That brings back such great memories.
I grew up in Kansas, and had extended family in South Dakota. We had good pheasant hunting in KS, and we'd get a lot of quail as well. But in South Dakota, you can't hardly walk 100 yards in any shelter-belt and not kick up a bird. Central South Dakota is just amazing for pheasant hunting. Because it's drier over there (west river), they don't farm all the land the way the do in the wetter east river side. Its a right of passage to grow up there and hunt.
I had an uncle who had a bumper crop of corn one year and wasn't able to store it all, so he piled it up a couple of thousand bushels out behind his machine shed and threw a big tarp over it. It didn't take long for the local pheasant population to find that pile and treat it like an all-you-can-eat buffet. That next spring, there were so many birds on his land—dozens and dozens. All the hens had big healthy broods and there were so many birds in that area for years following. As a kid in Kansas, I knew many farmers who would leave a couple of rows of wheat on the edge of their fields unharvested to help the birds get through the winter -- and it helps fill their freezers with meat as well -- a small price to pay for a bit of lost profit on your grain crop.
A lot of people don't know this but pheasants are not native to the United States. They are originally from China. They are also found in Korea, Japan and throughout Asia. They were first brought to America and released in Oregon, where they promptly failed. Several more imports later, a group of birds finally made it through the winter and the rest is history. What's funny about that is that if a pheasant can't make it in balmy Oregon, you'd never expect them to make it is harsh North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan . . . but they absolutely thrive in that climate. They are tough suckers and can handle those cold winters.
I wish I could join you next fall when the air turns crisp and cold and the dogs are all in the back of the truck, excited and barking and ready to get out there in the field to do their job.