Tag Archives: Outdoors

Pheasant Season Preparation

Fall has arrived. As the days get shorter and cooler, one thing is on the mind of many South Dakotans and visitors from other states: ROOSTER! Hunting provides physical activity, emotional and social benefits and a nutritious, low-fat protein.

Pre-Hunt Preparation
With hunting season right around the corner, it’s important for hunters to start preparing for the hunt. Taking some simple steps to prepare can make your hunting season safer, more enjoyable, and more successful.

  • Clean and maintain your firearms to ensure proper performance.
  • Spend some time at the range to practice your shooting and re-familiarize yourself with your firearms.
  • If you are bringing kids along, make sure they are versed in gun handling and safety practices.
  • Prepare your gear ahead of time to ensure that nothing will be forgotten.
  • Ensure everyone has appropriate licenses and hunter education certificates, available from South Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks.

Physical Fitness
One aspect of hunt preparation that is often overlooked is physical fitness and nutrition. For many outdoorsmen and women, fall is their most active time of year. Participating in a workout routine ahead of the season can ensure your body is in shape for the field. Don’t let an overambitious day of hunting take you out of the game for the rest of the week.

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), adults need at least 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity, aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week. Muscle-strengthening activities are recommended on two or more days a week that work on all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, chest, shoulders and arms.)=

Nutrition Tips
Keeping your energy level high is key for the hunt. Consider packing healthy food options as part of the preparation process. Here are some useful tips:

  • Pack plenty of water. It’s essential to stay hydrated before going hunting, during and after. Try to avoid sugary beverages.
  • Keep raw foods separated from cooked foods by packing them in waterproof bags or containers and keep them in an insulated cooler.
  • Pack nutrient dense snacks that are easy to carry. Examples include: Energy bars, trail mix, nuts, seeds, dried fruits or vegetables, nut-based bars, chews or gels.
  • Take a peanut butter and jelly whole wheat sandwich. Whole grains make you feel satisfied for a longer period of time.
  • Avoid candy bars and cookies. These foods contain a lot of sugar, which provide an initial lift of energy, but after a while as it wears off, leaving individuals feeling tired.
  • Instead of traditional jerky, consider packing venison jerky. It’s a healthier option. It’s leaner, but still high in sodium.

The benefits of hunting can be numerous if you are prepared. Good luck!

Source: iGrow.org

It’s HOT Out There: Exercise Safe!

July and August can be some of the hottest months in South Dakota. Along with a drastic change in temperature, many individuals participate in a variety of different sports and spend prolonged periods of time in the sun during this seasonal change. The human body serves as a great temperature regulator, but without practicing proper safety precautions, it is possible for the body to overheat.

Exercising in the heat increases your sweat rate, fluid loss, and your risk for dehydration. Sweating is how your thermoregulatory system within your body cools you down. If you become too hot, it is hard for your sweating rate to keep up and keep body temperatures down. Thus, with the increased temperatures outdoors, there is an increased risk for heat illnesses. Additionally, children are less efficient at regulating their body temperatures and can become overheated and dehydrated much quicker than an adult. If you as an adult feel hot, your child probably feels a lot warmer.

Common Heat Illnesses

Common heat illnesses include heat cramps, heat syncope, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Below are some common signs and symptoms for heat illnesses:

  • Heat Cramps: Muscle twitching, cramps, spasms
  • Heat Syncope: Pale skin, slowed heart rate, slowed breathing rate, nausea, weakness
  • Heat Exhaustion: Excessive thirst, dry tongue/mouth, fatigue, weakness, nausea, slightly elevated temp, mental dullness, excessive sweating
  • Heat Stroke: Central nervous system abnormalities (i.e. fatigue, confusion, headache, possible loss of consciousness, etc.), decreased or lack of sweating, rapidly increased heart rate and blood pressure

Safety Considerations

When engaging in physical activity during hot summer days or if you are going to be in the sun for prolonged hours follow these safety precautions:

  • Wear loose-fitting, breathable, light-colored clothing
  • Monitor hydration/fluid intake:
    • Drink plenty of water – even if you don’t feel thirsty!
    • Take frequent water breaks, especially during intense physical activity
    • Avoid caffeinated drinks, such as pop or soda
    • Drinks containing carbohydrates and electrolytes can also be consumed
  • Find shelter in shaded areas
  • Watch for signs and symptoms of heat illnesses (above)
  • Avoid physical activity during peak heat, instead try early morning or late evening times
  • Wear sunscreen
  • Rest often and take it easy

Be mindful and pay attention to your body, if you suspect a heat illness seek medical help immediately. Dizziness, cramps, nausea, vomiting, confusion and headaches are all causes for alarm. If you need to, move your workout indoors for a few days.

