Pheasant Opener

By Dan Bechtold


This is an exciting time of year. It is hunting season.

Pheasant hunting statewide opens on Oct. 16. The season has been extended again this year to Jan. 31, 2022. Shooting hours all season start at 10 a.m. until sunset.

Dillon Bates, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks conservation officer in Winner, is looking for a good pheasant season this year.

Bates said it was looking good coming into the spring then the drought hit and changed everything.   He said a lot of chicks were lost during the drought. Pheasants eat bugs the first six weeks of their lives. “No bugs means no pheasants,” explained the conservation officer. “I did see a lot of late hatches this year so hopefully some of those survived,” he said.

Bates is still optimistic it will be a decent year for bird numbers. “Some of the areas held birds a lot better than others. It has been kind of spotty,” he said.

Historically, northern Tripp County has  more birds and he says this seems to be true this year.

Bates noted places with cattail slews and water held the birds better.

GFP no longer does brood counts where they count the number of birds in a certain area.

In August, Bates spent a few mornings driving around. “It was not good,” he said. “In the past when I would drive north of town I would see tons of pheasants and this time I saw 1 or 2.”

With the drought farmers are scrambling to hang onto every piece of grass which could have a negative impact on pheasants.

Bate has been the conservation officer here for a year. He serves the four county area of Tripp, Todd, Gregory and Mellette County.

What asked what he looks forward to this year he noted he was not sure what to expect.

COVID-19 is still hanging around.

Last year a lot of hunters did not come due to COVID-19. Now that there is a vaccine available and many people are fully vaccinated there should be more hunters. “I think we will have more hunters than last year. I do not think as many will sit out due to COVID. A lot of them that sat out last year will be itching to get back out,” said Bates.

He checked  with some hunting lodges in the area and they reported good numbers coming into the season. “I think it will be busy year,” he said.

When asked what he wanted hunters to know when they come here he said  to be respectful of private property. If hunting road right of ways know where the road right of way ends. Know what birds you can shoot and what birds you cannot shoot.

Make sure to ask permission if you  are going to go on someone’s property.

Bates stresses that hunters should know the rules and requirements of transportation of birds.

He explained a lot of guys go hunting with  their buddies and only one person brings the birds to town to the processing plant.

The rules are  the bird is tagged with the name of the hunter, the hunter’s address, the total number of species of birds taken, the date the bird was killed and signature of the hunter.

Bates also reminds hunters they cannot shoot within 660 feet of farms, livestock, school, and homes.

He said a lot of farmers are putting up signs about the 660 feet limit. Bates has signs in his office if landowner would like them.

The conservation officer continues to receive calls from hunters seeking information of pheasant season. Each day he gets one or two calls from individuals wanting to know bird numbers and where they can go to hunt.

Tripp County does not have a lot of public land for hunting. So, Bates would like to get more people interested in signing up for walk in areas. They will provide more public lands for persons to hunt.

Bates explained GFP has another program called controlled hunting access but he says is more restricted that a walk in area.

He says soon GFP will be getting a private lands biologist that can work with landowners. This person will be stationed in Chamberlain.

Bates is hoping for good weather for the opening weekend. “I am looking forward to the season and I hope everyone has a successful year and enjoys the hunt.”

10-digit phone dialing to become mandatory

South Dakotans are encouraged to start using 10-digit dialing to make all local phone calls. This could be a harsh realization for many that dialing all 10 digits of 605-(area code)-(last four digits) might not be programmed into cell phones or in land-line speed dials, or other electronic communications devices.

This transition is a necessary first step in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) move to establish 988 as a new three-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This will be required beginning as early as Oct. 24, 2021, and no later than July 15, 2022, depending on your telephone provider.

Every customer with a number from the 605 area code will change to the mandatory 10-digit dialing for local calls. Dialing 7 digits for  local calls will be prohibited for all customers in the entire area code.

“South Dakota’s area code remains 605,” said Leah Mohr, deputy executive director S.D. Public Utilities Commission. This action describes “the FCC’s move to establish 988 as a new three-digit dialing code to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which would require states with a 988 prefix to begin using a 10-digit code, including area code, to make local calls beginning Oct. 24, 2021.

In addition to changing your dialing patterns, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission recommends you take steps to update all contact lists ahead of the upcoming deadlines.

The PUC also suggests you take the time to update or reprogram all services, automatic dialing equipment or other types of equipment that may be programmed to complete calls using only seven-digit phone numbers.

“If you take a look at the technology you use on a daily basis or have in your home or office, you may find many devices or services with programmed call settings that will need to be updated. These can include smart home devices, home security systems, medical monitoring devices, calling networks within companies and call forwarding or voicemail services, just to name a few,” said Kristie Fiegen, vice chair PUC. “Taking the time to update these systems now will help ensure they continue working properly long past the required implementation deadlines.”

South Dakota is not the only state required to make the change. Nationwide, over 80 area codes in 36 states will be affected to ensure easy connection to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline,” said Commissioner Gary Hanson.

Bike riders to travel through Winner

Cal’s Angels “War on Wheels” bike ride will travel through Winner on Oct. 1.

