SIOUX FALLS (AP) – South Dakota's pheasant season could be hit or miss for hunters this year.
The state's storied season opens Saturday but the outlook is dicey. The state Game, Fish and Parks Department hasn't done any brood reports for the 2020 or 2021 seasons. Extreme drought conditions this spring may have kept chick production down, according to Pheasants Forever, a nonprofit conservation organization.
Still, a mild winter and reports of birds afield from around the state could mean things aren't as bleak as they might look.
“We didn't have any significant snow events,” Matt Morlock, acting director of Pheasants Forever in South Dakota, told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. “So birds could get out and feed in open fields and then tuck right back into thermal cover during the few cold snaps we had.”
Weekend conditions look favorable, with forecasts calling for sunshine and temperatures in the 60s.
Some 121,000 hunters killed more than 1.1 million pheasants last season, according to the GFP. That's up from 111,000 hunters and 830,000 kills in 2019. The increase could be attributed to a longer season, which was extended from 79 days to 107 days.
The 2021 season will run until Jan. 31, 2022. Shooting is allowed from 10 a.m. until sunset all season long. Most public lands are open for hunting. Hunters can purchase licenses from 255 locations in South Dakota or online from the GFP.