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Standing corn and cool, wet weather made it a bit more difficult for hunters in Marshall County when the pheasant season opened on Saturday.

"On opening day hunters were averaging about a bird for every two guys, and the second day a little less," said Aaron Kahre, county conservation officer. "The weather had a pretty big impact. It was cloudy and cool and not real good pheasant hunting weather."

That weather was in stark contrast to the season opener a year ago when temperatures were in the mid-80's.

Kahre wasn't surprised that hunters struggled a bit to bag birds last weekend.

"Considering the amount of corn in the fields yet, the opening weekend was about what I expected. I think it will get better once the corn gets harvested."

State-wide estimates indicated that this year's pheasant population had declined nine percent over a year ago but it still ranked as the second highest count since 1963. Kahre said he counted almost identical numbers of pheasants on route surveys in the county this summer as in 2003.

"Guys may have done a little better in the Kidder area, but it was pretty much the same throughout the county," noted Kahre. "And I think we had more hunters than we've ever had. Last year I worked in McPherson County on opening weekend, and I think we had just as many hunters here this year."

State officials estimated that hunters in eastern South Dakota averaged about one bird per hunter. In central South Dakota hunters did a bit better with a two-bird per hunter average.

Jeff Olson of Charlie's Resort on Cottonwood Lake said hunting was on the difficult side in his area as well.

"The weather was not really in the hunter's favor, and they found it a little tough going in our area," said Olson. "There's a lot of corn out there yet, and things should improve once the corn is off and we get the pheasants moved into CRP a little more."

Olson said he had spoken with a group that limited out in the central part of the state near the river.

"A few guys did okay and got their limit," noted Jim Polkinghorn of Clear Lake Lodge. "But it was pretty tough. The pheasants were staying in the corn and staying pretty close as cool as it was."

Hunters did wake up Sunday morning to a bit of snow on the ground in some areas. The white stuff melted during the morning, but the day remained breezy and cool after a fairly moderate opening day on Saturday.

Hunters may bag three rooster pheasants daily with a possession limit of 15. Shooting hours are from noon to sunset through Oct. 30. When daylight savings time changes back to standard time on Oct. 31 hunters may begin shooting at 10 a.m.

©Marshall County Journal 2004

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