Walk in Areas

Rude One

Member
Just got back from hunting 4 days east of Pierre and I am amazed at the crap they allow to be put into the WIA program. Most of the fields were cut wheat or Beans. You would see an entire section of nothing. Great news is it was free to hunt! There was also two fields I saw that were WIA that had cut corn and cattle in them. How can that be considered a WIA if they are running cattle on them. It is depressing to know our money goes to these programs and they just dish it out to farmers that know their land is basically unhuntable. Is it that hard to have some accountability to these guys to have at least some cover on a field if you are going to get paid to put it into WIA. The cattle thing was the one that really irked me. Am I free to then go shoot by the cows???

Between the habitat stamp thing and the WIA thing I am getting soured on how SD is handling the hunting access. I talked to a farmer and he agreed that his fellow farmers were putting land into the WIA that they knew would never get touched. He said the old trick was not to enroll it until late so it wouldn't make it onto the maps and then nobody would know it was a WIA. I think that has been fixed. I am not anti-farmer more mad that the state runs these programs so poorly.

Are you guys seeing similar in other parts of the state?
 

Woollybob

Active member
Welcome to South Dakota: 'We have millions of acres open to public hunting...' [Missing detail: Only a small percentage is worth getting out of the truck]. But hey, the new ads on TV look great.

Once you get seasoned, you can pretty well tell from the maps and aerial photos which fields are worth even driving by. Step 1, cross off school ground. Then look at big multi-section WIAs that have no roads - likely high and dry grazing - cross that off. WPAs in high country - mostly broam and lakes. WIAs in the flat country are often pure cropland, but in some cases you can find some harvested crops with ditches or sloughs mixed in. The small percentage that is left you mark on the map and go scouting while the dogs rest between fields.

It's not like Minnesota where you can pick any public area on the map and pretty well be assured it has huntable cover. You need to burn fuel and rubber in SD as much as boot leather if you want to fill your freezer off of public land.
 

cheesy

Well-known member
How much can be used for hunting something besides pheasants? Deer? Coyotes? Feed fields for waterfowl? How much was part of the lease with the farmer just to round out a property, i.e. there was a portion of the ground with good habitat, instead of making a funny shaped map that is a pain to draw and mark with signage, just put the whole quarter/section into it?

I don't know any of that info, just spitballing ideas as to why something may be different than it seems.
 

Rude One

Member
How much can be used for hunting something besides pheasants? Deer? Coyotes? Feed fields for waterfowl? How much was part of the lease with the farmer just to round out a property, i.e. there was a portion of the ground with good habitat, instead of making a funny shaped map that is a pain to draw and mark with signage, just put the whole quarter/section into it?

I don't know any of that info, just spitballing ideas as to why something may be different than it seems.
I thought the same thing. My first thought was waterfowl. but unless you are close to the Missouri there aren't many ducks. There really isn't any water around the areas I am talking about. Deer and Coyotes aren't going to hang out in a sea of nothingness. The ones I was looking at were entire square sections of nothing. Its kind of like the school lands that are so grazed down you only see dirt. I feel like if you are going to advertise these huge amounts of huntable acreage there should be something you can actual hunt. These spots were just sad to look at. I do like the idea of taking home some beef though.

This isn't my first time out and know it is the same year after year but dang it was depressing to see it. Whoolybob it sounds like we have the same idea on these areas. Try to find the small spot that might actually hold something with decent crops around and move onto the next spot.
 

Woollybob

Active member
WIAs were originally created for big game hunting West of the MO river, but later expanded East for Pheasant hunting. The OP and my comments were centered on the latter - WIAs East River (supposedly) created for pheasant hunting. The WIA survey showed that 80% of WIA users chase pheasant.

I think the biggest rub is that much of what is advertised as pheasant hunting land is far from it - used to inflate numbers and make a map look ripe with opportunities. And landowners are being paid with public money without providing public benefit, like the full square of beans or grass grazed down to the dirt. I would love to see rules that require hunters to register how many animals were shot on a piece and the owners get paid on results vs per acre - put some incentives to improving habitat or at least avoid paying out on ground that is not huntable.

