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Dokken (GF Herald) talking (hunting?) with outfitter in SD. Read red highlighted comment. Once it starts - how do you stop it ??

Posted on Sun, Nov. 17, 2002

DESTINATION: SOUTH DAKOTA: A perfect prairie Moment
S.D. pheasant hunt serves up plenty of memories - even on a year when the state's bird numbers are down
By Brad Dokken
Herald Staff Writer

SELBY, S.D. - The nonstop cackling betrayed the presence of pheasants hiding nearby, burrowed into the thick mats of prairie grass.

Seeming to come from nowhere and everywhere at once, the chorus of cackles sounded like laughter, as if the pheasants were taunting, daring us - mere pawns in this chess game of hunter and hunted - to find them.

Not that any of it really mattered; for the 15 hunters walking the massive field or blocking the edges on this early November afternoon, the action was fast enough to keep them on their toes, if not always sharp at the trigger. More hens than roosters, it seemed, but plenty of birds. And after only a few hours afield, enough in the bag to call it a good day.

Just being here inspired the senses.

To the west, the afternoon sun glowed brilliant orange as it dipped below the rolling hills, bathing the countryside in gold. Beyond the horizon was Lake Oahe, a Missouri River reservoir, its treeless bluffs the centerpiece of a beauty that has drawn adventure seekers for hundreds of years.

A whitetail buck, thick of body and sporting a rack of 10 points or more, jumped up from its afternoon repose and bolted from the perceived danger, startling hunters and putting pheasant thoughts on temporary hold.

Like something out of a print by Terry Redlin, the South Dakota native son famous for his ability to create brilliant sunsets and natural scenes on canvas, this might have been the perfect prairie moment.

A family tradition

Here, near the banks of the wide Missouri, there's been a Marin on the land for four generations. The first, Modeste Marin, came from French Canada, settling on the South Dakota prairie in 1883. Succeeding generations continued the Marin tradition of farming the land, raising mainly wheat, corn and sunflowers.

Angie Marin, the latest "lord of the manor," knows the tie that binds her family to this land. For Marin, an outdoorsy woman who's as savvy in a boat as she is in a kitchen, it's been home all her life, with the exception of a few years after high school.

About 10 years ago, she got a chance to come home to the farm for good when the family's hired man left. So she joined her dad, also named Modeste, and went to work in the fields.

A few years later, she opened a bed-and-breakfast, sharing the family's stately farmhouse with guests, mainly anglers eager to test the waters of nearby Lake Oahe. For Angie, an avid deer hunter and angler, it was a nice fit with the farming business.

Wanting a name that accented the South Dakota landscape, she dubbed the venture "Prairie Pillow Bed and Breakfast."

Opportunity knocks

Pheasant have been a fixture on the South Dakota prairie and the popularity of hunting the wary game birds, especially among nonresidents, coincided with a declining farm economy. Seeing the potential, Marin was able to enroll the land in the federal Conservation Reserve Program, which pays landowners for taking acreage out of farm production and restoring it to wildlife habitat.

Getting the land in CRP, Marin says, gave her the green light to get into the pheasant-hunting business and Prairie Pillow Bed and Breakfast became Prairie Pillow Sportsmen's Lodge. With the help of family and friends, including a Minnesota carpenter, she converted a 48x40 grain-storage shed on the farm into a 74x40 rustic lodge, the building's eight grain bins serving as bedrooms, each with two sets of bunk beds.

She now has 1,500 acres of land in CRP, along with another 1,500 acres of CRP and farmland. That gives hunters a lot of room to roam, and pheasants a lot of room to hide.

Between fishing, pheasant hunting in the fall and deer season, it's a year-round operation.

"It's a lot of fun," says Marin, who does most of the cooking at the lodge and also guides on Lake Oahe. "I have a great time doing this. It doesn't really seem like a job."

She employs friends and neighbors to help out, especially during pheasant season. Her home-cooked meals are the stuff of legends in this neck of the woods. And while she loves to fish and hunt deer, Marin leaves pheasant hunting to the hired help. Much as the birds mean to her business, she doesn't hunt 'em herself.

"Not me," she says with a laugh. "I can't hit them. I don't like to have everybody out there laughing at me."

Keeping a way of life

Charging hunters to access land has a history of controversy, and it's no different in South Dakota. Marin says more landowners have followed suit since she started offering guided pheasant trips, a venture now in its third season.

"There wasn't much guided hunting when I started, but now it seems like it's springing up all around," she said.


Want to read the rest, search GF Herald web site.
 
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