South Dakota

Flush em up

New member
So i have only hunted pheasant in MN, and have had some decent hunts and have seen agood amount of birds in my opinion. So my question is South Dakota THAT much better than MN? Will it live up to the hype if i go hunting there?
 

Dakotazeb

Well-known member
A lot depends on where and when you go, but in general SD is much better than MN. If you can gain access to some good private ground it can be fantastic. If you come out and hunt strictly public it can be hit and miss. I think the biggest factor out here in SD is hunting pressure. It's a lot more than you see in Minnesota. I would recommend coming later in the season and there will be much less pressure. If you are the type that just enjoys getting out in the field with your dog and are happy if you harvest a bird or two and have places in MN to do that I'd stay home and hunt. I live in Watertown, SD but am originally from Canby, MN. I hunt in the Canby area every year because I have an old high friend that has 3 quarters of CRP. Not always a lot of birds but I have the field to myself and if I get a bird the dog and I are happy.
 

Munster927

Active member
My thoughts of South Dakota after the hunts I've done over there generally boil down to this thought: I could have done just as good in MN. I've tried different places in SD (obviously not all of them) and am strictly a public land hunter both at home and out of state and in my experiences, SD is alot of hype for a public land hunter.

Don't get me wrong, but I have had some really great days in SD but I've had equally great days in MN.

Now maybe some of it comes down to I know my MN spots REALLY well. I know how to approach them, I know when to hunt them, and I know the little corners I find birds. I don't have that level of experience with anywhere in SD. So maybe if I became that intimate with the areas I've been to in SD, I may change my tune.

But if you do go to SD, temper your expectations based on that. Don't go and expect to have a hunt like you see on TV on some private ranch if you are a public hunter.
 

Tbear

UPH Master
If you want to hunt new places it’s a great option to try. Lots of land not a lot of big towns. Hunt during the week. Section lines, big fields, min maintenance roads one of my favorite places to hunt. Make the trip! decide for yourself.
 

hunter94

Well-known member
just bear in mind most all private land is gonna cost you some big bucks.
hunt enough public and you should see enough birds to stay interested.
 

marn

Member
I am from SD and grew up pheasant hunting. So now that I have been in MN for 20+ years going back to SD to hunt is part tradition, part going back to see family and also because I do see more birds on public land in SD than I do hunting public ground in MN. I have had great hunts in MN and will continue to hunt both. If you go to SD expect to have to work to find and shoot birds but you should have the opportunity to see birds and I expect more birds than you might in MN. Make it about the trip, the adventure, and doing something new and it will be rewarding regardless of the number of birds you bring home.
 

jackrabbit

Active member
I lived in SD 2008-2012 and MN 2013 - Present and hunt both states. For the last several years I do a few short outings a week around MN and two 3 day trips to SD, the majority all public land but there is some private. So many variables to this, but the short answer is that yes - SD is better and worth it. I also think that MN is greatly underrated... SD just has more land that is productive to holding pheasants, whether that's private or public. There's a lot of land to hunt when you start factoring in ditches as well. That said, I've had days I've gotten zero in SD and days I've limited in MN, but in general there is a reason that SD is the pheasant capital of the world and I go back 2x a year. My take on SD is that anybody who is willing to work hard, has a decent dog, hunts from 10am - sunset without wasting much time, can reasonably expect to get a 1-3 person limit on public land in SD most of the time.
 

Woollybob

Member
I love SD and make several trips out there every year and also hunt closer to home in MN. SD is a special place with a lot of memories for many people. Certainly a lot more birds in the state and generally leads to better hunting, especially if you can get onto some lower-pressure private ground.

Having said that, SD is not what is was 10-20 years ago. Much of they 'hype' you mention is based on collective memories from that period. MN still may not be as good, but it has greatly closed the gap - makes it harder and harder to justify the travel time and license cost every year.

While SD historically has ridden the coattails of federal programs to achieve good habitat, it has declined sharply as those programs dried up. MN has state-level habitat and access programs that have softened the blow of declining federal programs. It also gets a lot more help from PF due to the high number of members that reside in MN. This year, I expect to spend a lot of time in SD trying to find public land that has not been hayed or grazed due to the drought. Will not see that in MN to any real extent - lots of public ground w/ habitat intact.

SD is great to get away for a bit more of an adventure. Private ground can be much better in SD, public is marginally better and in a drought year like this a lot of the good public in SD will be down to the dirt (hayed or allowed to be grazed). But don't take my word for it, get out there and try it - form your own impressions.
 

Birddog23

Member
I hunt Western MN at least 2 times each year. I hunt South Dakota typically 3 trips each year. There really is no comparison.
If I get a bird in Western MN, I'm happy because it's generally a tough all day hunt.
I spent half of my life in South Dakota, it all depends on the year, the habitat, but generally, it's not called the pheasant capital of the world for
no reason. I will be hunting in South Dakota 3 trips again this year on private/public grounds.
Good Luck to all.

I almost went pheasant hunting in MN this past weekend, thinking the season started like it usually does. 2nd Saturday of October.
I ran into a guy at Discount Tire on Saturday morning, and got to talking with him and told him I was supposed to be out hunting pheasants but had found out the night before the season didn't start until next weekend. He said "What?", he was taking his son out pheasant hunting on Sunday, yesterday......... He thanked me for telling him it didn't start till next weekend. So, people were confused by the start date in MN.
 

