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Prominent Pierre Republican Lawyer/Lobbyist Criticizes Noem’s Abandonment of Governor’s Hunt

Is Governor Kristi Noem’s abandonment of the traditional Governor’s Hunt in the greater Pierre area in favor of another big expo and concert in Sioux Falls really shaking up the establishment?

I wouldn’t say establishment lawyer and lobbyist Will Morternson is shook up, but he offers a smart criticism of Governor Noem’s seemingly short-sighted move. Where Noem-sponsored blogger Pat Powers calls the Governor’s Hunt “a little stale,” Mortenson calls the Governor’s Hunt a “source of pride for our state” and a chance to “aim higher“:

The hunt has rightly been a source of pride for our state for two reasons: driving economic development for the state and world-class hunting. I fear we have surrendered both.

Since inception by Gov. Joe Foss and modern conception by Bill Janklow, the governor’s hunt has been about all of South Dakota. It was an event to pitch our state — from the Black Hills to the Coteau Hills. Sioux Falls has plenty of funds and personnel to carry off its own economic development event, if they choose.

In states like Illinois and Minnesota, there is a tendency to think of the state as its biggest city — and everywhere else is an afterthought. I don’t want to live in Illinois or Minnesota. I want to keep our best things scattered across the state [Will Mortenson, “Aim Higher on Governor’s Hunt {paywall},” Aberdeen American News, 2019.06.17].

Mortenson aims his critique well. The Governor’s Hunt is plain crony back-slapping, through and through, but at least as conceived by Joe Foss and revived by Bill Janklow, it was a chance to spotlight a broader swath of our fair state. Sioux Falls draws visitors and their dollars all the time. Mortenson’s beloved home base of Fort Pierre, Chamberlain, Mobridge, and the adjoining great South Dakota outback don’t get as many chances to host fancy-pants entrepreneurs. From an Adam Smith perspective, in which government enters the marketplace only to do things that the market doesn’t do well on its own, if Governor Noem has a spare weekend to deploy herself and other state officials to schmooze up our state, she should be doing so in a unique way that adds value where value would not otherwise be added, not just giving herself another weekend in the big city that picked her in the primary instead of the capital that preferred her primary opponent.

Related Reading: I didn’t see a lot of Tweetage from Mortenson on last year’s gubernatorial race. Mortenson focused more on boosting Dusty Johnson for Congress and bashing Amendment W.


  1. Donald Pay 2019-06-18 10:42

    The Governor’s hunt usually is about the elite.
    I agreee it’s really stale. It has been for a long time.

    Why not make it for youth? Pair disadvantaged youth with experienced hunters.

  2. 96Tears 2019-06-18 12:16

    Where do you hunt pheasants?

    Not in or around Sioux Falls. What the haydiddle, Governor? As with your goofy predator trapping initiative, you’ve shown that you understand nothing about pheasant biology in South Dakota.

    If the menfolk at your Hamlin County farm told you they went to Sioux Falls to hunt pheasants, take it to the bank that they weren’t hunting pheasants. If you’re looking for pheasants to hunt, you go to where the pheasants are. Like Brown County, Clark County, Kingsbury County, Miner County, Hanson County, Douglas County, Charles Mix County and points west to Bennett County, Haakon County, Ziebach County and Corson County. What’s in the middle of the state’s pheasant range?

    Oh! It’s Pierre! You remember? It’s where you’re building your wall and where the money comes from to pay you and your family members on the state payroll.

    Unless it’s to shoot birds at a commercial pay-to-hunt chicken ranch, I can’t imagine many prospective business relocators wanting to waste a couple days looking for pheasants at Sioux Falls where pheasants are very sparse.

    It would be like shopping at Old Navy, Gap, Christopher & Banks and rue21 in Castlewood.

  3. chris 2019-06-18 12:38

    Heh, Kristi Noem just wants everone to follow in the historic southeast sodak canned-hunt footsteps of paul erickson + maria butina. Maybe some charter bus tours are in order.

  4. mike from iowa 2019-06-18 13:03

    Maybe the guys are after Sioux Falls version of San Quentin Quail.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-06-18 19:04

    I wonder how the vote would have gone if candidate Noem had said last October that she planned to end the Governor’s Hunt in central SD and hold an expo and concert in Sioux Falls instead.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-06-18 19:11

    Donald, I agree that we could make the Governor’s Hunt something really special. Instead of pairing up South Dakota elites with rich visitors, why not have the Governor and every hunting member of the Executive Branch hunt with disadvantaged kids? Why not make it a real opportunity to get kids out to enjoy the outdoors (still killing stuff, but a little more sporting than trapping)?

    Or if the hunt is stale, why not have a Fall Free Camping Weekend, like the opener in May? Why not have a Governor’s Hike on Trail 89 (might have to limit numbers so we don’t wear down the trail too much), or a Governor’s Ride on the Mickelson Trail, or a Governor’s Paddle on the Missouri?… or all three in one long weekend (Native American Day!), where instead of having a show for people to sell stuff, the Governor leads us all outside to actually engage in sports and outdoors activities, where for 72 hours, the Governor’s job is not to schmooze CEOs looking for tax breaks but to hike and bike and kayak with fellow South Dakotans, encourage them to get up that hill or around that sandbar, and then just sit down around the campfire for a wienie roast with everyone?

  7. Debbo 2019-06-18 21:36

    “the governor’s hunt has been about all of South Dakota.”

    Wasn’t there something about keeping secret the list of attendees? I disagree with the above statement and agree with Don. It’s become a fancy soiree. Next time Darth Cheney will show up and shoot somebody in the face.

  8. grudznick 2019-06-19 00:11

    Ms. Debbo, clearly once again you are way out of date. Get with the modern list. You can keep the archaic haircut, as do I, but research your blather just a little bit. I think they posted the lists in that Sioux Falls rag paper a dozen years ago (I recall some friends being really upset and frothing at a late fall breakfast). Have you really been out-of-state for that long, and not paying attention to these things you claim to be important? Google a few blue links for your own god’s sake. If I had a god, he’d hammer your god to a post with some big nails just out of him allowing his, and I am sure he would be a man, allowing his followers to be that dense.

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