Opinion: S.D. outdoors could offer a lucrative career opportunityLast fall, a patron addressed the Wagner City Council about the number of very large bass that were being taken from Wagner Lake. Though the council wanted to act, perhaps by imposing a size limit, they sought input from Game, Fish & Parks as the lake is managed by it even though it is within Wagner city limits. The GF&P responded that the lake was scheduled for assessment in 2010, and appropriate regulations would follow.
By: Roger Wiltz, The Daily Republic
Last fall, a patron addressed the Wagner City Council about the number of very large bass that were being taken from Wagner Lake. Though the council wanted to act, perhaps by imposing a size limit, they sought input from Game, Fish & Parks as the lake is managed by it even though it is within Wagner city limits. The GF&P responded that the lake was scheduled for assessment in 2010, and appropriate regulations would follow.
As a Wagner council member, I should have attempted to force the issue. While it is important to follow proper channels, it will be too late by the time procedural wheels turn. Frustrated anglers regularly observe numbers of 5-pound plus bass being kept daily. This small lake can’t handle it. It may already be too late.
The spawn is fast approaching, and the remaining big females will be even more vulnerable. They must be protected now! Contact S.D. Game, Fish & Parks, and help me get a size limit set as quickly as possible. Personally, I’d like to see a 16-inch maximum.
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Sitting in a 10-foot by 10-foot booth for three days while trying to sell South Dakota pheasant hunts to a passing crowd gets old in a hurry, but this is exactly what I did last weekend in Madison, Wis. Had I been armed with S.D. maps and brochures, I could have done S.D. Tourism a great service.
Marketing hunts and fishing trips is big business. While some camps do their own booking through advertisements, sport shows and Web sites, others work through professional agents who earn a piece of the action. These range from one-man operations to corporate giants like Cabela’s.
A few years back, my hunting partner and I, along with our wives, decided we would like to hunt in Argentina. I picked up the brochure of an Argentine outfitter at a sports show. At the same time, we checked the Cabela’s outfitter catalog to see what they had to offer.
We learned that the outfit whose pamphlet I had was also listed in the Cabela’s catalog. Dealing directly with the ranch cost exactly the same as booking the hunt through Cabela’s. This surprised me.
For good reasons, we chose to go through Cabela’s. We did not have to deal with language barriers, Cabela’s was much easier to contact by telephone, and most important to us, if something went wrong, we had Cabela’s to lean on. All went smoothly. As always, I have no “agreement” with Cabela’s. I call it the way I see it.
In Madison last weekend, I learned that we South Dakotans take some things for granted that outsiders value highly. Prairie dogs top this list. I could have easily sold two- or three-day prairie dog shoots, but I was not prepared. I felt badly about it as the requests were sincere.
On Saturday morning, a Wisconsin man told me about his prairie dog forays. He goes twice a summer to Eagle Butte. He stays in a motel and buys a tribal license for $75. This gives him access to every sod poochie town on the reservation. I passed this on to others who were grateful for the information. Lining up pastures to shoot and lodging wouldn’t be that difficult to do before next year’s Madison show.
By and large, the cheeseheads place far more importance on turkeys than we do. Some of our ranchers see the big birds as vermin. It would be an easy matter to line up receptive ranchers, contact motel owners in Pickstown, Bonesteel, Gregory or Burke, and give perspective gobbler hunters the information they need about applying for a license.
There was great interest in spring snow geese, and some South Dakota agents advertised snow geese hunting/lodging at $250 per day. Since all this depends upon the weather, and weather is unpredictable, booking specific dates wouldn’t work very well. Farmers between Vermillion and Tyndall could do very well with hunters who could come on short notice.
I visited with three guys who spent three days hunting snows in the Clark area this spring. They killed 165 geese and called the action “slow.” That’s 55 geese per hunter or 18-plus geese per hunter per day. That’s not slow to my way of thinking. They also told me that our South Dakota was “hunter friendly,” and that they would never again go to Nebraska where the conservation officers were hostile and uncooperative.
The way I see it, a South Dakota outdoor enthusiast could put a lucrative booking business together by working with readily-available resources. It can go well beyond prairie dogs, turkeys and snow geese. Add antelope — both archery and rifle — to the mix. Do the same for archery and West River deer. What about camping and fishing on our great prairie stock dams? It ranks with our nation’s best fishing.
The great thing about this is that it requires almost no capital, and it can begin on a part-time basis. A good website could make such a venture flourish. Call it Dakota Adventure or Prairie Safaris. It almost makes me wish I was 20 years younger.
If anyone has use for a pair of size 16 boots that are new and in the box, give me a call. Don’t be embarrassed. I too wear 16s. See you next week.