Opinion: Future of South Dakota Hunting

At the good wild bird commercial pheasant pay to play farms, you are paying the farmer to plant pheasant habitat, and farm for pheasants. To farm in this manner costs the farmer money, to pay for this cost he charges hunters a fee.

Its not a trespass fee, but a fee to pay for leaving in crops, not cutting and bailing grass/hay. The fee hopefully covers his extra costs plus some profit. The other great part about all the pheasant cover that is maintained on a good pay to play outfit, is that later in the season all the bonus surrounding pheasants flock to the good cover and away from the for profit only farmers moonscape land.

I paid to hunt wild birds the past two years near Winner. The place I went to did an outstanding job of farming for pheasants. Excellent habitat left for the birds and the habitat is set up to hunt. Plus the guys running it are excellent guides also. It was a great time and I would do it again.......as long as I am going to get my bang for my buck.

Here is where so many people seem to disagree with me. I'm not going to pay $300 + per day to see twice as many birds as I would see in Nebraska. I get it that some of you have zero birds in your state and just want to see a wild pheasant. That is fine, and more power to you, its suppose to be a free country, and who am I to tell you what to do.

Here is what I think is going to happen this year and in the future IF corn and hay prices stay high:
The pay to play farms that focus on great habitat for the birds are always going to have birds. The first two or three weeks will be good, but they are not going to get the influx of the bonus farm for profit neighbor's birds that keep coming to their great habitat later in the season because......there aren't any birds anymore on the neighbors moonscape land.

In Nebraska where I live no one farms for pheasants. The farmers here farm every square inch of land they can. But there are a few places around my place that are not farmable, a nice wetland, and some old abandoned farm places. They have birds, but for 10 miles in each direction there is not 1 pheasant, because there is no cover, none.

This is what I see happening in South Dakota also. Yes there are always going to be birds in South Dakota, but without the bonus neighbor birds coming in later in the season, it's going to kill the wild commercial hunting operations, other than the first couple weekends which will still be very productive.
Now am I saying don't hunt South Dakota? Hell no, South Dakota will always be the top pheasant hunting destination in the world because there is no center pivot irrigation, and the land is not as productive as Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas, thus it is not worth as much and it is feasible to leave some land out of production for pheasant habitat. Will the pay to play farms have pheasants, hell yes! But in my opinion it will not be anything like it has been the past 10 years due to moonscape farmer next door to the pay to play places.
This can all change for the better if corn prices fall, and something replaces the CRP of yesterday.
I will most definitely hunt South Dakota again in the future, pay to play.....I don't know? Hunt public ground....probably not. Hunt with friends/family on private ground for a nice dinner out and a couple good bottles of whisky....sign me up!
 

UGUIDE

New member
Hey Mr. No Place Like Nebraska,

I checked the Nebraska forum and a post of yours can't be found.

You don't have a clue as to what is going on in South Dakota and many times appear to be bashing the state and just trying to proclaim it's demise and calling others fools for doing what you would not do or pay to do.

South Dakota Pheasant Hunting is made up of nothing less than the great people of this nation that choose to come to this state.

I suggest you follow your user name and just commit your resources to NE.
 

GPowers

Member
Opinion

With all due respect, he did say in his Opinion.

Last I check, we can still have one of those in this Country. Doesn't mean you have to agree.;)
 

haymaker

Active member
At the good wild bird commercial pheasant pay to play farms, you are paying the farmer to plant pheasant habitat, and farm for pheasants. To farm in this manner costs the farmer money, to pay for this cost he charges hunters a fee.

Its not a trespass fee, but a fee to pay for leaving in crops, not cutting and bailing grass/hay. The fee hopefully covers his extra costs plus some profit. The other great part about all the pheasant cover that is maintained on a good pay to play outfit, is that later in the season all the bonus surrounding pheasants flock to the good cover and away from the for profit only farmers moonscape land.

I paid to hunt wild birds the past two years near Winner. The place I went to did an outstanding job of farming for pheasants. Excellent habitat left for the birds and the habitat is set up to hunt. Plus the guys running it are excellent guides also. It was a great time and I would do it again.......as long as I am going to get my bang for my buck.

Here is where so many people seem to disagree with me. I'm not going to pay $300 + per day to see twice as many birds as I would see in Nebraska. I get it that some of you have zero birds in your state and just want to see a wild pheasant. That is fine, and more power to you, its suppose to be a free country, and who am I to tell you what to do.

