Hi there. I’m Austin Kaus and I’m the new Outdoor Media & Industry Relations guy for the South Dakota Department of Tourism.

That’s a long-winded way of saying I’m here for some adventure.

First, some background: I grew up running around the hills of Wessington Springs fighting imaginary enemies or just looking for nothing. With our family home nestled in the Wessington Hills, it was not uncommon to see wild turkeys or deer strolling across our family’s lawn. It was also not uncommon to see my little brother chasing said turkeys or deer. To the best of my knowledge, he has yet to catch any.

I’ve also fished for bullheads and walked through fields looking for pheasants. I understand how important exploration – whether you’re hunting, hiking, fishing or otherwise – is in South Dakota. I also happen to think it’s very fun. That’s why I’m so excited to see where this position will take me. This lifelong South Dakota resident has so many places to discover, explore and share with you. Here’s hoping you’ll enjoy the trip and become inspired to take your own.

So, I end with these questions: Where do you think I should go? Where are your favorite outdoor spots in South Dakota?

Where should the adventure begin?


The South Dakota Birding Festival is moving forward with plans for the 4th annual festival set to take place May 2-4, 2014 in Pickstown, South Dakota at the Fort Randall Dam. Information sent from South Dakota Missouri River Tourism is below on the event:

For a natural spectacle, it’s hard to beat a birding festival! Of all the wildlife in the US, birds attract the biggest following. According to the recent National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, about 18 million people a year take trips to see wild birds.


Now is your chance! Grab your binoculars, camera and birding guide and make plans to attend the 4th Annual South Dakota Birding Festival.  Herons, eagles, owls and hawks, to mention a few, are ready to sport their finest spring plumage for your watching enjoyment. And, you might even get to check a new bird off your list!


The event is set to take flight May 2-4, 2014 at Pickstown, SD. Birding enthusiasts will gather to hopefully catch site of hundreds of migrating bird species returning to South Dakota or heading to other parts of the country. The communities of Wagner, Pickstown and Lake Andes stand ready to welcome you for a super weekend!


There are many unique birding opportunities in this region. The Fort Randall location along the Missouri River, includes the Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge, the Karl Mundt National Wildlife Refuge, and the Missouri River itself; which are all major flyways for migrating birds.


The South Dakota Birding Festival offers a full schedule of activities beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 2 at the Rainbow Room in Pickstown, SD. Registration, a social and refreshments are on tap with a presentation at 7:30 p.m. by Dr. Dave Swanson from the University of South Dakota on “Identification of the Warblers of South Dakota.”


The exciting events will continue on Saturday, May 3 beginning at 6:20 a.m. at the Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge with birding field trips beginning at 6:30 a.m. – including a bird banding workshop. The birding field bus trips will begin once again at 12:30 p.m.  The festival continues at 4:30 p.m. at the Wagner National Guard Armory where Lynn Barber will do a book signing for her publication Extreme Birder, One Woman’s Big Year. Also at 4:30 will be a program entitled “Landscaping for Birds” with Nancy Drilling from the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory. At 5 p.m. Lea Ymker with Fairway Seeds will discuss Basic Bird Feeding followed by the banquet at 5:30 p.m. The Armour Kindergarten Birders, along with their teacher Kelly Preheim, will do a program on Identifying Birds by Sight & Sound.  Keynote speaker for the evening will be Lynn Barber on “Birding Big Years Come in Different Sizes.”



At 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 4 there will be a Bird Banding Workshop by Dr. Dave Swanson at the Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge. Following that presentation birders will meet at the Karl Mundt National Wildlife Refuge (meet at Fort Randall Chapel) for a field trip led by the US Fish & Wildlife Service personnel. The Karl Mundt Refuge is only open to the public during the birding festival. To end the birding weekend, a species check-off will be held at 12 p.m. at the Fort Randall Chapel.


For an event schedule and registration form, click here.




Winter in Deadwood

by Justin Larson on March 7, 2014 · 0 comments

If you’ve been watching the news, or living it yourself, you know that winter in the Midwest isn’t over yet! However, there’s a place in South Dakota that you can make the best of the season. A stay in Deadwood puts you close to lots of winter action in the Black Hills.

