Depts. of Tourism and GFP Partner on Pheasant Hunting

PIERRE, S.D. – At their June meeting, the Game, Fish and Parks Commission received an update on a marketing plan that’s been developed through a collaboration between the Departments of Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) and Tourism.

The 3-year plan is the result of a workgroup that was put together in February to examine trends of declining license sales and how to turn that tide. Workgroup members represented many agencies, including staff members from GFP and Tourism, GFP Commission members, representatives from the governor’s office, the South Dakota Wildlife Federation, the Second Century Habitat Fund Board and the South Dakota Retailers Association.

The workgroup examined many aspects of pheasant hunting in South Dakota, including current messaging and information put out by GFP, as well as R3 issues, which is a nationwide effort to Recruit, Retain and Reactivate (R3) participants in hunting, angling and shooting sports.

Over the course of three meetings, discussion was held on a number of topics, including: current marketing and its effectiveness, competition from other states, a diversified user base, an overview of license sales (residents and nonresidents), hunter and visitor surveys, analysis of annual brood count surveys, late season hunting opportunities, creative approaches, and other marketing techniques.

In addition to the adoption of the marketing plan, GFP will discontinue the annual brood count survey conducted annually in August. A major concern is that, when pheasant brood numbers are down, those reported numbers deter both residents and nonresidents from pheasant hunting. In spite of lower numbers on any given year, South Dakota still remains the best destination for pheasant hunting in the country.

“Data from this survey is not used to manage the pheasant population or to set season structure and bag limits,” said Kelly Hepler, Department Secretary for GFP. “The research and data presented in the marketing plan represent the better opportunity to increase participation in pheasant hunting, both for residents and nonresidents of all ages.”

Commissioner Russell Olson agreed with the decision to move away from the brood count survey.

“If ever there was a year to conduct this survey, this is it,” he said. “We’ve had great weather this spring, no major storms and things are looking excellent. This goes to show we have nothing to hide by discontinuing the survey at this time. We’re operating a business here, and our decisions need to reflect that.”

An executive summary of the workgroup’s efforts and the presentation provided to the GFP Commission can be found online at in the Related Documents section. To hear more about the discussion on the discontinuation of the annual brood count, visit