GFP Commission Extends Pheasant Hunting Season, Keeps Bag Limits at 3 andAllows Unrestricted Harvest on Shooting Preserves

PIERRE, S.D. – For the first time in the history of South Dakota pheasant hunting, pheasant hunters will be able to begin hunting pheasants at 10 a.m. CT (9 a.m. MT) for the entire pheasant season, including the resident-only season, which begins this year on Saturday, Oct. 10.   

Hunters will also have the opportunity to hunt ringnecks for a couple of extra weeks as the Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Commission extended the season to Jan. 31, 2021.    

These extensions will provide additional opportunity for hunters and bring South Dakota in line with pheasant hunting states like Nebraska and Kansas that surround the pheasant hunting capital.   

“It’s very exciting to offer these expanded opportunities to those who want to experience the greatest pheasant hunting inthe nation,” said Kelly Hepler, Secretary of South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.   

“Behind Governor Noem’s Second Century Initiative, this is one more way we are working to secure South Dakota’s great outdoor heritage and the next 100 years of pheasant hunting in our state.”     

The commission ultimately decided to retain the daily bag limit of three pheasants for the statewide season, but did vote to adopt an unrestricted harvest opportunity for those hunting on a private shooting preserve from Sept. 1 through the end of the statewide pheasant season.

The commission amended the original proposal and voted to approve the modification allowing preserve hunters the opportunity if they obtained a statewide nonresident smallgame license plus a habitat stamp and, for residents, a combination license and the habitat stamp.   

To view the proposals in their entirety, visit gfp.sd.gov/commission/information. Audio from the meeting is available through South Dakota Public Broadcasting and will soon be available on the GFP website as part of the meeting archive.

Defending Those Who Defend America


By Sen. John Thune

The Senate recently completed consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – annual legislation to authorize funding for our military and national defense. Like the last two NDAAs, this year’s bill focuses on restoring military readiness and ensuring that our nation is prepared to meet threats posed by major powers like Russia and China.

A lot of people tend to take it for granted that we have the strongest military in the world. But the truth is, years of underfunding and budgetary uncertainty, combined with heavy operational demands, left our military under-equipped, under-manned, and under-prepared to meet the threats of the 21st century.

In November 2018, the bipartisan National Defense Strategy Commission released a report warning that our readiness had eroded to the point where we might struggle to win a war against a major power like Russia or China. And the commission noted that we would be especially vulnerable if we were ever called on to fight a war on two fronts. Over the past two years, we’ve made real progress on restoring military readiness. But we still have more work to do.

This year’s NDAA continues our investment in ensuring that our military is prepared to meet current and future threats – in any domain. In particular, it focuses on implementing the National Defense Strategy by building on the work we’ve done to ensure our country is prepared to counter the threat posed by great powers.

Most notably, the bill establishes the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, which will act as a check on Chinese aggression in the Pacific region. It will help ensure that American troops are better prepared to meet threats in that area of the world. And it will send a clear message to China that America is committed to the security of our allies in the Pacific and keeping global waterways open and free.

No matter what weapons or ships or technology we have, our greatest resource will always be the men and women of the United States military. And we have an obligation to them – and to their families – to ensure that they have all the resources they need to meet the threats we ask them to face. We also need to make sure that we are supporting a high quality of life for our military members and their families.

This year’s NDAA supports a 3 percent pay raise for our troops. It also builds on previous measures to improve military health care and housing. And it contains measures to support families in areas like child care and professional development for military spouses. Recognizing that our obligation to the men and women in uniform continues beyond their service, it also expands presumptive coverage for Agent Orange exposure.

The NDAA is one of the most important pieces of legislation we pass every year, a sentiment underscored by the fact that our adversaries have been making significant investments in their militaries – making their goals clear to not only challenge the United States and our allies, but intimidate their neighbors and expand their spheres of influence.

Alarmingly, we have seen such aggressive activity include attempting to steal medical data and coronavirus vaccine research, threats that necessitate the expanded investment in cyber capabilities provided in the NDAA.

This NDAA likewise continues our military modernization efforts. I’m honored to represent Ellsworth Air Force Base in the U.S. Senate, and as we look forward with great anticipation to the future B-21 bomber mission, I am committed to helping the base prepare for their arrival. This will not only include investments in base infrastructure, but also working to optimize the Powder River Training Complex airspace to ensure adequate space for realistic combat training.

While the Senate has passed its bill, we have more work ahead of us, and I look forward to working with my colleagues of both parties to advance this NDAA and get our military men and women the resources they need to defend our nation.

