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South Dakota's nonresident pheasant season kicks off this weekend

Pheasant
Game, Fish, and Parks

Thousands of people are expected to travel to South Dakota this fall for pheasant hunting season, which opens on Oct. 15 for nonresidents.

Despite ongoing drought, local pheasant populations are expected to produce a fruitful season for hunters.

Rainfall during the spring and summer improved the condition of the tall vegetation where pheasants nest, according to the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Upland Outlook report.

“We're seeing as an increase from the past two years,” said Chris Goldade, a habitat biologist at GFP. “Considering the habitat, the weather and what we've seen, the bird populations should be very good this year.”

South Dakotans have been able to hunt since the resident season began on Oct. 8. With the full season in swing, the number of hunters will increase dramatically. In 2021, the state estimated 54,411 South Dakotans participated in the pheasant hunting season, compared to 75,606 nonresidents.

“We do have a large influx of nonresident hunters, which are equal to or sometimes more than the number of resident hunters we have,” Goldade said. “We expect more than double what we see during the resident-only season.”

There are no major rule changes this year. But Goldade said Game Fish and Parks continues to field questions about rule changes from previous years, such as the shift to a uniform 10 a.m. to sunset duration across the entire season.

The department is encouraging hunters to take safety precautions, including wearing orange clothing.

“Although not mandatory, it certainly helps in other hunters being able to see you while they're while you're out hunting,” Goldade said. “That will, in turn, reduce safety issues.”

Hunters should also be mindful of fire risk by avoiding parking in tall grass and fulling extinguishing any flames, according to Goldade.

Overall, he said, the season is expected to go well.

“We’re anticipating a full season opener, weather looks favorable,” he said “We're hoping everybody has a good hunt.

Details about licensing and rules can be found at the Game, Fish and Parks website.

Corrected: October 14, 2022 at 1:10 PM CDT
A previous version of this story identified Game Fish and Parks employee Chris Goldade as Chris Goodman.
Slater Dixon is a junior at Augustana University studying Government and Data Science. He was born in Sioux Falls and is based out of SDPB's Sioux Falls studio.