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SD Economic Development Aids Rural Population Drain?

Last updated on 2013.04.03

Get Pat Powers talking about government investment in economic development, and you're in for several good laughs.

This morning Powers glances at the news that a third of South Dakota counties are losing population. (I run the Census data myself and find, based on population estimates, that 23 of our 66 counties lost population between 2011 and 2012; 19 counties lost population between 2010 and 2012. I can show you 38 South Dakota counties that had fewer people in 2011 than they did in 1980.)

Powers takes these population figures as his cue for this thorough and penetrating analysis of South Dakota's economic development policies, which analysis is only slightly longer than his headline:

That’s why economic development is so critical to this state. If you want to keep people here, you’ve got to give them things to come back to [Pat Powers, "Duh. That's Why We Have Economic Development," Dakota War College, 2013.04.01].

First, we must continue to chuckle at Powers's stubbornly blind endorsement of socialism. Powers and his Republican sponsors style themselves as devotees of the free market. But when the free market determines that great swaths of South Dakota aren't the best places in which to do business, Powers shouts Damn the free market! Let's redistribute some wealth and intrude on the workings of the economy with corporate welfare!

...which is fine, I guess, since plenty of my Democratic friends support this year's big economic development law.

Further chuckles come when you see Powers touting government economic development incentives even though evidence says they don't work. (Don't laugh too hard, fellow Dems: plenty of our Democratic friends in the Legislature support this kind of policy as well.)

But the biggest laugh of the day comes in Powers's sheer non sequitur. He looks at county population trends as justification for state economic development policy. Right. But how much proportional effort does the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) make to bring projects to the counties that the market and the population are abandoning? $5 million for Bel Brands in growing Brookings County, similar big investment in bringing Eagle Creek Software to growing Clay County (including free USD tuition for prospective employees), support for Can-Irish Glanbia to move a flaxseed plant to successful Sioux Falls… those economic development efforts may be a net plus for the state (though in the spirit of this year’s SB 235, I’d still like to see the evidence that these businesses would not have expanded in South Dakota without our corporate socialism), but they aren’t addressing the population drain in rural counties that motivates Powers to write his post on economic development in the first place.

Our state-level economic development efforts don't seem focused on reversing the population drain that many South Dakota counties are suffering. GOED seems to be helping the rich get richer, creating more opportunities that will only accelerate our already growing towns' predation of shrinking rural towns.

Update 12:07 MDT: If urban politics played the way it should, driving more population to our urban centers (and in South Dakota, we really ought to put "urban" in quotation marks) would improve Dems' chances of overcoming what LK calls their historical malpractice and boosting their win rate in South Dakota. But maybe Governor Daugaard's devious plan is to drive more economic development dollars to those urban areas, make more workers and CEOs beholden to GOP-GOED largesse, and thus capture a sufficient portion of the urban electorate.


  1. Dougal 2013.04.01

    The ability to hand money over to corporations is a necessary tool for any state serious about attracting jobs. Unfortunately for South Dakota, the pinheads in Pierre think it's the most important consideration. Far from it. The quality of the education system, health care delivery capacities, air service, rail and truck systems, cultural venues, safe neighborhoods, quality infrastructure and quality of living issues play a far greater role than a bribe to locate in a state or locale.

    The way these bribes get used in South Dakota is silly and wasteful. The objective has been to generate positive publicity for the incumbent governor or mayor: "In only his first term, Governor X created X-number jobs, thanks to his X program. It's not a miracle, it's leadership that pays off for South Dakota!"

    Jana on another thread was exactly correct about South Dakota being sold out to pander to deep pockets. When South Dakotans realize that their money is being wasted on bribes and baloney instead of being invested in what really attracts high quality jobs and businesses, maybe they'll put a Democrat back in the Governor's Mansion. For that realization to occur, however, South Dakota's going to need a news media that isn't a handmaiden to the power clic that currently obstructs progress in Pierre.