Munster927

Active member
I almost went pheasant hunting in MN this past weekend, thinking the season started like it usually does. 2nd Saturday of October.
I ran into a guy at Discount Tire on Saturday morning, and got to talking with him and told him I was supposed to be out hunting pheasants but had found out the night before the season didn't start until next weekend. He said "What?", he was taking his son out pheasant hunting on Sunday, yesterday......... He thanked me for telling him it didn't start till next weekend. So, people were confused by the start date in MN.
You aren't alone with that. The hotel I have booked for pheasant season (which I book for next years opener when I walk in the door for the current years opener) called me about 2 months ago to ask if I wanted to change my date to pheasant opener. I was super confused (even started a thread on here about it).

I even went so far as to email the DNR asking why it was later this year. Apparently with how the calendar falls this year it's "late".

I wonder how many guys actually went out hunting because of it.
 

lubers

Member
I'm lucky enough to get invited to hunt on private land by a friend who grew up in South Dakota. Looking forward for Saturday and hopefully go back again in December.
 

Goosemaster

Well-known member
I lived in SD 2008-2012 and MN 2013 - Present and hunt both states. For the last several years I do a few short outings a week around MN and two 3 day trips to SD, the majority all public land but there is some private. So many variables to this, but the short answer is that yes - SD is better and worth it. I also think that MN is greatly underrated... SD just has more land that is productive to holding pheasants, whether that's private or public. There's a lot of land to hunt when you start factoring in ditches as well. That said, I've had days I've gotten zero in SD and days I've limited in MN, but in general there is a reason that SD is the pheasant capital of the world and I go back 2x a year. My take on SD is that anybody who is willing to work hard, has a decent dog, hunts from 10am - sunset without wasting much time, can reasonably expect to get a 1-3 person limit on public land in SD most of the time.
I agree with that.We had to work hard on public land, but we got some birds, and had fun.
 

Flush em up

New member
You aren't alone with that. The hotel I have booked for pheasant season (which I book for next years opener when I walk in the door for the current years opener) called me about 2 months ago to ask if I wanted to change my date to pheasant opener. I was super confused (even started a thread on here about it).

I even went so far as to email the DNR asking why it was later this year. Apparently with how the calendar falls this year it's "late".

I wonder how many guys actually went out hunting because of it.
The website said Oct. 9th for a while, but the books said the 16th. I have heard a few confused people.
 

gimruis

Active member
Apparently with how the calendar falls this year it's "late".
Fishing opener last May had a similar issue. Most years it falls on the same weekend as Mothers Day. Last May it did not. Happens every once in a while.

My opinion on the SD issue is very similar to what many have already posted. If I was to hunt there, I would go later in the season to avoid other hunters. The cost is when it comes to a non-resident license, lodging, etc is pretty steep though compared to the cost I pay to hunt as a MN resident and sleep in my own bed every night after a hunt.

What I really don't like is how they limit the number of days you can hunt. If I buy a non-resident license, I should be able to hunt the entire open season as many days as I want to. Not be limited to 5 or 10 days in consecutive fashion. For that reason I would honestly rather go hunt in Iowa as a non-resident.

Its always worth a try at least once. You may find out that you like it and you'll go again. You may also find out its over hyped and over priced and not go again.
 
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I created my profile just so I could respond to this post. I'm a longtime MN pheasant hunter who became a South Dakota resident before last season. I had a good year last year hunting mostly public, however, I heard guys say it was the best they had ever seen it in the area I hunt. I wasn't impressed (also, it's hard to believe it was better last year then in the early to mid 2000's. Recency bias maybe?).

The hunting I had was no better then MN Pheasant hunting between 2003-2009, perhaps even worse because of the pressure. Was it better than MN? Marginally. Private land definitely is better but public is a toss up. Here's the deal....there's less public land and more pressure so the public gets absolutely hammered. I disagree with everyone else who tells you to go late. You should go early. Standing crops will save some birds but once all the crops are out you have 2 weeks of decent hunting and the birds just leave the public land.

This is South Dakota....there's more habitat on private ground. The birds only tolerate so much harassment. Public land becomes a ghost town and I had days where I'd only put up a couple birds all day. In MN I've always been able to put up 12-20 birds in a day if I hit it hard and the crops are out, regardless of the bird numbers that year.

Once you get some snow the birds will push back onto public and you'll get another 10 good days on public before they get chased out again. Luckily last year this happened numerous times since it was so warm and the snow would melt, just to get another snow a few weeks later. Some of my worst hunting days were late season, especially in January. The birds just weren't on public ground.

So to answer your question. Is South Dakota public land hunting better than MN public land hunting? Early season I would say yes....and occasionally late season after a snow. Otherwise I've found MN public land hunting to be more consistent throughout the season. It's variable...if you come out at the wrong time you could easily hunt hard for three days and shoot 1 bird.
 

Munster927

Active member
100% agree. I think alot of opinions come in about SD have to do with private ground hunting, which is an entirely different game, in my opinion. Comparing SD public land to MN public land is a toss up.
 

jackrabbit

Active member
Fishing opener last May had a similar issue. Most years it falls on the same weekend as Mothers Day. Last May it did not. Happens every once in a while.

MN Fishing Opener is the Saturday that is 2 weeks before Memorial Day. Mothers Day is the 2nd Sunday of May. Most people always think it is Mother's Day weekend, which it is, unless Memorial Day is on May 30 or 31 and Mother's Day is on May 1 or 2.
 
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