pheasants in South Dakota, the history of hunting pheasants, safety while hunting, and the fun of hunting and telling stories of hunting.
Introducing the book, interspersing audience-involving comments, and asking questions of the students, Noem stated, “We are the only state in the country where we shoot our state bird, and have fun doing it.”
“We, as a state will send 1,500 pheasant to the U.S. South Dakota submarine crew for Thanksgiving, so they can have a little bit of South Dakota with them,” said Noem.
Noem told the students what many of them already were waiting for. A meet-and-greet is set for Thursday and Friday at the Pierre airport, welcoming out-of-state hunters. Lois Ries, also at the reading event, is the director of the Convention Visitor Bureau. Ries and her crew are ready for Rooster Rush. There is a Hunters’ Wives Day Out planned. “Lots of orange is going up,” said Noem.
The students knew what are the main predators that eat pheasants and pheasant eggs. Half the class cheered when Noem read that the book’s heroine made the first safe shot to bag a pheasant, and Noem interjected, “Girls Rule!” The other half of the class was not left out when telling Noem of who taught them to hunt birds. Noem learned from her grandmother, while students learned from various relatives and family friends.
The overriding question that could be said promotes Rooster Rush the best was posed by Noem to the students, “Do you have any special memories that involve pheasant hunting?”