  2. Jana 2013.04.01

    Just waiting for Troy to jump in and defend his gifting of money to larger municipalities than small towns while he ran GOED and that he had nothing to do with the demise of small town SD from his perch in Sioux Falls and Pierre.

    A quick look at where the bulk of economic development dollars, and soul selling, have gone laid next to the communities that are losing population and their local economies is probably going to be illuminating.

    Troy, we miss you here!

    I think the GOP plan is to suck the small communities in with social issues and then screw them on the other end with economic development.

    I am completely open to discussing with the GOP how our small towns can regain growth and population without government know...that pesky free market stuff.

    By the way, why are the counties and communities that have seen their economic vitality stripped still voting for Republican run legislators?

  3. Michael Black 2013.04.01

    High land prices have more to do with population decline than economic development.

  4. Charlie Johnson 2013.04.01

    It's either Monsanto(RR technology and more) or students in our rural schools? You can't and will not have both.

  5. Richard Schriever 2013.04.01

    Well, how about we reframe the issue in a planning sense. If we apply the underlying principles of infrastructure planning, in general, to the economic dynamics of the scenario - always remember - density (concentration of population) is the great friend to the efficiency of society. Maybe "rural sprawl" (having people that are needed to perform the economic tasks of agribusiness spread too thinly across the landscape) has just as many economic inefficiencies as does urban sprawl. Maybe the draining of the rural landscape is simply - the "free market" at work.

  6. grudznick 2013.04.01

    Mr. Dougal, that's a great fool day joke. You had me there for a minute.

  7. Jana 2013.04.01 April Fools day joke....

    The joke has been on the taxpayers of SD courtesy of the SD Republican party.

  8. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.04.01

    Richard, your scenario about the market readjusting excessive rural sprawl could be correct. As I drive across the hinterlands of our fair state, I keep wondering what minimum population density is necessary for a viable community.

    But if the market is "correcting" for rural sprawl, then we and GOED face two questions:

    (1) Is that correction correct? Should we let it happen, or should we fight it by investing GOED dollars strictly in those communities that the market is abandoning?

    (2) If the market is correctly correcting by sending more commerce and people to bigger towns, is our GOED intervention justified? Or are we just throwing money (bribes, Dougal says) at development that the market would naturally bring about?

  9. Wayne Pauli 2013.04.01

    As a farmer's son who chose the bright lights of the big city (Aberdeen and NSU) in 1973 as opposed to continuing the farm my grandfather homesteaded, The government did some great things for the rural areas like rural electrification and rural water systems. I will always contend that the die was cast for the demise of my rural home when tractors started being built with more than 80 horse power and equipment was designed larger than 4 row. My parents and I worked very hard to farm 600 acres and to put up hay on 800 acres for our 100 milk cows and 250 head of stock cows. By today's standard we were hobby farmers.

    So, we did it to ourselves. I travel home often, and every time I go I can see more negative change. A high school that used to graduate almost 150 students now has less than 60 graduates. I grew up with six neighborhood boys, only 1 is farming today. The rest of us are dust in the wind.

  10. John 2013.04.01

    The capitalist corporate economic business model is what's killing and hollowing out rural SD. For contrary evidence merely glance at the socialist colonies which continue having a high growth rate. Glance at the tribes, with their continuing high growth rate. The 'get bigger or get out' model drives sons and daughters away from the family farm because it cannot economically be sub-divided and compete - yet when the extended family owns everything instead of the selfish individual there is rural sustainability amidst modern mechanization requiring fewer hands per acre.

    And yes, state government wastes virtually all its economic development monies - particularly since they have no peer-reviewed studies showing an iota of public benefit to their corporate socialization schemes - which by and large they target to the growing communities on the interstate corridors. The SD rural legislators are patsies allowing this to happen. When they wake up in a couple years when the legislative majority represents the metros of Sioux Falls and Rapid - then the real implosion of rural South Dakota will exponentially increase as the metros, who even now pay most of the taxes, accelerate their demand for services.

