Dawn Rye | Writer
South Dakota is home to more than seven million pheasants. In 2021, the traditional season opens on Saturday, Oct. 16 and runs through Jan. 31, 2022.
Pheasants prefer agricultural fields, wooded draws, tree strips, wetlands, and set-aside acres. With the unseasonably dry conditions, many hunters will find that habitats look different despite the ring-necked pheasant survival skills.
While there’s no doubt, the combination of severe drought and record-setting temperatures hurt pheasant production this spring, field reports from around the state all point to the 2021 season being better than anticipated.
Before the hunt begins, remember to obtain a small game license and if traveling by airplane, transporting your firearms and packaged meat/game is typically allowed. All firearms must be unloaded and in a locked, hard-sided gun case. Packaged meat/game must be packed with ice or up to 5.5 pounds of properly packaged dry ice (airline approval is required) in a cooler or another container. Nonresident Small Game License or Nonresident Youth Small Game License (each valid for two 5-day hunting periods; start dates must be identified before license issued). Multiple licenses may be purchased to hunt more than the two five-day periods allowed by one license. Nonresident hunters that come to South Dakota to hunt help financially sustain smaller communities across South Dakota. For nonresident hunters, the hunting handbooks and Hunting Atlas are available at any GFP office. Conservation Officers usually have Handbooks and Atlases in their patrol vehicles as well. If hunters have questions, they can call or go on the GFP website at gfp.sd.gov.
The daily limit is three rooster pheasants and the possession limit are 15 rooster pheasants taken according to the daily limit. Other tips include using a 1-1/4 ounce load of #4 lead shot or 1-1/8 ounce of #2 steel shot. Dogs can be helpful when it comes to crippled birds, hunt remote pockets such as small sloughs, plum thickets, or even fence line vegetation. Prepare for the weather with wide temperatures from sunny 70 degrees to snow and wind chill conditions.
According to Tuner County Wildlife Conservation Officer Taylor Geerdes, in order to hunt private property in South Dakota, a person must obtain permission from the landowner or property renter. She suggested getting written permission from the landowner. If they are on their property, landowners do not need a small game license.
Where are some popular access hunting areas in the county? The Hunting Atlas is a great resource to locate hunting areas in specific counties. Public access areas in Turner County include Mud Lake, Swan Lake, Miller WPA, Plucker WPA, Silver Lake, and more. If you do not have a copy of the Hunting Atlas, visit sdgfp.maps.arcgis.com.