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Traditions Remain Strong for South Dakota’s Pheasant Opener

PIERRE, S.D. – Cities and towns rolled out the orange carpet to pheasant hunters today for the traditional pheasant season opener. While the annual pheasant brood survey showed a decrease in the statewide index from 2015, hunters were successful across the state and made memories to last a lifetime.

“Standing crops were an obstacle in some areas, but hunters found decent bird numbers across the state,” said South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Secretary Kelly Hepler. “The tradition of the opening day of South Dakota’s pheasant season is special. Whether it’s a first time hunter putting their first rooster in their game bag, or a grizzled vet meeting up with long-time friends and sharing a hunt, this is what we live for”.

Reports from across the state indicate the following:

Central Region, Nathan Baker, GFP regional game manager
o Average bird count per person: 2 birds in Lyman, Tripp, Hughes and Brule Counties 1 bird per hunter in most other areas.

o Pierre, Chamberlain and Mobridge areas.

Northeast Region, Nick Rossman, GFP regional game manager
o Average bird count per person: ½ to 1 bird per hunter. Lots of standing crops in the Watertown area. More crops out as you head toward Aberdeen and west.

o Most populated area to hunt in region: Aberdeen area; south and west from there. Public lands were busy in many areas.

Southeast Region, Brad Baumgardner, GFP regional game manager
o Average bird count per person: Ranging from ½ a bird per hunter in the east to 1.5 birds in the west. Lots of standing crop and “hot” dogs

o Most populated area to hunt in region: western side of the Region; Mitchell to east of Chamberlain was busy and had success.

Western Region, John Trenton Hafley, GFP regional game manager
o Average bird count per person: ½ bird to 1 bird in traditional pheasant areas.

o Most populated area to hunt in region: Bennett, Haakon and Perkins Counties.

Statewide Hunting Incidents
o There was 1 hunting incident to report on at the time of this release.

South Dakota’s traditional statewide pheasant hunting season began today and runs through Jan. 1, 2017. 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 being made by visiting our #SDintheField page. Hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts are encouraged to share their photos and videos with us using #SDintheField and take part in the tradition; not only in the field, but in the online conversations as well.