  11. Bill Dithmer 2013.04.01

    "Maybe the draining of the rural landscape is simply - the "free market" at work." Richard no truer words were ever spoken.

    If you were to look back at what life was like in 1960 it might help to understand South Dakota a little better. First the state was nearing but not quite at the end of the great exodus from agriculture land to the towns and cities of the state. This started in the 30s and continued through the sixties.

    Is it any wonder that people had closer ties to the land back then? After all they probably still had relatives that lived and worked a farm somewhere in the state, and they also still had some feelings for the land they had recently either sold or vacated do to the effects of the great depression and the great dust bowl.

    There were a lot of people that left the state to find work in larger cities never to return. In fact with the exception of the census of 1950 the population of SD declined every census from 1930 until 1970 when it began to grow to its present number.

    It was during this same time that farmers started to depend on tractors and trucks to do their work. What had taken three or four people only needed one. With mechanization came a natural increase in farm sizes. From 1935 to 1982 the average size of a farm in SD grew by 267%. I find it interesting that even though SD is a rural state, 50% of our population lives in towns that have 2500 people or more. Another interesting stat is that 50% of our population lives in what is called the Eastern Corridor that runs north to south within fifty miles of I29.

    Remember in 1960 there weren’t any interstate highways and there was very little air travel . With the advent of both of these things came the great migration of out of state hunters that we see today.

    Economics have changed a lot sense 1960. I couldn’t find many stats for SD for that year but nationally here are some of the averages that were found. A gallon of gas $.25. Just imagine ten gallons of gas for $2.50. The average new car sold for about $2600 and a really good pickup for a lot less. A loaf of bread $.20. I can remember eating at Jeff's Truck stop in Kadoka, a burger and fries with pop for $1.00. Somewhere around here I have a box that has a Hogens Hardware sticker on it that held a brick of 22 shells, it says $5.00. There is also an empty box of shotgun shells from the same time that says $2.75. In the rest of the country an average house sold for $12,700 here in SD I would bet a little less. A new tractor cost about $10,000, and a new combine about the same. At that time SD didn’t have a minimum wage but we did have what was called average weekly wages. For 1960 it was between $17 and $20. In doing this research it was interesting, to me at least, that the minimum wage we had here for the next thirty years was exactly the same as it was in Texas.

    It was during this time period that land prices started to climb and at the same time the money spent to purchase manufactured products bought less and less. That same equivalent tractor bought in 60 now cost $100,000 and a combine nearly twice that price. Years ago there were many people that didn’t even have insurance on their farm but you wont find any that will take that chance today. In the early years you could pretty much do whatever you wanted to with the property you owned. Not any more. Now you have to deal with a whole bunch of government agencies. EPA, Army Corp of Engineers, USDA, FDA, GF&P and that is just the short list.

    At the same time the people that lived in town were taking on more job responsibility’s to make more money to make ends meet. And in turn it was taking up time that they used to spend hunting and fishing. It became so much easier to go play a round of golf or a game of tennis or some other outdoor sport then to drive twenty or thirty miles to hunt and visit. Those people were slowly but surly loosing their ties to the land and the people that they had known that lived there.

    Now add to this the generations of kids that grew up in towns and cities that didn’t know in the first place what they were missing and didn’t really want to find out. Now lets put a little more wood on the fire. During these years we had a couple of organizations that started to cause trouble for everyone that had an interest in animals or the outdoors. PETA and the US Humane Society. They had a captive audience in the schools in this country and they knew how to use it. Can you say train wreck?

    Now I know that what I’m about to say will cause some to think the Blindman is a little bit crazy but here goes. I look at hunting today as being a big part of the tourist industry. Pay to hunt is no different then someone going to a water park. These people stay at motels, eat at the restaurants, buy gas, and site see. The people that come here from out of state travel a lot of miles and they want to insure that all that driving hasn’t been for nothing.

