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Trophy Bison Hunt

The hunt is a management tool to remove the oldest breeding bulls from of the herd. These bulls are typically 10+ years old. After the summer rut, these bulls leave the herd and winter by themselves or in small groups throughout the park. The bulls are Boone & Crocket eligible. Entries in the Boone & Crocket records are shown as "Custer County, SD." A typical bull will weigh about 2,000 pounds.

Hunt Length

Hunters have a maximum of three consecutive days to hunt. The season begins late November and closes mid January.

Hunts are scheduled Monday through Friday excluding holidays. Hunts begin on Mondays and Wednesdays. Hunters are alotted three days. Typically the hunt is completed in two days.

Guided Hunt

South Dakota Administrative Rule requires the hunter to be guided during this three-day hunt.

The park provides a guide, field transportation for the hunt, and field handling of the animal. The guide indicates which bulls are eligible, and approve the location that they may be shot.


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

Typical shot distance is 50-100 yards.


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)


$6,006 - Only successful applicants will be charged.


Apply online - Applications for 2017-2018 are now closed.

Applications will be available approximately one month prior to drawing deadline.


Up to three days as scheduled, November 27, 2017 to January 12, 2018, excluding holidays and weekends.


8 licenses will be available.


2 trophy bull licenses are allocated to a resident-only draw.

Any leftovers after 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: September 6, 8 a.m. CST.

Hunter Age

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

Guests / Groups

One guest may accompany the hunter. We do not allow party applications for the trophy hunt.


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


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 and 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!

animal size

Bulls will range from 1,600 pounds to 2,500 pounds, averaging 1,900 pounds.


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

Typically the bison will dress 50% from live weight to hot hanging weight. From hot hanging carcass to boneless packaged meat will be 60% of carcass.
Example: 2,000 pound live weight will dress 1,000 pounds hot hanging carcass. From 1,000 pound carcass to boneless packaged meat will be 600 pounds. These numbers are approximate, it depends on the field handling, shot placement and how much trimming must be done.


Chad Kremer or Mark Hendrix

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