Whether it’s skiing or snowboarding at Terry Peak or Mystic Miner, or cruisin’ on a snowmobile on the hundreds of miles of trails, outdoor adventure abounds in this mountain town. It is expected to have a good snowpack for winter sports until at least early April. To learn more about the snow conditions and get updates you can check on their Twitter sites (even if you don’t have Twitter you can still click the link and view the updates). Both the eastern and western trails have Twitter handles that are updated with conditions, see them here.

There’s plenty to do indoors too – there are more than 80 gaming halls in Historic Deadwood, and museums to explore. If you’re up for a drive, the scenic highways in the winter will take your breath away.

Also in Deadwood, you can find unique events in the winter months. Deadwood is always a great host to St. Patrick’s Day events: pub crawls, Leprechaun Olympics, parades, music, and food will all delight visitors! For a complete schedule of events during St. Patrick’s Day weekend, click here.


Posted in Winter Sports

Fast and Furious

by Justin Larson on December 10, 2013 · 0 comments

AMSOIL Championship Snocross will race into the Black Hills again this winter. Deadwood’s Days of ’76 Rodeo Grounds will be home to two days of high-speed, high-flying, high-octane snocross racing Jan. 31-Feb. 1. Tickets Deadwood Snocross Shootout, hosted by the Deadwood Chamber of Commerce, are on sale now.

AMSOIL Championship Snocross, presented by Traxxas, features snowmobile racing in a stadium setting, complete with massive jumps, berms and bumps – a man-made snow track identical to what you’d see dirt bikes race across. The Deadwood Snocross Shootout will feature 150 of the world’s top snowmobile racers from the United States, Canada and Europe, many of which compete at the annual X Games competition.

Custom sleds that produce auto-like horsepower will rip across the grounds of the Days of ’76 venue. It’s an apt venue, because these machines corner like barrel racers, jump high into the air and sometimes buck their unlucky riders off into the snow.

“AMSOIL Championship Snocross is pumped with the opportunity to line up and race at the historic Days of ’76 Rodeo Grounds. We’ve heard nothing but great stories about the famous rodeo held in Deadwood over the summer and look forward to giving the good people of South Dakota an equally electrifying show in February,” said Carl Schubitzke, ACS President/Race Director.

The AMSOIL Championship Snocross round at Days of ’76 Rodeo Grounds features the three main snowmobile manufacturers – Arctic Cat, Polaris and Ski-Doo – and their factory teams of racers. The lineup includes defending Pro Open class champion Tim Tremblay (Ski-Doo), the winningest snocross racer of all-time. Arctic Cat’s Tucker Hibbert and Polaris’ top racer Ross Martin will compete as well. Racing will also include amateurs and top women racers, featuring numerous local snocross racers from the Deadwood area and Dakotas region.

“These are the highest caliber racers in the world, and we are excited to host them in Deadwood. Snowmobiling is quite the popular winter activity in Deadwood and the Black Hills, so these guys and gals will fit right in,” said George Milos, executive director of the Deadwood Chamber of Commerce. “The Deadwood Snocross Shootout is a perfect match for a Deadwood winter, and it’s our hope this family friendly event will land on the top of many must-see lists.”

Who: 150 of the world’s top snowmobile racers.
What: Deadwood Snocross Shootout, AMSOIL Championship Snocross circuit.
When: Jan. 31-Feb. 1. Times: Practice starts each day at 8 a.m., amateur racing begins at 9:30 a.m., pros at noon.
Where: Days of ’76 Rodeo Grounds.



Cedar Shore Resort

by Justin Larson on October 17, 2013 · 0 comments

Opened in 1995, Cedar Shore Resort brought something new to South Dakota that outdoor enthusiast, family travelers and locals alike could utilize for years to come. Over the last 18 years Cedar Shore Resort has grown into a premiere destination in the state. Located along the banks of the Missouri River it offers world-class walleye and small mouth bass fishing to anglers, water recreation for families, and is only a short drive to prime pheasant hunting land.

Cedar Shore offers hunting packages and guided fishing excursions during their respective seasons. The resort is also perfect setting for a wedding or family reunion. With its 3,000 square foot convention center the staff at Cedar Shore Resort is able to accommodate to all of your group’s needs.

After spending a day in the sun or in the field, comfortable accommodations await you back at the resort. The 99 room hotel, indoor pool and Jacuzzi and indoor/outdoor restaurant bar together create a comfortable atmosphere to enjoy some of the best scenic views in South Dakota.



