Each year, hunters from around the world flock to this area of the Missouri River for renowned pheasant, grouse, goose, duck and deer hunting.
“Dignity,” a 50-foot-tall statue, stands atop a bluff overlooking the Missouri River at Chamberlain. The stainless steel statue depicts a young Native American woman receiving a star quilt.
Reservoirs were created along the river thanks to dams near Pierre, Fort Thompson, Pickstown and Yankton. All four lakes offer an abundance of fishing, hunting, boating, camping, and so much more.
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Catfishing with Nata
Catfishing is a popular sport for Yankton residents because the wild Missouri River flows just south of town. There are tricks to landing the wily cats, and to cooking them. But it’s nothing you can’t learn. Ask Nata Jones.
Nata is a native of Chernivtsi, a city of some 240,000 people in the Ukraine. She met Brad Jones of Yankton while vacationing in Minneapolis, and within a year she left her chocolate store and was married at the Chapel in the Hills near Rapid City. “It was a beautiful wedding at a wooden church in the mountains,” she recalls warmly.
You can access this peninsular Xanadu at the Little Bend Recreation Area. At a point where the road curves southwest down to a boat/fishing pier, there’s a small parking area with a sign that indicates walk-in only. From here you’ll leave the state recreation area, though the entire peninsula is a public land, state and federal (Army Corps of Engineers). My guess is that very few non-hunters ever hike here.
Angels Along the River
Each spring, South Dakotans who live along the Missouri River become friends to adventure hunters attempting to paddle the entire river, starting in Montana at the source and continuing to St. Louis (or sometimes all the way to the Gulf of Mexico).
The trip has allure because the Missouri is the longest river in North America at 2,341 miles. After all, would you train to scale a mountain and then fly to Alaska to climb something other than Denali?
Turning to the River
American rivers were once treated as the backyards of our cities, convenient places for unsightly factories, meatpacking plants, city dumps, salvage yards and such. South Dakota was no exception, even along the fabled Missouri River. Sioux Falls architect Tom Hurlbert saw that paradox when he traveled to Fort Pierre to assist with plans for a new riverside restaurant called Drifters Bar & Grille.