    Those people are willing to “Pay” to optimize their opportunity's. Opportunities I might add that are not available wherever they come from. Otherwise why would they spend all that money to come here ? As long as someone is willing to provide a guarantied service that cant be gotten somewhere else they will make money. It doesn't matter if it is hunting, agra tourism, whores, poker, sight seeing, or marijuana, if you build it they will come.

    Just a side note here. When I wrote this article it was mostly about "pay to hunt" but the same can be said for agra tourism, manufacturing, science and technology, and or services.

    I might add here that after years of research I have found that the Mighty Missouri from the North Dakota line to just south of Yankton is the most underutilized stretch of water in the US. The only thing holding this up is the rules put in place by the Corp Of Engineers. And no the same rules are not in place all over the county. If we are going to have dams, why not places to dump houseboats at a reasonable distance? Everyone else is ready for these changes but the Corps resembles a dog dragging its butt across the living room floor. Why? There is money to be made here on the river in the middle of South Dakota. Or we could just REWILD THE WEST, I could go along with that to.

    If agriculture is to survive in this state in a way that we can recognize as agriculture, it will be agro tourism that does it. Bigger farms and ranches will mean fewer people every time. But remember along with that money comes a lot of added expense. Increased insurance cost, changing the land to take advantage of and provide the cover for the animals that are to be hunted, and protecting that land from predators both wild animals and the human kind.

    Here is but one example or why the rural community is dyeing. For a hundred years people got together to brand their cattle. Now more and more ranches are using branding tables. It takes fewer people but there is no longer neighbor to neighbor interaction. That is a damn shame but it shows the difference between yesterday and today.

    And finally, yes I'm getting close to the end here, a sign of the times. Hogen's Hardware in Kadoka is for sale and its rumored that it will be closing its doors. I have personally done business with this business for over fifty years. My first purchase was a butter dish for my mom when I was eight years old. Now she is gone, Marvis Hogen is gone, and Hogen's Hardware is headed in the same direction. That is life in western South Dakota. The times they are a changing.

    The Blindman

  12. grudznick 2013.04.01

    Good blog Mr. Dithmer. I can tell you are among the best of fellows.

  13. Joan Williams 2013.04.02

    I've thought for a long time that the only salvation for rural states like SD to hold population is small business, and I mean truly small. Enough to support a family and a couple of employees. The GOED sounds like a good idea but I also think they are helping businesses that could get financing on their own. My own business ideas have been funded by the only means available to me, like hundreds of other micro-entrepreneurs -- credit cards, savings, a spouse with a good income, and a lot of hours doing the work myself. GOED's response to my inquiries was to send a packet of information, then pass my follow-up calls around like a hot potato.

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.04.02

    What? No offers of cash for each job you'd create? No active follow-up to encourage you to expand and keep your business in South Dakota?

  15. Frank James 2013.04.02

    A lot has changed to move people out of the small towns and farms in the past 30 years, but looking a head what changes may make people choose to stay. Technology and communications shrink these distances. Food produced by family farmers and is becoming a sought after item. I think we need to adjust our economic development practices in the most rural areas to take advantage of the positive changes we can see happening in the future instead of responding to what's happened in the past.
    I recently watched, "The Hobbit" and the edited quote in the movie reminded me of one of my favorite Galdalf quotes from the book, “Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. Gandalf” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
    I believe there's a lesson there for our approach to rural economic development. Believe in the small ordinary folks, believe in the Hobbits, believe in Bilbo!

  16. Dougal 2013.04.02

    Mr. Dithmer, you had me until “PETA and the US Humane Society,” and completely lost me in your rationalization for pay-to-hunt franchises as being something healthy for South Dakota’s future. Prior to that, you had done very well, setting up the historic, economic and sociological factors that have shaped policies and the realities of the state’s economy to date.

