Pheasant numbers down, optimism remains up

PIERRE, S.D. ( — South Dakota’s annual pheasant count is down 17 percent compared to last year, continuing a downward trend for the state’s signature bird.

The survey report says historic winter snow and spring and summer rain had an impact.

Pheasants are also down by 17 percent in Minnesota.

South Dakota Pheasants Forever thinks the drop in birds is a case of half full, not half empty.

Matt Morlock says the terrible weather could have made it a whole lot worse.

Morlock expects the upcoming pheasant season to start slow, but pick up nicely in the later months.

The South Dakota survey seems to imply there could have been an undercount of broods this year. Many places where the survey teams routinely look were either flooded or unplanted, so, maybe, the pheasants simply were not there, but elsewhere.

South Dakota’s traditional pheasant opener is Oct. 19. Sportsmen from all over the World flood the state.