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Bountiful Pheasant Population Awaits South Dakota Pheasant Hunters

PIERRE, S.D.—South Dakota’s biggest hunting season is about to kick off with a pheasant population largely unchecked by the lingering effects of drought.

Brood surveys showed that this year’s pheasant population averaged just 6 percent smaller than the 2005 pheasant population that was the biggest in 40 years. “The ability of South Dakota’s pheasant population to withstand such a prolonged drought points to the importance of the Conservation Reserve Program in providing wildlife habitat,” said Game, Fish and Parks Department Secretary John Cooper. “As hunters are enjoying this bounty they should keep in mind that much of this good habitat could disappear if CRP isn’t part of the next Farm Bill.”

Another important ingredient in a successful hunt is landowners who are willing to allow hunting on their land. “As hard as we work in Game, Fish and Parks to provide more land for public access, we’ll still always be thankful for private landowners who open their land to hunting,” Cooper said, noting that hunters should always ask permission before hunting on private land.

“Once you’re in the field, make sure you have a safe hunt,” advised GFP Wildlife Division Director Doug Hansen. “Fluorescent orange clothing isn’t required for small game hunting, but it only makes sense to do all that you can to help other hunters identify you in the field.”

Hunters can also minimize the potential for accidents by keeping track of where their hunting companions are located when they’re out in the field. An unfortunate but common pheasant hunting accident involves hunters who swing on a bird and shoot without noticing other hunters in the line of fire.

Another safety feature road hunters should remember is the 660-foot safety zone that must be honored near schools, churches, occupied dwellings and livestock. “If hunters keep safety in mind and obey regulations,” Hansen said, “this should be a great hunting season for everyone.”

Some of the regulations to which Hansen refers include:

Season dates: In most of the state the season runs from Saturday, Oct. 21 through Jan. 7, 2007. The season runs from Oct. 21 to Nov. 5 in all of Butte, Meade and Lawrence counties and in that part of Pennington County west of the Cheyenne River. Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Brown County is open Dec. 11 to Dec. 31.

Shooting hours: From Oct. 21 through Oct. 28 the shooting hours are noon Central Daylight Time to sunset. For the rest of the season, shooting hours are 10 a.m. Central Standard Time to sunset.

Daily/possession limits: The daily limit is three cock pheasants. The possession limit is 15 pheasants taken according to the daily limit. An individual hunter can possess no more than three pheasants on the Saturday of opening weekend and up to six on Sunday. To possess another hunter’s birds, a free transportation permit must be obtained from an S.D. Conservation Officer. Arranging for this permit should be handled well in advance of opening day. Transportation permits are not issued as a means of allowing a person to exceed the daily/possession limits.

License/I.D.: Hunters must possess, while hunting, a valid S.D. hunting license and the proper form of identification. That I.D. may be a valid state-issued driver’s license or a state-issued and expiration-dated identification card. Hunters under the age of 16 can carry their HuntSAFE card.

Transporting birds: Pheasants and grouse must have either the head, fully feathered wing or foot attached while being transported. All other game birds must have either the head or a fully feathered wing attached.

Nontoxic shot: Most public lands in South Dakota require the use of nontoxic shot while hunting for pheasants except on U.S. Forest Service National Grasslands, areas administered by the Office of School and Public Lands or on GFP-leased property designated as Walk-In Areas.

Dogs: A hunter who brings a dog into the state must have the animal’s health certificate from their local veterinarian indicating that all shots are up to date and that the dog is disease-free. Hunters should also remember to bring along enough water for their dogs.

These details and more can be found on the GFP Web site at and in the 2006 S.D. Hunting and Trapping Handbook which is available online in PDF format.

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