VERMILLION, SD (KCAU9) — After a chilly, breezy Friday, Saturday turned out to be a sunny, pleasant day in southeastern South Dakota.

Erik Helland and his dog were out early Saturday morning, patiently waiting for 10:00 a.m. to arrive, which was officially the start time of Pheasant Opener 2021. However, they certainly weren’t the only ones who were itching to get out in the fields.

“I was coming out, and I was like ‘Oh, might be a little late.’ And sure enough, I come down, 2 cars over here already. I think there’s 2 or 3 sitting on this way, and I’m like ‘Oh gosh, I’m not gonna have a chance.’ So, I just kind of jumped in and joined the crowd, and probably about right at 10, there was probably the same amount, about 8 or 9 cars,” said Helland.

Helland has been coming back to this particular CRP land for several years. He says he loves to see the tradition of people coming from out-of-state to hunt South Dakota’s state bird, but he’d prefer it if his favorite location remains undisclosed.

“For when it opens, these people come from out-of-state. And they’re going to private reserves, but they’re stopping just to get the dogs out here on the way up is what I think, I hope, anyways, that they keep going, get out of my spot,” said Helland with a smile.

Helland said there were around a dozen to fifteen shots fired early Saturday morning, including one by him.
However, the warm temperatures combined with an early harvest may make it difficult to find the roosters later in the season.

“It’s good because the pheasants aren’t going to be in the corn because the corn’s not there so they’re going to be out here but it might hinder for later in the year, you know, a lot of birds might get taken early.”