How can they hay this much public ground

Golden Hour

Well-known member
To add a bit to what McFarmer said, this land used to be grazed by buffalo and often burned by the Indians, as well as naturally occurring fires. Trust me, as a pheasant hunter, it hurts to see the grasses grazed, burned or mowed, but it does need to happen, particularly the first two. Second, the grasses are great for nesting, brood rearing and hunting, until it snows. But it has little value in the winter. Thermal cover is what is necessary.

I would also add that in NESD, we had a tremendous amount of rain in late summer/early fall. If we can average from here going forward, we will be okay.

Interesting side note, a lot of the larger sloughs and lakes (often public hunting areas) have lost habitat due to increasing water levels. I'd like to see some greater oversight on drain tile. If a farmer wants to consolidate three small sloughs into a large one and increase farmable acres on their land, that's fine. This practice of dumping water into ravines and running it down the line is BS.
 

A5 Sweet 16

Well-known member
Some reading for those who might be interested in prairie restoration & such.
"Buffalo for the Broken Heart" by Dan O'Brien. (Broken Heart is the name of a ranch.)
 

HS Strut

Member
One of my favorite WPAs was grazed....looked like my yard. CREP lands were all mowed. I mean a quarter Section MOWED. I thought it would make sense to mow strips or half of it an leave SOME grass for the wildlife? I don't know. I don't wanna be complainer. I know that the farmers come first. But like someone already said, If those round bales are out there rotting next fall....what was the purpose? I appreciate the landowners that participate and allow us on their land. But it's tough when you drive 12 hours to hunt these lands and they're mowed completely. I'm a pheasant hunter and I love SD. I can't imagine this won't have an effect on next year. I saw a lot less birds this year. 2 trips out. Not only do they have a LOT less habitat to use this winter, but public land that DIDN'T get hayed or grazed has gotten POUNDED because it was the only area left to hunt. We hunted a beautiful field of CRP two weeks ago across from a picked cornfield and didn't see a single bird. I mean no wild flushes. NO BIRDS.
 

Good Boy!

Active member
Come to Pennsylvania.
You can hunt put and take pen raised birds, no mowing.
It's not fun.
It's called hunting and whether it's bear (they denned early and no one saw any) or deer (with our antler restrictions) or grouse (which are almost non-existent)....the idea is to enjoy the dogs, get some exercise....
Maybe next year will be different.
This year was a drought.
May be this will be EVERY year.
But the dog will still hunt.
And you can still get out and enjoy.
Don't mean to be a wise azz or a Debbie downer.
 

McFarmer

Active member
I totally understand the frustration. I make a good portion of my income from selling hay, the government releases this CRP and the hay market reacts.

Only one year in the last several have I been able to hay CRP, and I followed the rules about not being able to sell it. I gave it to my customer at the time, he paid for mowing, raking and baling.

Thing is it doesn’t cost the government a dime, and it might even garner a vote or two. As to the rotting bales, I see that also. I think it is part of a livestock person‘s DNA to bale when it’s there, can’t feed what you don’t have. Better safe than sorry.
 

Tbear

UPH Master
What counties did you hunt?
I can’t say that. From other conversations I have had with other people it’s not just in the counties I was in. It was almost all CREP ground but that the majority of the public land East river. I understand the agg side of this but this was beyond that. There has to be a balance. I’m not sure what SD pheasant hunting review is compared to Beef but it would be an interesting %. Really I’m just frustrated with all the disregard for balance of both things. I want my Daughter to teach her kids how to pheasant hunt. It’s looking less and less likely every year.
 

Tbear

UPH Master
I totally understand the frustration. I make a good portion of my income from selling hay, the government releases this CRP and the hay market reacts.

Only one year in the last several have I been able to hay CRP, and I followed the rules about not being able to sell it. I gave it to my customer at the time, he paid for mowing, raking and baling.

Thing is it doesn’t cost the government a dime, and it might even garner a vote or two. As to the rotting bales, I see that also. I think it is part of a livestock person‘s DNA to bale when it’s there, can’t feed what you don’t have. Better safe than sorry.
Appreciate how you see both sides. I just wonder how many follow the rules. I can’t imagine there is a lot of time spent to enforce it.
 

