Are there Huns in South Dakota.

Dakotazeb

Active member
There may be a few Huns in South Dakota but they are few and far between. Too few to actually specifically hunt them. You may bump a small covey while pheasant hunting but that's your only chance. Many years ago it was quite common to run into to covey but it's been a long time since I've seen a covey of Huns.
 

A5 Sweet 16

Member
There may be a few Huns in South Dakota but they are few and far between. Too few to actually specifically hunt them. You may bump a small covey while pheasant hunting but that's your only chance. Many years ago it was quite common to run into to covey but it's been a long time since I've seen a covey of Huns.
Ditto. When I was a kid, you'd see a covey or 2 about every time out (down around Yankton). Now? It's VERY rare.
 

haymaker

Active member
Much of South Dakota has turned into corn and bean country, that is not conducive to Huns in particular or pheasants either in general.
 

duckn66

Active member
Friend of mine was stationed at Ellsworth in the late 80s. He and a local would hunt east of there and he told me they saw Huns a lot. His favorite bird to hunt and eat. Said there were quite a few back then
 

reddog

Active member
Much of South Dakota has turned into corn and bean country, that is not conducive to Huns in particular or pheasants either in general.
I grew up in South West Minnesota, graduating in 1976. I hunted Hungarians literally every day of the season after school from the time I got my drivers license till I moved out of state. This was primarily corn, bean, and hay/pasture ground, with row crops predominant on the landscape. There literally were millions of them in Southwest Minnesota back in those days.(and Im assuming northwest iowa and south east south dakota) . I dont think its a corn/bean factor, but moreso of how todays corn and beans are farmed compared to back then. I think they did very well in the days of the moldboard plow, not so much today.
 

haymaker

Active member
I grew up in South West Minnesota, graduating in 1976. I hunted Hungarians literally every day of the season after school from the time I got my drivers license till I moved out of state. This was primarily corn, bean, and hay/pasture ground, with row crops predominant on the landscape. There literally were millions of them in Southwest Minnesota back in those days.(and Im assuming northwest iowa and south east south dakota) . I dont think its a corn/bean factor, but moreso of how todays corn and beans are farmed compared to back then. I think they did very well in the days of the moldboard plow, not so much today.
When we had Huns we mostly grew small grains with a little corn, now it is corn and beans and a lot of grass has turned into corn and beans. I wish I knew what the reason for their decline is.
 

A5 Sweet 16

Member
Loss of habitat, pesticides/herbicides, & predation. My opinion, DDT was a major factor. Thin egg shells couldn't withstand it & nest success took a dump. Other pesticides/herbicides resulted in far fewer "weeds" & bugs. No food. There's a lot less alfalfa & oats & stuff like that planted today than there was 50 years ago. That's what they liked. Gone.
 

Flushedup

Member
Loss of habitat, pesticides/herbicides, & predation. My opinion, DDT was a major factor. Thin egg shells couldn't withstand it & nest success took a dump. Other pesticides/herbicides resulted in far fewer "weeds" & bugs. No food. There's a lot less alfalfa & oats & stuff like that planted today than there was 50 years ago. That's what they liked. Gone.
Bingo. Yes, there are fewer acres of grass and such. However I am a firm believer that the tall tires of the sprayer is the number one factor in wildlife deteriation. Call it what it is, mankind has poisoned a large percent of bees, birds and small mammals to grow a stupid ear of corn.
 

PeteRevvv

Member
We had a reasonable chance at Huns in central SD where there was large permanent undisturbed acres like heritage, never-plowed grass plots that also had wheat or grain grown next to it. That was cover and food source they preferred. You had to go out in the middle of the grass to get them too. Break up the covey and they moved on from that area most often. Now I see little summer wheat, barley or rye going in central SD that it's just a matter of changing crop preferences.

Not likely to find those conditions in central right now or run into them when hitting prime pheasant locations next to corn and beans. Head out west with the sharpies and prairie chickens and they will be there.
 

Wyoguy

New member
I've bagged a lot of Huns over the years. The best and most reliable areas are the eastern half of Montana and the Bighorn Basin and Sheridan areas in Wyoming. If you go to those areas you can actually target Huns as a primary species. In the Bighorn Basin you'll also pick up Chukars. I've taken a few in South East Idaho as well. But just as a side to pheasants. If you do plan to hunt Huns here is the deal. They are very oriented to certain areas. Once you find them you'll see them in the same spots year after year. But you have to cover miles of territory to locate them. And keep a careful record where you see them so you can go back. With roosters, if you're in a good area and see decent habitat you can figure there will be some around. But with Huns, some areas have them, while other areas that appear identical don't. However, once you locate them, they will be there in varying population levels, for the next 25 years. At least that's how things are in Montana and Wyoming.

Because of that, hunters really guard their "Hun Spots" with secrecy if they are on public land. But if you want to find them, you can with some effort and then you will have a few secret spots of your own to guard. They will usually hold well for a pointing dog, and generally flush as a covey. If you watch where they land after flushing, you can frequently follow them up and get another bird or two. Once you break up a flock, the singles will hold better than an entire covey.
 

BRITTMAN

Active member
My observations:

Huns were extremely prolific across most of ND in the 1970s and 80s (probably before, but I was not chasing them then). Huns are edge birds and like lots of edges such as field edges, fence rows, and tree belts. Much of these edges are gone now.

Huns need grass to nest, but I believe did fine on little patches of grass or even road ditches. Somehow they are able to escape predators in these smaller covers. Huns have benefited little from large acres of CRP. Huns do not like long stem blue grass much either. Short grass and edge bird.

Huns like drier climates. They did really well during the lower rainfall years of the 80s. In 1993, ND had a step change in rainfall and with the exception of a dry year now and then has become a very wet state (relative to averages). Hun population plummeted that year in ND and have never really come back since then. The west side of ND (drier) has always had more huns than the east side.

There are alarming reports of many less birds than in the past. Avian predation has to be a significant cause of the decline. My parents yard has had a Cooper's hawk pair on several occasions. These birds take out every song bird for blocks or the birds wise up and move out of the area. Before the mid-80s owls and hawks were trapped, shot, poisoned. Once they became protected and the protection was enforced, avian predator populations exploded. Huns are especially vulnerable to avian predators especially in winter. Huns prefer to move about across the snowy landscape and often would huddle (form a ring) in the middle of a snow covered field. This is one way we used to hunt huns. Spot them in the winter and either make a sneak or push them into cover and hunt them.

While this strategy of hanging out in the open helped them avoid foxes, it made them targets of hawks and owls. Some 40 years ago now, my uncle had about 2 dozen Huns on and around his ND farm yard. They started to disappear until the population reached around a half dozen. An owl was taking one every other night or so. The owl was killed standing over a dead Hun with a 22 shot out of his kitchen window. The remaining 6 dispersed once spring arrived.
 
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