They're back! Hunters flood Wakonda by Lindsay Nelson Every year as the leaves begin to turn color the fall breeze blows in the seasonal hunters. Throughout the years many hunters have visited or passed by on their way through Wakonda and have become great friends with the town and its people.
The majority of hunters that visit Wakonda each year are from either Michigan or Virginia. Both groups of hunters drove down to hunt in Wakonda this past week, Oct. 19-26. Some have been returning to the little town of Wakonda for over 20 years whereas others made their first trip down this season.
Al Rice from Glen Allen, VA, has been traveling to Wakonda for the last 23 years. Rice is retired from a management position he held at Phillip Morris. His brother, Ronnie Rice from Montpelier, VA, has journeyed to Wakonda with Al for the past six years. He also worked for Phillip Morris as a mechanic until his retirement.
Ronnie says, "I enjoy hunting but I come to socialize now more then I do to hunt."
There are many others included in the Virginia crew, such as Wyatt Watson and Tim O'Malley. This is Watson's fifth year of hunting in Wakonda. O'Malley is a dentist back in Virginia and every year he promotes his profession by handing out toothbrushes, toothpaste and toothpicks to his friends at Wakonda.
The Michigan hunting party consists of Doug Dobbs, Mark Brown, Blayne Scheffler, and Dan Flourance. They have all been coming to Wakonda for 10-12 years and all agree with Dobbs when he said, "It's a riot, a blast."
Not only do these hunters come to hunt but they also return each year to help friends. In trade for land to hunt on, the men help the local farmers sort cattle, haul corn, fix combines and do anything else that the farmers need help with. They also take out many of the younger kids in Wakonda after school to hunt with them.
When out-of-state hunters come to a small town they bring additional revenue to the town. These men are great supporters of the Wakonda Legion. They also support the economics of Wakonda by staying and eating at the Wakonda Pit and
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Hotel. They patronize the Wakonda Community Caf� and Derby's 1 Stop.
The hunters stay for a week and spend $800 to $1000 per person while at Wakonda. A normal day for the hunters includes eating breakfast at either the Wakonda Community Caf� or the Volin Caf�. At noon they go out and hunt and usually walk 12 to 15 miles per day. They are always willing to help friends and spend a lot of their time doing so during the day. At night they gather back at the Pit to socialize with friends and retire for the night at the Wakonda Hotel.
The hunters all agreed that their time spent at Wakonda has been great even though they wouldn't have minded if the weather would have been a little bit cooler. On the other hand, Ronnie Rice adds, "I thoroughly enjoy South Dakota, if it weren't for the winters I would live here."
Many people in Wakonda thoroughly enjoy the hunters' visits and can't wait until the next fall to see them again. Mark Brown summed up the hunters' thoughts when he said, "Wakonda has some of the greatest people in the world."