A South Dakota Tradition









In October, thirty-three years ago, I went on my first pheasant hunt to Gregory, SD, with Mark Meierhenry.

I was a young State Treasurer, who had been in office for six years, and Mark was the newly elected Attorney General of the state.

As I look back on over three decades of attending hunts with Mark and his family I am struck by what a wonderful and unique tradition this is for South Dakota.

We haven't change a bit.  Mark Meierhenry (on right) and me hunting in 1981.

Through the years I have watched Mark’s two young children, his nieces and nephews grow up, marry and have young children of their own, some of whom are now hunting with us.    As is the way with the cycle of life we also have sadly had to say goodbye to special people in our “hunt family” having in the last few years lost both of Mark’s parents.

I am sure that if Mark and I had never hunted together we would still have become friends, however, there is something special about coming together, each year on the third week of October, that goes beyond just friendship.    You truly do become an extended family and so it is with thousands of other South Dakotans who gather each year during this time.

I talk to people every year, from all over the country, who tell me about their years of coming back to the same family hunts and how much they have shared and enjoyed these cherished relationships.

Now, in addition to this wonderful reunion of family, each year Mark and I also share the authorship of four children’s book about South Dakota history.    I can assure you something that neither of us would have ever anticipated doing 33 years ago.

The books were Mark’s idea and spring from our mutual appreciation of history, especially South Dakota history.   What we have tried to do is make history interesting and fun for young people, and while our narratives are all factually accurate, they feature fictional characters.    The stars are Max and Hannah, twins, who go with their Grandpa on adventures of discovery.

While I have patterned the marketing of these books after how I once campaigned for political office (The Weird Worlds of Politics and Selling Books) the world of children’s books is many miles away from the political process I once knew.    Not long ago I was ‘Author of the Day’ at the state fair in Huron.   My friend Judge Srstka came along to help me with my booth.    During a break we went over to the Republican Headquarters on the fair grounds.   After observing the political activity there it soon became clear to me that while I enjoyed my years in politics I now much prefer the company of 4th graders to that of politicians.

Our first three books were:   “Mystery of the Round Rocks”, “Mystery of the Tree Rings” and “Mystery of the Maize”.

The latest one, and probably our last offering, is called “Mystery of the Pheasants”.  It not only tells the wonderful history of how the wily ringneck got to our state but it also tries to capture the specialness and importance of this grand South Dakota tradition…pheasant hunting!

Dave Volk & Mark Meierhenry - "Mystery of..." Series

RoundRocks_180 TreeRings_180 Maize_180 Pheasants_180
Mystery of Round Rocks Mystery of Tree Rings Mystery of the Maize Mystery of Pheasants


In Sioux Falls, "Mystery of Pheasants" is available at Barnes and Nobles, Home Porch, Zandbroz, Hannah's Hallmark, Scheels and Gary's Gun Shop.