Pheasant-hunting season draws near in South Dakota
PIERRE — The 2023 pheasant hunting season is almost here. Like a large part of the Midwest, South Dakota had a winter to remember.
A youth-only season will be Sept. 30-Oct. 8. The resident-only season is Oct. 14-16 and the traditional season runs Oct. 21 through Jan. 7
The good news is, spring and summer rains across much of the state set the stage for ideal nesting and brood rearing habitat for pheasant production. Following strong pheasant numbers in 2022, which saw the state’s highest harvest in five years, pheasant hunters can look forward to experiencing another year of hunting like nowhere else in the country.
Ideal spring weather has produced impressive habitat across most of the pheasant belt. Under these ideal conditions, the GfP’s models indicate nest success and brood survival should be strong. Due to timely summer rain, hunters can expect to find great hunting cover this fall. These factors lead state wildlife officals to believe that another great South Dakota hunting season is just around the corner.
Pheasant population conversations start and end with good quality habitat.
While Old Man Winter had a long stay here, quality habitat on the ground helped improve pheasant survival in many areas. Even with last year’s good hunting conditions, the state is in an even better spot habitat-wise, and reports of large size broods are common.
Conditions are excellent in western, central, and northeast South Dakota. Hunters may see some CRP open to emergency haying and grazing in limited counties in Southeast South Dakota, but overall the available habitat left standing is in great shape.
Pheasant populations, along with all wildlife populations, respond positively to abundant habitat, especially perennial grass habitat.
Establishing more habitat and providing additional acres of public hunting access is the number one priority for GFP. We are working hard with landowners through programs and initiatives, at both the state and federal level, to provide pheasant habitat and hunting access.
Among the highest priorities are enrolling the James River Watershed Conservation Reserve Program to the fully allocated 100,000 acres and enrolling 25,000 in a new Big Sioux Watershed CREP.
Great hunting land means great pheasant hunting. South Dakota has incredible amounts of quality public land across the landscape, with plenty in the primary pheasant range. Pick up a copy of the 2023 Public Hunting Atlas or visit gfp.sd.gov/hunting-areas to begin planning your fall hunting trip.