3 days in South Dakota

PTH

Member
Just wrapped up a 3 day trip to South Dakota, 6 guys, 4 dogs hunted mostly public and some prime private part of the last day, also had great weather for hunting. We spent most of our time between mobridge/redfield/Pierre. Have to say I was very disappointed, we did not see near the pheasants and near the good cover that we expected. Seems like lots of pay to play operations with pen raised birds. Talked with a few farmers and they all had the same thing to say “farming is different now and what we are growing is different”. Not near the corn there used to be, and most of the road ditches are mowed. Sad to see South Dakota going this direction. Shocks me that people are willing to come out and spend that kind of money for pen raised birds. Anyway we hunted pretty hard averaged about 1 bird per guy per day. We did get up quite a few hens, but very few roosters. Maybe a 10 hens to 1 rooster ratio. Very wild birds, if you didn’t block or flank them good luck. Anyway that’s my take, pretty weak for the pheasant capital of the world. Had much better hunts in other states.
 

HS Strut

Member
I'm shocked as well that people travel there to hunt caged birds? Every state has 20+ operations that you can hunt fat, slow, easy to shoot caged birds.....I will NEVER drive 12 hours to hunt caged birds.
 

A5 Sweet 16

Member
A buddy & I & our 2 springers hunted WPA's 1.5-2 hours from Sioux Falls yesterday. Didn't hunt long or hard because of the cruddy weather. Got 4. Could've had 6. Today, Buzz & I hunted little bits of cattails in ditches 50 minutes from Sioux Falls in a VERY heavily hunted area. 8 little walks; maybe 1.5 hours, tops. Birds in every single one of them. Saw maybe about 50 birds; 7-8 roosters. Got 2. Missed 1 longer poke and....missed probably the easiest layup I've had all year. :mad: 1"-2" of snow. Ice very poor. Saw very few hunters all weekend. 100000% wild birds of course. So right. Don't come to South Dakota. There's nowhere good to hunt, too much pressure & no birds.
 
Too many variables to sum up the whole state after hunting a given area for 3 days... I agree that it's crazy to travel all the way to sd to chase caged birds! To each- their own I guess.
 

benelli-banger

Active 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...
 

PTH

Member
Yes, can’t argue with you there, 3 days isn’t enough time to make an accurate judgement of the entire state. I was was just really surprised at the number of pay to play outfits that released pen raised birds and the lack of good cover, particularly in the ditches. Hopefully make it back someday and find better conditions and hunting. Most the farmers we talked to were great, but they didn’t sound very optimistic.
 

Birddog23

New member
Maybe you didn't put enough effort into finding places to hunt. Public land gets hammered obviously and it's now towards the end of the season. Did you hunt pockets where previous hunters may not have hit? Did you hunt Cattails? I can tell you there is a reason South Dakota is called the pheasant capital of the world. But, hunting is hunting, if it were easy everyone would be doing it. I'm heading back to SD Pheasant hunting on this Thursday. I'll be hunting private 90% of the time and a little public land, not much. Wild birds are very smart by this time of the year. I think the old SD Ringneck just kicked your butts. It happens to us all. But, that's the game we play! It's not always all about the birds. I go to watch my dog work, I go to view beautiful scenery from the plains of SD, see old friends, the sunrises/sunsets, and hopefully get a few birds. But I love every minute of it!
 

Flushedup

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)
 

Birddog23

New member
Sure we all go to see if we can get some birds, not doubt about it.

But for a non-resident, which I am now, but grew up in SD, this guy spent 3 days pheasant hunting and expected to see tornadoes of birds on public land that has been hunted hard for the past few weeks?

So many different variables go into how birds are going to act.

We went on Pheasant Opener and got 15 birds, should have had 20 birds easily. It was 52 degrees.
The next 2 days it was 70 degrees, way too warm, and we just did not see the birds like the first day. But a big
part of this was there was still lots and lots of corn in and also soybean fields holding birds.

I'm the same way, attitudes are up when seeing birds, but seem to trend downward when not seeing many birds.

But, that's how it goes!



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)
 

BRITTMAN

Active member
Some SoDakers are getting a little defensive ? The guys is simply disappointed.

