PIERRE, S.D. – The second century of pheasant hunting in South Dakota will begin in October, kicking off another year of our state’s robust hunting heritage. The annual pheasant brood count conducted by South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) indicated that, despite a tough winter and wet spring, bird numbers are still plentiful.
“South Dakota offers the greatest opportunity in the country for pheasant hunting,” said Kelly Hepler, Department Secretary for South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks. “Pheasant reproduction in 2019 is right in there with other years and lands open to public hunting are abundant, which means our second century of pheasant hunting will be off to a good start.”
In a statewide snapshot, numbers are on par with the previous two years. Even with the historic winter snowfall and above average precipitation, the pheasant per mile index remained nearly unchanged from last year for 7 of the 13 survey areas outlined in the 2019 brood survey report. In addition, it is highly likely that flooded ditches and approximately 3.8 million acres of unplanted crop fields reduced the number of pheasants using roadside habitat. These factors likely contributed to variability in the 2019 index because survey conditions were noticeably different compared to 2018. View the full report at gfp.sd.gov/pheasant.
For the long term, providing high quality habitat is key to sustaining healthy pheasant populations. Behind Governor Kristi Noem’s Second Century Habitat Initiative, South Dakota has been doing just that.
“Enhancing habitat in South Dakota touches every aspect of life in our state,” Noem said. “We must be responsible in protecting these resources, creating healthy habitats, and supporting growth and health in our natural populations. My Second Century Initiative is about families, introducing kids to the adventure of the outdoors, and conserving our outdoor culture for the next generation. Enhancing habitat is a crucial step in strengthening the next 100 years of our outdoor traditions.”
Hepler agrees that good habitat is beneficial for every species in our state.
“We are committed to the Second Century Initiative,” said Hepler. “By working with Governor Noem, landowners and other conservation partners, we will improve existing habitat and create new habitat opportunities. These efforts will undoubtedly help provide a successful second century of pheasant hunting to the next generation. South Dakota is the best place to hunt pheasants and will be for a long time.”
South Dakota’s 2019 traditional pheasant season runs October 19 through January 5, with a youth season from October 5-9. A resident-only season runs October 12-14.