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Hunters Greeted by Great Weather, Plenty of Pheasants

PIERRE, S.D.—Beautiful fall weather and a near-record ringneck population translated into a great day for hunters across South Dakota as they took to the fields for the first day of pheasant season.

In the northeast area of the state hunters enjoyed excellent weather and saw plenty of birds according to GFP Regional Game Manager Will Morlock of Watertown.

“Overall, hunters are doing well,” Morlock said. “It’s been a great opener.”

Limits varied throughout the region. Morlock reported hunters bagging an average of 1.5 birds in Deuel County but getting limits in McPherson, Edmunds, Brown and Spink counties.

Morlock reported plenty of hunting parties in Watertown Friday night, but they easily spread out on Saturday into a large area of pheasant country. “There were no big concentrations of hunters,” he said.

If there was one drawback in the region it was the muddy cornfields. “There’s lots of corn standing,” Morlock said, “and the birds are in the cornfields. It’s really muddy and no one wants to walk those cornfields.”

There were few hunting violations in the northeast region. Morlock said the most serious was a hunter cited for reckless discharge of a weapon near a building.

There was a confirmed hunting accident in Clark County. Morlock said a hunter shot at a low-flying bird and hit his blocker in the face and hands. The victim was taken to a Watertown hospital with injuries that were not life threatening.

Hunting conditions were similar in the southeast portion of the state where hunters enjoyed good weather and saw plenty of birds. Hunters in that area were also hampered by muddy conditions.

Limits were common in Beadle, Aurora and Jerauld counties according to GFP Regional Game Manager Ron Schauer of Sioux Falls. In Brookings County hunters averaged 1.5 to two birds. Further south, hunters were averaging one bird each in Yankton, Union and Clay counties. Schauer said an exception in that area was Bon Homme County where 30 hunters had been checked and they had a total of 60 birds.

“Hunter attitudes were good,” Schauer said. “They were seeing birds.” The mood of hunters was good, Schauer noted, despite the less than ideal hunting conditions. “Having a week of weather before opening day didn’t help.”

Schauer reported two hunting accidents in the region, both of them minor. One occurred near Mitchell and the other was near Iroquois. “That’s a relatively low number of accidents for opening day,” Schauer said, noting that hunters seem to be playing it safe in the fields. “They’re wearing lots of blaze orange, which we like to see.”

Reports from Game, Fish and Parks Department personnel in the field in the central portion of the state noted that hunters there averaged two birds each on opening day with some limits throughout the region.

“Overall the weather was great and most hunters were getting two to three birds,” according to GFP Regional Game Manager Andy Lindbloom of Fort Pierre. “Some of the unharvested crops made hunting a little more difficult, but there were lots of birds and plenty of opportunity.”

Two minor hunting accidents were reported in the region with most violations also minor including using lead shot on public land, trespassing and overbagging.

Hunter attitudes throughout the region were good, Lindbloom said, with hunters seeing plenty of birds.

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