3 days in South Dakota

BRITTMAN

New member
SD is a great place to hunt. Best success would occur on return visits or when heading to that state with friends or family that has visited there before. Learning curve on most new hunting venues can be steep unless the area is well populated or under utilized or you are just darn lucky.
 

boomer1

New member
I just returned home this evening from my second trip of the season. Hunted mostly public around Huron. I’ve hunted this area for the past 11 years and have made two trips most years. The first several years the hunting was absolutely incredible! This trip was exactly opposite and as far as bird numbers it was by far the worst. Far fewer while hunting and just a handful each morning while driving/scouting before 10 am. The opener was a bit better for us this year so we were looking forward to our late season trip. Talked to several guys at the hotel and everyone seemed to be struggling. We still had a great time and I’m counting down the days to do it again. Good luck the rest of the season!!
 
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A5 Sweet 16

Member
The issue I would have is if SD issues hunter success (birds harvested per hunter) based on preserve data inclusion. That and I guess buyer beware, but then again those that frequent high end guided operations likely do not frequent this site and most likely could care less where the pheasant was born and raised. Their motto is often "let's limit early so we can get back to the lodge".
I believe hunter success statistics DO include preserve data, since the data comes from surveys sent out randomly to those who purchased licenses. Since preserves, by law, have to release 1 rooster for every 1 shot, they're going to skew the numbers more on "bad" years than on good years, since the clients most likely "get their birds" regardless of the wild bird population. After a few weeks, my guess is that preserve "hunters" are shooting about 100% pen raised birds.

Yes, to each, his own. I don't care what type of birds a guy likes to "hunt". But I personally don't see the joy in killing a bird that's so incredibly stupid & wouldn't present the least bit of a challenge to a decent pheasant dog. Oh sure, there may be released birds in this world that live long enough to develop defense & self-preservation tactics that begin to act sort of wild-ish. But not in South Dakota. They don't live long enough. I ran into a few birds on a WPA a few years back that had been banded & released by a local conservation group as part of a fund raiser. (Don't know if they were actually released ON that land, or if they just ended up there.) But the 3 banded birds I shot acted NOTHING like a wild one. In each instance I actually saw Buzz chasing the stupid thing through the grass before it finally achieved liftoff. And I've stopped to flush birds in mowed ditches near preserves. They're not bothered by cars. Don't try to escape or even hide most times. And once they realize a springer is on his way, they just try to run down the ditch. These are the birds (as seen on Youtube) that allow a big group of guys, all shouting "Rooster!!" at the top of their lungs & yelling at their dogs, to get within shotgun range.

Not for me. But....I did get to meet a couple people from that conservation group after I called to inquire about the bands. Anyone who shot a banded bird got his/her name in a hat for a shotgun drawing. I asked them to pick 3 kids of group members & put their names in the hat. And.....I got a little bling for my transmitter.
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Downtown Bang!

New member
Agree most hunters never see a released bird hunting in SD.

The issue I would have is if SD issues hunter success (birds harvested per hunter) based on preserve data inclusion. That and I guess buyer beware, but then again those that frequent high end guided operations likely do not frequent this site and most likely could care less where the pheasant was born and raised. Their motto is often "let's limit early so we can get back to the lodge".
The preserve harvest I believe is included in total harvest numbers but SD GF&P does not attempt to hide much when it comes to preserves, what the harvest is and how many birds they release. Preserve harvest numbers have been pretty consistent over the last 5-years while the overall harvest has been more variable.

https://gfp.sd.gov/shooting-preserves/

The released bird issue is way more complex when it comes to SD vs. anywhere else. Seems every year some newspaper does a story on it. The pheasant farms like attention and throw crazy numbers out there on how many birds they are sending to SD (which isn't supported by the GF&P data). People who hunt at the preserves go home & help perpetuate a get a limit every day in SD myth that was tough enough to do on public land even in the good years. Guys travels to SD over confident, under prepared and hunt public land only to struggle. Get frustrated and jump on the SD is overrated & tainted by released birds side of the interwebz conversations etc. etc.