    I’ve watched administrations come and go in Pierre, offering their golden solutions to why businesses won’t locate here (but will locate and thrive in states with income taxes), why our rail lines are fading away, why our kids skip the state as soon as they’ve got a diploma, why there are fewer farmers and ranchers, why our rural communities are “hollowing out,” why the costs of government and education keep going up, why the cost of everything keeps going up, why our property taxes are too high, why can’t we just squeeze the life out of government services and expect to get more for less, why do W-2 wage earners in South Dakota still get the lowest pay in the nation even though the politicians in Pierre have claimed since 1987 they had the magic solution with the REDI Fund and other bribes, etc.

    To put it simplistically, we in South Dakota can’t control most of the external factors that shape and affect the present realities. We must learn to adapt and, if we choose to be smart and work together (the biggest challenge here is trusting each other), make the challenges work for our mutual benefit. We must take honest stock of what are South Dakota’s true resources and how do we use them responsibly without ruining the lives of our neighbors or wasting resources for the future just to make a quick buck today. We must also accept that South Dakota is not isolated and must be a communicating, interactive and responsible member of the American economy, governance and society. Or be prepared to be tread upon (to use the stupid reference from the Tea Party movement) by scammers from within and outside our state borders.

    My view of how do we grow South Dakota’s economy gets sorted into three categories of opportunities:

    -External opportunities. The “smokestack chasers” of old are still working it. God bless ‘em. They’re still looking for the next Citibank and finding the pickin’s are getting slimmer, thanks to the global economy which points to the Pacific Rim and points south of Texas as easier to exploit than South Dakota. That doesn’t mean talking the next Hutchinson Technologies into expanding in South Dakota because the corporate bosses hate paying taxes in Minnesota isn’t worth trying. But what do you get when you drag a government hater into South Dakota expecting to “have it his way,” which may not be healthy for the rest of us? Oh, and where is that Hutchinson plant today? Retreated back to Minnesota? External opportunities are fine, but don’t expect them to be the base for future growth. If government monies are used to encourage locating in South Dakota, great care should be taken to avoid the transaction from becoming a bribe. Government investments should be the exception, not the rule.

    -Internal opportunities. Agriculture is number 1 in South Dakota despite its challenges from weather, changes in technologies, pressures from corporate factory farm capitalists and the inability of farmers to ever agree on anything: It’s rooted in our land and must adapt to real climate and soils capabilities. It’s been this way since statehood. Tourism is a very distant number 2, thanks to the Interstate Highway System and Mount Rushmore, both created by your federal taxes. And thanks to a lot of gutsy, imaginative people who stick it out in good times and bad in a service industry which is vulnerable. Both are highly dependent on government expenditures, without which the prospects for viability fade very quickly.

    -“Outside the box” entrepreneurialism. I pulled this away from “Internal opportunities” because it deserves separate, more focused attention. It’s more than mall and Main Street retailers, unless it’s a retail business that seeks a unique niche that creates values that would not otherwise exist in South Dakota. Dr. Eric Abrahamson would focus online attention on this sector which connects opportunities in South Dakota with the rest of the nation and the world. I think of home grown businesses which graduate from “I work in my pajamas” to a level of economic growth and prominence. An older example is a home business created by engineering profs in Brookings to what we know as Daktronics. Another Brookings success story is Larson Manufacturing. We’ve seen Broin Industries (now Poet) rise and fall and we hope to see it rise again, along with other investors in bio-fuels, despite the petty political backlash against “gasohol.” What these and others have in common is they planted the seeds here in South Dakota, they struggled and grew it here and expanded from South Dakota. These are far better choices to build a state economic base than smokestack chasing and bribing outsiders to come to a state where they have little incentive other than a quick buck. When the state partners with budding home grown opportunities or growing businesses which started in South Dakota, it is an investment and not a bribe. My caveat on worthy investments in this category involves whether the business exploits and does harm to the community. Gambling is not a worthy investment, and neither are factory hog farms. Strip mining and heap leaching is another example, along with that stupid and dangerous sludge pipeline from Canada.