3car

Member
One of my favorite WPAs was grazed....looked like my yard. CREP lands were all mowed. I mean a quarter Section MOWED. I thought it would make sense to mow strips or half of it an leave SOME grass for the wildlife? I don't know. I don't wanna be complainer. I know that the farmers come first. But like someone already said, If those round bales are out there rotting next fall....what was the purpose? I appreciate the landowners that participate and allow us on their land. But it's tough when you drive 12 hours to hunt these lands and they're mowed completely. I'm a pheasant hunter and I love SD. I can't imagine this won't have an effect on next year. I saw a lot less birds this year. 2 trips out. Not only do they have a LOT less habitat to use this winter, but public land that DIDN'T get hayed or grazed has gotten POUNDED because it was the only area left to hunt. We hunted a beautiful field of CRP two weeks ago across from a picked cornfield and didn't see a single bird. I mean no wild flushes. NO BIRDS.
Actually the farmers don’t come first. WPAs require a habitat improvement or wildlife improvement plan to implement any management. Not necessarily a written plan but the manager needs to justify the reason why they decided to hay, graze or burn to benefit wildlife. Also if ur traveling from a distance away I would suggest calling the district who manages the public land you hunt and ask them what has been managed. Might save ya some gas and time. Olso noteworthy, Wpa’s are not managed to hunt pheasants. Pm sent
 

Good Boy!

Active member
I can’t say that. From other conversations I have had with other people it’s not just in the counties I was in. It was almost all CREP ground but that the majority of the public land East river. I understand the agg side of this but this was beyond that. There has to be a balance. I’m not sure what SD pheasant hunting review is compared to Beef but it would be an interesting %. Really I’m just frustrated with all the disregard for balance of both things. I want my Daughter to teach her kids how to pheasant hunt. It’s looking less and less likely every year.
... what, in life hasn't changed? , mostly for the worse, .... when I was in high school we got the first day of buck season off because everyone was absent and school got wise and made it alegal absence.... they quit that now that kids don't hunt as much...
Still take her out, try not to talk about the old days, when the kids are ready buy a few birds, spin em so they stay put, get them some shooting... and pray for rain.
 

sjohn

Member
My group from SC has their first hunt this morning of a week long trip. Unfortunately, I am still in SC recovering from a back injury. I'm curious to hear how our group does. They are limited on dog power with only one untrained dog so their bagged birds are going to be way done but I am very interested in their reports of haying/grazing and overall bird counts. They stay with a local farmer that is also a hunter so at least they'll have him to help out. I am trading my week long pheasant vacation for a week long woodcock hunt this year. My back will be ready to go by December 18th, opener for woodcock in SC.

Good Boy: Grew up in PA hunting wild pheasants and grouse. We hunted grouse in Center and Clearfield counties without dogs back then and did fairly well. Even managed to limit out a few times when the numbers were up. My good buddy whom still lives in PA went to a put and take GMA opening day pheasant hunt this year and all of them had their limit by 9:30. I didn't even know that existed when I grew up. However, it would have been fun as a young boy but not today. The PA put and take is no different than going to one of these pay to play lodges in SD but for the majority of hunters, the pay to play is all they want.

Best luck to all of you that are still waiting for their golden week in SD or if you are one of the lucky ones, for those of you that can manage several hunts a year. Go get em! john
 

Good Boy!

Active member
John.... don't think they did put and take in the 70s but could be wrong....
Limiting with those birds doesn't take much (2).. skinny, scared, and dumb... it's dog work.
If you work and wait till Saturday... they're already shot out
 

McFarmer

Active member
We are conflating two different situations. I’m not that familiar with the South Dakota situation, I have farming family out there but don’t get into the various program rules.

One situation is privately owned land that is enrolled in some sort of public access program. Haying and grazing on that land is allowed in certain situations but as I said, I can understand the frustration of thinking something is going to be there and it isn’t.

The other is public owned land that is hayed for one management reason or another. The biologists manage for the long term. As I said before, it wouldn’t surprise me if that land was growing soybeans for a year or two before they seed it down to some sort of wildflower mix.

I would say that with the amount of non local hunters South Dakota has, some sort of explanation is due to the visitor. I imagine even if it is done for the best of reasons, finding a closely cut, previously hunted piece of ground would be irritating.
There is a quarter section of public owned ground next to me that was hayed last fall and had soybeans on it this year. Long term it’s probably good, short term it’s frustrating, especially with no explanation.
 

Miforester

Active member
Several of my traditional CREP spots were hayed the past 2 yrs, but when you are given lemons you make lemonade. I hunted the fence lines or un mowed patches and still produced birds. End of the day farmers/ranchers need to do whats beat for their operation.