Here is what I think is going to happen this year and in the future IF corn and hay prices stay high:
The pay to play farms that focus on great habitat for the birds are always going to have birds. The first two or three weeks will be good, but they are not going to get the influx of the bonus farm for profit neighbor's birds that keep coming to their great habitat later in the season because......there aren't any birds anymore on the neighbors moonscape land.

In Nebraska where I live no one farms for pheasants. The farmers here farm every square inch of land they can. But there are a few places around my place that are not farmable, a nice wetland, and some old abandoned farm places. They have birds, but for 10 miles in each direction there is not 1 pheasant, because there is no cover, none.

This is what I see happening in South Dakota also. Yes there are always going to be birds in South Dakota, but without the bonus neighbor birds coming in later in the season, it's going to kill the wild commercial hunting operations, other than the first couple weekends which will still be very productive.
Now am I saying don't hunt South Dakota? Hell no, South Dakota will always be the top pheasant hunting destination in the world because there is no center pivot irrigation, and the land is not as productive as Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas, thus it is not worth as much and it is feasible to leave some land out of production for pheasant habitat. Will the pay to play farms have pheasants, hell yes! But in my opinion it will not be anything like it has been the past 10 years due to moonscape farmer next door to the pay to play places.
This can all change for the better if corn prices fall, and something replaces the CRP of yesterday.
I will most definitely hunt South Dakota again in the future, pay to play.....I don't know? Hunt public ground....probably not. Hunt with friends/family on private ground for a nice dinner out and a couple good bottles of whisky....sign me up!
I think you may have a point, and I think we might be at a crossroads in wild bird hunting. I don't think of it as pay to play, I think of it as I will rent you my habitat. As the value of commodities and or cash crop rent goes up the rent I get for my habitat has to go up. If public hunting quality goes down what is going to happen? Are the guys that have hunted public going to come see guys like me or are they going to give up hunting. Will they accept lesser quality hunting than in 2005, but still the best hunting in the nation? If supply and demand holds true I should see if I can set up another camp. If not I should probably just go back to farming and just do my own hunting. One thing I know for sure is that it is going to have to get more expensive to hunt here or the commercial hunting will go away.
 
Hey Mr. No Place Like Nebraska,

I checked the Nebraska forum and a post of yours can't be found.

You don't have a clue as to what is going on in South Dakota and many times appear to be bashing the state and just trying to proclaim it's demise and calling others fools for doing what you would not do or pay to do.

South Dakota Pheasant Hunting is made up of nothing less than the great people of this nation that choose to come to this state.

I suggest you follow your user name and just commit your resources to NE.
Opinion #2:
My opinions voiced to begin this thread are based on the following facts:
I have hunted in South Dakota as a non-resident 21 times since 1983. 20 of those hunting trips were in pursuit of wild private land pheasants. 1 of those trips was a hunt on a preserve with released birds. Of the 20 wild pheasant hunts, I paid for the privilege to hunt awesome habitat set up by farmers near Winner twice(pay to play). The other 18 wild private land hunts were with friends and family, and payment usually was in the form of dinner on me, or bottle of whisky for the land owners(by far may favorite way to hunt South Dakota).

I have been hunting pheasants in Nebraska since 1977 (tagged along at age of 7). I usually hunt pheasants every weekend in Nebraska until January, unless I am hunting in South Dakota. I have witnessed the destruction of the wild pheasant population in Nebraska due to center pivots, and high grain prices. Hunting in Nebraska in 1977 was similar to hunting South Dakota in the early to mid 2000's.

I live on a acreage in south central Nebraska surrounded by $10,000-
$15,000 per acre center pivot farm ground. I work construction (drive around rural Nebraska 50,0000 miles per year) and raise cattle.

My opinion of South Dakota:
The South Dakota people I have met since 1983 have been some of the most enjoyable, friendliest, and fun people I have ever met. I love hunting in South Dakota, it is truly the "Worlds Best Pheasant Hunting"

My opinion of Pay to Play/Rent farmers habitat/ect.:
The two times I paid to pheasant hunt wild birds in South Dakota were great experiences. The bottom line is this. The vast majority of pheasant hunters cannot afford to "pay to play" (for lack of a better phrase) Most of the pay to play places do a good job of creating habitat for pheasants, but I've said it once and I will say it 1000 times.....a 160 to 700 acre pheasant oasis surrounded by intensely farmed moonscape looking farm ground will only produce so many pheasants. I have seen it in Nebraska over and over. Sure there are enough pheasants to have friends and family come and shoot birds 3 or 4 times. But to commercially hunt that pheasant oasis week in and week out....without the influx of neighboring birds is not feasible, without releasing birds. What you will end up with mid-season is clouds of hen's getting up. Pay to play is fine, I'm not against it. The two times I did it were very enjoyable. But most people can't afford to do it.

