"SD IS ENJOYING INCREASED PHEASANT ABUNDANCE!" (blaze orange, all caps, large font, GFP website...)

Rogue Hunter

Active member
DNRs are always going to do some "bright sunshiny" reporting to appease the state chambers of commerce...restaurants, convenience store, motels, etc.
 

benelli-banger

Well-known member
Give me the facts, I’ll interpret them as I see fit. I will quote the article in the Mpls Star Tribune once more, who stated that that SD is doing is “gimmick”…I agree with that. I’m being hyperbolic, but this reminds me of all the ads for lotteries, casinos, etc…I know that’s a stretch, but that’s where I’m at!
 

sjohn

Member
I will offer a different feeling toward the brood surveys. Yes, I did look forward to the survey every year. It was just something to get me more excited. However, I only started to go to SD in 2006 when there were birds everywhere and in big groups. I have never since seen bird numbers like in 2006. I didn't know about the brood count back then. I just had a buddy ask me if I wanted to go and I said yes before he ended his offer. I have not gone back and looked what the brood survey numbers are from 2006 until 2019, but I think the numbers have gone down almost every year. Sometimes they would bump up a few 10ths but how can you shoot a tenth of a bird? You can't.

Although I looked forward to the survey every year, I found that they became somewhat of a downer. I was always hoping to see the 2.5 ppm grow to 6.2! Never happened. I would look at the counties with higher numbers but it wasn't in the area we had a house, contacts and or friends, so it didn't really matter. We were going to the same place regardless of what the survey indicated. We have been locked into the same area for years. The people I started going with have been going to the same area for almost 40 years now. I think about branching out to other areas and I may sometime in the future, but I can't go to SD without visiting my friends. They would be upset, so the story doesn't change. The other part of the story that doesn't change is my success. I always leave SD with my 15 birds. It didn't matter if the survey was 1.1 or 5.5. (never 5.5 but close to 1.1 a few years) And I can't say I hunted any harder when it was 1.1 compared to 5.5. And to be clear, I don't think the count was every above 2.something in the area where we go.

Don't get me wrong, I liked the survey but never used it. The survey was just there. I never even thought about going to the highest count areas in the state as it didn't matter. The areas we hunt has always provided enough opportunities. I always have to preface this with not all shooters in our group went home with their limit. It wasn't because the opportunities weren't there for the others. All of the experienced hunters on this site know there is way more to being successful in the field than just getting out there and putting in the miles.

In summary, I don't miss the surveys other than the anticipation of getting a survey with a bump in the number. However like I said, they never really went up so it was always a little bit of a let down. But once in the truck headed west, I can assure you I never once thought about the survey again. It was all in my hands to make it happen and that we always do! In a few years, we'll all only remark about the brood survey and won't get into these long debates over how useful they were and what the state should or shouldn't be doing with the money saved by not performing the survey. Good luck to all this fall.
 

benelli-banger

Well-known member
Lol there is always pockets of birds.
Sure there are. I’d prefer to have science in charge, not marketers. I’ll still hunt a lot and shoot good #’s of birds…I just don’t agree with this approach, nor does Dennis Anderson, who wrote that article, and I think he may have been a factor in the founding of Pheasants Forever…now that will create a sub-thread of criticism!!!😝 Yes, just looked it up, he wrote an article in 1983 about the sad state of affairs regarding pheasants and it led to the founding of PF…I’m glad he recognizes what a sham this recent decision is…sure, bigger things to worry or bitch about, but this bugs me. But I got good rain reports this am, and chick reports from 2 different farmers. Been chatting with an NRCS technician about rejuvenating some prairie grasses that have been getting old and sickly. This is pretty much where my free mental time is spent…👍👍
 
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benelli-banger

Well-known member
I didn’t use the survey to decide where to go either, I’ve been going to the same basic area for going on 29 years, and have had land there for 21. I just think it’s important to know what’s going on. I guarantee you the other 5 surrounding states haven’t jettisoned the studies they do on pheasants, or other game birds…maybe they should??? 🤪
 

dakotasj

Active member
Knowing the brood county survey ain't happening, I looked to see what the 2021 season forecast looked like on the GFP website...it's all good! Shaping up to be better than 2020! Blah, blah, blah...sure, I'll be there...alot...but the dumbing-down irritates me mightily. Been discussed here already, I know, but this is the time of year I normally am awaiting the report and sitting on pins and needles...