Another positive is it makes me find new spots, otherwise i just visit the same areas. Im thankful for programs like CREP WPA, and such and understand managemnet/harvest does happen. It probably doeant hurt im a state land manager and hear these types of comments all the time when deer or bird hunters come to my area and see the area has been cut.

I spent 5 days from Nov 8th to 12th. Had opportunities to limit every day, but poor shooting plagued me. Didnt hunt the 12th cause of the "blizzard". My young setter really did well and nailed several good points and lastly befriended a farmer (pulled me out of ditch) and he was gracious enough to allow me to hunt their operation. Didnt bagged the numbers i could have but one of my beat trips yet.
 

haymaker

Well-known member
I cut one half of one CRP field. By the time I could cut it was not worth much. The rest of the CRP was left as it wasn't worth much,
 

Zew

New member
I found plenty of uncut fields.

Imagine your boss tells you that you can't show up to work for 3 months. You won't get paid either. Same as telling a rancher he can't feed his animals.
Your pheasant hunting success over someone's livelihood?
 

HS Strut

Member
I found plenty of uncut fields.

Imagine your boss tells you that you can't show up to work for 3 months. You won't get paid either. Same as telling a rancher he can't feed his animals.
Your pheasant hunting success over someone's livelihood?
Imagine showing up to the super bowl and there are only a handful of players on the field. Imagine the owners and players decided they weren't going to make much money or maybe even lose money if they played the game....so they instead decided to not play the game, but didn't bother to let the people who bought tickets know. Imagine all the fans showing up and finding out at that moment that instead of the super bowl you are going to watch a few guys do warm ups and throw a ball around. Imagine them telling you that if you're willing to drive a few hours farther you can probably catch a HS game a couple hours away.

Or imagine the state having a little splash banner on the website where you buy your license saying " Just so you know, it's quite possible that all the places you plan to hunt based on the atlas we published might be mowed. Be warned before you buy your license and book your motels....we'd love to have you, but odds are you're going to all be hunting the same handful of GPA's due to 80% crp being mowed including ditches"

I'm all about the ranchers/farmers making ends meet. I appreciate their willingness to allow hunters on their land for a price. I also think it would be the right thing to do, to let prospective hunters know. I'd still drive 12 hours. I love SD.
 

Tbear

UPH Master
Imagine showing up to the super bowl and there are only a handful of players on the field. Imagine the owners and players decided they weren't going to make much money or maybe even lose money if they played the game....so they instead decided to not play the game, but didn't bother to let the people who bought tickets know. Imagine all the fans showing up and finding out at that moment that instead of the super bowl you are going to watch a few guys do warm ups and throw a ball around. Imagine them telling you that if you're willing to drive a few hours farther you can probably catch a HS game a couple hours away.

Or imagine the state having a little splash banner on the website where you buy your license saying " Just so you know, it's quite possible that all the places you plan to hunt based on the atlas we published might be mowed. Be warned before you buy your license and book your motels....we'd love to have you, but odds are you're going to all be hunting the same handful of GPA's due to 80% crp being mowed including ditches"

I'm all about the ranchers/farmers making ends meet. I appreciate their willingness to allow hunters on their land for a price. I also think it would be the right thing to do, to let prospective hunters know. I'd still drive 12 hours. I love SD.
And that perfectly sums it up! A little heads-up and some honesty about conditions. I’m not into deception and to me that’s what South Dakota did this year. Well said 👍
 

Zew

New member
Then it was a life lesson for you. Droughts bring on haying. Not the first time nor the last time it will happen. You'll be prepared next time.
 

Golden Hour

Well-known member
Imagine showing up to the super bowl and there are only a handful of players on the field. Imagine the owners and players decided they weren't going to make much money or maybe even lose money if they played the game....so they instead decided to not play the game, but didn't bother to let the people who bought tickets know. Imagine all the fans showing up and finding out at that moment that instead of the super bowl you are going to watch a few guys do warm ups and throw a ball around. Imagine them telling you that if you're willing to drive a few hours farther....

That's a good analogy. Normally, I would say that it is your responsibility, but the way the current administration has coopted SDGFP with DDept of Tourism (that's two d's for a double dose of their pimp game), I think there should have been greater efforts made to let non-residents know the true conditions. For a local, it has very little affect on my hunting. If I had a small window to do my pheasant hunting, it would be a whole different story.

Please contact the SDGFP, local GFP offices and the SD Dept of Tourism and let them know your feelings. It might not change anything, but South Dakota is small and you'd be surprised what a few leaky faucets can achieve.
 
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