Additional Resources

See more at iGrow

Where to Walk & Play

With all the great places to be active in South Dakota, you may have a hard time narrowing down the choices. Fortunately, the SD Department of Health, SDSU Extension, and the SD Game, Fish & Parks teamed up to create a couple of handy lists that show some of the different activities offered in South Dakota State Parks.

  • Group activities: disc golf, volleyball, basketball, soccer, and softball
  • Low impact activities: walking, geo-cacheing, swimming, and lawn games
  • Trail activities: walking, running, hiking, biking, and archery
  • Water activities: swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and paddle boarding
  • Winter activities: snow shoeing, cross-country skiing, and hiking

Download the activities postcards or use the SD Game, Fish & Parks’ State Park Filtering Tool to see what activities are available at your nearest park.

Physical activity has immediate health benefits and the best part is—any activity counts! That’s right, even small amounts of moderate to vigorous physical activity can:

  • Reduce anxiety
  • Improve quality of sleep
  • Help maintain bone density
  • Increase strength
  • Improve flexibility

Walking for just a few minutes a day is the perfect way to start exploring all the great places in our beautiful state parks. So, grab the kids, a friend, load up a pet, and take a walk in one of our great state parks—better yet, find an activity and invite the whole gang!

Sources: Health.gov, SD Game, Fish & Parks

Park Rx: A Prescription for a Day in the Park!

The South Dakota Department of Health, Department of Game, Fish and Parks, and SDSU Extension are teaming up with doctors and healthcare providers to encourage physical activity through the Park Rx project.

The project encourages healthcare providers to prescribe exercise – and when they do – patients can take their Park Rx to any South Dakota State Park and turn it in for a FREE pass for the day. Patients can also turn in the pass that same day and receive a discounted annual pass to encourage year long activity.

The trend to prescribe physical activity is sweeping the nation and we want healthcare providers in South Dakota to sign up and get their patients moving.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Fill out the form below.
  2. If you’re a patient, Park Rx information will be sent to the provider you list, encouraging them to sign up.
  3. If you’re a healthcare provider, an information packet with Park Rx pads will be mailed to you.

Park Rx Requests:

Are you a healthcare provider?

Questions? Contact Nikki Prosch (nikki.prosch@sdstate.edu)
*required fields

Spread the word!

  • Talk to your friends and family and tell them how to get their own Park Rx.
  • Download this flyer. Show it to your doctor or healthcare provider and ask if they are participating in the Park Rx project.
  • Plan an event in your local community promoting physical activity in parks – involve your school, healthcare facilities, community members, and local businesses. Consider planning your event around National Park Rx Day.
  • You have so many options to enjoy the outdoors in South Dakota! Discover all the ways you can fill your Park RX Prescription.

Exercise is medicine for everyone!

Regular physical activity can:

  • improve muscular fitness
  • aid in prevention of falls
  • assist with weight management
  • improve cognitive function in older adults
  • prevent and help manage certain chronic diseases

Kids benefit too!
Many children and adolescents don’t get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Besides building strong bones and muscles, regular physical activity also decreases the likelihood of developing obesity and risk factors for diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Plus, exercise may give a boost in positive mental health by reducing anxiety and depression. If you’re ready to promote youth physical activity, download the Youth Physical Activity Recommendations fact sheet to get started.

Any regular physical activity is beneficial, but doing it while in a park is even better! Outdoor activity improves mental and physical well-being more than indoor activity and spending time in nature is associated with better cognitive development in schoolchildren.

Download the Park Rx infographic and share and display it everywhere for a little extra motivation.

Here’s the buzz about Park Rx:
Park Rx is sweeping the nation! As seen on National Geographic and Scientific American!


The South Dakota Park Rx project aligns with the vision of the Exercise is Medicine® initiative. The goal is to make physical activity and exercise a standard part of global disease prevention and treatment. Our goal is to increase assessment and prescription of physical activity. Park Rx is a great way to encourage physical activity for your patients.

For a complete listing of South Dakota State Parks and to find the ones closest to you visit South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks.

