Matt D

Just traveling back from SD. Been reflecting on the trip and already counting down the days to next year. Hunted north central part of the state and almost 100 percent of the corn is still standing and maybe half the flowers. The birds are using both a lot as has already been talked about. It seemed to us that bird numbers were the same to up from last year. Most birds killed in proximity to corn but also had some great hunts in cattail sloughs and shelter belts. Covered lots of miles as may not have a chance at a rooster for 2 miles and then flush 3-4 out of the next half. The dogs hunted great and no injuries other than one barb wire tangle and an inch long flesh wound. Not sure if true or not but birds seemed more jittery then normal. Number of hunters overall low and sounds like license sales off 26,000 so far for the year.

As has been mentioned a few times don’t trust the ice. Monday in the bitter cold we both broke through a slough and ended up in water to the top of our thighs. This was 15 minutes in to the hunt so back to change we went. We just got in a hurry and had we circled back 50 yards would have been fine.

Will post some pics here shortly.
Awesome pics! first trip out there at the end of october the 4 of us shot 22 for 2.5 days of hunting. ran into thin ice which made it HARD on all of us

I'll be in the Doland area for my 2nd trip in 10 days hunting private land. my first trip to this area.

Then i'll be back to Presho area a week later hunting private land again. My 8th year there. My wife and kids are the best :)
Don't want to start a new Report thread, so I will hijack this one.

Hunted 3 days of a very large chunk of South Central South Dakota. Ranging from miles south of I-90, to a few miles north of Nebraska, West of Hwy 37, East of Hwy 49. A mix of public and private land. I will stand by what I have said for years, a small group of 1-3 hunters with good dog(s), hard work, walking where others won't, some luck, good areas, good shooting, can realistically expect to get a limit on a DIY public land trip in South Dakota every day. Overall, I would say this was the best or 2nd best 3 day trip I have had to SD, and I've been taking 2 a year since 2012. Day one a group of 3 got 8 birds. Day 2 and 3, a group of 2 got 6 birds each day. Also got my first ever Sharptailed Grouse - was very cool to see a covey of those flush!

I would have a hard time saying that bird numbers are down. There were a lot of birds in the ditches and road edges. Don't overlook hunting minimum maintenance roads or gravel road ditches. Read up on the rule book for the rules and definitions of a right a way. They are not my ideal hunting, I prefer watching a dog work a large field, however sometimes you drive by one that just looks too good to pass up. Find a ditch with good cover, water source, and picked crops on each side. If you are by yourself, walk one side down, then the other back to your car. If you are with a group, you could have them drop you off and walk down to the next intersection.

Found birds in all types of cover, from short knee high grass where you could see them running in front of the dogs, to deep in the middle of thick cattail sloughs filled with standing water and muck, to the base of a single cedar tree in the middle of nowhere.

I had read about the water, but I am not sure I was fully expecting to see what I saw in some places. There were several spots I have hunted before that were completely inaccessible- whether the entire field or slough that was once walkable was now under feet of water, or there literally wasn't an open road to let you get to the piece of land. Finding some spots was like doing a maze on a piece of paper - go down this road 3 miles, water over road, back track 2 miles and take a different turn, go 4 miles, water over road, back track 3 miles and take a different turn - you get the idea. One spot turned into a 28 miles detour of a maze. But then other spots were completely fine. Don't let the water ruin your trip, just know that you potentially could add extra travel time that you weren't planning on. When you are in the middle of nowhere and the road looks questionable, just avoid it. Save yourself the pain of walking 2 miles to the nearest farmer to make him leave the field to pull you out because you were dumb.

Crops are coming out quick, obviously behind a normal year, but I also wouldn't cancel a trip because of them.

Overall, work very hard, go where others may not go or overlook, have good dogs, scout in the mornings, aside from drive time, walk non-stop from 10am - sunset, and you'll have success. Large groups - I would say otherwise. Whether we had a group of 2-3 or group of 7-10, we were probably getting about the same number of birds - there were a few spots we could have used a blocker and gotten a few. Or you could split up as a group to cover more ground and increase your chances of success. It's not easy hunting, unless you come across a good spot don't expect to be done by noon. Then again, I'm not traveling to SD to only hunt 2 hours a day, I want to hunt non stop from 10am to sunset. The hunting season and hunting days are short enough as it is, you've got to spend all day out in the field - your dogs deserve it.
Last edited:


Great pics Matt. Good commentary too. Looking forward to our trip. Leaving Saturday after Thanksgiving and headed to south central part of state.