Making Telehealth Permanent

By Rep. Dusty Johnson

In March, when things went from 0 to 100 at the beginning of the pandemic, our health care system was forced to adapt quickly on so many levels. With patients no longer allowed to visit hospitals in-person for regular appointments, we needed a solution – and fast.

Telehealth was the answer. The administration quickly expanded Medicare’s telehealth coverage during the pandemic, ensuring our seniors had access to their providers from the safety of their own home.

Prior to COVID-19, Senator Thune and I supported the CONNECT for Health Act, which would make the Medicare telehealth expansion permanent – I will continue to push for this bill as a long-term solution.

If you’ve utilized telehealth throughout the last several months – we probably shared a similar thought: “Why wasn’t this an option years ago?” The answer is two-fold – lack of awareness it existed and lack of coverage through programs like Medicare and other health insurance providers.

Telehealth is no longer a secret, and it’s likely more Americans are going to take advantage of it moving forward. That’s why I signed onto the KEEP Telehealth Options Act, which would require the Department of Health and Human Services to study the current state of telehealth and inform Congress about the areas that require improvement on the path to permanence.

It’s been a difficult few months, but I’m proud of our health care community for stepping up in more areas than one.

Because of the CARES Act, hospitals around the country were able to apply for funding through the Federal Communications Commission to increase state access to telehealth services. South Dakota hospitals were awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase telehealth equipment, ensuring our hospitals could meet the needs of patients virtually.

South Dakota is home to providers like Avera that have led the charge on telehealth services in rural communities for decades. We still have more work to do, but one thing is for certain, telehealth needs to be a permanent option for all Americans.

Changes proposed to pheasant season

Several changes to the state’s pheasant season are being proposed.

The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks accepted the proposals during its regular monthly meeting held Thursday and Friday via conference and video livestream.

Two of the major changes include extending the season’s end date to either Jan. 15 or 31 and increasing the daily bag limit from three to four from Dec. 1 to the end of the season.

The proposals can be reviewed for 60 days and will be up for public commentary in future meetings. They could be finalized later this year, with the season extension potentially going into during the upcoming season.

The increased bag limit will not start until next season. Another proposal is to modify shooting hours to begin at 10 a.m. all season.

That could also be changed for this upcoming fall season.

In June, the GF&P commission agreed to discontinue South Dakota’s roadside brood survey that’s that conducted each year since 1949. Several letters of public input were submitted to the commission prior to the July meeting stating disagreement with the decision.

The decision to discontinue the state’s annual brood count was made after GF&P Secretary Kelly Hepler explained in June the survey does not impact the season structure or harvest limits.

A Historic Day at Mount Rushmore

By Governor Kristi Noem
July 10, 2020

On July 3rd, South Dakota got to showcase our state to not only the rest of the nation but also the world. For the first time in more than a decade, we celebrated America’s birthday with fireworks at Mount Rushmore. The excitement leading up to the event could be felt by everyone in attendance. Over just three days, more than 125 thousand people tried to get tickets to the event, and the lucky 7,500 who witnessed it in person saw quite a show.

South Dakotans know just how beautiful and magnificent the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore are, but it was wonderful to share them with millions of viewers from around the globe. Early estimates suggest more than 5.5 million people tuned in to watch our celebration on just one cable news network.

Our team at the Department of Tourism spent countless hours pulling together this great event. The Department of the Interior’s Secretary David Bernhardt was instrumental in helping us overcome countless obstacles to make it a reality. And of course, none of this would have been possible without President Trump’s dedication to making this event happen. Before I was even sworn in as Governor, I asked for his help to bring fireworks back to Mount Rushmore, and he went to work on it immediately.

In addition to the wonderful fireworks display, we were also thrilled to be the audience for President Trump’s best ever speech. It was unifying and focused on his dedication to the things that make America the greatest country in the world. But he also warned of a sinister threat to that greatness: the radical movement to re-write American history.

Make no mistake, this movement is not about equality. This movement’s attempt to “cancel” the founding generation is an attempt to cancel our own freedoms. Our Founders had their flaws, certainly. But every person has flaws. Without our Founders’ words, ideals, and sacrifice, the world would not have a ringing example of true freedom. We can write, worship, work, defend ourselves, and even protest as we see fit because of these men and their ideals.

That’s what the celebration of America’s birthday is about. It’s about our core American ideal: “All men are created equal.” It’s about the day our ideal was forever enshrined in one of the most important statements of purpose ever written, the Declaration of Independence. It’s about the work of countless brave men and women, including the four presidents enshrined on Mount Rushmore, to live up to that ideal and make America the greatest country ever.