I will offer a different feeling toward the brood surveys. Yes, I did look forward to the survey every year. It was just something to get me more excited. However, I only started to go to SD in 2006 when there were birds everywhere and in big groups. I have never since seen bird numbers like in 2006. I didn't know about the brood count back then. I just had a buddy ask me if I wanted to go and I said yes before he ended his offer. I have not gone back and looked what the brood survey numbers are from 2006 until 2019, but I think the numbers have gone down almost every year. Sometimes they would bump up a few 10ths but how can you shoot a tenth of a bird? You can't.

Although I looked forward to the survey every year, I found that they became somewhat of a downer. I was always hoping to see the 2.5 ppm grow to 6.2! Never happened. I would look at the counties with higher numbers but it wasn't in the area we had a house, contacts and or friends, so it didn't really matter. We were going to the same place regardless of what the survey indicated. We have been locked into the same area for years. The people I started going with have been going to the same area for almost 40 years now. I think about branching out to other areas and I may sometime in the future, but I can't go to SD without visiting my friends. They would be upset, so the story doesn't change. The other part of the story that doesn't change is my success. I always leave SD with my 15 birds. It didn't matter if the survey was 1.1 or 5.5. (never 5.5 but close to 1.1 a few years) And I can't say I hunted any harder when it was 1.1 compared to 5.5. And to be clear, I don't think the count was every above 2.something in the area where we go.

Don't get me wrong, I liked the survey but never used it. The survey was just there. I never even thought about going to the highest count areas in the state as it didn't matter. The areas we hunt has always provided enough opportunities. I always have to preface this with not all shooters in our group went home with their limit. It wasn't because the opportunities weren't there for the others. All of the experienced hunters on this site know there is way more to being successful in the field than just getting out there and putting in the miles.

In summary, I don't miss the surveys other than the anticipation of getting a survey with a bump in the number. However like I said, they never really went up so it was always a little bit of a let down. But once in the truck headed west, I can assure you I never once thought about the survey again. It was all in my hands to make it happen and that we always do! In a few years, we'll all only remark about the brood survey and won't get into these long debates over how useful they were and what the state should or shouldn't be doing with the money saved by not performing the survey. Good luck to all this fall.
sjohn has pretty much captured my thoughts and feelings.

I think stopping the survey was a mistake that hopefully will be reversed if the backlash is anything like it seems to be, but as sjohn said it will not and has not ever made a difference in whether I go, where I go, or how many trips I make.

The survey was just one part of the excitement building toward the November trip to the same town for 25 years straight.

As sjohn said its about the people and the familiarity and for me memories of the sloughs, fields and shelter belts that we've hunted for so many years with in some cases great friends who are no longer with us, beautiful sunsets shared.

And certainly 25 years worth of memories of the best bird dog partners, 3 that rest in a special SD field that I get to revisit every year.

So my reservations are already made for the same motel and conversations are happening more frequently with my SD friends -- its all part of the "process" as the excitement builds.

Good luck to everyone. Stay safe. Be thankful that we have this wonderful opportunity to chase wild pheasants.
 

Golden Hour

Well-known member
SD has a governor who has put all of the eggs into marketing more pheasants, rather than creating more habitat, which will create more pheasants. The end goal is not to create more opportunities and experiences for hunters, the goal is to put more revenue into the treasury. Like it or not, that's the game.

And without a touch of evidence, the predator bounty has led to increased nest success. :derp:

I do cringe when I see things like the "Ringneck Outlook", but at the same time, when considering what I just mentioned, it's what has to be done. I think it's fair to say that the guys on this forum are a touch more fanatical about pursuing pheasants and all the science and marketing in the world likely isn't going to affect how many times we lace up the boots and hit the fields. I mean, the fact that we all created an account and come here to read and sometimes comment on a bird is perhaps a bit over the top. I'd make fun of someone to no end if they were on a Golden Finch forum.
 

