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Land bought for pheasant hunters

Capital Journal Staff

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Officials from Pheasants Forever and S.D. Game, Fish and Parks met with Tom Withers on Monday to purchase 152 acres of pasture land from him to add to the Shane Gutenkauf Game Production Area north of Pierre. The Pierre-Fort Pierre chapter of Pheasants Forever and GF&P combined their money to purchase the property that is available for use as a public walk-in area. Those individuals attending the transfer of property included, back row left to right, Ben Bigalke, Pheasants Forever regional biologist; John Cooper, GF&P department secretary; Jeff Gutenkauf, Gary Hoscheid and Arnie Gutenkauf, all PF board members; Withers; Doug Decker, PF board member; Paul Coughlin, GF&P habitat administrator; Doug Hansen, GF&P wildlife division director; and front row, Erik and Sydney Gutenkauf. (Capital Journal photo by Chuck Clement)

Sportsmen in the Pierre area can hunt on more public acres since Pheasants Forever and the S.D. Game, Fish and Parks Department purchased additional land on Monday for the Shane Gutenkauf Game Production Area.

The hunting organization and GF&P paid about $182,500 for 152 acres located near S.D Highway 1804 about 5 miles north of Pierre. The land is located next to another 220 acres that already provided real estate for the game production area and other game management land that GF&P leases from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“Anyone will be able to utilize the land for hunting as a walk-in area,” Gary Hoscheid, a Pheasant Forever board member, said.

The Pierre-Fort Pierre chapter of Pheasants Forever provided about $82,800 and GF&P supplied the additional $99,800 for the land purchase.

Pheasants Forever, which has 26 chapters across South Dakota, holds annual fund-raisers and banquets to gather money for its projects, including land purchases for wildlife production and outdoor events for young people. Each chapter spends the money it raises for local projects. The local Pheasants Forever chapter started raising money during the late 1980s to create the Gutenkauf wildlife production area

For its part in the purchase, GF&P used money from the Federal Aid for Wildlife Restoration fund, money gathered from excise taxes paid on ammunition, firearms, reloading supplies and other firearms accessories. The state receives the federal money based on the amount of hunting licenses issued and the amount of land used for programs such as game production areas.

Tom Withers, a rural Pierre resident, the previous owner of the property, had used the land as a pasture. South Dakota GF&P manages game production areas for the benefit of all wildlife species, but the emphasis for certain species can vary from site to site.

Paul Coughlin, a GF&P habitat administrator, said as the caretaker for the property, the state agency will spend the next 12 months developing a management plan for the land. Coughlin described the pasture as unbroken prairie, and he said the GF&P department plans to let the native grasses grow, including little bluestem and green needlegrass.

State officials will administer the Gutenkauf production area for the benefit of hunters, trappers and hikers with a special emphasis on providing a habitat for pheasant, deer, geese and ducks. Coughlin said the property leased from the corps contains a wetlands with a shallow marsh.

He said that the state agency will manage the prairie with grazing, haying and controlled burns which will promote the growth of the native grasses. GF&P will also plant corn and sorghum plots as food for wildlife.

GF&P reports that South Dakota has more than 500 game production areas, consisting of more than 177,000 acres. The property taxes on the land are paid with sportsmen’s license fee money.

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