Pheasants: The Key to Economic Stimulus?

Maybe President Obama's economic stimulus plan would've been more effective if it included investment in upland habitat and pheasant stocking. Consider the numbers.

On Friday, October 19—Pheasant Opening Day Eve in South Dakota—1,800 people flew into the state's tiny Sioux Falls Regional Airport, most of them adorned in orange. That's nearly twice the travelers the airport accommodates on a normal day. And every flight had been full since Thursday morning.

Of course, that's but a fraction of the hunters arriving in South Dakota to pursue ringnecks. Last season 95,077 nonresident pheasant hunters dumped $185.4 million into the state economy. And 69,120 resident hunters spent an additional $40.5 million. That's a total of $225.9 million. Spent by pheasant hunters! According to Pheasants Forever, upland hunters also spend about $186 million in Iowa, $120 million in Kansas and $121 million in Minnesota.

But South Dakota is still king. No doubt due to the sheer number of hunters, but also thanks to guys like Kevin Kodzis of southern California, who planned to spend about $1,000 per day during his pheasant hunt.

"My business partner and myself are meeting some customers," Kodzis told the Argus Leader. "It’s awesome, you hunt all day and play a little poker at night."

Another hunter, Tom Tilley of Albany, Ga., told the Argus Leader he had no predetermined budget.

"I'll spend whatever it takes to have a good time," he said.

And, apparently, the better the pheasant population is doing, the more hunters are willing to spend.

“If the pheasant population dips, there will usually be a dip in the number of hunters and the spending can go down, but with the increase in the pheasant numbers and a fairly decent turnaround in the economy right now compared to the last couple years, I’d think we hope to see a bit of an increase,” said Chuck Schlueter, with South Dakota’s Game, Fish and Parks Wildlife division.

Schlueter says he believes that South Dakota could see more than 100,000 nonresident hunters this year, given that pheasants are up 18 percent over last season.

So, you see, pheasants could be a real boost to our nation's economic recovery. President Obama should look into it.

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