Truth is freelancing on public land is a challenge everywhere but SD is still the best place to do it and some people may pass on that opportunity because of all chatter around the above....
 

Birddog23

New member
Very Well Said!

I agree!



The preserve harvest I believe is included in total harvest numbers but SD GF&P does not attempt to hide much when it comes to preserves, what the harvest is and how many birds they release. Preserve harvest numbers have been pretty consistent over the last 5-years while the overall harvest has been more variable.

https://gfp.sd.gov/shooting-preserves/

The released bird issue is way more complex when it comes to SD vs. anywhere else. Seems every year some newspaper does a story on it. The pheasant farms like attention and throw crazy numbers out there on how many birds they are sending to SD (which isn't supported by the GF&P data). People who hunt at the preserves go home & help perpetuate a get a limit every day in SD myth that was tough enough to do on public land even in the good years. Guys travels to SD over confident, under prepared and hunt public land only to struggle. Get frustrated and jump on the SD is overrated & tainted by released birds side of the interwebz conversations etc. etc.

Truth is freelancing on public land is a challenge everywhere but SD is still the best place to do it and some people may pass on that opportunity because of all chatter around the above....
 

Gatzby

Member
The preserve harvest I believe is included in total harvest numbers but SD GF&P does not attempt to hide much when it comes to preserves, what the harvest is and how many birds they release. Preserve harvest numbers have been pretty consistent over the last 5-years while the overall harvest has been more variable.

https://gfp.sd.gov/shooting-preserves/

The released bird issue is way more complex when it comes to SD vs. anywhere else. Seems every year some newspaper does a story on it. The pheasant farms like attention and throw crazy numbers out there on how many birds they are sending to SD (which isn't supported by the GF&P data). People who hunt at the preserves go home & help perpetuate a get a limit every day in SD myth that was tough enough to do on public land even in the good years. Guys travels to SD over confident, under prepared and hunt public land only to struggle. Get frustrated and jump on the SD is overrated & tainted by released birds side of the interwebz conversations etc. etc.

Truth is freelancing on public land is a challenge everywhere but SD is still the best place to do it and some people may pass on that opportunity because of all chatter around the above....
Lots of truth in this post!
 

Labchaser

New member
I have been here for 3 days and should of had my limit in an hour each day. Have ended up with 3,1, and 2. I have shot horrible except for the first day. I walked 10.5 miles today and had decent shots at 5 roosters. It’s not the easiest but it’s hard to complain when I have had the opportunity. Can’t really ask for anything more.
 

Miforester

Member
I will be heading out with my son on the 14th for a week hunt. We hunt public land and we have aleays done well, some days its easier than others. Looking forward to our trip and hoping mother nature cooperates with us.
 

hunter94

New member
While I can't argue with your last sentence, the rush of the flush and "warming the ol' gun barrel" is a big part of it. If you want to sit back and be theological, go ahead but there is a reason its called hunting and not sunset watching.

I can only hope that one day, it will be close to the first year I ever hunted out there, 2010. (which wasn't even the best)
no.........there are NOT plenty of birds any longer up here...it is very different from what it used to be. you can focus on the sunrise, sets, rolling hills and be nostalgic all you want.......most people drive a considerable distance to have a decent chance at a limit everyday.
and that experience is dwindling fast.....the pen raised birds being released are not the answer...i say it is foolish to pay to hunt these birds, drive so far and pretend SD is the pheasant capital of the world......habitat is shrinking fast, 300K + of CRP is coming out in next 12 months or so.....with over 200 pay to hunt operations up here it is obvious how the bird population and habitat is trending. farmers will tell you it is not looking good either....it is not going to change, the state officials see the obvious decline, farming and profits drive how the land is used......not a bad thing, just reality...no use fooling ourselves.

it was fun while it lasted. staying home, saving a lot of money and hunting the same pen raised birds here.
 

Flushedup

New member
^^^ Not sure if that was directed at me, as you quoted me....

But I agree with most of what you said, so I dont know if you are picking on me or not.

