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Pheasant, grouse, and partridge hunting season is officially open now through January 7, 2018, across the state of South Dakota. And while it’s common knowledge that our pheasant numbers are way below last year, as well as the 10-year average, our best hunting may be yet to come. Why you might ask? I hunted both the resident-only season in western South Dakota and the opening weekend in eastern South Dakota, and during both weekends I witnessed many of the birds holding up in unharvested cornfields and moving into roosting cover just before sundown.

As the weather becomes colder and more crops are harvested, pheasants will be forced to move into denser cover. This makes them more accessible to the guys and gals who primarily hunt various types of public lands.

So, don’t give up hope for this year’s pheasant hunt. Better times are yet to come! Besides that, what better way is there to spend time with family and friends than by enjoying the beauty of South Dakota’s landscape and wildlife, watching the dogs work, and getting some great exercise along the way? It might be just what the Doctor ordered!

Hunters should remember as the temperatures fall and snow accumulates that the birds will seek out a thicker cover like cattail sloughs and other dense vegetation. Always remember to save some of "your" energy for that last hour of hunting; it can produce some of best hunting of the day as the birds move into dense cover for the evening.

Hunters may purchase licenses at many retail stores across the state or buy them online at gfp.sd.gov. The out-of-state license is valid for either 10 consecutive days or two five-day periods. Please refer to the South Dakota Hunting & Trapping Handbook for complete rules and regulations regarding permits and hunting season dates throughout South Dakota.

Hunters should also pick up a 2017 South Dakota Public Hunting Atlas, which outlines most of the public hunting areas available to sportsman throughout the state. This publication is an extremely valuable tool for hunters and can be found at South Dakota State Game & Fish offices as well as many retail stores across the state. The guide also contains a list of all Conservation Offices and Officer contact information and a handy sunrise/sunset table, too.

Hoping our paths cross in the field!

-Craig

About the Author

Craig Pugsley grew up in Huron, SD, where he spent many a day in the field hunting pheasants with his friends, parents, and grandparents. He graduated from SDSU in 1975, attended grad school for two years, and then went to work at Custer State Park. After 40 years, he retired from the Park in May 2017.

Since childhood, he’s held a love of hunting and fishing in South Dakota’s great outdoors. Now with retirement in full swing, you’re likely to find him criss-crossing the state in pursuit of sharp-tails, pheasants, ducks, and geese.

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