Guns, Ammo and Roosters

by Justin Larson on September 18, 2013 · 0 comments

South Dakota Tourism, Winchester Ammunition and Browning Firearms teamed up together this past week with R&R Pheasant Hunting for a great event.  Together, we brought in 5 writers from various outdoor and firearm publications to try some new products and experience a world-class pheasant hunt in South Dakota.

R&R Pheasant Hunting is a family owned and operated lodge that is located near Seneca, SD. Sal Roseland (owner) had a vision in college to utilize the thousands of acres his family has farmed for years and continue to implement the conservation efforts they have been putting in place over multiple decades. Spread across 18 thousand acres, the Roseland ranch can take your breath away by the number of pheasants they have on their property or simply watching the sunset on the prairie from the porch of the hunting lodge.

I’m not a huge “ammunition” guy or very picky when it comes to what shell I shoot as if/when I miss it’s more than likely operator error. This past week might have changed that theory of mine, after shooting the new Winchester Blindside Pheasant Load. With its new hex steel pellets, as opposed to round pellets used in most loads, they stack more efficiently in the hull and allow for more gun powder. The Blindside also offers a diamond cut wad system for increased performance.  Even a bad shot like me can look good in the field with this shell. It simply puts a “hurt” on the bird whether it’s a head shot or not! We were shooting the 12 gauge, 2 3/4, 1400 FPS load on this specific hunt.  Pair this shell up with the light weight, Browning Citori 725 and you will be sure to take down a few South Dakota roosters!

Over the course of 3-days we found plenty of birds to test out both the new Blindside shell and the Browning Citori 725. As we walked the fields each day it was great to see hundreds of hen pheasants being kicked up along with the roosters, we all know it’s the females that rule the roost! Strong habitat practices, like at R&R, are key to continuing great pheasant numbers and landowners must provide adequate cover, food and water to grow their pheasant numbers.




Hidden Gem

by Justin Larson on September 5, 2013 · 0 comments

Tucked away along the banks of Split Rock Creek, just south of Garretson, South Dakota is Palisades State Park. Sitting on 157 acres and surrounded by quartzite formations, hundreds of oak trees and the rushing water of Split Rock Creek below it make this easily one of South Dakota’s most unique and picturesque state parks.

A couple weeks ago I had a chance to explore the park and quickly realized I have been missing out! With walking trails along the creek it gives the visitor an awesome view up and down the stream and an up-close look at these quartzite formations that are over a billion years old and which stand more than 50 feet high. This is a very popular area for local rock climbers of all skills. The area is also known for where legend Jesse James leaped over the canyon to flee from lawmen.

The park offers 37 camping sites, 6 camping cabins and a lodge that you can rent. Most of the camping sites offer electric hook-ups.

Palisades State Park is a place where the whole family can find something to do. Canoeing, rock-climbing, walking, photography, or just plain enjoying the beautiful outdoors, Palisades is a great place for it all.




Missouri River Fishing Report

by Justin Larson on August 12, 2013 · 0 comments


Provided by: Great Lakes of SD Tourism Association (soon to be SD Missouri River Tourism)


 Fishing/Hunting Update for

 the Missouri River in South Dakota

 Weather has been perfect the last couple weeks – The Missouri River area is still so green and beautiful! Couldn’t be a better year to come to the river!

 The fishing report hasn’t changed much from last week. It’s that time of year.

  A reminder on the Lake Oahe fishing regs – you can take eight a day and 24 in possession. For regulations on size and regulations on the other lakes please check the Game, Fish & Parks Fishing Regulations book.

Lake Francis Case & Lake Sharpe – Walleye: Minimum length limit 15”, except during July and August when there is no minimum restriction. Daily limit may include no more than one 20” or longer year-round.

 The fishing report that we do weekly is simply a snap shot in time of what went on over the weekend.  We suggest you call one of our members listed at the end of the report, to see what is happening the day you are venturing up here. That way you’ll be assured of a great trip!

Like us on Facebook – for up-to-date reports from our businesses and the area.

Lake Oahe

In the Pollock area fishing is slowing and the fish are going deeper, but there are limits coming in. Anglers are catching the most fish in 20 feet of water and most are usin.

At Mobridge, fishing is slower – the area north of town is still hanging on as the best place to fish. Decent numbers are still coming in and the fish are looking good. The Grand River is decent also. Anglers are using crawlers and spinners or bottom bouncers in around 20 foot depths.

