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South Dakota GFP Commission Proposes Improvements to 2021 Pheasant Season

Entered by Gary Howey

Former tournament angler, hunting and fishing guide. Inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing "Hall of Fame" in 2017. Active member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW), Past Executive Director (AGLOW). Howey has been an outdoor communicator since 1980 with his award winning syndicated "Of the Outdoors" columns appearing in magazine, newspapers, and tabloids throughout he upper Midwest and nationally.

July 22, 2020


PIERRE, S.D. – At their July meeting, the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Commission made several proposals that would provide more opportunities to hunters in upcoming hunting seasons.

The first proposal is a 10 a.m. CT start time for the resident-only pheasant season and the traditional pheasant season in 2020. Also included is an extension of the season to January 31. Currently, the pheasant season ends the first Sunday in January, which fluctuates with the calendar year.

“Season extensions like these would allow more opportunity for hunters to get into the field and enjoy South Dakota’s great outdoors,” said Tom Kirschenmann, Wildlife Division Director for GFP.

If the proposal is passed, the changes would take effect for the upcoming 2020 season.

The commission also proposed an increase to the daily bag limit next season starting December 1, 2021, which would allow hunters to harvest four (4) rooster pheasants per day from December 1 through the end of the season. The possession limit would increase from 15 to 20 rooster pheasants after Dec. 1, 2021.

The 2021 start time of this proposal was set to allow time for preserve operators in the state to prepare for an adjusted release requirement.

“Because they have a license to operate as a preserve, they start hunting earlier in the fall and continue hunting after the traditional season,” said Kirschenmann. “They are also required to release a certain number of pheasants onto the landscape each year. A higher bag limit will result in adjusted release amounts for these operations. With the impacts on businesses due to COVID-19 this year, we want to give them time to prepare.”

To keep other upland bird hunting seasons in alignment, the commission proposed to extend the prairie grouse, quail and partridge seasons to end on January 31. 

All these efforts are coming together alongside GFP’s partnership with the Department of Tourism to get more people in the field hunting pheasants in South Dakota.

“With abundant public land hunting opportunities, pheasant hunters have access to some of the greatest spots to chase birds and work their dogs here in South Dakota,” said Hepler. “We have worked hard and will continue to work hard on habitat and access. Our department continues to partner with private landowners to create and improve habitat on their farms and ranches.”

South Dakota has increased public hunting access to private land within the primary pheasant range by adding over 7,500 acres to the Walk-In Area public hunting access program. Each year, GFP provides incentives that help landowners establish over 10,000 acres of food habitat plots and 140 acres of tree and shrub plantings. In the last year, over 4,000 acres of cropland have been planted to grassland habitat through the Second Century Working Lands Habitat program. In addition, over 16,000 acres of new grassland habitat will be created by last winter’s general CRP sign up.


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