REAL South Dakota 2021 review.

benelli-banger

Well-known member
We’ve shot 12 on a WPA over the past 3 days…2 of us…traveled an hour from main area…shot others on public as well…1/3 of our birds on public…not a lot of young birds, but more than I thought after the first few days.
 
I used to have two well trained black labs 20 years ago. Through work I made aquantaince with some high rollers that hunted some nice properties and I got many invites because they had no dogs and didn't want to be bothered with them. Eventually we parted ways as they liked to party a little to hard for me, and I didn't care for hunting with half drunk guys in the morning. It was funny to watch guys that had never hunted behind good dogs hunt.
Usually, for me, the only guys who have good dogs are usually half drunk in the mornin?
 

benelli-banger

Well-known member
Day 10 tomorrow..,good hunt, 4 days of pretty hot temps, one day of rain…bird every 90 minutes or so…averaged 7-8 miles per day. Reproduction was a bit better than I feared, bird #’s down overall for sure, but limits not hard to get if hunting hard. Not much pressure, frankly…
 

Sconi Hunter

New member
Got back from a 5 day hunt. Hunted ONLY public land in NE part of the state (Brown County). Bird number were WAY down. Saw less than 40 birds (hens & roosters) total while in the state. This includes scouting while driving in the truck (a.m before shooting hours) and boots on the ground. Spots we typically see good numbers of bird at had no to very few birds. Most birds we found were way off the road in the thickest cover we could find. Spoke to several hunting crews all reported the same: struggled to find birds. Spoke to a warden he said the same thing- low bird numbers and all the crews he spoke to were struggling. Still had fun but pretty disappointed in bird numbers. Planning to come back during late season hoping to find more birds once the crops are off and cold weather settles in. Safe hunting everyone.
 

Good Boy!

Active member
.... well starr off with really bad shooting, hope that improves..... two days...half a Sunday in the rain. 5flusged 3 hens, 2 roos....same on this sunny monday.5.....3/2.. one dead

Hey...... while grooming the two llewellins(not fun).... I was checking their feet and surprised not by the cockle burrs but the hardened slough mud between their pads.... can't imagine running and gunning with a bunch of cockle burrs under my armpits and next to my balls
 

Stickbow

Member
.... well starr off with really bad shooting, hope that improves..... two days...half a Sunday in the rain. 5flusged 3 hens, 2 roos....same on this sunny monday.5.....3/2.. one dead

Hey...... while grooming the two llewellins(not fun).... I was checking their feet and surprised not by the cockle burrs but the hardened slough mud between their pads.... can't imagine running and gunning with a bunch of cockle burrs under my armpits and next to my balls
I carry small battery beard trimmer and shave those out. If it’s not a ball of mud it will be something unpleasant.
 

Rude One

Member
Just got back from SD. Hunted East of the River from Pierre. To say numbers were down would be an understatement. In the past 11 years of going out this was by far the fewest birds I have seen. Areas that have always had birds had few or none. Driving around I was surprised to see very few to zero birds by shelter belts and homesteads which usually held tons of birds in the safety zones. The other hunters I talked with saw the same thing. Talking with farmers in the area he said the chicks basically died immediately from the hot temps and zero precipitation. One guy said that he even saw some chicks fall into the cracks in the ground from the drought. They were all very saddened by the state of things. I was amazed at the lack of growth in the grass. Stuff that hadn't been cut was maybe 6-8" tall. Some fields that recently greened up looked like mowed lawns. There is still quite a bit of crops in the fields but they were working at it. Once birds are forced out of those they will be concentrated into the only cover around. Overall it was still great to be in the field but to walk 9 mi on Monday and see one rooster in range is a long day. With more and more CRP coming out I hope this isn't a sign of things to come. Best of luck to those going out there. A day in the field is still better than working.
 

HS Strut

Active member
I was out there east river last week. I thought bird numbers were fine. Tough part was all our favorite public spots AND DITCHES were mowed like a city park. What this did was bunch hunters up on top of each other. We saw more hunters each day than what we've seen in about 8 trips total. As usual, had a blast. I had the opportunity to shoot a limit of roosters 2 out of 3 days. Not the best year? But glad to get the chance. Not many birds here in Indiana.
 
I was in the exact same part of the state,a little south, rooster numbers outweighed the hens for sure which I thought was awesome, didn’t kill a bunch but did I have a good time
 
Just returned from a week in SD. Been replaying the week in my head and what we could of done better. Lack of cover, low bird numbers, miles walked and the rain & wind really put a damper on the week. We covered a 50-60 mile radius from the house. Its going to be a tough year even after the remaining crops are down. There just aren't the birds or the cover from past years, actually the worst I have seen in my time. I am really concerned what the future will bring for pheasants in South Dakota. I have good dogs that have played the game for years and if there were more birds we would of had opportunities. Even the volume of hens is down which was disappointing especially for our young dogs I was hoping to give them some exposure. I am by no means giving up on the season as we are heading back out over Thanksgiving. My expections at this point couldn't be any lower in my 25+ years of hunting South Dakota. More miles to come and hoping for some more opportunities. Good luck to everyone its a tough year. Enjoy the scenery and the time away from the crazy of everyday life.......
 