A5 Sweet 16

Well-known member
DNRs are always going to do some "bright sunshiny" reporting to appease the state chambers of commerce...restaurants, convenience store, motels, etc.
My only real experience w/ this is SD & IA. I think they always pretty much call it as they see it. In 70 years of reporting the brood count, SD reported a decrease 38 times. Similarly, if there was a decrease in estimated pheasant harvest or adjusted preseason population, it was reported. Typically (not always), if the brood survey reported a decrease, so did the estimated harvest or preseason population that year. Same thing for increases. The problem, as I see it, was the severity of increases or decreases. While all 3 estimates may have been headed the same direction (remember, this was not always the case), many times they were by greatly different amounts. Like the brood count showed a 47% decrease, yet harvest and preseason population only decreased by 8%. This type of thing was somewhat common & in my opinion, not a good indicator of reality.

SJohn mentions 2006 and later above, so I looked at 2006-2018, the last year the GF&P posted complete data (including both a brood count & adjusted preseason population. Here are the results of graphed trend lines for those 13 years.
Preseason population (gray dotted line) went from 10,000,000 to 6,000,000, a 40% decrease.
Number of hunters (yellow dotted line) went from 180,000 to 120,000, a 33% decrease.
With fewer birds AND fewer hunters, it follows that harvest (orange dotted line) went from 2,000,000 to 1,000,000, a 50% decrease.
Meanwhile, brood count ppm (blue dotted line) went from 7.65 to 1.5, an 80% decrease, although it showed an increase in 7 of those 13 years.
It seems reasonable to me that brood count would've only decreased something around 35-45% to more closely follow the preseason number.
Instead it showed TWICE the decrease.
And the fact of the matter is that the number of birds I saw in the areas I hunt stayed roughly the same over that time.
To me, the validity of the brood count is questionable. If I'm right, I'm sure there are several variables that come into play, like changes in ditch mowing practices, changes in crop field "dirtiness", need for pheasants to be on gravel roads to get grit, etc.

pheasant stats.JPG
 
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A5 Sweet 16

Well-known member
Funny thing, that was printed before the drought was firmly in place…or in place at all!🤪. They’ve done a secret survey, but kept the good news to themselves…😝
Hey, they could've talked to a guy who saw a few pheasants when he drove back from Yankton this year on his trip to Riverboat Days. It had been cancelled last year due to Covid so he didn't make the trip, but still, he didn't see any pheasants. So...."better than last year".
 

Woollybob

Member
My apologies to those who have seen this already - I know I have shared some of this in the past regarding the utility of the survey (RIP).

The roadside survey does have inherent shortcomings: No two survey conditions (year-year) are the same, habitat on routes changing, ditch mowing, etc. These will introduce error into the survey, and that is recognized in the yearly report. The presence of error (which happens in any measure or model) does not negate its value. 'All models are wrong, but some models are useful...'

The graph below is from 50+ years of SD pre-season roadside PPM (pheasants per mile) from the road survey, and the harvest per hunter from the following season. There is a clear correlation between the survey PPM and hunter success. Similar trends with PPM and preseason population estimate, total harvest, etc.

1629750720375.png

Having said all that, the primary function of the survey is not being mentioned in the discussion here. The survey was not launched to be used as marketing material and draw hunters to the state. Its function was to build the data set to enable the wildlife science and assist in informed management decisions: See the impact of habitat changes (CRP, soil bank), weather impacts (drought, hail, flooding), and impacts from initiatives like predator bounties, ditch mowing, crop changes, etc.

There is another saying: 'If you don't measure it, you can't manage it'. South Dakota is not measuring it - that tells me how committed they are to managing it. South Dakota seems to be at war with science lately - would rather deploy resources to smoke and mirrors.

