Do You Remember Opening Day?
Oct 11, 2012
Anyone who has lived in a small South Dakota town has experienced the flurry of excitement generated on Opening Day of the pheasant hunting season. Sportsmen and sportswomen hurry from store to store, gathering licenses, shotgun shells, sweet rolls and orange caps — all required gear these days if you are to successfully pursue the wily ringneck.
It's the same in almost every town, varied only by the weather — cold drinks for warm autumn afternoons and coffee or hot chocolate for the gray, brisk days.
When my brothers and I were growing up on a Utica farm, Opening Day seemed festive because dad took off work to guide our city uncles who came to hunt. Any day that dad wasn't on a tractor in spring, summer or fall was like a holiday and good reason to celebrate. Since no one had a hunting dog, we got to tag along to beat the bushes, find the downed birds and then carry them. Why did that seem like fun?
When we were old enough, we'd hurry home from school during hunting season to change into some clothes that didn't matter if they got "stick-tight" on them, then grab a 20 gauge and head for the nearest cornfield.
Those were the days when shells were cheap and pheasants plentiful. I could take a box of shells out and shoot all 25 of them — sometimes all at the same pheasant — in an hour or two.
We had a sharpshooter in the family. Dave had a double barrel 12 gauge, and could generally get his three-bird limit without leaving the end rows. Maybe that's why he was county sheriff for 32 years and I'm still trying to hit the right key on my laptop?