Cal’s Angels is a leading pediatric cancer nonprofit.

The ride will kickoff at Mt. Rushmore on Sept. 29.

Riders will bike nearly 1,000 miles from Mount Rushmore to St. Charles, Ill. to support pediatric cancer patients.

The route on Oct. 1 is Murdo to Winner and then Oct. 2 Winner to Platte. The group will have a rest day in Platte on Oct. 3.

There will be about 20 cyclists raising awareness and funding for pediatric cancer research and Cal’s Angels wish program.

The ride will end Oct. 11 in Illinois.

Build Dakota success leads to more industry participation and student support, helping address South Dakota workforce challenges

The seventh cohort of Build Dakota Scholarship Fund students will begin classes this month, helping to fill the gap of essential workforce needs for South Dakota.

Area students who are Build Dakota Scholarship winners at Mitchell Tech are: Bailey Brown, Winner,  medical laboratory technology; Evan Farner, Winner,  ECM; Nathaniel Hansen, Colome, welding; Casey Taylor, Colome, LPN.

 In January 2021, Governor Kristi Noem announced an additional $20 million in continued support of the Build Dakota Scholarship Fund, securing funding for the program for another five years.

“The state’s commitment to the Build Dakota Scholarship is one of the best examples of how government can partner with private business to make real change in our state,” said Governor Noem. “As more and more businesses look to South Dakota to escape overregulation and high taxes, the Build Dakota Scholarship will allow our workforce the chance to train and meet the needs of our growing economy.”

Over 70% of scholars are backed by an industry partner, meaning these students are guaranteed a job upon completing their degree. Industry partners provide a match with scholarship dollars. In return, students commit to working for the industry partner for three years following graduation. With workforce recruitment challenges facing businesses across the state and nation, Build Dakota offers security and stability for businesses who invest in their workforce through the industry partner program.

“As we enter our seventh year of offering Build Dakota Scholarships to young people, I think we have even more momentum than we did when we announced the program,” said Build Dakota Chairman Dana Dykhouse. “This scholarship is moving the needle for South Dakota employers and helping create successful careers for our state’s workforce.”

Each technical college manages their own industry partner program, working with local businesses and economic development organizations to find future employment opportunities for Build Dakota scholars in high-need workforce areas. This cohort is supported by over $2.6 million in funding from industry partners like Sanford Health, Fiegen Construction, CHS, and many more.

“Our industry partner program has allowed more scholars to be awarded these scholarships, through a match program,” said Deni Amundson, program manager for Build Dakota. “Scholars with an industry partner are guaranteed a job after graduation, and the industry partner has a steady stream of highly trained employees.”

“Year after year, we have a very high level of interest from both students and industry partners wanting to utilize the Build Dakota Scholarship at Southeast Technical College,” said Southeast Technical College President Robert Griggs. “This program has changed the narrative about technical education in our state, and I’m excited to see continued growth and partnerships.”

South Dakota Farm Bureau Sharing Information on Carbon & Climate

South Dakota Farm Bureau (SDFB) and County Farm Bureaus are hosting informational sessions to inform producers on issues relating to Climate Smart

Agriculture and the Drought Monitor. An update will also be provided on the SDFB Health Plans.

  Each session will include three experts to address topics relating to carbon and climate. Speakers include Brian A. Fuchs with the National Drought Mitigation Center,

Ben Gordon with Corteva Agriscience and Shelby Myers an economist with American

Farm Bureau Federation.

The meetings include a meal and are free and open to the public. They will be

held four different times, in four separate locations.

August 3, at 12 p.m. (MT) at the Branding Iron, Belle Fourche

August 3, at 6:30 p.m. (MT) at the Mueller Center, Hot Springs

August 4, at 12 p.m. (CT) at the Holiday Inn Express, Winner

August 4, at 6:30 p.m. (CT) at the Miller Community Center, Miller

This event is made possible in part by grant funding from American Farm Bureau and area County Farm Bureaus.

Governor Noem Signs Executive Order to Increase Producers’ Access to Hay

PIERRE, S.D. –  Governor Kristi Noem signed an executive order declaring a statewide state of emergency for drought conditions and allowing ditch mowing in Eastern South Dakota to begin effective immediately. As drought conditions continue to negatively impact feed availability for livestock across South Dakota, this order will increase access to hay for farmers and ranchers.

“Growing up on the family ranch, I know how difficult it can be to feed cattle during dry times,” said Governor Kristi Noem. “This increased flexibility will allow producers to immediately gain access to hay for their livestock. With a mild winter and early spring, most of the pheasant hatch is well behind us, and we do not expect this move to affect pheasant numbers.  Reports from the field look fantastic for the upcoming pheasant hunting season.”

Executive Order 2021-09 is effective immediately and will remain effective through Aug. 31, 2021.

Department of Health Announces Preliminary List of Conditions for Medical Cannabis Program

PIERRE, S.D. –  The South Dakota Department of Health announced a preliminary list of conditions that will be covered by the state’s medical cannabis program, which went into effect on July 1 following the voters’ passage of IM-26 last November.