The argument from the state when GFP stopped the survey, and you can see it illustrated in A5's graph above: Their conclusion was that they were seeing less hunters because they were publishing lower bird numbers. Wow. That's like saying no one would notice I'm fat if I don't tell them my weight. The reality is that less hunters are coming because there are lower bird numbers and are experiencing first-hand lower success (and the published survey follows that reality).

So for some of us that dedicate a lot of time and effort in SD, it's frustrating to see them put their heads in the sand and focus on perception vs reality. They could have used the data and resources to support the science and take steps to increase hunter success (habitat, access, etc.). But they chose to stop measuring reality ('I'm not dieting - I'm throwing away the scale').
 

Munster927

Active member
My apologies to those who have seen this already - I know I have shared some of this in the past regarding the utility of the survey (RIP).

The roadside survey does have inherent shortcomings: No two survey conditions (year-year) are the same, habitat on routes changing, ditch mowing, etc. These will introduce error into the survey, and that is recognized in the yearly report. The presence of error (which happens in any measure or model) does not negate its value. 'All models are wrong, but some models are useful...'

The graph below is from 50+ years of SD pre-season roadside PPM (pheasants per mile) from the road survey, and the harvest per hunter from the following season. There is a clear correlation between the survey PPM and hunter success. Similar trends with PPM and preseason population estimate, total harvest, etc.

View attachment 1778

Having said all that, the primary function of the survey is not being mentioned in the discussion here. The survey was not launched to be used as marketing material and draw hunters to the state. Its function was to build the data set to enable the wildlife science and assist in informed management decisions: See the impact of habitat changes (CRP, soil bank), weather impacts (drought, hail, flooding), and impacts from initiatives like predator bounties, ditch mowing, crop changes, etc.

There is another saying: 'If you don't measure it, you can't manage it'. South Dakota is not measuring it - that tells me how committed they are to managing it. South Dakota seems to be at war with science lately - would rather deploy resources to smoke and mirrors.

The argument from the state when GFP stopped the survey, and you can see it illustrated in A5's graph above: Their conclusion was that they were seeing less hunters because they were publishing lower bird numbers. Wow. That's like saying no one would notice I'm fat if I don't tell them my weight. The reality is that less hunters are coming because there are lower bird numbers and are experiencing first-hand lower success (and the published survey follows that reality).

So for some of us that dedicate a lot of time and effort in SD, it's frustrating to see them put their heads in the sand and focus on perception vs reality. They could have used the data and resources to support the science and take steps to increase hunter success (habitat, access, etc.). But they chose to stop measuring reality ('I'm not dieting - I'm throwing away the scale').
Idk if I can like this enough. I've tooted that horn on here before when discussions turned to roadside surveys. My brash, and not fancy opinion on any roadside survey in any state is this:

I don't give a shit what the numbers say, if I want to go hunting, I'm going to go hunting. And if you skip hunting because of a survey then all you care about are birds in the bag per mile instead of smiles per mile.

But from the conservation standpoint, more data is better than less data. How can anything be decided with science in mind without data. Be it daily/possession limits, season lengths, the need for more public land, the list goes on.

My problem with SDs survey being killed is they look at the survey from a monetary loss/gain perspective and not a conservation standpoint. If SD cares only to throw sunshine and roses at us without scientific data, then I can't take them seriously in their conservation of a bird. They see a dollar bill with wings and don't want us to read bad news and not spend money.

As many have said, they don't care about what the survey says because they're going regardless. I'm in the same ball park. But there are people who won't go to SD (or hunt in general) because of what the survey says, so to kill it because of that, it boggles my mind and has opened my mind to how SD views a pheasant. Not as a bird to conserve and care about, but as something that's a great cash cow for them and let's not hurt the chances of making cash out of it.

The win win for them is this. Do the survey for scientific data but just don't publish it. I'd be perfectly fine if they said "We're doing this surveys but we're keeping it private to our biologists and fish and game personnel for the sole purpose of determining how to manage this bird. Come to SD it's great here." I'd be perfectly fine with that.
 
