Legality of hunting the roads

setter owner

New member
Hello All,

I am making my first trip to SD this year. I have noticed in some other threads and in some pictures that many roads have very wide grassy areas between the track and crop fields. The states I have been hunting do not have these large grassy areas. I have also seen some write of hunting what we call waterways. I see these waterways as areas in a field that water runs through that are not plantable with crops because of the possibility of washout. Are these washes/waterways considered public areas that can be hunted as well? I certainly don't want to seem like an idiot but I would really like to understand these areas and what is accepted behavior by an ethical law abiding hunter in SD.

Very reluctant to pose these questions considering the tone on the forum recently. I wish we could all just try to get along. I have been on this forum for several years(under a different name) and have always considered it a place where gentleman gather to share information and the love of dogs and game birds.

Your replies will all be appreciated.

Setter Owner


Active member
Road right of ways are legal. Bird is supposed to be above the road right of way when you shoot. Unarmed retrieval is allowed. Waterways are private so you must get permission to hunt them.


New member
This is what I found .
You have to be in the right of way, the right of way is the road and the ditch, the fence may not be on the right of way. The right of way is normally 66 feet, some are wider.
- The pheasant must take off from the road or right of way.
- Your vehicle must be pulled over to the right hand side of the road.
- You must be outside your vehicle
- Turn the vehicle off, shut all the doors
Other rules:
If you hit the bird, you can leave your gun in the car, and go retrieve the pheasant. You cannot take a gun onto private property, and remember the pheasant had to take flight while in the right of way.
You may not road hunt if there is cattle, churches, schools, residential areas, etc within 660 feet. Just assume that if there is a building within 2 football fields (no matter what direction you are shooting), you can't shoot.
Different laws apply if you are on a tribal land right of way. :):)


UPH Master
The bird must get up from the road right of way. But yes and there are lots of birds in them depending on the time of day and crop harvest.


New member
road right of ways

Its been several years since I hunted road right of ways. But here goes my 2 cents worth. First get the game law book from SD and it explains it very well.
As far as washes as you described they are not open to the public unless they are somehow inside the road right of ways which are approx 66 feet wide, or in a perfect situation and the vehicle tracks are dead in the middle 33 feet either side of the middle of the tracks. There are low or no maintainance roads that are open to hunting that is all grass with just vehicle tracks down them and if there is no fence lines on either side they are huntable for about 33 feet either side of the middle of the ruts,( some could be a little wider). If you get the hunting atlas you will see most roads as a solid line and may turn into dotted lines, usually these dotted line roads are low or no matainance roads. If in doubt call the SD game and fish people in Pierre and talk to them, they will clear it up for you. You need the SD hunting law book, acct. there is other restrictions such as you can't hunt within 660 feet of livestock, churches, occupied buildings, or schools. And on some roads you will see saftey zone signs you can't hunt or shoot between them.
Now some advice on which roads seem to produce better than others, pick a road that has thick cover next to or close to harvested crops, corn,milo,sunflowers,soybeans etc. and have no high cover except in the ditches or the birds will just run out onto private land. Also the bird has to flush from this right away or flying over it to be legal to shoot. If the bird falls onto private land beyond the right of way you can (UNARMED) on foot go retrieve it. There is some more minor restrictions I haven't got into here so get the law book or call the SD game and fish people. All road right of ways except the interstate highway system which in this case probably I-90 are open to hunting. If you shoot across a road or highwy make very sure there is no vehicles coming or close acct. you cannot endanger in any way other people, and that would apply to combines or tractors in the fields too.
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New member
Hunting road right of ways

All of the information the others have given is correct. You can legally hunt 66 feet of the road way, or between borrow ditch and/or fences. And you can legally shoot from and across the road. Common sense tells you to only do it in areas where traffic and other hazards are minimized, but there is a lot of stuff with minimal traffic and houses in SD. There is some excellent hunting in road ditches, especially if you are in areas with lots of nesting habitat and food. Right now (as of 10/27) most of the crops have not been harvested and that makes ditch hunting much harder. When the crops are cut it will get much better since the birds have no place else to go. We are hunting for 5 days right now and most of the birds are coming out of the edge of sunflowers and corn. It has been pretty tough, especially when they flush out in the crops.

I will warn you--if you hunt ditches with a dog be ready to see some cuts if they are not used to hunting near fences. The grass and cover can hide the wire and the dogs will run into it, especially if they are going for a retrieve or are following scent. We bring our own staple guns, sutures, and super glue to patch them up.
i thought for some reason you could only hunt the minimum mag roads??? guess i was wrong its not my thing so im not worried but my father may have to hunt a ditch or 2 in SD so you can hunt other roads other then minimum mag roads??? gravel of course i take it??? or are paved road OK to hunt along??? man that just dose not seem write to me???


New member
ditch hunting

yes paved roads are legal, the only exceptions I know of is roads along federal refuges, Indian tribal trust land, and the interstate hyws.