For more information about exercise assessment and prescription, please visit ExerciseIsMedicine.org

ParkRx.org provides information about the national park prescription movement as well as the incredible physical, mental, and social benefits of exercise in nature.

To find out more about the recommended levels of physical activity, talk with your doctor and visit Health.gov

Hiking Fun

Gear Up
First, you’ll need a good pair of shoes and thick socks designed for this type of activity. You can start with some sturdy sneakers with thick bottoms. When you begin to take on more difficult trails, try a pair of hiking boots, and make sure they fit! Also, get a backpack or fanny pack to carry all of your hiking supplies. Dress in layers and bring along a waterproof jacket with a hood in case you get caught in the rain. And don’t forget a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses because the higher you hike, the more dangerous the sun’s rays become.

To keep hiking fun, you always need to be prepared to beat problems that could happen while you’re out, like finding the trail if you get lost or stuck in bad weather. Make sure you bring a map of the area you’ll be hiking in and a sturdy compass. Don’t know how to use a compass? Check this out to learn how. You’ll also need to bring plenty of water and extra food, like sports bars or trail mix, in case you have to stay out late and get hungry. The adults on your hike should bring a box of waterproof matches and an Army-style knife. A flashlight and extra batteries will help you find your way if you end up out after dark. Finally, you’ll need to bring a first aid kit, in case someone gets hurt during your hike.

Play it Safe
Prep. Get in shape before you head out on your hike. Try walking around your neighborhood with your pack loaded with five pounds more gear than you’ll actually carry on your hike. If that goes well, plan a short hike to test your abilities on the trail.

Buddies. Take a friend and an adult along on your hike. That way you can look out for each other and you’ll have people to talk to! Also, be sure to let someone who’s not going know where you’ll be hiking and what time you’ll be back.

H2O. Carry lots of water even if you are only planning a short hike. For warm-weather hikes, bring six to eight quarts of water per day. In the cold weather or higher elevations, you can be safe with half that amount. Whenever you are near water, make sure you wet yourself down. Dampen a bandana and wipe your face, neck, and arms or wrap it around your head while you hike.

Blisters and more. To prevent blisters, try spraying your feet with an anti-perspirant before heading out. Bring extra pairs of socks that you can change into if your feet get wet or sweaty — if they aren’t made of cotton, they’ll keep your feet drier. Once you’re on the trail, stop as soon as you feel a “hot spot” on your feet and apply special type of bandage called “moleskin” to the sore area. Also, try using a hiking stick to keep some pressure off of your legs and knees.

Buzz. Don’t get bugged by bugs. Protect yourself from bites and stings by using a bug repellant that includes DEET. Repellents that contain DEET are the most effective, but make sure you rub them on according to the directions. A good rule of thumb from the experts is that kids should use repellents with less than 10% DEET. Get your parents to help you put it on your face so you don’t get it in your mouth or eyes. And wash your hands after you apply it. Remember that stuff that smells good to you smells good to bugs too, so don’t use scented shampoos or lotions before hiking.

Weather watcher. When it’s hot, pick trails that are shaded and run near streams. If you need to hike uphill in the sun, first soak yourself down to stay cool. You can also try wearing a wet bandana around your head or neck. Also, try to stay out of cotton clothes. Keep yourself out of bad weather by checking forecasts before you hike and watching the skies once you’re out on the trail. During lightening storms, head downhill and away from the direction of the storm, and then squat down and keep your head low.

Keep it yummy. To stay healthy on your hike, you’ll need to know how to keep your food and water safe. Remember the four C’s: contain, clean, cook, and chill.

How to Play
Take a hike! No, really, take the time to go hiking. Hiking with your friends or family is a great chance to get outdoors, breathe some fresh air, and get active. It’s easy to get started. Just look for a trail in a national park near you!

For your first day hike (hiking for a day or less without camping overnight), choose a safe, well-marked trail that doesn’t have too many steep climbs. Otherwise, you’ll get tired too early and won’t make it as far as you want to go. Each time you go hiking, try going a little farther and take a slightly steeper trail. Before you know it you’ll be hiking the Appalachian Trail — a 2,167-mile trail that goes all the way from Maine to Georgia!

Fun Facts

  • In the year 2000, 67 million people went hiking.
  • America’s National Parks have more that 12,000 miles of trails.
  • The Appalachian Trail starts in northern Georgia and continues through South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and ends in Maine at Mt. Katahdin, Baxter Peak, Baxter State Park.

Source: CDC; Hiking Activity Card