5 questions with ... Doug Backlund, manager of the Rooster Roost Ranch, Mitchell, S.D.
Q: What is your role in agriculture today?
My main purpose involves planting food plots and maintaining CRP (burning of and spraying) and other grasslands that provide nesting habitat and food for the pheasant population that we harvest during the fall. Doing this provides the necessities needed to maintain a good crop of South Dakota ring-necked pheasant.
Q: Why did you choose to come back to your home area of Mitchell, S.D., after college?
My college degree from Minnesota State University — Mankato is in business management; this is something I use every day in the operation of the Rooster Roost Ranch. I may be dealing with potential out-of-state hunters, local vendors or non-hunting lodge renters, and all of these entities require different levels of management skills. This is where my college training comes into play.
What better place is there to live than in South Dakota? We have some of the best hunting and fishing that our country has to offer. We are located 60 miles from the Sioux Falls, S.D., airport which can take me anywhere. I don't worry about locking my doors, my three hunting dogs ride in the back of my pickup every day, and I know most of the people in my town on a first-name basis. Life in Mitchell is good!
Q: What is the greatest challenge you face as a next generation in agriculture?
My major concern is the loss of youth hunters because of lack of habit, places to hunt, cost — the list goes on and on. By maintaining good agricultural practices and developing good pheasant habit, we are able to maintain pheasant populations throughout our state. Because pheasant hunting is such a huge revenue generator for South Dakota, we need to constantly broaden our hunting base. The best way to do this is enticing our youth.
Q: What is a favorite South Dakota hunting experience and why?
The first thing that comes to mind is time spent with family and friends. One of the neatest experiences I've had was being interviewed for the television show "Opening Day" which was featured on NBC Sports with Tom Brokaw.
Q: Who serves as a mentor to you and how?
Elroy Gruenewald and Dave Backlund Sr. (my father) — anyone who knows these two completely understands why I'd say that. Elroy Gruenewald has taught me multiple life lessons about dealing with business people and, of course, my dad has been a lifelong mentor. Both are serial entrepreneurs that have had many trials and tribulations in business from which I have learned invaluable lessons.
Learn more about Doug and the Rooster Roost Ranch near Mitchell, S.D., at www.roosterroostranch.com