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How to Find the Pheasants in South Dakota

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South Dakota is the best place in the world to pheasant hunt.


You’ll probably hear arguments for other places, but we all know that South Dakota is known for the best pheasants around. You can find places to hunt all over the state. The natural habitat of the pheasant is better than nearly every other location you could find.

Thousands of resident hunters head out each year to pheasant hunt in South Dakota. Thousands more come from all over the US and the world for their chance at some real South Dakota pheasants. It’s an annual trip for some hunters as they bring their dogs, guns and excitement each fall to bag their daily limits. It’s an exciting time of year and it’s here once again.

The task, as you already realize, is finding the pheasants once you’re out in the field. If you’re coming to South Dakota to pheasant hunt and aren’t going with a guide then you’ll want to make sure you’re filling your daily limit as best you can.

That’s the trick and there are a few keys to figuring out those smart birds. Here are some ways to find the pheasants out in South Dakota.

Finding Pheasants In South Dakota

Unlike some people think there are not pheasants in every field and every other step. There is a little more effort involved than just getting in the truck and driving to South Dakota and finding the birds. While there are plenty of birds in South Dakota each year there are still skills necessary filling your bag.

Even the best hunters in South Dakota find themselves struggling from time to time. They have to walk a little further and spend more time with their dogs to make sure that every shot opportunity is taken with care so that the table isn’t left empty at the end of the day.

Hunters have been figuring out how to hunt pheasants for generations. Everyone has a grandfather, father or maybe even grandmother that knows how to outsmart those birds.

There are family stories dating back decades of how to flush out the birds and take them with one shot. There are even stories of the family dogs over the years and how there is no dog better than Buddy who was able to sniff out the birds and sit perfectly still while the hunter walked up and got the bird jumped just in time for the shot.

Even still there remains some skill necessary for hunting birds today. Just as hunters get smarter over the years so do the pheasants. It’s impossible to know everything about pheasant hunting, but if you’re planning a trip to South Dakota you’ll need some of the basic knowledge.

Specific Locations to Hunt in South Dakota

There are good hunting locations everywhere in South Dakota. You’ll be hard pressed to find a spot where the hunting isn’t good, but there are a few locations better than others and it can change a little bit each year. If you’re heading to South Dakota for the first time and planning to hunt on your own without a guide these are the places to visit.

First, the area around Aberdeen is filled with great hunting property. You’ll be able to find a few places to hunt if you want an unguided hunt. There are options for guided hunts as well. This area is well known for producing some of the best hunting each year. Go earlier in the fall season and you’ll be able to hunt before the weather takes a turn for the worst, but if you’re up for the challenge you’ll want to come as winter sets in. This time of year can make for some great pheasant hunting too.

Second, Aberdeen is located in a northern county in South Dakota and if you follow the counties straight south you’ll hit a run of great pheasant hunting. There really isn’t a bad location in South Dakota but these counties are the best. If you follow this line all the way south you’ll run into Armour, South Dakota. There are guides here that let you hunt on your own while just using their land.

A third place to hunt is Mitchell, South Dakota. You’ve probably heard about the Corn Palace, but this place is also loaded with great pheasant hunting. You can spend an entire week here and fill your daily limit with birds. There is much to do and you’ll never get bored looking for birds.

Once you find a great place to hunt the next trick is figuring out where the birds are in the field and brush.

South Dakota Pheasant Hunting Tactics

The first tip is to stay quiet. Some hunters will tromp into a field and make a bunch of racket to kick up the birds and get things moving. This is something more seasoned hunters avoid. It’s better to walk in silently and plan your hunt more strategically.

The next part of the silent approach is to make sure the entire party is moving the birds toward the center area of the land you’re hunting. If you’ve picked a field where you or the landowner are sure there are birds then get those birds moving toward an open area in the center of the field. Walk with a good pace. It’s about being deliberate yet quiet. Get them moving on the ground until you have them surrounded.

Once you get in close the birds will flush and you’ll have your best chance to harvest them.

It’s well known that animals like edges. For deer hunters the edges of fields are great places to hunt as are edges within the woods between thick timber and some grassy areas.

The same is true for pheasants. They like the edges especially when they are making their escape from feeding areas.

When you’re in South Dakota look for edges that offer water, shade and cover. These are prime locations that are perfect for pheasants. Think of them just as you would any other animal. They need the basics to survive including food, water and protection.

Find the edges and you’ll find the birds.

You’ll often hear old seasoned hunters tell their sons and daughters to think like the animal they are pursuing. For deer hunters this means figuring out where the deer are the moment you walk out on the land. The same works for pheasants. As you make your way into a new area you should immediately start thinking about where the birds will be. Think about what makes sense for them. It might not be the easiest place for you to go and that’s why you think about the bird and not yourself.

Coming to South Dakota is likely your best chance for a successful pheasant hunt. South Dakota is known as the best place in the world to hunt pheasants.

Once you get here, though, it’s important to make sure you’re filling those bags with birds. Follow the tips above for putting yourself in the right area of the state and the right area of each piece or property and you’ll be set for success.

Best of luck on your next trip to South Dakota.