Anyways yes, this is sadly becoming a money driven, watered down experience for many, in favor of the few. But as I said before, the rush of the flush will keep me coming back to South Dakota, chasing and hoping like a drug. I am fortunate to only have to drive about 300 miles to get to some real good hunting.

Like I said, one day I hope my son can experience what it was like in 2010.
 

hunter94

New member
^^^ Not sure if that was directed at me, as you quoted me....

But I agree with most of what you said, so I dont know if you are picking on me or not.

Anyways yes, this is sadly becoming a money driven, watered down experience for many, in favor of the few. But as I said before, the rush of the flush will keep me coming back to South Dakota, chasing and hoping like a drug. I am fortunate to only have to drive about 300 miles to get to some real good hunting.

Like I said, one day I hope my son can experience what it was like in 2010.
no, my comments are not directed at anyone, just some frustrating observations. some folks are having pretty good luck, but i think overall many are disappointed. the biggest problem is walking over others, a lack of public ground that seems to be continuously pressured and shrinking in acreage and quality (i saw some walk in that was short wheat stubble and winter wheat, what a joke, SDGFP!)

my one way mileage to get here is over 900 miles......if i have to hunt hard from 10 a.m. to sunset, everyday, to have 3-4 decent shots at roosters, i could do that........but there have been days the past 2-3 years when the gun was only fired once. there is no value in an experience like that. i have dogs and have easily limited out here in the past, but those days are gone. i can accomplish the above while only traveling 450 miles each way and that is about to become my new norm. i can also easily add 2 days and shoot pen raised birds to ensure some dog work, which is really all i care about. not going to drive 900 miles to do that at a lodge for $300/day!
the pay to play lodges have expanded simply because public hunting has become so much harder to do... those 900 mile trips are tough!
 

SDJIM

New member
There are plenty of wild birds...and plenty of places where the hunting is tough, mainly due to the hangover of the 2017 drought, which was devastating to the birds. Just because there were birds in certain places 2 or 5 or 10 years ago, isn't relevant at this point...again, plenty of wild birds...and yes, lots of released birds out there...if you're paying for land access, and it's a chunk of change, you may be paying for birds unwittingly...especially if you see lots of roosters and few hens...and the habitat is void of large tracts of grass...just food plots in the middle of black dirt, or mowed grass...
How do you define LARGE TRACTS of grass?
 

Goosemaster

New member
I've hunted them twice, eastern ad. They hold , they seem to fly well.Wild pheasants run, unless they are in thick cattails.Maybe these birds we got in March were wild birds?
 

Downtown Bang!

New member
I've hunted them twice, eastern ad. They hold , they seem to fly well.Wild pheasants run, unless they are in thick cattails.Maybe these birds we got in March were wild birds?
If you were hunting in March you must have been hunting at a licensed shooting preserve (otherwise illegal). They release birds and while it would be possible to shoot a wild bird in that situation the odds are against it.......
 

Downtown Bang!

New member
the pay to play lodges have expanded simply because public hunting has become so much harder to do
Don't agree with the above. I think the lodges have expanded (moderately if you look at the numbers) because they do a great job marketing themselves as an actual hunting experience vs. what many of them really are which is put & take preserve. Throw in some folks with a good amount of disposable income who can supply the demand, see guaranteed success and pass off the trip to the buddies back home as a legit "got my limit everyday" bird hunt and there you go.

I also don't agree that the public hunting experience has degraded that much. I have experienced a couple of tough trips the last 8-years but usually because I am too stubborn to move enough or am hunting solo in difficult late season conditions. All of which happened to one degree or another even in the glory days. If you look at the survey numbers from SD GF&P there have only been two years in the last 10 where the average harvest for non-residents was less than 2 birds per day. Those two years were 2013 & 2017 where some significant weather issues effected the hatch. Only thing I have noticed since 2011 vs. before is that I have to hunt longer each day to get similar results. Just fine with me but as always YMMV and everyone values things differently & for valid reasons.....
 

benelli-banger

New member
Scout...go to the bigger crep properties and check them out...there are quite a few large gpa’s, wpa’s, etc. in sd now, there are lots of birds. Lots of birds!
 
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