Throw an axe, have a beer

Jason Ferguson

Friday the 13th is only bad luck if you think it’s bad luck.
At least, that is what Jason and Alese Deuhr told themselves when they opened the doors at Old Pine Social for the first time.
Of course, they both immediately caught COVID-19. We’ll call that a setback, not bad luck.
It’s been nothing but good luck since recovering from COVID-19, however, as the two say business has been great and the community has been overwhelmingly supportive of their new business venture at 757 Mt. Rushmore Road, formerly the South Dakota Outdoor Shop.
“It’s been great. We’ve had families, date nights, large groups of friends come in,” Alese said. “They are loving it.”
“We’re not your typical axe-throwing place,” Jason said. “It’s bright, it’s peppy. It’s just different.”
Old Pine Social offers a variety of fun for all ages, including the aforementioned axe throwing. The facility has several lanes for the axe throwing, targets that are more receptive to axes sticking, which makes for a more fulfilling experience for the guests.
Neither of the Deuhrs knew much of anything about axe throwing—or the other games at Old Pine Social, for that matter—so they took a crash course on the art of the axe throw before opening for business.
“YouTube is a great source for information,” Jason said with a laugh.
If axe throwing isn’t your thing you can always participate in a game of hammerschlagen, which is a German game reportedly dating from 1940 in which several contestants try to hammer a nail into a stump. There are a bunch of variations of the game that can be played.
The third game offered at Old Pine Social is bocce ball, which the Deuhrs said may be their most popular—and competitive game. It gets so competitive at times, they said, they had to purchase a tape measurer to settle disputes as to whose ball is closest.
The facility also has a lounge-type area with different sitting areas for those who might want to have a beverage and a snack and play one of the board games available. Or, friends and family can take a run at breaking the record for putting together the 300-piece Golden Girls puzzle on site. If you’re interested, the record is down to 29 minutes.
Add it all together, and Old Pine Social is simply put, silly fun. It’s not a bar, it’s not axe-throwing, it’s not just a place to sit around. Jason describes it as a “happy little place” with plenty to do in an indoor setting.
There’s also a patio area to sit, have a drink and watch the world walk by.
Ah yes, the drinks.
Old Pine Social offers craft beer and wine, as well as non-alcoholic beverages. Light snacks can be purchased as well.
Safety is priority number one at the facility, so those who plan to axe throw can have only one beer in the hour they throw, there is no throwing after 8 p.m. and no open-toed shoes are allowed when throwing axes.
The Deuhrs say the latter rule can be difficult in the summertime, which has them contemplating finding a bowling alley from which to buy some shoes.
“That would just add to the silly nature of who we are,” Jason said of bowling shoes for axe throwing.
Old Pine Social allows for both walk-ins and reservations, although reservations are recommended to ensure you or your party can get in and throw. The shop is open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 2-9 p.m., Saturday noon to 9 p.m. and Sunday noon to 7 p.m. It is closed on Thursdays. It can be reached at 673-2933 or online at
Old Pine Social was born out of Jason’s love of the hospitality industry, something he has been a part of for years. At one time he ran Blue Bell Lodge, and he also helps out at Custer Wolf three days a week. Alese’s “day job” is a special education teacher at Custer High School.
The owners of Black Hills Balloons, Damien and Keely Mahony, approached the couple about putting something in their building when the South Dakota Outdoor Shop moved to its new location.
“I always knew that is something we wanted to do,” Jason said. “We love Custer. We wanted to be a part of the business community in Custer, so we started kicking around ideas.”
They knew they didn’t want to open a restaurant, and they figured there were plenty of retail spaces. That led them to zero in on an activity. That is when Keely suggested axe throwing.
They figured that—along with the other activities they added—was a way to provide fun, serve the community and visitors and give people a place to go for an activity when the weather isn’t so great.
Old Pine Social will be open year-round as well.
“We always said if we open a business it’s going to be open year-around because we want this to be as much, if not more, for the people of Custer as it is for our out of town guests,” Jason said.
They realized not long after they opened their doors they have found a niche that was needed in Custer.
Alese said her favorite part of the business is the people, whether it’s “coaching” people new to one of the games (each game comes with instructions from the Deuhrs) to just chatting with people having a beer, feeling connected to people and showing them a good time is something she enjoys.
“You feel pretty good at the end of the day,” she said.
Jason echoes those statements, and providing something that hasn’t been in Custer before while also being a part of the community is a draw to him.
“We look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones,” he said. “We’re the raddest little axe throwing bar in Custer, South Dakota.”

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