Pheasants, while not native to the United States, have made the Midwest their home. After a slow start in the rugged land, pheasants started to thrive and helped replenish the wild bird population in the Midwest. South Dakota’s first hunting season was held in 1919. The bird’s popularity quickly grew. Neighboring states like Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, and North Dakota followed with their own pheasant seasons in 1924, 1925, 1927, and 1932 respectively. People from across the country and world came in droves to hunt on the beautiful prairies, and the pheasant has become an iconic and important symbol for the region. The pheasant influenced what people ate, cheered for, and even wore. This is as true today as it was a century ago.
The upcoming exhibit Pheasants on the Plains takes a closer look at South Dakota’s state bird. The exhibit will focus on all aspects of the pheasant. We will take a look at how the bird first came to the United States, how pheasants survive during the diverse Midwest weather, and of course, how pheasant hunting began in South Dakota.