Miss South Dakota 2019 Amber Hulse, of Hot Springs, and Miss South Dakota Outstanding Teen 2019 Payton Steffensen, of Yankton, were both in the capital area this past Friday and Saturday Nov. 8-9. Both were in Pierre and Fort Pierre for a fundraising event to generate revenue for scholarships to benefit participants in Miss South Dakota and Miss South Dakota Teen competitions.
Their first night, the reasonably dynamic duo stopped in Pierre at Richie Z’s Brickhouse BBQ and Grill for a pheasant banquet with guests who flew in from all over the U.S. to meet and eventually pheasant hunt with the young women.
“I don’t know what they did for the preparation of it,” Steffenson said. “It was really good.”
The following morning was a beautiful clear, calm day in at Willow Creek Wildlife. It was a perfect day to learn to hunt pheasant.
“You don’t think when you get a sparkly hat put on your head you’d go out and shoot pheasants a couple months later,” said Steffenson.
The Miss South Dakota Outstanding Teen had only ever shot a bb gun, she said, before going out to shoot clay pigeons. After a lesson in gun safety, she only missed a couple clays with her 20 gauge shotgun.
“That’s pretty good. She’s good,” said Bobby Stoeser, one of the guides and coaches at Willow Creek.
“After a deer bladder explodes on your face, you can handle anything,” Hulse said. “I used to skin deer after school. I got this.”
Leading a deer running at 200 yards is a bit different than leading the clay pigeons, Hulse said, and then she found her groove, taking down a good share of clays.
There were two groups of clays being shot. The people who had joined the fundraiser shot with Steve Stoeser, while Bobby had the young women with him. After each group independently finished their session, they met back in the lodge for chili and a surprise.
Hulse walked in and saw a guitar behind a chair in the corner. “A guitar. I play the guitar,” she said. Hulse gave it a strum. “B, D, G, A, E. It’s in okay tune,” she said.
Hulse played a few tunes and sang along while people smiled; having some fun while just hanging out, before chili. And the hunt.
The hunt went well. The dogs worked well, and needed to have the mud removed off their paws before being kenneled. The hunters took in the limit of 25 for all the people with licenses there.
Steffensen, who had never shot a gun before, shot two pheasants at a good range. Hulse, being inside the line and sure to only shoot between 11 and 1 o’clock range in front of her, brought down one pheasant.
Hulse and Steffensen, who drove up from Sioux Falls, and back down for another event as soon as the hunt was over, do it to help perpetuate funds coming in for next year’s winners, and the young women after them.
“I was crowned Miss South Dakota on June 1, this year,” Hulse said. “You only get to be Miss South Dakota for a year. So, I’ll be done in a year. That night, I was awarded $13,000 scholarship money in one night.” Hulse is a Junior at University of South Dakota, majoring in political science.
Hulse has been doing competitions since she was 13 and has won close to $30,000 in scholarship money from the competition program, she said. She never thought she’d be involved in the competitions, she was raised in hunting camps. She was a self-proclaimed tomboy who never liked dresses. Her best friend got her involved.
“It’s almost unbelievable now, to be Miss South Dakota,” Hulse said. “Sometimes I wake up, and I go, ‘I really am IT.’ It’s really incredible to be a role model for other women and to have more money to pursue my education, to become a better woman role model and break glass ceilings that I wouldn’t necessarily have the opportunity to do coming from a small middle class family that ran their own business.”
Hulse said, “it’s not just about winning a sparkly crown and all about you. It is about creating a legacy and helping other women up.”
Steffensen, competing for three years, won the crown in the final year she was eligible. Her favorite subject in high school is “probably English,” she said. “AP lit is pretty fun right now.”
“To win the scholarships, it helps out so much,” Steffensen said. “Coming from a divorced family, and my mom works at home. The fact is there are monthly expense that come up here and there, scholarships help so much.” Steffensen was able to use her scholarship money to help pay some of her tuition at school, she is proud to help her mom in that way, she said, “to be able to use these scholarships to help with dance, or music lessons, or actual school,” Steffensen said.