“Under the law passed by the voters, patients must be experiencing a ‘debilitating medical condition’ and be certified by a doctor that medical cannabis will help alleviate their condition,” said South Dakota Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon. “This preliminary list of conditions meets the definition as passed by the voters, and is a result of feedback the department has already received. A process will be available for South Dakotans to petition to add more conditions to this list in the future.”

 The preliminary list of conditions includes:

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV);

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease;

Multiple sclerosis (MS);

Cancer associated with severe or chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting;

Crohn’s disease;

Epilepsy and seizures;

Glaucoma; and

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

These conditions are in addition to the definition of “debilitating medical condition” as passed by the voters in IM-26, which is defined as, “A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe, debilitating pain; severe nausea; seizures; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis.” The conditions listed above will be included in the final rules package proposed by the department.

For more information on South Dakota’s medical cannabis program, visit

Kristina Schaefer, David Bangasser, David Nelson and Steve Bumann Elected as SDBA 2021-2022 Officers

Submitted Photo
David Nelson, President/ CEO, First Fidelity Bank in Burke, elected Vice Chair for its 2021-2022 Board of Directors

PIERRE, S.D.– The South Dakota Bankers Association (SDBA), the professional and trade association for South Dakota’s financial services industry, elected officers for its 2021-2022 Board of Directors. The SDBA is honored to have the following individuals serve as officers:

•  Chair: Kristina Schaefer, General Counsel & Chief Risk Officer, First Bank & Trust, Sioux Falls

•  Chair-Elect: David Bangasser, Southern Region President, Dacotah Bank, Sioux Falls

•  Vice Chair: David Nelson, President/CEO, First Fidelity Bank, Burke

•  Immediate Past Chair: Steve Bumann, CFO, BankWest, Inc., Pierre

The official election took place at the SDBA’s Annual Business Meeting held on June 15 in Rapid City. The term for the new officers is effective now through next year’s Annual Business Meeting.

Vice Chair David Nelson:

David Nelson is president and CEO of First Fidelity Bank in Burke. Before joining the bank in 1995, he worked as an investment representative for American Express. Nelson has a bachelor of science degree in business administration and a master of business administration from the University of South Dakota and attended the Graduate School of Banking in Wisconsin. He has Series 7, 63 and 65 national securities licenses.

Nelson is a member of the Burke Business Promotion Corporation and the Platte Area Foundation Board. He is past president of the Platte Development Corporation and previously served on the Platte Chamber of Commerce Board, St. Peter’s Catholic Church Council and the Platte Black Panther Booster Club Board. Nelson is a member of St. Peter’s Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus.

Nelson and his wife, Bernadette, have been married for 42 years. They have three grown daughters and seven grandchildren.

Highway 44 Platte-Winner Bridge Project Update

Engineering design is underway for the proposed Highway 44 Platte-Winner Bridge over the Missouri River.

The South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) design team is in the process of developing designs for the new bridge and associated new roadway alignment on either side of the river. Starting in May 2021, this design process has included the collection of geologic information about the new alignment.  In order to collect information in the river, SDDOT contracted with a barge company to provide access for our drilling equipment on the water. That work on the river was completed in June.  Our design team has moved out of the water to collect geologic information for the portions of the project on land. Recognizing that much of the sampling work is set to take place in the Snake Creek Recreation Area, we are trying to limit our work to weekdays and avoiding the July 4th holiday, when recreational activity is at a peak. Current plans are for the sampling to be complete in mid-July.

Overall progress on the project remains on track for completion of environmental studies later this year.  When the project’s Environmental Assessment is completed, SDDOT will conduct public meetings to share findings of the study and present related mitigation items such as improvements at the Snake Creek Recreation Area.  Construction of the new bridge is still planned to begin in late 2024.

Project documents, including the Corridor Study, are available for viewing on the project web site

Governor Noem Launches Website for Medical Cannabis Program

PIERRE, S.D. –  Governor Kristi Noem, along with the South Dakota Department of Health and the South Dakota Department of Education, launched, a website to answer questions and provide information about the upcoming medical cannabis program set to take effect on July 1, 2021. “One of my jobs as governor is to make sure that the will of the people and all constitutional laws are enforced,” said Governor Kristi Noem. “I want South Dakota to have the best, most patient-focused medical cannabis program in the country. I’ve heard from people who are hurting and are hopeful for relief. My team is 100% committed to starting this program as quickly and as responsibly as possible for South Dakota.”

Medical cannabis will be legal on July 1, 2021, after the voters of South Dakota passed Initiated Measure 26 in November 2020. The medical cannabis program is on schedule. The Departments of Health and Education are creating and will operate the new regulatory program to ensure the safety of patients, students, and the public in this new industry.

 “We are working hard to streamline the process to get medical cards out to people,” continued Governor Noem. “Other states have made mistakes that we do not want to repeat, so we have been careful in our approach.“    In conjunction with the website, Governor Noem also launched a new public service announcement (PSA) to tell the people of South Dakota where they can find more information about the medical cannabis program.