My opinion for a solution:
South Dakota: Somehow the government is going to have to pay enough to farmers to leave land idle. Simple as that. This is the only way pheasant hunting will remain a top tourist attraction to average hunters. Hunters with money will always be able to hunt South Dakota and be successful.

Nebraska: All hope is almost lost here, because land prices, and taxes are so high that farmers feel they have to farm every square inch. One ray of hope would be a government program to leave pivot corners idle. They have one now, but it obviously does not pay enough since no farmers seem to take advantage of it.

Paying to leave land idle in South Dakota would be much cheaper than in Nebraska, due to the fact land prices, and property taxes are much cheaper in South Dakota than Nebraska(or Iowa for that matter) A million $$ in South Dakota will put a lot more land idle than in Nebraska or Iowa. (this Uguide is the reason why I don't worry too much about Nebraska, because in my opinion South Dakota is the last hope of great pheasant hunting opportunities for the average hunter)

My opinion of the government:
Believe me I am no fan of the government, but I don't see any other way around setting enough acres idle than with government money. The pay to play places with truly wild pheasants will have to charge so much in the future to cover their habitat costs that is will price most hunters out.
 

Dakotazeb

Active member
NOPLCLKNEB, I also think you have some valid points. I think UGUIDE really didn't understand what you are saying. As a resident of SD I am concerned about the dramatic drop in pheasant numbers and I think fully understand why. Unfortunately, I think we have seen the peak in numbers for the foreseeable future. I have a friend that has a hunting operation on the family farm (not a preserve) and they farm for pheasants. But there is a significant cost in doing so. They could easily say "screw the pheasants" and farm the land like so many others are doing. And as long as there a people willing to pay the price these operations will continue to exist. I've seen my friend's fee to hunt for a day increase in the past few years from $150 to $325 and he's still booked full. I'm thankful I get invited to hunt their land 2-3 times a year for free. Would I pay $325 a day? No way in hell!

I moved to SD in 1978 and there are still more pheasants in SD now than there were the first 10-15 years I lived here. The problem for me is there are also 4-5 times as many non-resident hunters now as there use to be. Back in the late 70's and all of the 80's we hunted a lot of public land and rarely ran into other hunters. Not the case today.

I think those willing to pay the big bucks to hunt will continue to come to our state. But the number of hunters coming to hunt solely public land will probably decline if number stay down.
 

reddog

Active member
NOPLCLKNEB, I also think you have some valid points. I think UGUIDE really didn't understand what you are saying. As a resident of SD I am concerned about the dramatic drop in pheasant numbers and I think fully understand why. Unfortunately, I think we have seen the peak in numbers for the foreseeable future. I have a friend that has a hunting operation on the family farm (not a preserve) and they farm for pheasants. But there is a significant cost in doing so. They could easily say "screw the pheasants" and farm the land like so many others are doing. And as long as there a people willing to pay the price these operations will continue to exist. I've seen my friend's fee to hunt for a day increase in the past few years from $150 to $325 and he's still booked full. I'm thankful I get invited to hunt their land 2-3 times a year for free. Would I pay $325 a day? No way in hell!

I moved to SD in 1978 and there are still more pheasants in SD now than there were the first 10-15 years I lived here. The problem for me is there are also 4-5 times as many non-resident hunters now as there use to be. Back in the late 70's and all of the 80's we hunted a lot of public land and rarely ran into other hunters. Not the case today.

I think those willing to pay the big bucks to hunt will continue to come to our state. But the number of hunters coming to hunt solely public land will probably decline if number stay down.

Zeb,

Back when Iowa had pheasants, I only dreamed of going to South Dakota, The demise of our birds here, forced me to look elsewhere. Im happy that I got to go when I did. I look around when I am out there, and there is still so much wild country, that I dont think it will ever be as bad as some of the surrounding states, its just that the pure prairie wont support as many pheasants as the mixed crop/prairie/tree belts will. You dont go looking for pheasant numbers out in the middle of The Grasslands...

Ive hunted Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and South Dakota in the past, and find Im most happy in South Dakota, but that is because of alot of factors, most of which center around building my "Okoboji Getaway" cabin in Chamberlain in Y2K. My boat lives there almost year round, so if the hunting doesnt trip my trigger for the day, I can always go fishing.

