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02

The South Dakota pheasant hunting season has been going now for a few years and already, the reports from the field are positive. According to Al Ward, who has been hunting around Harrold, South Dakota, for the previous 14 years, the pheasant harvest has improved dramatically.

Ward hunts on Harlan and Sharon Smith’s farm in the area. The farm primarily grows soybeans, corn, wheat and sunflowers. Harlan realizes the importance of pheasants and so leaves rows of uncut corn for hunters to walk through with grass and weeds in the draws. The edges of the fields are perfect for pheasant nests and rearing of young and help the birds survive the bitterest of winters in the state.

The first thing to do when getting to the farm is to sign releases and pay the fee to hunt. On this year’s hunt, there were eight from Topeka, all of whom have hunted with the Smiths previously. For comfort, the Smiths have made available a small farm house that sleeps eight with some small luxuries including a large TV, kitchen, bathroom and washroom. It is affectionately known as the lodge.

Al stated that the hunting trip didn’t start too well. They headed off into the fields but walked in strong south winds. In the first field they shot only two pheasants. The next field was a little more productive with three birds harvested.

To look for better harvests, they headed to another farm with row crops and weedy draws. Some good shooting helped the group to bag another seven pheasants; something that Al stated did help their total a lot.

They continued to hunt in another field and were able to shoot another four pheasants on the opening day. This brought the group’s total to 16 pheasants.

The next day, despite the strong winds continuing, there were even better results with 29 pheasants shot. The day after that the results were bad. The weather had improved but it was now hot and the birds had left the draws. After only shooting six birds, the group decided to head home with their 51 birds, something that was rather impressive for 10 hours worth of hunting.

How was your opening weekend? How many pheasants did you harvest?

Let us know in the comments.


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