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Prairie Chicken & Grouse (Sharp-tailed AND Ruffed)

Season Dates: Sept. 20, 2014 - Jan. 4, 2015
Tentative Future Season Dates
Open Area: Statewide
Daily Limit: 3
Possession Limit: 15

Shooting Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

Prairie Grouse Wing Box Collections

Ruffed grouse are a forest bird found in limited numbers in the Black Hills of western South Dakota. They spend much of their time foraging on the ground in mixed woody areas. The birds are noted for their explosive takeoff and loud beating of their wings in flight.

Sharp-tailed grouse (Sharptails) and prairie chicken are closely related native birds, and are interspersed across the short grass prairie of central and western South Dakota.

Sharptails have a relatively short tail with two central feathers somewhat longer and darker than the outer tail feathers, accounting for its name. The plumage is mottled dark and light browns against a light background. Prairie chickens have a tail that is short, dark, and rounded.

Hunting grouse and prairie chicken is an exercise in...well, exercise. These birds are usually found in larger coveys in native grassland areas and are prone to be jumpy. Dedicated hunters may walk miles in pursuit of their quarry. A good hunting dog is a valuable companion for finding and flushing birds.

Sharptails and prairie chicken are among the most popular game bird species in the state. In 2008, 12,600 hunters harvested over 48,000 birds. The 2009 counts for both birds were the highest in the past decade.

License Requirements:

Grouse Harvest distribution map


View Larger Map

Sharp-tailed grouse and Prairie Chicken Distribution Maps

South Dakota Grouse Lek Survey Data, 1994-present

Sharp-tailed Grouse
Year
# Leks surveyed
# Males
Males/Lek
Males/Sq.Mile
1994
94
1074
11.4
1.7
1995
39
514
13.2
1.2
1996
98
1001
10.2
1.5
1997
58
631
10.9
1.2
1998
87
1045
12.0
1.4
1999
87
1095
12.6
1.5
2000
91
1010
11.1
1.2
2001
68
510
7.5
0.6
2002
82
820
10.0
1.0
2003
92
550
6.0
0.7
2004
71
509
7.2
0.8
2005
47
485
10.3
0.8
2006*
48
460
9.6
1.1
2007
54
510
9.4
1.2
2008
48
518
10.8
1.5
2009
55
671
12.2
1.8
2010
46
479
10.4
1.7
2011
38
372
9.8
1.2
2012
36
306
8.5
0.8
2013ˆ
35
276
7.9
0.8
2014
33
213
6.5
0.7
Prairie Chicken
Year
# Leks surveyed
# Males
Males/Lek
Males/Sq.Mile
1994
46
293
6.4
0.8
1995
30
206
6.9
0.6
1996
50
385
7.7
0.9
1997
33
216
6.5
0.8
1998
54
466
8.6
1.1
1999
67
568
8.5
1.3
2000
51
339
6.6
0.8
2001
48
306
6.4
0.7
2002
43
238
5.5
0.5
2003
45
252
5.6
0.6
2004
21
117
5.6
0.4
2005
33
220
6.7
0.5
2006*
26
182
7
0.7
2007
26
165
6.3
0.5
2008
25
177
7.1
0.7
2009
34
312
9.2
1.2
2010
29
216
7.4
1.0
2011
34
335
9.9
1.4
2012
22
204
9.3
0.5
2013ˆ
26
218
8.4
0.9
2014
23
151
6.7
0.8

* reduced number of traditional routes
ˆ Stanley route not completed

other information

Hunting Regulations: A summary of the rules and regulations that guide your hunt.

Public Hunting Areas: We offer over 1 million acres of Walk-In Areas (private land leased for public hunting) to supplement our many other public hunting opportunities. Not only can you access these maps, but we offer options to personalize maps to meet your needs and even download map information to your GPS unit.

Hunter Harvest Survey Reports: A scientific sampling of hunters is taken after many hunting seasons. The information you provide is not only valuable to our biologists, but is good background information for you on the past year.