I'm pretty sure 99% of us are hunting SD regardless of brood, crowing, or any other reports. That's because we know some amount of birds are always there and we cherish the privilege to hunt rather freely (compared to our European friends). It's about the ribbing from a missed shot, watching the dogs do their thing, and enjoying a bourbon amongst friends at the end of the day. Growing up in Ohio, South Dakota is 'the bomb'!
 

benelli-banger

Well-known member
My apologies to those who have seen this already - I know I have shared some of this in the past regarding the utility of the survey (RIP).

The roadside survey does have inherent shortcomings: No two survey conditions (year-year) are the same, habitat on routes changing, ditch mowing, etc. These will introduce error into the survey, and that is recognized in the yearly report. The presence of error (which happens in any measure or model) does not negate its value. 'All models are wrong, but some models are useful...'

The graph below is from 50+ years of SD pre-season roadside PPM (pheasants per mile) from the road survey, and the harvest per hunter from the following season. There is a clear correlation between the survey PPM and hunter success. Similar trends with PPM and preseason population estimate, total harvest, etc.

View attachment 1778

Having said all that, the primary function of the survey is not being mentioned in the discussion here. The survey was not launched to be used as marketing material and draw hunters to the state. Its function was to build the data set to enable the wildlife science and assist in informed management decisions: See the impact of habitat changes (CRP, soil bank), weather impacts (drought, hail, flooding), and impacts from initiatives like predator bounties, ditch mowing, crop changes, etc.

There is another saying: 'If you don't measure it, you can't manage it'. South Dakota is not measuring it - that tells me how committed they are to managing it. South Dakota seems to be at war with science lately - would rather deploy resources to smoke and mirrors.

The argument from the state when GFP stopped the survey, and you can see it illustrated in A5's graph above: Their conclusion was that they were seeing less hunters because they were publishing lower bird numbers. Wow. That's like saying no one would notice I'm fat if I don't tell them my weight. The reality is that less hunters are coming because there are lower bird numbers and are experiencing first-hand lower success (and the published survey follows that reality).

So for some of us that dedicate a lot of time and effort in SD, it's frustrating to see them put their heads in the sand and focus on perception vs reality. They could have used the data and resources to support the science and take steps to increase hunter success (habitat, access, etc.). But they chose to stop measuring reality ('I'm not dieting - I'm throwing away the scale').
Terrific…thanks. Sums up my feelings very eloquently and persuasively…👍🍻
 

sjohn

Member
SD has a governor who has put all of the eggs into marketing more pheasants, rather than creating more habitat, which will create more pheasants. The end goal is not to create more opportunities and experiences for hunters, the goal is to put more revenue into the treasury. Like it or not, that's the game.

And without a touch of evidence, the predator bounty has led to increased nest success. :derp:

I do cringe when I see things like the "Ringneck Outlook", but at the same time, when considering what I just mentioned, it's what has to be done. I think it's fair to say that the guys on this forum are a touch more fanatical about pursuing pheasants and all the science and marketing in the world likely isn't going to affect how many times we lace up the boots and hit the fields. I mean, the fact that we all created an account and come here to read and sometimes comment on a bird is perhaps a bit over the top. I'd make fun of someone to no end if they were on a Golden Finch forum.
"I think it's fair to say that the guys on this forum are a touch more fanatical about pursuing pheasants and all the science and marketing in the world likely isn't going to affect how many times we lace up the boots and hit the fields. I mean, the fact that we all created an account and come here to read and sometimes comment on a bird is perhaps a bit over the top. I'd make fun of someone to no end if they were on a Golden Finch forum." Golden Hour

Golden Hour has it right. We would make fun of the Golden Finch forum. But to each his own.

I was traveling to Wisconsin to work on the Whooping Crane project several years ago and we were traveling with a "bird watcher". At one point my buddy made a slight on bird watchers and our friend, the bird watcher said, "Both of you guys are bird watchers. The entire trip you guys have been looking for turkey, ducks and deer out in the fields." He had a point. I never considered myself a bird watcher but in fact I am a bird watcher. I just concentrate on game birds!

This time of year every post has my excitement climbing. Without the PPM survey, there is nothing left that will discourage my sheer excitement and anticipation of pulling into South Dakota.
 
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