ABERDEEN, S.D. — Reports that that South Dakota’s pheasant population is down are not deterring hunters from out of state.

Many of the state’s airports were hopping in advance of Saturday’s non-resident pheasant opener, which is expected to be challenging after the state’s annual survey showed a 45 percent decrease in birds from the year before.

Hunters flying into Aberdeen Friday afternoon were greeted with promotional tumblers, pheasant sandwiches and tickets that offered a chance to win a free shotgun. One hunter who arrived, 77-year-old Eli Karter of Osprey, Florida, says the lower bird counts just mean a little more work.

Jim Kelly, who flew into Sioux Falls with a group of 21 hunters from North Carolina, says he’s not worried about the numbers because his party always gets its limit of pheasants.

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