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For the First-Timer: How to Plan Your South Dakota Hunt

A Successful South Dakota Pheasant Hunting Trip Starts With PlanningPlanning any hunting trip can be somewhat complicated, but putting together a trip to an unfamiliar location and working with unfamiliar land and service providers can be daunting. Here you will find the information necessary to creating a successful trip in South Dakota.

Step One: Putting it Together

First, you must determine your budget. This information will guide all other decisions. For the most economical public hunting, visit Game and Fish Websites to scout locations. For moderate to more expensive self-guided, semi-guided, or full-guided hunts, visit pheasant hunting websites, read magazines, and talk to other hunters.

Next you will need to decide what kind of requirements you and your group have. What kind of lodging do you want? Will you need meals, bird cleaning, dogs, etc? In South Dakota, the hunting opportunities are so plentiful that you can create a trip based on exactly what you need. At this point, you will need to determine the size of your group, travel dates, and the length of your stay. You will also need to consider what type of birds you will be hunting and what kind of ground you and your group feel comfortable covering.

It is typical to reserve your slot(s) with hunting operations up to 12 months in advance. Of course, there are hunting operations that are high in-demand that have reservations up to 2 years in advance. Be prepared to reserve your place with a deposit of up to 50%. If you are not booking with an operation that offers lodging, check local hotels/motels to verify availability. Just as hunting operations book quickly, lodging near popular hunting land will too.

Step Two: Packing Up

Use the weeks and months prior to your hunt to build stamina in your arms and legs by doing basic cardiovascular workouts and weight lifting. Hunting can be physically demanding and your physical fitness can be an asset on your trip. Make sure your dog is ready for the challenge as well by working on training exercises and taking frequent walks/runs. Don’t forget to take some time to work on target practice.
Make a thorough supply list and shop accordingly. If you’ll be making your own meals, create thorough grocery lists. Don’t forget to include portable, ready-made snacks for your pack. If you’ll be cleaning your own birds, you’ll also need to consider all of the supplies necessary for this task, including storage of the birds until you get home.

Some operations provide only beds, so it is important to ask if you will need to bring blankets, towels, pillows, and/or a sleeping bag. Bring plenty of orange clothing that is appropriate for warm or cold weather. Don’t forget your shells, shooting gloves and glasses, and an orange hat.
Step Three: Making it Happen

It is best to schedule in travel days, instead of traveling and hunting on the same day. Your hunt will be a better experience after you’ve rested and your drive home will be safer after a long night of rest.
Allow yourself time to familiarize yourself with the property on which you will hunt. Know the layout and spend time working with your group to talk about hunting strategy. A prepared group is much more likely to be successful.

Step Four: Start Again

Discuss with your group their desires for future hunts. When your memories are fresh, determine what to schedule for the next season. Did your lodging and hunting outfit meet your expectations? Do you want to try a different section of land? Reserve your next trip right away so you are guaranteed a spot.

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