ELK POINT, S.D. (KCAU) — With temperatures getting cooler, hunters from out of state begin to flock towards the pheasant hotspot of the United States.

In 2021, more than 81,000 non-native residents of South Dakota bought licenses to hunt pheasants and it’s a trend likely to continue this year.

“This is the place to come for pheasant hunting,” said Monty Ashworth, from Leonard, Texas.

South Dakota is known as the Rushmore State, but in the fall it’s the Pheasant State.

“South Dakota has a reputation globally as the pheasant hotspot and it’s really set up for the non-resident hunter to come. It’s very easy for them to get licenses and there are a lot of preserves and lodges around that will cater to them,” said Steve Lange of the Missouri River Outdoors.

Lange has managed the Missouri River Outdoors for the past seven years. He has seen thousands of hunters from across the globe. 

“We have people from all over the United States: Washington state, Florida, Maine, a lot of Texas hunters. We haven’t had, since covid hit, international has gone away, but before that we were getting people from South Africa, the Netherlands. All over the world,” said Lange. 

According to South Dakota’s Game, Fish, and Parks Department, in 2021 more than a million pheasants were harvested during the season with roughly 600,000 pheasants harvested by people from out of state. 

Ashworth and his friends come from Texas every year to hunt in South Dakota. He said he looks forward to the  trip.

“Well, just getting to get away from work for a few days, spend some time with some people that we don’t get to see quite often and just enjoy hunting,” said Ashworth.

During the pheasant hunting season, The South Dakota Department of Tourism estimates $223 million in retail sales annually from the pheasant hunting season.