Of course there are birds in SoDak and most are still wild (well the stats say that around 75% of your reported rooster harvest is wild birds) ...

I for one cannot imagine visiting SoDak to pay $150 - $200/day trespass fee (I usually have one or two of my kids with me), hunt overcrowded public land or worse, hunting road ditches. Quiet ditches and old section lines are great places - but would not be the sole place hunted if it was me. The best part of SD pheasant hunting is that it draws a lot of MN hunters away from their own "backyard". From my perspective (maybe goggles or blinders on) ... South Dakota is over saturated with nonresident hunters. Wouldn't it benefit most resident and nonresident hunters alike for the number to drop from say 80K to maybe 60K or less ??

In most years, Minnesota pheasant hunting is good enough that with a little work you can achieve limits or at least shots at a limit of birds for a few hunters - each and every time out. Group of 6 - 8 or 10 ... maybe on private land, but not likely on MN public land.
 

sleepwalker

New member
I'm heading to Aberdeen on Thursday for a hunt. I am a non-resident from Miami, Florida. I would suggest doubling the non-resident hunting license fees to help fund better habitat, etc. While I'll be hunting on private land with a preserve license, I think that the price could stand to be a bit higher if it would result in more habitat. I can't wait for our trip. This will be my 3rd time at this location and I know how lucky I am to have the chance to hunt it. I'll post some pics if we manage to get a few. Love this forum. thx.
 

Birddog23

New member
I can tell you one thing. Minnesota does not compare to SD.

I hunt Western MN 2-3 times each year on public land. It's tough hunting and typically I'm pretty happy if I come home with 1-2 birds for the day. Hunted all day in MN about 4 weeks ago, was able to walk through cattails because it had been so cold and we did not get a bird and we hunted hard. And I have a pretty good dog!

SD? I expect to come home with birds every time I go. Sometimes it's just not as many as the last time, and so forth.





Some SoDakers are getting a little defensive ? The guys is simply disappointed.

Of course there are birds in SoDak and most are still wild (well the stats say that around 75% of your reported rooster harvest is wild birds) ...

I for one cannot imagine visiting SoDak to pay $150 - $200/day trespass fee (I usually have one or two of my kids with me), hunt overcrowded public land or worse, hunting road ditches. Quiet ditches and old section lines are great places - but would not be the sole place hunted if it was me. The best part of SD pheasant hunting is that it draws a lot of MN hunters away from their own "backyard". From my perspective (maybe goggles or blinders on) ... South Dakota is over saturated with nonresident hunters. Wouldn't it benefit most resident and nonresident hunters alike for the number to drop from say 80K to maybe 60K or less ??

In most years, Minnesota pheasant hunting is good enough that with a little work you can achieve limits or at least shots at a limit of birds for a few hunters - each and every time out. Group of 6 - 8 or 10 ... maybe on private land, but not likely on MN public land.
 
I can tell you one thing. Minnesota does not compare to SD.
Being a Minnesota resident, the pheasant hunting is good but not great. But just like SD it is hit or miss each day. I have a young family and it is getting tough to get out for me. My hunting consists of 2 SD trips each year that are roughly 3 days long, and 2 hours per week on public land near home. I usually get the, "you have 2 hours from now to be back home when the kids wake up from an afternoon nap," so my trips are close to home and quick. I often consider it a success if we flush several hens, and a bonus if we bag a rooster. There's just something about SD, and the excitement and expectations that at any time a bird will flush. When walking in Minnesota, it's more of a how much longer do I need to go before I flush one.

All that said, Minnesota is still a pretty good place to hunt and I feel blessed to have the opportunities I have near home.
 

Birddog23

New member
There are a lot of really good public hunting areas in Minnesota. I hunted one a few weeks ago that I made sure that I marked on my GPS because it was an excellent spot. Just gotta go west towards you know where(South Dakota) to have a chance at seeing more birds.



