PIERRE, S.D. – Building anticipation from August’s impressive pheasant survey will culminate at noon on Saturday, Oct. 15, when South Dakota’s main pheasant season begins.
"Pheasant season is the ‘big’ event many hunters gear up for in South Dakota," said Game, Fish and Parks Upland Game Biologist Tom Kirschenmann of Huron. "And with this year’s pheasant survey indicating pheasant numbers increased 21 percent above last year, including the highest number of pheasants surveyed per mile in the past 40 years, the stage is set for an excellent season. Hopefully, there will be good weather conditions, and hunters will remember many of the important details to have a safe, successful opener."
The details to which Kirschenmann refers includes:
License/I.D.: Hunters must possess, while hunting, a valid South Dakota hunting license and the proper form of identification, which includes a valid, state-issued driver's license, a state-issued- and expiration-dated identification card. Youth hunters under age 16 can carry their HuntSAFE card, though it is not required.
Transportation requirements: Pheasants must have either the head, fully feathered wing or a foot attached while in transportation. All other game birds must have either the head or a fully feathered wing attached. To transport another hunter’s birds, one must get a free transportation permit from a S.D. Conservation Officer, which should be organized well in advance of opening day.
Nontoxic shot is required on most public lands for pheasants, except on U.S. Forest Service National Grasslands, state School and Public Lands or on GFP leased property designated as Walk-In Areas.
Permission: Know where you are hunting and that permission is required to legally hunt on private lands.
Awareness: Know where other hunters are located and exercise caution and restraint before firing. Many of South Dakota’s reported hunting incidents occurred during pheasant hunts. Of these, most occur when the victim was covered by a shooter’s swing and shot pattern, quite often when firing at a low-flying bird.
Fluorescent Orange is not required for small game hunting, but is highly encouraged to help with viewing and identifying the location of other hunters.
Dogs brought into the state are required to have a health certificate from their local veterinarian indicating that all shots are up to date and the dog is disease-free. Also remember to carry enough extra water for your hunting companion.
Possession limit: Fifteen roosters is the state’s possession limit on pheasants, however, on opening weekend, an individual hunter can possess no more than three pheasants on Saturday and up to six on Sunday. To possess another hunters birds, one must get a free transportation permit from a S.D. Conservation Officer, and again, this should be planned well in advance of opening day.
These details and more can be found on the GFP website at www.sdgfp.info and in the 2005 SD Hunting and Trapping Handbook, which is online in pdf format.
South Dakota’s open areas and dates for hunting pheasants are:
Unit 1 will be open Oct. 15 through Jan. 1, 2006.
Unit 2, which includes the counties of Butte, Meade, Lawrence and the portion of Pennington west of the Cheyenne River, will be open Oct. 15 - 30.
Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Brown County and Renziehausen Game Production Area and Refuge in Brown/Marshall counties are open Dec. 12 - 31.
Lacreek National Wildlife Refuge in Bennett County is open from Oct. 15 through Jan. 1, 2006.
The regular season daily limit for pheasants is three roosters, with a possession limit of 15 roosters taken according to the daily limit. Shooting hours are noon (CDT) to sunset through Oct. 29, and from 10 a.m. (CST) to sunset thereafter.