There is no doubt that the farm operators in South Dakota are not of the same philosophy as the family farmers of the past. Its not that they are not family farmers, they are just running their operation as more of a business and must look at the bottom line, and for the most part, bird habitat is not high on their list.

I have access to land in Aurora and Lyman county.... good land to hunt. Private, and it doesnt cost me anything. I also have almost been begged to come to Potter county and hunt a large farm there, that is primarily CRP, but to date, have never seen it. IM thinking I better make it there this year, while its still CRP.

I have seen the neighbor complain (4 years ago) that his family members that always come to hunt have not been able to find any birds. Now, this guy farms 20K acres, and has always had enough overflow birds for it to be good hunting on some of the fringe areas. 6 years ago, they put a scraper, dozer, and a track hoe into their farm machinery lineup. its not rocket science that when you have access readily to that kind of equipment, that the bird cover on your property (and the birds) are not long for this earth..

its sad, but its the way it is, right now. I dont know whats going to stop the corn belt on its venture west... Maybe the Badlands.
 

Deacon

New member
It was quite clear from the topic title the guy was offering his opinion. The day opinions cannot be posted on this forum is the day the forum should be shut down.

I think we all can agree if a new farm program is not in place sooner than later pheasant numbers may reach record lows in many states including the Dakotas. We have been fortunate to experience great pheasant hunting the last 15 years run with record acres not in production thanks to CRP.

Please please reduce the ethanol requirements and develop a CRP program for today's farming practices. Reward those that preserve land and reduce erosion. Or as with Obamacare, tax those that do not preserve land and reduce erosion.
 

safari

New member
I have been criticized for being so blunt in my statements regarding the demise of wild pheasant hunting. I believe the majority of comments in this thread with more detail ultimately lead to the same conclusion. I have been on 11 SD openers between 1980 and 2007 and this Saturday will be my 6th ND opener. I have seen it come full circle. I do applaud those like U Guide that are desperately trying to save some of it. Almost all of my trips have been Pay to Play. The only thing I will add to the thread starters comments about Pay to Play islands of habitat/birds is that they will become fewer and fewer in number as owners succumb to higher and easier returns with farming. If there is a future with SD pheasant hunting it will have to be West River.

I am 52 and don think I will live to see it come back and in fact don't believe it will ever come back.
 

Hockeybob

Member
Safari,
Nobody can disagree with you. Many may not like your " doom n gloom" but the fact is you have been right. I'm 47 years old and as a kid we could hunt all day here in Illinois. We worked hard but often shot our limit.
Slowly, and I don't know exactly when it happened but fence rows were ripped out, fence lines taken out, old RAil Roads were taken out. Any piece of cover that could be put into crop production was. ILlinois was a decent place to hunt in the late 70's and 80's. I see SD slowly heading down the same path. Nothing can stop it unless the price of corn drops significantly and a farm bill with incentive to leave ground untouched can come back. It may already be too late. The snowball has started rolling down the hill. Once it gains a certain speed and momentum nothing can stop it. As someone stated. Small islands of birds where the price to hunt will be for the corporate guys who fly their private jets to hunt. The average Joe like myself will be history.
 

hunter94

Active member
Safari,
Nobody can disagree with you. Many may not like your " doom n gloom" but the fact is you have been right. I'm 47 years old and as a kid we could hunt all day here in Illinois. We worked hard but often shot our limit.
Slowly, and I don't know exactly when it happened but fence rows were ripped out, fence lines taken out, old RAil Roads were taken out. Any piece of cover that could be put into crop production was. ILlinois was a decent place to hunt in the late 70's and 80's. I see SD slowly heading down the same path. Nothing can stop it unless the price of corn drops significantly and a farm bill with incentive to leave ground untouched can come back. It may already be too late. The snowball has started rolling down the hill. Once it gains a certain speed and momentum nothing can stop it. As someone stated. Small islands of birds where the price to hunt will be for the corporate guys who fly their private jets to hunt. The average Joe like myself will be history.

