Ringneck pheasant hunting is so popular in South Dakota that the state game and fish department has a rooster in flight as the departmental logo. How good is the wing shooting? The game and fish department says, “only three times in the past 20 years has the annual pheasant harvest been under 1 million roosters, and those ‘down’ years had well over 900,000 harvested birds.”
If that makes it appear getting a 15-bird limit per hunter over five days of hunting is easy enough, trust us when we say that it isn’t. Crunching the numbers shows the average take of pheasants by hunters is five to six birds.
The records show 144,000 hunters come from out of state to chase these birds each year. Residents account for about 56,000 of the pheasant hunters making the total around 200,000 hunters.
You can significantly increase your chances of bringing home a possession limit by booking a trip with South Dakota hunting guides. Why? Simply stated: the local guides have better access to property where the birds live.
South Dakota Hunting Guides
Hunting pheasants is done on private and public lands. The five million acres of public land in the Mount Rushmore State is partly publicly owned and partly leased for public access. The leased lands change from year to year and can be viewed at the Hunting Atlas website. About 80 percent of South Dakota is privately owned land. The best hunting is on these lands because those properties see less hunting pressure.
Some other reasons to hire a hunting guide are:
Dogs. Good bird dogs are a pleasure to own but are expensive too. If you only hunt a few times a year, owning bird dogs does not make a lot of sense unless they are household pets too. Professional guides have well-trained dogs to find and retrieve birds.
Preparation. A guide takes most of the preparation work out of your hands. He knows where the birds are, has access rights to the private land, and can recommend a place to stay.
Post-Hunt Work. Guides process and pack birds for shipping. If you want a pheasant for the wall, your guide can recommend a good local taxidermist as well.
Advice. A guide is an expert. He has advice for hunting pheasant. Listen and bring home more birds and better memories.
South Dakota is much more than just pheasants. Here’s a look at other hunting you can enjoy.
South Dakota Hunts
South Dakota is in the middle of one of the big flyways for migratory fowl. Ducks Unlimited says South Dakota pothole hunting is the trip of a lifetime for many. “South Dakota is one of the most important duck production areas in North America,” the conservation association says. RealTree puts it this way, “most states wish they had South Dakota’s duck hunting.” Getting a waterfowl permit is the luck of the draw for non-residents. If you don’t get a permit in the lottery, some guides offer hunting trips on tribal lands with over-the-counter permits
Some private lands are leased by the state for big game hunting. Private land does require permission from the property owner to hunt there. South Dakota hunting guides have permission to hunt private lands where food plots draw in game. Keep in mind, baiting is illegal in South Dakota. Private lands see less pressure than land open to the hunting public. Non-resident big game hunting is limited and the rules are subject to change every year. Check the game and fish department website for updates to the rules.
South Dakota’s pronghorn population is on a comeback after dropping from 80,000 animals in 2008 to just over 36,000 in 2013. Hunting is a lottery permit. Success rates run as high as 70 percent for firearms.
Small game in South Dakota is mostly birds. Sharp-tailed grouse and Greater Prairie Chicken are found mostly from central South Dakota to the west. These birds favor prairie grasslands, especially near farms. Gray partridge are found everywhere but are most common on farms in the east side of the state. Dove are scattered everywhere and are highly migratory. They may swamp a field one day and be gone the next. Ruffled grouse are mostly found in the Black Hills region in the woods.
Rabbit and squirrel round out the small game.
South Dakota takes a somewhat different approach to predators than most states. It has a bounty program for what it calls “nest predators,” the critters that raid bird nests. The primary targets are raccoon, skunk, opossum, fox, and badgers. Other predator hunting is for coyote and bobcat. Those who get a charge out of calling in a wild turkey should try their hand at calling up a predator; getting a decent shot with a shotgun is even more of a challenge than longbeard offers.
South Dakota Tribal Lands
South Dakota is home to Native American lands. State permits are not valid on tribal lands. Each of the nine tribes manages hunting on its lands. Hunters that miss a lottery draw for any permits can often get an over-the-counter permit on tribal lands.
Custer State Park also has some park-specific hunting regulations.
South Dakota Hunting Trips
From pheasant hunting to big game animals, there’s plenty to attract any outdoor enthusiast. South Dakota is often a bucket-list destination for many hunters, don’t miss out on this incredible experience. HuntAnywhere.com has the guide for you – book today!