Chestle

Well-known member
Just back from 10 days in the Central. Probably the worst for bird numbers in the last 15 years, in a place where birds are usually plentiful. Shooting was key as opportunities were not nearly as plentiful as previous years. We did get birds but it took a lot more hours per day to get them than usual and we did not always limit.

Some weird things my group commented upon that match up exactly with some of the previous comments here.

1. Where did all the hens go? We were seeing 3 times as many roosters as hens when we did see birds. Doesn't bode well for next year.
2. Almost all the roosters taken were birds of the year. Rare to find a bird with more than a nubbin of a spur. Some locals suspect some sort of disease. I'm not so sure about that; maybe all the longspurs were deep in the corn, dodging us as we tried to work those big patches.
3. Ditches and sloughs mowed down to the dirt. Can't blame the ranchers at all; this was about the worst drought in their history and cows have to eat all winter.
4. Early morning, sunrise to hunting time, driving around we saw almost zero birds standing around. Truly abnormal for this area. Same thing in the near sundown time frame.
5. PLENTY of predators. Yeah, I know what every state Fish/Game and Pheasants Forever say about that. Still.
6. Majority of the corn in this area was still standing. Beans were mostly harvested. Sure, they could have all been in the corn. However, they are cutting since I got back and my friends are saying they're not seeing very many as they cut. Very little other cover, so where would they go?
7. While the weather was pretty mild overall and the birds had no need to bunch up, we ran into very few groups of birds. If 3-4 pheasant got up in the same area it was a rare occurrence.

None the less, I had a great time with my friends and dogs. I took the 6 month pup and let her follow her dam around twice a day for short 30 minute hunts in short or thin cover. Short or thin cover was easy to find, lol. The pup picked up on the game pretty quickly and learned some stuff. Made her first retrieve, so that was a high point.

It was so bad, I'll probably take both dogs back before the end of January! I do so love following the Labs in pursuit of pheasant!

Best of luck to you all!
 

Elkhounds

New member
Ok my son and I spent the week of the 25 in SD. This was our 3rd year out there. Hunting was hard as many of the CREP fields we have hunted in the past were mowed. We get that.

Overall we had a GREAT time. Didn't see the numbers we had in the past but that is not all it was about. We do like to put up and then down birds. We cycle his 3 Springers and I would say we kicked up maybe 30 roosters in 5 days. Not all were able to be shot at but we did get 13. Also kicked up more hens than roosters.

We will be back next year and hope to continue. Good years and bad years (bird number wise) are all part of this. In reality I have never had a "bad" year hunting birds. Not much else I would rather be doing than watching those dogs run the fields.
 

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hyresmack

Active member
I think birds are down some maybe but not as bad as lots of you think, you just need to know how to find them. Just cause habitats not like it was last year doesn't mean they're not around. Drought didn't just kill all them birds. You gotta hunt them different
 

UplandHntr

Well-known member
fwiw I was out the the 25th-29th and did not see a combine rolling. Not one. Plenty of corn still standing and beans here and there as well.
 

benelli-banger

Well-known member
I think birds are down some maybe but not as bad as lots of you think, you just need to know how to find them. Just cause habitats not like it was last year doesn't mean they're not around. Drought didn't just kill all them birds. You gotta hunt them different
I’m hunting the same area now for 29 years; in addition to owning 160 acres of habitat, I hunt a lot of other private land, and some public as well. Clearly some years are better than others, and the differences in #’s manifest in very obvious ways…most notably while hunting, especially when the corn is down. Not rocket science, only so many places they can be. Having said that, did shoot a quick limit late day yesterday, in a small food plot, but seeing 15-20 birds late day on my ground is essentially none compared to even just a few years ago. Enjoyable for sure, but bird #’s move, and sometimes greatly, in response to lots of factors—habitat changes and weather being just a few. Trust me, chicks eat insects exclusively for their first few weeks, and if the insects aren’t there, chicks die, and there’s no renesting if even one chick hatched to begin with. We had a mild winter with modest mortality, which is great, but very poor reproduction as a whole. A motivated hunter with a good dog or two who can walk and understands the basics can kill 3 birds most days, even when #’s are down. Look at UGUIDE’S weekly
harvest #’s camp by camp…very telling and insightful. Anyway, there are birds, some areas more than others, but bird #’s fluctuate…big-time in some cases.
 
Just got back from our 10 days starting with the opener
We had a new crew that frankly shot lousy but we put up a lot of birds in bunches, I was down to one pair of good dogs and a couple of new dogs with limited field time. last year we scored a lot on fewer birds, this year with the crops being up we saw more but scored less. Waterfowl was not as strong as last year as there was more water and they were spread out but we shot a lot of speckled bellies, I think 10-12 for our group with only a few decoys. Most of our hunting was on private land for both upland and waterfowl and with the crops up it was much harder to get at them. overall a good year with our take being down a bit
 
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