pretty much spot on...:(
 

Jetifantasy

New member
Think about this for an hour before posting

Why do I post so much negative here ? What is my goal ? Am I benefiting anyone ? Just a freak number , say 96.4 percent think its crap ! We are spending the money to come out to participate and support SD pheasant hunting . We get on here for info , not to hear you call people liars . If you follow these post nopekerinnbksa skirts calling people liars . Yep I can read don't need you regurgitating the same numbers . Your mission in life is to be doomsayers . May all be valid points but the people here are the ones that do something about it . Why bitch (so much ) here ...post on a govt. site write a congressman. Don't preach to the choir . I am proud you know all these facts , what's your end game why so bitter . I do try to spark things on my states site. Ohio. just getting sick of it ,do you lean back and smile after you post obvious facts . Ra ra jetifantasy
 
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onpoint

Active member
Safari,
Nobody can disagree with you. Many may not like your " doom n gloom" but the fact is you have been right. I'm 47 years old and as a kid we could hunt all day here in Illinois. We worked hard but often shot our limit.
Slowly, and I don't know exactly when it happened but fence rows were ripped out, fence lines taken out, old RAil Roads were taken out. Any piece of cover that could be put into crop production was. ILlinois was a decent place to hunt in the late 70's and 80's. I see SD slowly heading down the same path. Nothing can stop it unless the price of corn drops significantly and a farm bill with incentive to leave ground untouched can come back. It may already be too late. The snowball has started rolling down the hill. Once it gains a certain speed and momentum nothing can stop it. As someone stated. Small islands of birds where the price to hunt will be for the corporate guys who fly their private jets to hunt. The average Joe like myself will be history.
Spot on as others have said. Some think a little strip of grass here and a little strip of grass there is going to be plenty for a few birds to hide in and raise their young. Problem is, every other bird and animal will also be using that cover, including every predator. Stick a fork in it. $325 a day for 3 pheasants is beyond crazy. Certifiable nuts is more like it. We can thank that kind of greed for killing this sport for a large majority of the population. That in turn will pound the nails in the coffin of the entire sport of hunting. People driven from the sport will have no interest in voting for any candidate that supports guns or hunting. Why, they no longer have any interest in those things. Just ask the ultra wealthy in the UK who thought their money and power would always protect their fox hunting. It is no more. Over ruled by majority.
 

UGUIDE

New member
At the good wild bird commercial pheasant pay to play farms

but they are not going to get the influx of the bonus farm for profit neighbor's birds that keep coming to their great habitat later in the season because......there aren't any birds anymore on the neighbors moonscape land.

I will most definitely hunt South Dakota again in the future, pay to play.....I don't know? Hunt public ground....probably not. Hunt with friends/family on private ground for a nice dinner out and a couple good bottles of whisky....sign me up!
Here's my opinion: Sometimes people that give the same less than optimistic, almost a forgone conclusion opinions, get old.

I am sick and tired of people using the term pay to play. I hunted Iowa for 20 years and never once paid anyone to hunt private land and you better believe it was pay to play all the way there and all the way back and all the time I was there. This term should be banned from this forum as the only ones paying for this forum are commercial operators to my knowledge.

Who comes on this site and prophecy's the end is usually the guy that decided to take up fishing instead and it just pissed off that he thinks it is not good enough for him anymore and is cranked that it will never be as good as the ALL TIME HIGH and determines the state is no longer worthy of his DOLLAR (his ultimate support and vote FOR the future of pheasant hunting in the state).

State loses half a million acres of CRP, birds are going down, DUH!! Theirs still a million acres left. DUH!!

Moonscape benefit from my neighbor? What the heck is moonscape? I have so much cover now the birds don't even leave my property when getting shot at. I have full control over my situation.

Public land hasn't changed a bit! Why should the hunting be any worse?

In the end you always get what you pay for.

And you think this is an opinion? You have seen my opinion yet. Just takes the right poster to post his/her opinion to get it out of me.

And for the record, people post here thinking that the whole world of South Dakota pheasant hunters read this. They don't. You might be surprised at how few do. They are too busy working hard saving up for the trip of a lifetime in support of their ultimate destination for upland birds.

:cheers:
 

Dakotazeb

Active member
Enough is Enough!!

This thread is going no where except south. Let's everybody reign it in. We all have our opinions and it's okay to express those opinions. There will always be those that take exception to your opinion and that's usually where the problems begin. You have to learn to just ignore some of the stuff you don't agree with.

This thread has run it's course and is close to being shut down. Everyone back off or it will be closed.
 

safari

New member
Some have indicated that I and other posters "get pleasure" out of reporting what we have observed taking place in SD over many decades of experience..I can tell you that is NOT TRUE.

What has happened is a devastating loss to myself, the hunting community, South Dakota and conservation in general.
 
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