9 Must-See’s and Must-Do’s at Pheasant Fest 2018


With so much to see and do at 2018 National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic, everybody needs an Insider’s Show Guide. Here’s yours.

By Tom Carpenter

The booth space is all sold-out and completely full-up, with vendors from every walk of the upland lifestyle: dogs, shotguns, clothes, boots, outfitters, wildlife art, game cooking, habitat management and conservation, gear and accessories of every description … and that’s just the first row!

The seminar schedule is all set and locked in, with sessions on bird dogs and training, conservation, habitat improvement, game bird biology, wild game cooking, and getting youth involved in the outdoor and upland traditions.

The special events are ready to roll, including the annual Bird Dog parade on Friday, an everybody’s-invited Pheasantennial beer sampler extravaganza, state meetings, keynote speaker Steven Rinella at Saturday night’s banquet, and much more.   

National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic is the world’s largest upland hunting and conservation event, and it’s going to be taking Sioux Falls by storm February 16 – 18 at the Denny Sanford Premier Center. 

The vibe is always high-energy at National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic, but it can get challenging to fit everything in. That’s a good problem to have on a mid-winter weekend! 

To help you focus in on a few options and fine-tune a plan-of-attack, this Insider’s Show Guide offers up three must-see and must-do options for each day of the event. Note that some of the suggestions here can be taken in on other days as well. Get to Sioux Falls February 16-18 and join the upland fun.


*Marvel at all the breeds walking in the annual Bird Dog Parade kicking off the show at 11:00 a.m.

*Hit the Bird Dog Bonanza Stage at 7:00 p.m. for an “Ask the Experts” session featuring a big-name, all-star panel boasting over 260 years of dog training experience and including 91-year-old Delmar Smith. (This session will be repeated at 4:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday).

*Attend Pheasantennial Friday’s beer sampler social starting at 5:00 p.m. Taste some great South Dakota micro-brews, enjoy appetizers, and schmooze around with like-minded folks who love hunting, wild birds, good dogs and the conservation ethic. Thousands of dollars of guns and trips will be raffled off for conservation. Tickets are $60 and include all the finger foods you can eat plus eight “pours” of the micro-brews.


*10:00 a.m. is the show’s only shed antler seminar on the Bird Dog Bonanza stage. Tom Dokken is giving attendees to his 10:00 a.m. Training Your Dog to Find Shed Antlers: Tools & Techniques session a free kit including Rack Wax (a training scent that imitates the smell of fresh antlers) along with his Shed Dog Training DVD. 

*Take some time to visit the Pollinator Plaza area of the show floor and learn more about this critical aspect of habitat management … and how you can make it happen whether you manage a thousand acres or a city lot.

*Take in one of chef Hank Shaw’s sessions at the Wild Game Cooking stage. There’s a quail and other small-gamebirds session at noon, and a great gamebird chef overview at 4:00 p.m. These sessions are repeated. Shaw has partnered up with Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever for his new book being unveiled at the show: Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail.

Note that Steven Rinella of Meat Eater TV is keynoting Saturday night’s banquet. The event is sold out but it’s sure to be a great evening if you were early enough to score some tickets.


*It’s open all weekend, so put the Landowner Help Desk on your itinerary if you want to improve acres for wildlife. Farm Bill Biologists and South Dakota Game & Fish Biologists will be staffing the area and consulting. Put a project plan together right there, with complete resources and experts at your disposal. It’s free.

*Be sure to take your young outdoor enthusiasts to Rudy’s Youth Village. There’s no end to the activities, fun and learning. The area is staffed by PF and QF National Youth Council members, all fine young-adult leaders, role models and conservationists. Kids can shoot BB guns, do hands-on craft projects, “catch” a big one at the fishing simulator, complete coloring and art projects, and just grow their love of the outdoors. While you're there, ask about one of the wild game pizza-making sessions!

*Take a stroll through the “Bird Dog Row” area of the show floor and cuddle up to some puppies while visiting with fellow bird dog lovers.

Çlick here for more National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic details, including ticket information to the show and its special events.

Goldy says come to Pheasant Fest, it's a good time!