SM Link
Jump to a State Park:  | Parks Home

Non-Trophy Bison Hunt

The purpose of the non-trophy bison hunt is to remove excess cows and bulls, (primarily two year old bulls), from the herd. A guide will locate this class of animal for your selection.

Animal Age

Non-trophy bulls are typically 2 1/2 years of age. The cows will vary from 3 to 23 years old. The cows are selected on fertility.

Animal Size

Non-trophy bulls will range from 850 pounds to 1,100+ pounds, averaging about 950 pounds. The cows will range from 850 pounds to 1,200+ pounds, averaging around 1,000 pounds.

Guided Hunt

South Dakota Administrative Rule requires the hunter to be guided during this one-day hunt. Your provided guide will locate this class animal for your selection.

Field handling and transportation back to the buffalo corrals is included in your hunt. The carcass will be transferred to your vehicle. Delivery is available to a local locker for an additional fee ($50-$150)


Rifles must be at least .270 caliber and generate a minimum of 2,200-foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Typical shot distance for firearms is 50-100 yards. Archers should be proficient out to 50 yards; however, often we can get within 25 yards.


You may archery hunt. Your equipment will be required to meet restrictions. In the case of a non-lethal shot, it will be at the park official's descretion if a follow-up firearms shot is required. Cross bows are not acceptable unless you possess a disabled permit.


The meat, hide and head are all the property of the hunter.

Typically, a non-trophy bison will dress 50-55% from live weight to hot hanging carcass weight. From hot hanging weight to boneless packaged meat will be 65% of carcass. Example: 1,000 pounds live weight will dress 500 pounds hot hanging carcass. From 500 pound carcass to boneless packaged meat will be 325 pounds. These numbesr are approximate, it depends on field handling, shot placement and how much trimming must be done.

Meat quality

The 2 1/2 year old bull would be the best option due to age. The younger cows up to 4-5 years typically are still quality eating, depending how they are harvested and field handled.


Custer State Park

  • Custer State Park Resorts, 888.875.0001
  • Camping reservations can be made by calling 800.710.2267 or by visiting

Outside the park

  • Custer (15 miles from park headquarters)
  • Hill City (25 miles from park headquarters)
  • Hot Springs (35 miles from park headquarters)
  • Rapid City (30 miles from park headquarters)



Bull: $2,256
Cow: $1,756
Fee must be included with the application. Only successful applicants will be charged.

Applications and information

Apply Online

Applications are active approximately 1 month prior to the drawing deadline.


7 non-trophy bull and 2 non-trophy cow licenses are allocated to a residents-only draw.

Leftovers from the first draw will be available in a second draw to all applicants.

Successful applicants will be contacted by Custer State Park officials to schedule the hunt the week following the draw.

Deadline: November 9, 8 a.m. CST


  • January 9 - February 24, 2017
  • Bull and cow seasons will be combined.

Hunts are scheduled Monday through Friday excluding holidays.

You are allotted one day. If applying as a group of two, both hunts can be scheduled on the same day. Typically a half day (3-4 hours) is sufficient.

Hunter Age

Standard South Dakota big game regulations apply. Minimum age is 12 with hunter safety certificate.


Permits are available to both South Dakota residents and non-residents.

Guests / Groups

Group applicants (2 to a group) must both apply for the same license, bull or cow, not one of each.

One guest may accompany the hunter.


Preference points for the 2017 Non-trophy bison season cannot be purchased until mid-January 2017. Since the season is in the 2017 calendar year the preference point cannot be purchased until the 2017 calendar year.

A fee ($5 resident, $10 nonresident) is required for all preference points. Purchasing a preference point is optional. Unsuccessful first choice applicants will not receive preference unless the appropriate fee is submitted with the application.

Seasons with a limited number of licenses have a preference system for applicants who are unsuccessful on their first choice in the first drawing. One point may be purchased each year the applicant is unsuccessful. Preference is valid on first choices in the first drawing only. Purchased preference points are automatically credited to an application even if you do not apply the following year. Your preference will be available for the same season for up to five years. Preference cannot be transferred to another person and is only valid for the first drawing in the applicant's first unit-type choice. If you have any questions about your preference, please contact our Information Office. NOTE: Applicants who draw a first-choice license and subsequently refuse to take the license will lose all accumulated preference and eligibility.


Local taxidermists are available to prepare a cape for shipping or for complete service in mounting the animal. Contact them early!


Chad Kremer or Gary Brundige

Custer State Park
13329 US HWY 16A
Custer, SD 57730