With the annual pheasant brood survey up 76 percent (statewide pheasants-per-mile index) from last year, today was filled with excitement for upland bird hunters across the state for the opening day of South Dakota’s traditional pheasant hunting season.
“Today is a day when resident and nonresident hunters, both women and men of all generations, take to the fields and share in an annual tradition,” stated Jeff Vonk, Secretary of the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks. “For many friends and family, it becomes a tradition or ‘holiday’ where more than just field experiences are shared; conversations, meals, ammunition, laughs and comradery are all a part of this opening day.”
Soon after the 2014 pheasant brood survey was released in late August, upland bird hunters from across the country and world began gearing up for this weekend. Survey results showed pheasant numbers rebounded the strongest in central South Dakota; especially in the Pierre, Chamberlain, Mobridge and Winner areas. This year’s results also indicated higher pheasant numbers throughout much of eastern South Dakota as compared to 2013.
Reports from the fields across the state indicate the following:
Central Region, Nathan Baker, GFP regional game manager
For most areas in central South Dakota, hunters averaged 1.5 birds each.
In Hughes, Sully, Potter and Stanley counties, hunters averaged 2-2.5 birds each.
Northeast Region, Jacquie Ermer, GFP regional game manager
In northeast South Dakota, Spink county reported hunters averaging 2 birds each.
In McPherson, Faulk and Edmunds counties, hunters averaged 1 bird each.
There were 12 violations reported at the time of this release in the northeast.
Southeast Region, Julie DeJong, GFP regional game manager
In Beadle, Aurora, Hutchinson and Bon Homme counties, hunters averaged 1-1.5 birds each.
Hutchinson county reported the highest numbers of hunters checked due to the abundance of CREP ground.
Western Region, John Kanta, GFP regional game manager
In Bennett and Perkins counties, hunters averaged 1.5 birds each.
In Ziebach county, hunters were limiting out, with 3 birds per hunter.
There was also one violation for trespassing and one dog death from a snake bite.
At the time of this release, there was one accident report of a minor injury to a young child who took one BB to the shin in McPherson county. At this time, the report is still being compiled. No other accidents were reported.
“We know bird numbers are higher this year due to excellent reproduction in parts of the state where quality habitat conditions still exist, primarily on grasslands including those enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program as well as fields of cereal crops such as winter wheat. We continue to work in cooperation with the Governor’s Pheasant Habitat Workgroup on their final report recommendations as well as partner organizations and landowners to provide an improved future for habitat so that the availability of pheasants along with pheasant hunting opportunities in our state are sustained for generations to come,” concluded Vonk.
South Dakota’s traditional statewide pheasant hunting season began today and runs through Jan. 4, 2015. If individuals have yet to purchase their hunting license, they can do so online or at any local licensing agent.
For more information, please visit http://gfp.sd.gov/hunting/small-game/pheasants.aspx or http://gfp.sd.gov/licenses/general-hunt-fish/default.aspx.
See what memories are already being made by visiting our #SDintheField page. Hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts are encouraged to share their photos and videos using #SDintheField and take part in the tradition; not only in the field, but in the online conversations as well.
Photo Courtesy of Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter below and never miss the latest outdoor news, gear reviews, or an exclusive offer from our partners. Just add your email address in the form below and click subscribe.