This is a decent read if you have the time. A lot of the comments in the survey echo my sentiments and others that have weighed in on the topic: https://gfp.sd.gov/userdocs/docs/2015_hunter_evaluation_of_wia_survey_final_report.pdf
 

BRITTMAN

Well-known member
I know of a few places that were once CRP and are now cropland. The state keeps the land enrolled as WIA.

If there are no sloughs, tree belts, or other sources of cover AND it is not in a normal waterfowl field feeding area ... it should be removed.
 
I have visited with officials from South Dakota and they told me that if you have a field of cut crops you’re not going to get much for a WIA. They told me at the time $5 an acre. If I remember correctly they pay anywhere from $5-$15 an acre for WIA. When you think about it a quarter field that’s $800-$2,400 depending on what it has to offer based on habitat.
 

gimruis

Well-known member
I think the biggest rub is that much of what is advertised as pheasant hunting land is far from it - used to inflate numbers and make a map look ripe with opportunities. And landowners are being paid with public money without providing public benefit, like the full square of beans or grass grazed down to the dirt.
Ya that's completely bush league. Landowners are really skirting the line in those cases. I'd be pretty upset if I saw something like that labeled as such. Guess it doesn't really surprise me given that the state of SD completely quit doing roadside counts too.

The cows do interest me though lol. Pick off a nice corn fed steer and make off like a bandit.
 

cheesy

Well-known member
Landowners are really skirting the line in those cases.
My view, it has nothing to do with landowners skirting the line. If I owned a section of bean ground, ditch to ditch, not a waterway on it, and the state comes up and offers me $5/acre to enroll it, why wouldn't I? It'll never get touched by a hunter and I just made $3,000.

That is a state/leasing agent issue on choosing a poor spot to enroll.
 

Madislander

New member
Back to the question....assuming that you might be presented with shot opportunity on WIA with cows on it can you take the shot without being 660' away from livestock? My gut says yes it's legal, ethics say otherwise.
 

Woollybob

Active member
Back to the question....assuming that you might be presented with shot opportunity on WIA with cows on it can you take the shot without being 660' away from livestock? My gut says yes it's legal, ethics say otherwise.
I've wondered that as well. Same with school ground. Since I know of no explicit exception, I would assume the 660' rule still applies.

But in practice when I see cows on a WIA I just cuss a little and move on.
 

SDroosty

New member
It's getting worse all the time. In SE SD its averaging out to be about 4/10 WIA are huntable. The rest have been either totally rolled up, full section of crop ground with nothing else, or have been or currently being grazed. Obviously then congregates everyone to a limited number of pieces that get pounded. With the corn out early this year and limited cover, hunting has been fairly good but wonder how sustainable it will be as we move into mid/late season.
 
What I think is it’s time too stop whining and be thankful that you have any of these places to go and hunt on you could be living in Russia with nothing
 

LRK2022

New member
Just got back from hunting 4 days east of Pierre and I am amazed at the crap they allow to be put into the WIA program. Most of the fields were cut wheat or Beans. You would see an entire section of nothing. Great news is it was free to hunt! There was also two fields I saw that were WIA that had cut corn and cattle in them. How can that be considered a WIA if they are running cattle on them. It is depressing to know our money goes to these programs and they just dish it out to farmers that know their land is basically unhuntable. Is it that hard to have some accountability to these guys to have at least some cover on a field if you are going to get paid to put it into WIA. The cattle thing was the one that really irked me. Am I free to then go shoot by the cows???

Between the habitat stamp thing and the WIA thing I am getting soured on how SD is handling the hunting access. I talked to a farmer and he agreed that his fellow farmers were putting land into the WIA that they knew would never get touched. He said the old trick was not to enroll it until late so it wouldn't make it onto the maps and then nobody would know it was a WIA. I think that has been fixed. I am not anti-farmer more mad that the state runs these programs so poorly.

Are you guys seeing similar in other parts of the state?
I just returned from 4 days of hunting public lands in the Mitchell area. It was my first time hunting SD so it's hard to gauge what is "good" but the WIA and CRP lands we hunted had grass anywhere from waist to chest high. We did have some transition zones where the field was cut by a treeline or two. The birds we found were mostly in and around the trees. We saw our share of birds but most flushed out of gun range. We took a few birds but let's just say it won't be on any SD hunting commercials. That said, I think it's worth returning next year for another hunt.
 
Top