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15
Posted on Wed, Oct. 13, 2004

Hunters and businesses prepare for start of pheasant season

Associated Press


RAPID CITY, S.D. - There will be fewer pheasants for the start of the hunting season Saturday, but the Department of Game, Fish and Parks is looking for hunter turnout similar to last year.

The pheasant population is down slightly from last year's number - the largest in 20 years - because of a cool, wet nesting season in June. The annual summer survey of pheasant broods found about a 9 percent drop from 2003, according to the GF&P.

Still, the average hunter won't notice much, if any, difference, said Tony Leif, the department's pheasant biologist.

The summer brood county varied widely by area. The Aberdeen area survey was down by 27 percent from 2003, but Winner was down only about 2 percent. Pheasant numbers were up 15 percent in the Pierre area and up 25 percent in the Mobridge area.

Last year, 85,372 out-of-staters came to South Dakota to hunt pheasants. About the same number is expected this year, according to Leif.

After several years of declining numbers of resident hunters, 2003 saw a slight upward bounce, with 78,654 residents getting licensed to shoot pheasants.

"We would like to see a few more residents coming into the field again," he said.

Connie Schramm, manager of the Buffalo Trails Motel on the west edge of Winner, said the motel has been sold out since June for the first couple of weeks of the pheasant season.

"I can't even hang anybody from the rafters," she said Tuesday.

East of the motel on Highway 18, the Out West restaurant is hiring extra cooks, waitresses and dishwashers as it braces for the coming influx of out-of-state hunters, part-owner Phyllis Qualm said.

"In the morning, you look out the windows and all you see is orange caps coming - which is good," Qualm said.

The season opens at noon Saturday. The forecast is for partly cloudy to mostly clear skies with highs in the 40s northeast to the 50s west and south.

This year, the pheasant season in most of the state will last an extra two days, through Jan. 2, 2005. Last year the season ended on Dec. 31. This year the 31st falls on a Friday.

"It didn't make much sense to close the first day of a three-day weekend," Leif said.

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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