Everyone who tuned in for our celebration also learned about South Dakota’s commitment to that American ideal, to freedom, and to trusting our citizens to exercise their personal responsibility to do what’s best for themselves and their loved-ones. Let us, like our Founding Fathers, pledge our own lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to the cause of liberty and self-government, so that we may continue to have the freedom to follow our consciences, build our lives, and live in peace.

And let’s continue to celebrate America’s birthday with fireworks at Mount Rushmore!

Garth Brooks accomplishes the impossible

Submitted Photo
Garth Brooks entertained over 350,000 fans on June 27 in a live concert at drive inn theaters. Winner Drive Inn was one of the theaters in South Dakota that hosted the event.

Entertaining Over 350,000 Fans With A One Night Only Live Concert At Drive-In Theaters Across North America

Garth Brooks managed to accomplish the impossible! On Saturday night, June 27, he entertained over 350,000 fans with a one night only live concert at drive-in theaters across North America. Fans were able to enjoy this special event, with friends and family, from the safety of their own vehicle.

The Winner Drive In Theater was one of the theaters to host the event.

It was the first time anything like this had ever been done. The concert was created exclusively for this event. It was recorded in Nashville, with the full band.

“This time, I was the fan and the people were the entertainment. Watching people all night from coast to coast, in Canada and here in the U.S., laughing, dancing, and singing, made me smile,” said Garth Brooks. “It reminded me how much I miss the crazy, happy, and unpredictable life we lead as entertainers. For one night, things seemed…right.”

The event was produced by Encore Live.

The show adhered to guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as all state and local health mandates.

About Garth Brooks

Garth Brooks is the 7-time CMA Entertainer of the Year, a first for any artist.

He is also the first and only artist in history to receive eight Diamond Awards for the now eight albums certified by the RIAA at over 10 million album sales each.

He remains the #1-selling solo artist in U.S. history, certified by the RIAA with 156 million album sales. In March, Garth received the esteemed Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. He has received every accolade the recording industry can bestow on an artist.

In January, Billboard announced that Garth Brooks was the first artist to make it on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in the 80s, 90s, 00s, 10s and now 20s.

DeMers girls are jr beef ambassadors

PIERRE, SD- The South Dakota Beef Industry Council (SDBIC) unveils the new Junior Beef Ambassador program for the summer, giving area youth the opportunity to share their beef story.

The program is an opportunity for youth ages 5 to 18 to help them share their beef story. The SDBIC is proud to announce that 19 Jr. Beef Ambassadors will be joining us throughout the 2020 summer, sharing photos and videos.

These young beef leaders’ stories will highlight their own ranch and what they do day in and day out. “Our youth continue to be our future and we have to prepare them and encourage them to be proud of their heritage and willing to promote the beef product,” states SDBIC Executive Director, Suzy Geppert.

The 2020 Jr. Beef Ambassadors are: Charles Barber, Jayne Blume, Lena DeMers, Maggie DeMers, Bentlee Holt, Cashley King, Koyle King, Rylee K., Brooklyn Marshall, Natalie Marshall, Baylor Pazour, Jennings Pazour, Ladd Pazour, Scarlett Radke, Fidelia Rasmussen, Kaycee Scheel, Ella Stiefvater, Kingston Wulf, and Madilyn Wulf.

These beef ambassadors come to the SDBIC program from across the state.

Follow along all summer as we highlight and recognize these young leaders and share their great beef stories!

Called to Serve

Rep. Dusty Johnson

Many may not know that Members of Congress are able to nominate students to our nation’s military academies. It’s a real opportunity to ensure South Dakota values help shape military decisions – and it’s also a real opportunity to make sure the military looks like the American people it’s responsible to defend.

Saying it is an honor to nominate students from across our great state to serve our nation doesn’t do the moment justice. These are not ordinary high school graduates. Some grew up knowing they were interested in attending an academy, some grew up in a family with a long line of military service and some have no family military history at all. But what they do have in common is a good moral character, their commitment to our nation’s defense and selfless bravery and courage. They all feel called to serve their country.

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to organize a virtual academy reception for some of the students my office nominated. June is quite a transition month for these soon-to-be Cadets and Midshipmen. These students will head to their respective academies in late June and early July – surrendering civilian clothing and belongings (even their cell phones!) – and begin their military training. You can imagine this is also a transition month for their parents as well – who may only speak with their son or daughter three times throughout the summer. Very different than a traditional college drop-off.

It’s hard from Day One for a reason. It’s hard because these Cadets and Midshipmen will commission as military officers at graduation. It’s hard because when called to lead soldiers, airmen, sailors, or Marines, these young Americans will rely on the skills and training gained from experience at the academies. It’s hard because the United States is home to the mightiest military in the world, due in no small part to the dedicated young men and women who serve.