At Akaska  fishing is good but you have to work for the fish and you’ll do lots of sorting.  Anglers are using spinners with crawlers and some still using minnows in around 25-30 feet. Some anglers are pulling plugs and catching bigger fish.

At Gettysburg anglers are doing well, but it is kind of slow. Fish are going deepter. Best depth can be anywhere from 10-70 feet – you have to look for where the fish are at. They are seeing a lot of smaller fish, but bigger fish are being pulled in also. Minnows, crawlers, and leeches are the main bait of choice.

Around Spring CreekCow Creek  area the bite is slower. Some good areas are the Cheyenne, Chantier Creek and Stony Point. Still catching lots of smaller fish in around 25-35 feet. Larger fish in the 50-60 foot depth. Anglers are using spinners and crawlers, Lindy’s and crawlers or leeches. Some salmon and walleye are being pullied in with jigging spoons around the intakes and the face of the Oahe Dam. Remember, if you catch walleye from deep water and release them, their chances of survival are slim.

Lake Sharpe

Lake Sharpe – Walleye: Minimum length limit 15”, except during July and August when there is no minimum restriction. Daily limit may include no more than one 20” or longer year-round.

Fishing on Lake Sharpe is good from the Oahe Dam to Pierre and Fort Pierre  and down to Fort George and on to West Bend.  You have to be there though when the fish decide to bite. Anglers are using heavier bottom bouncers and trolling faster with electric or kicker. The best bite is in the 6-13 foot depths. Fish that come up river to stage aren’t there yet, but it looks like they may come up in great numbers and make for great fall fishing.  Fishing from North Shore to West Bend is also good in around 25-35 feet. Evenings are the best around the tailrace of the dam.

Francis Case

Lake Francis Case – Walleye: Minimum length limit 15”, except during July and August when there is no minimum restriction. Daily limit may include no more than one 20” or longer year-round.

 Around Chamberlain , on Francis Case the bite has slowed in the Chamberlain area, with lots of small fish being caught. Anglers are using jigs with minnows or crawlers and some are using leeches – other anglers are using bottom bouncers and spinners with live bait and some pulling plugs. Most anglers are fishing in the 20-30 foot depths. The area from Kiowa to Big Bend Dam is going well. And, also from Chamberlain down to the White River.

In the Platte area the bite has slowed  and you have to work to get limits. Anglers are pulling plugs and using live bait in around 20-35 feet. Fish are definitely going deeper in all areas. The fish are looking very healthy.

At the Pickstown – WagnerLake Andes area boats are coming in with limits and the fish is still very good. You will catch fish if your present the bait right. Anglers are fishing in around 10-32 feet with most anglers leaning towards crawlers and leeches – all bait still seems to be working very well. Popular area and an area that is going really good is from the Fort Randall Dam to Whetstone. Shore fishing is great too, and anglers are having no trouble catching fish. Perch, crappie, all kinds of bass and catfish are also being caught here. Below the Fort Randall Dam anglers are catching some fish, but it depends on the release of water. Again, watch for the elk on the west shore – we’ve had reports of boaters spotting them!

In the Yankton area on the Missouri River drum, catfish and carp are being caught on prepared baits, liver, crawlers or dough baits. A few white bass and walleye are being caught on minnows during the early mornings or late in the day – mainly by the fast water. Bow fisherman are still getting lots of carp.

Lewis & Clark Lake – The bite is slow right now. White bass are biting at sundown in the Bloomfield area. A few walleye are being caught in the early mornings and late in the day on live baits – with leeches and crawlers working the best. Best area is by the colonies and Miller Creek areas. The boy scout area along the bluffs are producing some white bass pitching jigs with live baits. At the face of the dam small mouth are still hitting on cranks or live bait. In deep water areas, anglers are still catching sunfish.

Lake Yankton – Small bluegill and catfish are biting on crawlers. Bass are biting on crank baits, spinners or plastics early in the morning or later in the day.

