We can’t count pheasants, but we’ll sure count pheasant hunters.
Bob Mercer describes the 62,289 nonresident pheasant-hunting licenses we sold last year as a modern low. I suggest the real story is that in the midst of a raging and deadly pandemic, South Dakota hosted 97.6% as many out-of-state shooters as it did in Fall 2019:
Last season, South Dakota hosted the fewest nonresident pheasant hunters since 1998, according to data from the state Game, Fish and Parks Department.
The 62,289 nonresidents marked the continuation of a downward trend the past decade. Nonresidents bought 100,189 licenses in 2010. By 2019 the number had slowly fallen to 63,801.
By comparison, residents purchased 59,042 pheasant licenses last year. That was up from 47,403 in 2019. Resident sales had fallen steadily in recent decades. They totaled 84,342 in 1999 [Bob Mercer, “Nonresident Pheasant Hunters Dropped to Modern Low in South Dakota for 2020 Season,” KELO-TV, 2021.07.08].
If we’d been sensible about travel and tourism, South Dakota would have told hunters to stay home in 2020. Instead, we crowded the lodges and bars and restaurants with out-of-state visitors in October and November, and saw our new coronavirus cases peak in mid-November and coronavirus deaths peak in later November and early December.