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The Best Time of Year to Pheasant Hunt in South Dakota

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When is the best time of the year to hunt pheasants in South Dakota?

This question is common for both residents and nonresidents. Folks that have been hunting pheasants in the state for years - both residents and nonresidents - probably have their preferred time of year for hunting, but conditions can change with each new season.

Conditions for pheasant hunting will change each year. The hunting pressure the previous season and seasons can have an effect on the birds that carry over to the new season. Other factors like climate conditions throughout the year can have an impact on how pheasants will react early and late in the season. It’s something that can change each year.

Each year the South Dakota pheasant hunting season runs from mid to late-October and runs into the first week of January. This season schedules offers plenty of opportunity for pheasant hunters, but if you’re looking for the ideal time to get your one or two hunts in you have a choice to make.

Let’s look at some of the factors that are important for determining the best time of year to hunt pheasants in South Dakota. Hopefully this will help you make the best decision for you this year as you look to fill your limits each day out in the field.

Early Season Pheasant Hunting

Early season and opening weekend is the busiest time of the year for pheasant hunting in South Dakota. After the long off season hunters are ready to hit the field and feel the thrill once again. It’s hard to wait that long and not get excited about finally getting the opportunity to hunt right away.

Since the season opens in mid to late October it is also a great time to hit some great autumn weather in South Dakota. The average temperatures are usually very comfortable for pheasant hunting. You can wake up to temps in the 40s and walk all day with your hunting crew in temps that never really get much into the 50s or 60s. This makes it cool enough to keep you energized and not exhausted while staying warm enough to keep you from getting cold and stiff. There is nothing like feeling the cold Arctic air blowing down from the North and having it rip right through your clothes chilling you to the core of your bones. But that’s for the late season discussion.

Things are typically a little slower paced in the early season. The weather is warmer and the sun shines more hours during the day. You can take your time walking through the fields with the other hunters and the trusty hunting dogs. Early in the season you’ll have plenty of time to walk every inch of the property to make sure you get your daily limit. It’s a laid back approach to hunting. You can take time to rest and kick the dirt around with the other hunters too. You won’t be rushed to get through the day and get out. There is time to reflect and enjoy the scenery.

Late October is also a time that is relatively quiet for families. This is important because once Thanksgiving and Christmas come around things can get pretty hectic. For the hunter this means more obligations back home so if you know you’re going to be busy back home then it makes sense to hit up the pheasant hunting tracts in the early season.

The early season has many advantages for the pheasant hunters in South Dakota. If the descriptions above match your ambitions then book your hunt early because the fields are always full the first few weeks of the season.

Mid Season Pheasant Hunting

The mid season is an interesting time to hunt. This is really the time of year that falls around Thanksgiving give or take a couple weeks on each side. You have the holiday happening and there is a lot going on in the real world outside of hunting.

The weather conditions can be a wild card around this time of year in South Dakota. There are some crazy years where you might even see temps in the 60s and 70s and other years when things will get really snowy and really cold. You just never know around this time of year.

Mid season is usually the least predictable time of year. Hunters usually rush in for the opening days of the hunt and then level off even though it stays pretty steady in South Dakota all season. If you hit the right time in the mid season you might find that pressure is lower and there are still plenty of birds out there that made it through the initial surge.

However, birds will be a little wiser to what’s happening out there so it could be challenging to harvest them. If this is something you’re looking for in a hunt then it’s a good time to get out there.

Late Season Pheasant Hunting

Late season hunting has been getting some attention in recent years. It seems that anytime there is something that is too good to be true out there that people start catching on.

It seems that after years and years of early and mid season hunting that pheasant hunters are catching on to the advantages of the late season hunt. We’re talking post-Christmas for late season pheasant hunting. You’ll have just a couple weeks to fill those limits and get in the last bit of hunting action before waiting nearly 10 months for the season to come back around.

As the season wears on the farmers will start harvesting their crops. For pheasants in these areas that will pose a problem because the birds will have fewer hiding places. This is great for the hunter and smart hunters have been taking advantage for years.

If you hunt in a place where the crops are left a little longer (maybe on purpose?) then you might find yourself on some good hunting ground because those birds will move to the area where they have cover and standing fields are great places for cover and food.

The late season does offer its challenges, though. You’ll have to deal with blistering winds and frigid temps. The daylight will be sparse and you’ll need to move quickly yet carefully on your hunts. You’ll want to move fast so you can cover ground, but there is more chance for injury because the ground will be firm and slick.

The late season offers and exciting time of year to hunt. There is nothing like walking up to a bunch of birds in a field when the snow is on the ground and you can see them all fly out in a flurry of brown and green feathers. It’s a beautiful sight.

If you’re willing to withstand the weather conditions you’ll be greatly rewarded in most cases.

No matter what time of year you’re looking to pheasant hunt you should find great luck in South Dakota. It’s the best place in the world to pheasant hunt and that reputation came only from years of producing the best pheasant hunting experiences of anywhere.

If you’re looking to cash in early in the year and take things easy and really enjoy everything that comes with the entire hunt the early season is your time.

If you’re looking for a mixture of good temperatures with some changing conditions then a mid season hunt is best for you.

And if you’re looking for late season excitement with some real challenges in conditions then the late season is definitely the time to go.

Whenever you choose to hunt just be sure to have a great time. It’s about enjoying your time in the field and making memories that you can talk about on all those future hunting trips.