    Getting back to Cory’s assertions about government tax-financed incentives, these are bribes if they’re used as lures in a fishing contest with other states. It’s a fishing contest we will lose to states with deeper pockets, along with a lot of money which is needed for far better results. These incentives have their place, but the bottom line must always be the long term welfare of the state and host local jurisdiction. Profitability is the prospective company’s bottom line, not the state’s bottom line.

    With the national economy and state economy gaining some momentum in the current period of recovery from the Bush/Cheney Great Recession, this may be the time to hit the reset button on how South Dakota grows its economic base. I think some of those responsible for the economic development package in the 2013 legislature were thinking along these lines. But this discussion needs to get booted back to the public for a real, grassroots-based introspection of where we think we’re going as a state economy, and not to be exclusively decided in the air-tight offices on the State Capitol’s Second Floor. And it needs to be more than another dog-and-pony show to validate a foregone conclusion.

    South Dakota is filled with people who think of themselves as individualists. A state full of self-centered individualists will not grow much of an economy. We need to put the focus on us as a community, and we must adjust our thinking so that we can find our niches and opportunities in a globalized economy.

    We know how to accept risk and failure, but can we accept success? Are we willing to trust in ourselves, think big and fight for success? I think of wind energy potential to build wind farms generating five or 10 times more wind energy in South Dakota than we currently produce, and I think of what the construction of a national grid system would mean to success in South Dakota for the next 50 years and more.

    Yes that takes federal investments in a grid infrastructure that could rival the Interstate Highway System. But this is my point. You always get what you pay for in the real world. If we want small potatoes, a little bit will put us in the small potatoes market. If you want big results, you better think big and act accordingly. You gotta want to accept risk intelligently and, more importantly, you gotta want to accept success, which seems to be a problem in South Dakota for some reason.

  17. Bill Dithmer 2013.04.02

    Dougal I completely understand your concern about my reference to Pay to hunt being a money generating force for the future of our state. Believe me nobody dislikes those operations any more then I do but it is a part of our tourism now and like in Texas it isn't going anyplace soon.

    Like it or not”pay to hunt” is here to stay and the time to oppose it was many years ago. More acres, controlled by fewer landowners, needing to realize more profit from that land to make ends meet equals less free hunting opportunities for the general public. I don’t know very many people that would pass up the chance to make money from their land to give their families a financial peace of mind.

    I would like to post something that I have posted before. It is about three nationally know hunters that have different opinions on Pay To Hunt. Like it or not we all have different reasons for hunting where we do. For some it is by choice, and for others it is their only option.

    It might take a while to get there but I would like to tell a story about the first time that I heard the to hunt. In the early eighties I had the pleasure of hosting three great men in the dog world for a week of hunting. First there was Mayo Kellogg. I had met Mayo a few years before at a couple of dog functions when he was giving demonstrations on obedience with young dogs. He also happened to be one of the premier lab breeders of our time with a knowledge of the breed that surpassed anyone else I have known. He could get a young dog to do almost anything in just a short while. He was the original dog whisperer, only louder. He came by this talent naturally, his dad and his dads dad were also breeders and trainers of world class Labradors.

    Then there was TS Scott. Tom was the president and CEO of Scott industries, they made and sold a lot of dog related items back then. He was rich and didn’t even know it. At the time he was traveling around the country setting up field trials and just having fun hunting between events. I still don’t know what makes a field trailer tick but I liked Tom Scott.

    And finally there was a man that would, in a weeks time become a good friend, Larry Meuller the gun dog editor for Outdoor Life. I don’t know of any other man that has had more hands on experience with more hunting breeds of dogs then this man has. He was an old coon hunter and knew a lot of the people that I had talked to on the phone for years, only he knew them personally. Larry hunted every step with a notebook on a string around his neck along with a camera and a shotgun under his arm. I can honestly say that I learned more from these three men in a weeks time then I had my whole life before that time from others.