*Please remember that the fishing conditions on the Missouri River change constantly and this report is simply a guideline – a snapshot in time.*

For more information and up-to-the-minute reports on fishing Lake Oahe, please call West Pollock Resort, 605-889-2448; Kemnitz MoRest Motel in Mobridge at 605-845-3668. At Akaska call Akaska Bait Shop at 605-649-7847. Call Bob’s Resort at 605-765-2500 or South Whitlock Resort at 605-765-9762 in Gettysburg. On the lower end of Lake Oahe, Outpost Lodge at 605-264-5450 and Lake Oahe/Lake Sharpe call Carl’s Bait Shop at 605-223-9453. On Lake Francis Case, contact Cedar Shore Resort at 605-734-6376 or Platte Chamber of Commerce at 888-297-8175 and Circle H Motel in Lake Andes at 605-487-7652.


YANKTON, S.D. — The inaugural Yankton Riverboat Days Kayak Run, a six-mile “fun run” style race on the Missouri River, will begin at 2 p.m. on Aug. 17 near Chief White Crane State Recreation Area.

The new event gives festival goers who enjoy paddling an opportunity to put some time on the river into their celebration of Riverboat Days 2013.

Jarett Bies is organizing the event. He is part of the team that founded and hosts the South Dakota Kayak Challenge, a 72-mile race on the river held each May. He says the Aug. 17 event is a race, but one that focuses on safety and fun.

“We’re grateful to the Yankton Riverboat Days Committee for letting us join the signature event of the city, and we hope all paddlers around the region will join us for this outing,” says Bies. “The route is short but sweet, and we’ve got great support from a number of agencies to make it a safe and successful shindig.”

The six-mile route starts at a sandy spot just off of Toe Road in Yankton and ends at Paddle Wheel Point. Shuttles will transport racers from parking lots at Yankton’s Visitors’ Center back to the start. Registration for the event is $25 and covers insurance and t-shirts.

Racers who leisurely approach the course will most likely finish in less than two hours, Bies says. The route takes racers past Riverside Park, where a majority of the festival’s activities take place. It is scheduled at 2 p.m. so that parade goers and others can still take part in the fun.

The South Dakota Canoe & Kayak Association is sponsoring the event.

You can sign up or get more information here: http://yrbdkayakevent.blogspot.com/

You can check out the event’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/KayakRiverboatDays



A day on the water

by Justin Larson on July 22, 2013 · 0 comments

This past week I was fortunate to spend a day on Lake Oahe with a great friend and local guide, Paul Steffen. The fishing along Lake Oahe has been phenomenal all spring and early summer but within the last two weeks the bite has slowed quite a bit. So I decided I needed to go out and get a fishing report for myself.

We took off from West Shore boat ramp, located just north of Pierre, and headed toward the Peoria Flats area. Peoria is full of underwater trees and exposed tree tops. With bait fish swarming to areas similar to this it is usually a great place to find some nice walleye hanging out. Last year this was maybe the most heavily fished area on the lake but with the water being down a bit this year, it hasn’t had near the fishing pressure from the anglers.

Our first tactic we wanted to try was to pull spinner blades under planer boards, roughly 10ft under water so the spinner blades were running right at the tree tops or just above them. We tipped the spinner blades with a night crawler or leech and trolled anywhere from 1.3 mph to 1.5 mph. It wasn’t long and we had our first bite, unfortunately it was a smallmouth bass. Always fun to catch but on this day we were targeting walleye. We continued on and picked up a handful of walleye and several bass using this tactic.

As we cruised to our next destination I asked Paul why he thought the fishing has slowed so much in the last two weeks, and he noted that “Fortunately, I think our bait fish are recovering from the flood 2 years ago, as I have been marking a ton more bait fish in the last month.” Steffen also mentioned, “It’s awesome for Lake Oahe so some of these fish can put some much needed weight back on.”

After some “graphing” of a few spots we decided to head back into Chantier Creek and put some crank baits out. We used two 14ft rods with lead core out the side of the boat and two rods spooled with power pro line straight out the back. We used drop weights on the two rods in the back to target the suspended fish. For crank baits we mainly used flicker shad #7’s and huskey jerks, but did have some luck with an orange jointed crank bait. This method was by far our most productive of the day as we picked up 10 or so nice walleye in the couple hours we trolled this area.

We fished a few other spots during the day pitching jigs and vertical jigging as well. These tactics didn’t produce many fish so we stayed with the crank baits in deeper water.

The bite has definitely slowed but we still caught plenty of fish, we just had to move around the lake and work at it. Overall, a great time was had spending time with a good friend and I was even able to bring supper home to momma!



Posted in Fishing