100 Years of Pheasant Hunting Tradition Celebrated During Opening Day

In 1919, pheasant hunters celebrated the first South Dakota pheasant hunting season by bagging 200 birds in two days. Nearly 100 years later, the tradition and the number of bagged roosters has grown immensely.

“Pheasant hunting, and the traditions, fellowship and opportunities that come with it are vitally important to who we are in this state,” said South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Secretary Kelly Hepler. “South Dakota pheasant openers are special and our residents and visitors realize that. It is time to create new lasting memories and enjoy one of our state’s greatest traditions. ”

Reports from the fields across the state indicate the following:

Central Region, Ross Scott, GFP regional game manager
•Average bird count:1 bird per hunter
•Most hunted area in region: Tripp, Lyman and Brule Counties. “Better bird per hunter numbers to the south. Most hunters said they were seeing more birds than last year. Lots of standing corn/crops throughout the region and wet in a few southern counties.”

Northeast Region, Nick Rossman, GFP regional game manager
•Average bird count: 1.5 birds per hunter
•Most hunted area in region: McPherson, Edmunds and Faulk Counties. “Hunters were seeing more birds than last year and standing corn was a limiting factor. Hunting will definitely get better.”

Southeast Region, Brad Baumgartner, GFP regional game manager
•Average bird count: 1-2 birds per hunter
•Most hunted area in region: Sanborn, Aurora, Davison, and Miner Counties. “The southern part of the region was very wet and had almost all the corn in the fields.”

Western Region, Trenton Haffley, GFP regional game manager
•Average bird count: .5-1 bird per hunter
•Most hunted area in region: Perkins, Bennett, Fall River. “It was busy as far as hunter numbers go.”

South Dakota’s Walk-In Area hunting access program is celebrating its 30th year, noted Secretary Hepler; adding to over 1 million acres of existing publicly owned and privately leased land open for public hunting in South Dakota’s primary pheasant range.

South Dakota’s traditional statewide pheasant hunting season began today and runs through Jan. 6, 2019. If individuals have yet to purchase their hunting license, they can do so online or at any local licensing agent. For more information, visit https://gfp.sd.gov/hunt-fish-license/.

Hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts are encouraged to take part in the tradition – not just in the field but online – by sharing their photos and videos with GFP by using #SDintheField.