The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks’ annual pheasant brood count shows bird numbers declined significantly for the Pierre, Mobridge, Huron, Mitchell and Brookings areas.
The declines in Pheasants Per Mile were:
- Pierre area from 3.7 to 2.9
- Mobridge from 2.7 to 1.4
- Chamberlain from 5.3 to 4.8
- Winner from 2.7 to 2.4
- Huron from 3.6 to 2.5
- Mitchell from 4.3 to 2.7
- Brookings from 1.6 to 1.1
The statewide PPM index decreased 17% (2.47 to 2.04) compared to 2018 and this year’s index is 43% lower than the 10-year average (2019 = 2.04, 10-year average = 3.58).
The number of roosters increased 2% from last year (813 vs. 798), but the number of hens decreased 21% (955 vs. 1,216). Total broods counted decreased by 21% (801 vs. 1,009), while the statewide average brood size increased by 3% (6.24 vs. 6.08). The statewide average brood size for 2019 (6.24) is slightly larger than the 10-year average (5.90).
The Aberdeen, Sisseton and Western SD areas increased compared to 2018, but not significantly. All other local areas declined compared to 2018. Most local areas are significantly below the 10-year average. The Yankton, Sioux Falls, Watertown, Sisseton and Western SD local areas are not significantly different from the 10-year average.
South Dakota’s 2019 traditional pheasant season runs October 19 through January 5, with a youth season from October 5-9. A resident-only season runs October 12-14.
The 2019 pheasant population index is still higher than the recent lows of 2013 and 2017 when hunters harvested an average of 900,000 roosters. Lands enrolled in CRP have steadied over the past few years with many open to public hunting. In fact, approximately 20% of the state’s CRP acreage is enrolled in the WIA program. With 1.1 million acres of public hunting land within the heart of SD’s pheasant range, great opportunities remain for freelance pheasant hunting.
Hunters should expect flooded and damaged roads in their traditional hunting areas as widespread flooding is ongoing. Hunters are asked to use discretion when traveling county and township roads as to not cause additional damage to flooded roads. The annual hunting atlas and a web-based interactive map of public lands and private lands leased for public hunting can be found at https://gfp.sd.gov/hunting-areas/. In addition to printed and interactive maps, hunters can utilize GPS downloads and smartphone applications to locate public hunting lands throughout the state. Hunters are again asked to hunt safely and ethically, respect private landowners and those public hunting areas scattered across the state, and enjoy the South Dakota tradition of hunting pheasants with family and friends this fall.
County brood survey routes are allocated to local area analyses as follows:
- Chamberlain: Brule, Buffalo, Charles Mix (north route), Gregory (north route), Hyde, Lyman, Tripp (north route), and Aurora.
- Winner: Tripp, Gregory, Lyman (south route), Jones (south route), Mellette, and Todd.
- Pierre: Hughes, Jones, Lyman, Potter (south route), Stanley, Hand (south route only), Hyde, and Sully.
- Mobridge: Campbell, Corson, Dewey, Potter (north and central routes), and Walworth.
- Aberdeen: Brown, Marshall, Day, Edmunds, Faulk, Spink (north and central routes), and McPherson.
- Huron: Hand (north and central routes), Beadle, Jerauld, Kingsbury, Sanborn, Miner, Clark (south route only), and Spink (south and central routes).
- Mitchell: Davison, Hanson, Charles Mix (central route), Douglas, Aurora, Hutchinson (north and west routes), Jerauld, McCook, Miner, and Sanborn.
- Yankton: Yankton, Charles Mix (south route), Bon Homme, Clay, Turner/Hutchinson (west and south routes), and Union.
- Sioux Falls: Minnehaha, Turner/Hutchinson (north route), Lake, Lincoln, McCook, and Moody.
- Brookings: Brookings, Deuel (south route), and Hamlin (south and central routes), Kingsbury, Lake (north route), and Moody.
- Watertown: Codington, Clark, Deuel, Grant, and Hamlin.
- Sisseton: Grant, Day (north route), Marshall, and Roberts.
- Western SD: Bennett, Haakon, Perkins, Butte and Fall River.
See the full report at https://gfp.sd.gov/userdocs/docs/PBR_2019FINAL.pdf.