Heard on the Hill

Take Five: Sen. Mike Rounds

South Dakota Republican messed up pheasant season for his dad

South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds, left, hunts with chief of staff Rob Skjonsberg, his grandson, Micah, and Skjonsberg's sons, Spencer and Sam. (Courtesy Sen. Mike Rounds)

In this week’s Take Five, South Dakota Republican Sen. Mike Rounds talks about his pilot license, big family and Lee Greenwood.  

Q: Are you still able to fly?  

A: I got my private license on my 17th birthday. I currently have a commercial pilot’s license. I still own an interest in a little four-seat, retractable gear aircraft that’s fun to fly around the state. Used to fly a lot in a King Air. Occasionally, I still rent a King Air if I want to get around and do stuff.  

Q: Where is the best place to get Tiger meat?  

A: That’s an easy one — Kessler’s supermarket in Aberdeen, South Dakota. They have been making it for a couple of generations. People say what is Tiger meat? It starts off with raw hamburger but it’s mixed in with a whole lot of different spices. It’s a great luncheon meat. You don’t buy a pound of Tiger meat, you buy several pounds of Tiger meat.  

Q: Tell me about your love of hunting.  

A: My dad still reminds me that I messed up — I was born on the opening weekend of pheasant season, 1954. My dad still reminds me that I screwed up his opening hunt for the year. The pheasant is the state bird in South Dakota and I think we’re one of the few states that shoots our state bird. My kids all hunt. It’s a family tradition. Christmas is still clearly the biggest holiday in South Dakota but the opening day of pheasant season is the next biggest.  

Rounds with his daughter, Carrie Larson and her two kids, Andrina and Beckett. (Courtesy Sen. Mike Rounds)
Rounds with his daughter, Carrie Larson and her two kids, Andrina and Beckett. (Courtesy Sen. Mike Rounds)

Q: What did you learn being the oldest of 11 siblings?  

A: You realize how important family is and you realize how important relationships are. My family, I’m the oldest of 11, and I’ve also got two stepbrothers and a stepsister. And I’ve only got one sister and one stepsister and wouldn’t you know? Both their names are Michelle. We still get together — my dad is still with us and my stepmom. It was great to get together for the Fourth of July and celebrate. My dad is going to be 89 in August.  

Q: What's your all-time favorite song?  

A: I’ll give you my playlist that I take with me. I’ve got enough on my current playlist to do just about the entire trip to Minneapolis and back. Of that bunch, you can’t go wrong with the Beach Boys. Then the one I don’t have on here that I should have is by Lee Greenwood and that’s "Proud to be an American."  

When I was governor we always played that one in a veterans’ salute. In 2010, the last year that I was governor , I got up to announce the beginning of the salute for the guys that had been over in the war area and my deputy chief of staff says, "No, you have to sit down. We have another person who’s going to make the announcement tonight." And they brought Lee Greenwood out on the stage and he sang "Proud to be An American." He actually gave the state of South Dakota direct permission to use that in all our events honoring veterans.

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