    We were lucky the whole week. We didn’t always get our limits but we saw a lot of birds. We have always had good pheasant hunting here and the week before the weather had dropped off cold so the grouse had bunched up some.The dogs we hunted with might have just been on a lucky streak but they looked like dogs should. Larry didn’t have a dog in the hunt but Tom had a young pointer that like all pointers was a little crazy. Mayo had two young labs, one about eight months old and the other about a year. Years later I learned that one of these dogs was an important genetic building block of the pointing lab that we are seeing today. I didn’t plan on hunting any of my mutts but when we loaded up the first morning Meuller saw my giant Irish setter standing in the kennel begging to go and asked why I wasn’t taking him. I told him I didn’t want to be embarrassed. Well I wasn’t, we had fun all week long. We hunted ducks on ponds and sometimes we just watched as Mayo worked his two young labs both in and out of the water. We even had time to coon hunt a couple of nights.

    But most of the time after we ate it was setting around the livening room talking dogs and people. These three men were good friends but they could and did argue. One one of these occasions Meuller and Scott were talking about a field trial that Tom had set up in Ohio, that is when I heard it for the first time. Tom was telling Larry how to get to this place and he said go north of the PAY TO HUNT place. I being the dumb one had to ask what in the world is pay to hunt and that’s when the argument started. Tom right quick said “pay to hunt will be the end of hunting as we know it.” Mayo who had been trying to sleep in his chair set up and stated, “that kind of hunting is ok for someone that is crippled but it isn’t really hunting/” I listened to all three of these friends for at least an hour until Larry finally said the one thing that has stuck with me all of these years.

    “You know in the last couple of days we have probably hunted on well over a hundred thousand acres of land. There are very few places in these United States that you can still do that. Big pieces of hunting ground are shrinking around us as we speak either from ownership of nonhunters or these pay to hunt places that are springing up. Like it or not it is going to be the future of hunting, maybe not in ten or twenty years but in a hundred years yes.You know fellows the quality of the hunt means something different to different people. For some it is hunting like we have been doing. For some it is seeing a kid shoot his first bird. For some its watching a young dog holding or backing his first point. And for others it getting lots of shooting.”

    I didn’t want to believe him then but now I know he was right. Not only do we have pay to hunt birds, we also have elk pens exotic animal pens, and in the last couple of years coyote hunting with trail hounds in pens. That’s right yote hunting in pens. They aren’t supposed to catch just run, sometimes at night and sometimes in the daytime you just set and listen to the dogs run and try to get a look at the yote they are chaseing . Some of these pens are over a thousand acres but it is still pay to hunt. It has taken me all of these years but I do understand now what Larry Meuller was saying. The quality of a hunt is subjective, it has a different meaning to different people. Who are we to complain as long as the birds shot don’t belong to us? If they are replaced with other birds does it matter? After all these people feed both tame and wild birds twelve months of the year, not just when they are open for business.

    Its different strokes for different folks.

    The Blindman

  18. Bill Dithmer 2013.04.02

    Now for PETA and The Humane Society. I have had my run ins with both of these fine organizations.

    When we caught prairie dogs for a living PETA tried to tell us what we could and couldn't do. It took considerable restraint on our part to keep from having a physical altercation with those people. That was twenty years ago.

    The Humane Society was caught in my kennels in the middle of the night, twice. I had to resort to the protections of my USDA license, my inspector at the time, and the law to keep those people from getting hurt. I had a perfect record with USDA and as far as I know I still do. At that time the inspections were unannounced and the fines were high. That was thirty years ago.

    Both of these organizations targeted farming and ranching long before I had trouble with them that is why I don't like either of them.

    The Blindman

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