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Noem Abandons Governor’s Pheasant Hunt for Just Another In-Town Expo

Leave it to Kristi Noem to ruin the Governor’s Hunt.

One would think our self-proclaimed Sportsman in Chief would be eager as all get-out for the Governor’s Hunt, an outdoor tradition initiated by Joe Foss in the 1950s and restarted by Bill Janklow in the early 1980s as a great outdoor crony-fest. The Lear Jet-set get to fly out to the vast, windy expanses of central South Dakota and shoot lots of birds and breeze while rubbing shoulders with South Dakota’s rich and powerful, all seeking business deals and other favors. Sure, they waste a lot of good pheasant meat, but at least we get a bunch of city slickers out to the countryside.

But apparently that’s too much outdoor fun for Governor Kristi Noem. If she has to spend any weekend working, she sure doesn’t want to do it in piddly little Pierre or out in the surrounding boonies. She apparently prefers to schmooze the rich and famous in Sioux Falls at an outdoor expo to be held mostly indoors in Sioux Falls:

Governor Kristi Noem today announced that the 2020 Governor’s Hunt and Sportsmen’s Showcase will be based out of the Sioux Falls Convention Center.

…Major events at the 2020 Governor’s Hunt and Sportsmen’s Showcase will include a public sportsman industry vendor fair with booths from South Dakota hunting, fishing, firearms, and other sportsmen-related industries from around the country; a banquet for state leaders and business prospects; a public concert at the Premier Center; and world-class pheasant hunting in southeastern South Dakota [Governor’s Office, press release, 2019.06.10].

I guess this is what Pierre gets for voting for Marty Jackley in the 2018 primary and Billie Sutton in the 2018 general election instead of Princess Kristi:

“I am deeply grateful to the landowners, community leaders, and business owners in and around Pierre who have built the foundation of success for the Governor’s Hunt. Thank you for your commitment to the tradition of this event over the years,” concluded Noem.

The 2019 Governor’s Hunt will be based out of Pierre [Governor’s Office, 2019.06.10].

Minnehaha County also went for Sutton last year, but the Republicans there went strong for Kristi over Marty last June.

Now sure, even around Sioux Falls, one can find pheasant hunting of internationally recognized quality. But over the past decade, the Sioux Falls area has had one of the lowest pheasant counts in the state, far lower than Pierre, Chamberlain, Winner and Mobridge. Heck, if Noem really wanted to move the event but optimize the hunting, she could give her visitors a target-richer environment by taking them hunting closer to home with Lee Schoenbeck around Watertown:

Travis Runia, Senior Upland Game Biologist, Pheasant Brood Survey Report—2018, SD Game Fish & Parks, 2018.08.27.
Travis Runia, Senior Upland Game Biologist, “Pheasant Brood Survey Report—2018,” SD Game Fish & Parks, 2018.08.27.

But rather than long walks on the prairie, Noem would rather enjoy some short strolls from the mini-bar to the couch in her swanky private Sioux Falls hotel suite while the rich and powerful come pay her homage at a pale shadow of an outdoor tradition.

Governor Noem thus trades an at least somewhat sportsmanly and challenging outdoor event that spotlights what makes South Dakota different for just another trade show with the same booths and boostery convention-speak that entrepreneurs see every week.


  1. Loren 2019-06-11 14:26

    Didn’t take her long to ditch the trucker hat and blue jeans after the election. Guess those are only for campaign posters and not for hosting a hunt. ;-)

  2. Debbo 2019-06-11 15:15

    She could join Senator roundy at this little Axios affair:

    “D.C. readers: Join me Thursday at 8 a.m. for an Axios News Shapers breakfast on China, tariffs and trade.

    “I’ll sit down with Arturo Sarukhán, Mexico’s former ambassador to the U.S.; Rep. Veronica Escobar (D) of El Paso, whose district’s economy relies on cross-border trade; Sen. Mike Rounds (R) of South Dakota, whose farming state has been hit by tariffs; and Ambassador Craig Allen, president of the U.S.-China Business Council.”

    Anyone want to bet on how rosy a picture roundy will paint to please his GOP masters?

  3. JW 2019-06-12 22:58

    Nomesky is a Trumpite private shooting preserver operator. There are over 200 of the places in the state that buy pen-reared birds (many from the state of Wisconsin) and turn them out as needed for wealthy gunner holding themselves out to be a seasoned veteran upland bird nimrod. Check the records to see just how many of those value-added agriculture shooting galleries are located within easy driving distance from Sioux Falls versus Pierre. The colder than normal, record wet spring and flooding in the primary pheasant range will make those historical trends go further into the tank and she can’t possibly send people to the field without the prospect of shooting up at least two boxes of shells. Of course, there will be a few wild birds on public lands along the Missouri in scattered places but the governor’s hunt has never been humble or bold enough to hunt alongside the hoi polloi and go home with a 1.5 bird per hunter per day of hunting. And she can’t have the high rollers cleaning and packaging birds for the trip home like the car salesman from Minneapolis. That task will be undertaken by the shooting preserve guide temporaries. Storage and distribution of the carcasses to charity or the food banks will occur at the end of the season. What I’m concerned about is just how much of our “economic development” money is going to be spent on contract with these shooting preserve operators to show all these hunt “invitees” a good time with lots of feathers and gun smoke.

  4. Debbo 2019-06-13 22:30

    Ellis in the SFAL has an entirely different take on Noem’s pheasant hunt change. He thinks it’s wonderful, bold, shaking up the establishment, etc.

    “Indeed, the announcement to move the governor’s annual pheasant hunt from Pierre to Sioux Falls and southeastern South Dakota does represent a disturbance in The Force, to borrow from Star Wars. It was, six months into her term, a reminder that Noem was an outsider who promised to shake up the cloistered little world of the Pierre power structure.”

    He didn’t drool, to my knowledge, but I think it was a near thing.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-06-14 07:17

    Trading the Pierre power structure that didn’t vote for her for the Sioux Falls power structure that did doesn’t sound like a real shake-up for the people; it’s just punishing her enemies. That’s status quo.

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