Pay to Play rates in SD

Chestle

Well-known member
If it has gone on too long why are you reading and posting on it?
Probably because I only tap the "What's New" button on this site and this thread keeps popping up with absolutely nothing new in it. :)

However, you have a very valid point and this will be my absolute last post in this thread.
 
If you’re going to “pay to play” not much sense in traveling to SD, as most states have private game farms.
Yeah, you do. I'm from Tennessee and there's just something about being there. It's awesome!! I took a video of the Missouri river when I was staying at Cross Creek Ranch in ND, I don't know maybe I'm just getting old. I like it though.
 

Winchester30

Active member
Yeah, you do. I'm from Tennessee and there's just something about being there. It's awesome!! I took a video of the Missouri river when I was staying at Cross Creek Ranch in ND, I don't know maybe I'm just getting old. I like it though.
It is awesome, maybe I was raised different but I feel a greater sense of accomplishment hunting wild birds on public land. It’s not that hard with a good dog and a pair of good boots.
 

Goosemaster

Well-known member
So true, I am in a similar situation. I have some CRP but need the income from cash rent to pay for taxes and other bills. I also kind of use the analogy, if you own a body shop do you charge people to fix the cars? Of course, that’s your livelihood…. Seems pretty simple.
That analogy does not apply to pheasant hunting.You are wrong.
 

benelli-banger

Well-known member
There’s an area on my best buddy’s farm with no light pollution whatsoever…amazing!!! We pay him a modest fee per session to look at his stars, etc…so worth it!! Sunset’s too…he didn’t put up a silo there so we could see them…again, worth every penny!!! ☀️🌈🤪
 
It is awesome, maybe I was raised different but I feel a greater sense of accomplishment hunting wild birds on public land. It’s not that hard with a good dog and a pair of good boots.
I've never had the opportunity to pay for a hunt, I was just talking about the experience of just being there. Public is the only way I've ever hunted, so I don't know what it feels like to pay to hunt and harvest birds like that. And I'm lucky enough to have a decent pair of boots and a real good dog so I guess I'm fortunate anyway.
 

McFarmer

Well-known member
There’s an area on my best buddy’s farm with no light pollution whatsoever…amazing!!! We pay him a modest fee per session to look at his stars, etc…so worth it!! Sunset’s too…he didn’t put up a silo there so we could see them…again, worth every penny!!! ☀️🌈🤪
So now folks are paying to see stars ?

And he is your buddy ?

I think I’ve heard it all.
 

McFarmer

Well-known member
Was just extrapolating the direction things were going…but I’m ok with paying to hunt…🍺🍺
Ah, this place needs some sort of secret sarcasm sign. Maybe *** following the post. Things slip by me, but then I jumped into this at the end.

I haven’t visited for a while, click “What’s New” and see threads on pay to play and chokes. Huh.

As far as the chokes, most of mine are fixed so I can’t help much there. I just know that if you point the little end in the right direction most anything will work. I hate to see open chokes cause wounding however. Tight chokes, just be patient and wait an extra count or two on those close birds.

Pay to hunt ? Well, if you hunt public that is pay to hunt. Everyone pays and a few hunt, the management is sometimes questionable. If you have your own private, well nothing is free as anyone with property knows. If you knock on doors for good private ground for free, well good for you. But you should be thankful everyone isn’t doing it because then your secret honey holes wouldn’t be quite so secret.

Oh, and there are a butt-ton of birds in NW Iowa, this part anyway. A lot like I remember from the good old days.

Be careful with fires, don’t park in tall grass.
 

gimruis

Well-known member
But you should be thankful everyone isn’t doing it because then your secret honey holes wouldn’t be quite so secret.
That's the problem. Pretty much everyone else I know that hunts pheasants isn't actually willing to do it. They certainly could, but they don't. I don't know if they're just lazy, don't have the time, or what. Its the only way I've hunted pheasants and turkeys in the spring for 20+ years. Its really not a difficult concept either. But it requires you to get in your truck, drive around, and physically ask the landowner for permission to hunt. There is a fair amount of time I devote prior to the hunting season to do this.

I think its also better to try this off the beaten path. Its very unlikely to work in traditional pheasant strong hold areas like South Dakota or NW Iowa. There's more places to hunt pheasants than South Dakota or Iowa though.
 
