ABERDEEN, S.D.(Aberdeen American News)- The opening day of South Dakota’s 2022 traditional pheasant hunting season is Saturday. It’s practically a holiday in these parts.
There aren’t big changes for this year’s season. A year ago, a couple of state laws were massaged to allow for earlier hunting in the first couple weeks of the season and to extend the season through January. That said, we still have plenty of helpful information like where to buy licenses, how much they cost, a few tips and what entertainment options there are in our annual pheasant primer. Give it a read and familiarize yourself with what to know before you hit the fields.
Welcome to town, good luck and, most of all, enjoy the hunt!
Small game licenses that include pheasants are $33 for residents. A residential one-day small game license is $12. A resident youth small game license for hunters 12 to 17 is $5. A $10 habitat stamp is also required for hunters who are 18 and older if this is the first hunting license purchased in 2022.
Nonresident small game licenses are $121 and are good for two five-day periods. The periods can be consecutive. A nonresident youth license is $10. The habitat stamp is $25.
Combination small game and fishing licenses for residents, which can also be used for pheasants, are $55 for adults and $40 for senior citizens 65 or older.
Licenses can be purchased online. A $6 surcharge is assessed for each license. For more information, visit gfp.sd.gov/hunt-fish-license/. There are also 280 registered license dealers across South Dakota. Licenses can be purchased at the following businesses in Brown County.
- Dunham’s, 3315 Sixth Ave. S.E., Suite 300
- Ken’s SuperFair Foods, 2201 Sixth Ave. S.E.
- Kessler’s, 621 Sixth Ave. S.E.
- Runnings, 1815 Sixth Ave. S.E.
- Sodak Sport and Bait, 850 S. U.S. Highway 281.
- Walmart, 3820 Seventh Ave. S.E.
- Ken’s SuperFair Foods, 4 E. U.S. Highway 12.
Some private hunting lodges also sell licenses.
Electronic small game licenses are accepted. To use one, log in to your South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks licensing account and take a screenshot.
The pheasant season opens Saturday and runs until Jan. 31, 2023. Shooting is allowed from 10 a.m. until sunset for the entire season.
Three rooster pheasants are allowed each day, with a possession limit of 15 roosters total. It is illegal to shoot hens.
All public lands in South Dakota are open for hunting, with the following exceptions where pheasant hunting is only allowed in December and January:
- Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge (Brown County): Dec. 12, 2022 – Jan. 31, 2023
- Renziehausen Game Production Area and Game Bird Refuge (Brown and Marshall counties): Dec. 1. 2022 – Jan. 31, 2023
- Gerken Game Bird Refuge (Faulk County): Dec. 1. 2022 – Jan. 31, 2023
- White Lake Game Bird Refuge (Marshall County): Dec. 1. 2022 – Jan. 31, 2023
The state’s Turn In Poachers hotline is 1-888-683-7224. Reports can be made anonymously. Informants are eligible for rewards. Help sustain the South Dakota pheasant population for years to come.
The South Dakota GFP stopped conducting brood surveys in recent years, so it’s hard to get a good feel for numbers.
Generally speaking, though, spring and summer rains across much of the primary pheasant range have provided lush and green habitat for nesting and brood-rearing, according to the Upland Outlook, which is compiled by GFP. With those spring conditions and the mild conditions last winter, pheasant populations have traditionally responded positively.
Thousands of people are expected to visit the region coming weeks to hunt pheasants. Tourism is one of the leading industries in South Dakota, and in the northeastern part of the state, pheasant hunting is a big draw. Last year, 126,961 resident and nonresident hunters harvested 1,067,423 pheasants statewide, according to GFP information.
The five counties with the highest reported pheasant harvests were Beadle, Brown, Brule, Lyman and Tripp. In all, resident and non-resident hunters spent an estimated $246.8 million, according to GFP data.
Maps showing public access hunting areas are available on the GFP website at gfp.sd.gov/maps. Smartphone apps are also available for both Androids and iPhones. Search for “SD GFP Outdoors” in the respective stores to download the app.
Wearing bright orange in the field is not required by law. However, it is strongly recommended so hunters can be easily spotted by others.
It is illegal to hunt on private land without permission. Violators could be charged with trespassing. Hunters are allowed to shoot pheasants in most road rights of way. Right-of-way hunters must be on foot. Birds must have taken flight from within or be flying over the right of way. A pheasant shot in a right of way that lands on private land can be retrieved on foot. Hunters are not allowed to discharge firearms from vehicles.
A group of local businesses and organizations in the Aberdeen area, spearheaded by Northern South Dakota Pheasants Forever Chapter No. 77, provide financial incentives to property owners to enroll land in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Conservation Reserve Program and the GFP public walk-in program.
Land enrolled in both programs is added to public walk-in maps.