While we wish the 2024 service academy class godspeed, we also look ahead to the next round of nominations. Our office is currently accepting applications for nominations to the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy until Friday, October 30. Visit my website or call one of my offices if you are interested in learning more about the nomination process.

I look at my three sons and I don’t know what the future has in store for them. I don’t know if they’ll choose to serve in the military like their grandfather, if they’ll choose a liberal arts degree, or if they’ll choose to pursue a technical trade. What I do know is my conversations with these academy candidates has helped shape who I want to be as a parent and what values I want to instill in my children as they grow older.

Focusing on the Wins

By Rep. Dusty Johnson

The world has had a rough few months. It’s easy to harp on the negatives, especially as infections and job losses continue to rise. Our country still needs to make substantial improvements in our response to this crisis, but we also should take time to focus on the positives — what we’ve gotten right.

First, I need to begin by saying thanks to South Dakotans. It didn’t take a forced stay at home order, you all took personal responsibility, stayed home, and flattened our curve.

You’ve heard the phrase “South Dakota commonsense” a lot lately, but it rings true.

We have to remember; we are doing what we’ve never done before. In the last seven days, testing in the United States has increased by 28%. Moderna Therapeutics Clinical Trial announced this week that a vaccine candidate showed participants in the trial received antibodies to COVID-19. Moderna will begin Phase 3 of this trial in July for a potential vaccine. That’s the hope and the news we need.

More than 11.5 million tests for COVID-19 have been performed in the United States. Just yesterday, more than 400,000 tests were performed. This week, we saw the most tests ever reported in a single day – our response hasn’t been perfect, but we are making big progress.

As of May 15th, the federal government has coordinated the delivery of 83.3 million N95 respirators, 133.7 million surgical masks, 10.6 million face shields, 23.1 million surgical gowns, and 989 million gloves.

More than 20,000 South Dakota businesses utilized the Paycheck Protection Program – keeping thousands on payroll. States throughout the country are beginning to enter opening phases.

This is welcome news. I don’t want to sound tone deaf though, I know thousands of South Dakotans have lost jobs and are struggling to make ends meet, but there’s hope on the horizon.

Like I said, our efforts as a nation and as a government haven’t been perfect. But as we strive daily to improve our response, we should occasionally recognize the progress we’ve made so far.

The efforts of so many researchers, health care workers, public health experts, and frontline employees have made a real difference in the lives of millions.

Bad Reputation

By Rep. Dusty Johnson

People like to compare the U.S. and China, so much so I think many people have forgotten a key point – our values are not the same, not even close. Large economies, yes, but China is a communist, authoritarian nation with a state-run media and a government obsessed with surveillance and control.

China’s handling of this worldwide pandemic has brought these differences to the forefront once again. For weeks, China covered up the COVID-19 outbreak and continued to allow travel from Wuhan to other parts of the world. China kicked out foreign journalists and they hid valuable information from the rest of the world. These actions will be a blood-red stain on China’s reputation for generations to come.

For years, the United States and China have developed an increasingly interdependent economic relationship, and it’s put us in a position where we excuse and accept their behavior out of convenience. It’s time for change.

Republicans in the House have established a task force aimed at combating threats posed by China. This is a good starting point, but now – more than ever – we need actions, not political theater or words without consequences.

While we still need a comprehensive investigation on the spread of the coronavirus from China, as leaders, we must be forward thinking. How does the U.S. ensure we are never in the same position again? How does the U.S. better prepare for future pandemics? How does the U.S. stockpile and develop an industrial base for supplies moving forward?

The U.S. is in an unstable relationship with China – every time they tell us they will change their ways, we see the same irresponsible behavior. This pandemic has exposed flaws in our supply chain, both domestic and abroad. More than 72% of active pharmaceutical ingredients are manufactured abroad.

Government should stay out of the business of private enterprise. At the same time, our nation’s leaders have an obligation to protect the American people. These values are in tension with each other. With that said, I find it unwise to watch a majority of our pharmaceuticals, processing plants and personal protective equipment become increasingly dependent on a good-standing relationship with China.

America needs to do better. We need to rely on companies here at home, like 3M, to produce our PPE stockpile. We need to ensure bad actors aren’t investing in our food supply chain. That’s why I signed onto the Agricultural Security Risk Review Act to allow USDA to analyze any foreign investment into our nation’s food supply. COVID-19 has reminded America that our food security and our ability to quickly produce supplies are vital.

Most of all, we need to hold China accountable. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House to make sure this accountability happens.