Here's how I see they break down:

Dude Ranches- Deluxe packages for mostly easterners that might include a stop at the Aberdeen western wear store when they get off the plane. Wife heads to the winery tour while the hunter joins 20 other guests for the hunt. These are done on isolated food plots, often milo and are planted pen raised birds. These fields get hit up to twice a day so birds are restocked frequently. I watched two of these fields run and I think they got about 30 out of 50 based on what flew out or was running out behind them. I went back the next day to one of their fields and 20 or so birds were still around roosting in the trees. Doubtful that any planted on opener weekend will ever make it to winter and zero chance they make it to next year after running the gauntlet twice a day. They will fill in open rooms and weekday lots with cheaper rates and let you loose to clean up scratch birds. For the recreational hunter that enjoys the hotub and trap range as much as the field. But they need to pay off the lodge investment and managing large tracts of land with wild birds is not their business model.

Guided hunts- Whatever you are short on- dogs, hunting partners, experience, time or access to good ground- these local farmhands and businessmen will moonlight as guides and provide it. They have paid flat fees for access to so many places and know exactly where the birds are down to individual coveys they watched from nest to feathered out. It's too costly and time consuming to manage pen raised birds when they can get wild ones just as easy. They are looking to attract higher paying customers will high numbers of wild birds. Landowners get responsible access and someone reliable to keep an eye on their land. There are plenty of guys that start out as guide-assistants that try and break out on their own so there's no guarantee on quality except for references. They might provide housing as well and try to differentiate with nicer accommodations but that's a side gig for them.

Trespass fees- Farmers/landowners cutting out the middle man (the guides) will give you self-guided access to their land. They are looking for supplemental income off their acreage. If the birds are really down in a year they might just resort to pen raised to keep people coming back. They have the mindset of applying inputs to get the yields they desire so they have no problem with quantity over quality. It's hit and miss if you are looking for wild vs. pen raised and the lower prices reflect this.

Thanks, this is a pretty detailed breakdown of what you are probably looking at in a lot of areas. Hunting for the strictly public hunting folks in S. Dakota is getting tougher and tougher, at least it certainly looks that way to me. We say it's never been about the body count, and that's true, but you need to have some success to keep you coming back anyway.

I was there for about 10-11 days just before the first of November and I'm probably going back twice before the season closes at the end of January, but for me, going back is just as much about being there, checking on and enjoying my house there, and just being back in the country and on the prairie. Hate to say it but I may fly rather than drive for the next two trips. Flying means not taking my two labs, which I hate, but 20+ hours of driving each way is tough duty and Lord knows I've hunted enough without dogs in my life to have some success
 

PeteRevvv

Active member
If you hunt opener, you will find some of the pheasants that are first year wild birds that are as dumb and hold as bad a pen raised do for the first couple days. Both can learn wild evasion techniques in just a couple hunting encounters. They are mixed in with 2nd year birds and within a few days they are all trying to run on you and flush wild so by the end of a 5 day hunt for opening week you are challenged. The tame genetics argument is a myth. Pen raised will be wild reacting to the hunter just as fast if it has been educated and lived through it.

East River half of SD is about 30,000 sq mi and had an estimated 6 million pheasants this year for an average 200 birds/sq mi. Good ground will hold 500 per section. Yes you can drive for 30 miles through barren pasture hills and not see cover or birds. Yes, you can hunt a square mile of good cropland ground day after day taking birds and never even see 10% of what is there. If you are just seeing what is there in the walk-in, you are mis-judging the population. Come early in the season and sit and watch a combine on a good field and watch the birds pour out of the field ahead of the header like water.

The later you go in the season, the more likely the trespass fee farmer has supplemented with pen raised to keep successful hunts going on the small amount of ground he controls. They are also charging more money to make a profit while guaranteeing success so the higher the dollar amount, so that is a clue for you. You are even more likely to see pen raised if you are doing guided hunts with dogs. That takes a lot of repeat customers to pay that guide so they must guarantee birds for customers. On the other hand, if they have released birds early in the year and they have been pounded for weeks, they have smartened up like any other dumb wild pheasant on opener does. Self-guided only trespass fee operations on the lower end of the scale are far more likely to be wild flushing birds if that is what you are looking for.
 
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