Public Hunting For Ringneck Pheasants In South Dakota
So, you’re planning on going hunting for a Ringneck pheasant in South Dakota, aye? Well, there are no guarantees in life but South Dakota is considered a premier pheasant hunting location. Here are some things for you to consider:
Licensing -- Resident and nonresident small game licenses can be purchased from a license agent in towns throughout South Dakota. Gas stations, bait shops, Gander Mountain…there are lots of places to get your license from, they are usually the same place you would get a fishing license from. In South Dakota, residents need a small game license. There are either one day licenses or annual licenses to choose from. Costs vary. You have to be 12 years old or more to hunt in South Dakota. Youths between 12 and 15 years of age must provide a hunter safety card and must have a parent or guardian with them when they go for their license.
Non-residents will need to purchase a South Dakota non-residential small game license. These are valid for two five day periods and the applicant must specify when he/she will be hunting when applying for the license. The cost for an adult is $110. Non-resident youths must also be over 12 years of age, provide a hunter safety card or a previous hunting license issued to them from any other state and have a parent or guardian with them when applying.
Season Regulations: The 2010 season will be set in April, but the statewide season typically opens in the third Saturday in October and goes through January. Before the regular season starts, there is a youth pheasant season and a three day resident season, both in early October.
There are some refuges that open up for short stints. Look into Sand Lake Wildlife Refuge, Renziehausen Game Production Area and Game Bird Refuge, Gerken State Game Bird Refuge, White Lake State Game Bird Refuge and Lacreek National Wildlife Refuge. They aren’t the only ones, but they are a good start if you are looking for places to go.
Non-toxic shot for shotguns is mandatory for small game hunting in South Dakota on all State Game Production Areas, State Parks and Recreation Areas and Lakeside Use Areas, U.S. ARMY Corps of Engineers land, Bureau of Reclamation land managed by Game (Fish and Parks), Federal Waterfowl Production Areas and National Wildlife Refuges, State Water Access Areas, National Waterfowl Refuges. Hunters should also use nontoxic shot when hunting in public rights-of-way (ditches) adjacent to public lands which require nontoxic shot. Instead of lead, try using steel, bismuth-tin, tungsten- iron, tungsten polymer, tungsten matrix, tungsten-bronze, tungsten-nickel-iron, tungsten-tin-bismuth, tungsten-tin-iron-nickel (Hevi-shot).
Shooting hours are noon to sunset (Central Time) for the first two weeks and then expand to 10 a.m. to sunset (Central Time) for the rest of the season. There is a daily limit of 3 cock pheasants per day and 15 pheasants total. DO NOT get caught with more than 3 birds per day or a total of 15 birds until after the 5th day.
Dogs: A lot of pheasant hunters use dogs when they hunt for pheasants. They can really be helpful. Make sure to have a health certificate from their veterinarian indicating that all shots are up-to-date and they are free of any disease.
Transportation: When transporting pheasants, they must have a fully feathered wing, their head or a foot still attached. If you plan on transporting someone else’s pheasants, make sure that you get a transportation permit from a S.D. Conservation Officer first.
Habitat: When talking about pheasant hunting in South Dakota, habitat is usually one of the first topics of concern. This is where you will find pheasants when you go to South Dakota to hunt for them. Yes, weather can make a difference in your comfort level, and yes, it can affect the way in which you hunt, but more importantly, weather affects pheasant habitat. Habitat can be a factor in how many pheasants survive through the winter and their reproduction rate.
With that in mind, try wooded areas with dense, low to the ground shrubs and bushes or areas with cattails. More obvious sources would be Game Production Areas, Waterfowl Production areas, hayfields, winter wheat, pastures and roadside ditches. These types of habitats provide a way to not only survive during harsh winter conditions, pheasants need shelter from wind and the cold, but also provide ideal nesting cover.
Read more about public hunting in South Dakota on our pheasant hunting blog