Being a Minnesota resident, the pheasant hunting is good but not great. But just like SD it is hit or miss each day. I have a young family and it is getting tough to get out for me. My hunting consists of 2 SD trips each year that are roughly 3 days long, and 2 hours per week on public land near home. I usually get the, "you have 2 hours from now to be back home when the kids wake up from an afternoon nap," so my trips are close to home and quick. I often consider it a success if we flush several hens, and a bonus if we bag a rooster. There's just something about SD, and the excitement and expectations that at any time a bird will flush. When walking in Minnesota, it's more of a how much longer do I need to go before I flush one.

All that said, Minnesota is still a pretty good place to hunt and I feel blessed to have the opportunities I have near home.
 

James O

Member
Things have changed for me as I got older.When I was younger pheasant hunting had to be close to big towns with all the bars and strip clubs etc.
Road hunting etc.,no dogs ,getting away from wife for a couple of days.Now I have dogs and I am more interested in less hunting pressure
Than outside activities.Close to big town much more hunting pressure.
This year I went to North Dakota for that reason.After opener
You hardly see another hunter,but less birds.I did not get my limit every day.I did have great time watching dogs work could have limited most days
If I've shot better ,that seems less import to me know.I was a better shot
when I was younger.I feel bad for locals in a South Dakota that have to put
Up with hunting pressure today.A lot of hunters today are looking for limits as fast as they can get them without the work.
 
The planted birds thing is way overblown. Yes the SDGFP says 264,000 of the total 829,000 roosters harvested in 2017 were released birds. Thing is those released birds were shot on 227 preserves averaging 972 acres in size for a total land mass of 221,000 acres.

If you are hunting on a preserve in SD the odds a pheasant harvested in 2017 being pen raised bird was roughly 93%. If however you hunted on the 1.2M acres of Walk-in or 295,00 acres of Game Production Area or 150,000 acres of Waterfowl Production Areas in SD etc. etc. the odds of shooting a pen raised bird are so low it isn't worth calculating.

If you are hunting on private land for a trespass fee that doesn't hold a preserve license then buyer beware I guess but still think the odds pretty low. Hunting private land with no trespass fee see public land estimate above.

Plenty of opportunity to hunt wild roosters in good numbers all over the state of SD. Have hunted wild birds in MN, WI, ND & KS. None of them really compare. Will try NE next week but suspect the real benefit to giving that a go will be the chance to run into a few covey's of quail and a December hunt with no snow & no cattail busting.......
 

BRITTMAN

Active member
We must be hunting different parts of the state (MN) because every time I go out "west" ... I/we usually spend more time driving there and back than actually hunting (limited and done too early) ... unfortunately rarely stay overnight. If by myself I will not shoot two birds on a single walk.

SD is certainly far superior in bird numbers, but I have found for small groups and solo hunters ... MN is more than fine most years. If you have access to private land (I do once or twice every five years or so - through common friends - connections) in core MN pheasant range ... the hunting can be absolutely fantastic. I have not knocked on doors because I do not have to. I would love to spend two weeks straight in that part of MN and learn more spots and knock on a few doors to see if access is available.

In the past 10 years I have only traveled to Western MN once and NOT shot birds. That was last year and I wrote about it on here. On solo hunts I average about 1.8 birds per trip over the past 4 - 5 years.
 
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BRITTMAN

Active member
The planted birds thing is way overblown. Yes the SDGFP says 264,000 of the total 829,000 roosters harvested in 2017 were released birds. Thing is those released birds were shot on 227 preserves averaging 972 acres in size for a total land mass of 221,000 acres.

If you are hunting on a preserve in SD the odds a pheasant harvested in 2017 being pen raised bird was roughly 93%. If however you hunted on the 1.2M acres of Walk-in or 295,00 acres of Game Production Area or 150,000 acres of Waterfowl Production Areas in SD etc. etc. the odds of shooting a pen raised bird are so low it isn't worth calculating.

If you are hunting on private land for a trespass fee that doesn't hold a preserve license then buyer beware I guess but still think the odds pretty low. Hunting private land with no trespass fee see public land estimate above.

Plenty of opportunity to hunt wild roosters in good numbers all over the state of SD. Have hunted wild birds in MN, WI, ND & KS. None of them really compare. Will try NE next week but suspect the real benefit to giving that a go will be the chance to run into a few covey's of quail and a December hunt with no snow & no cattail busting.......
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".
 
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