The Outdoors are Open and so is Pheasant Season

October 21, 2020

PIERRE, S.D. – Last weekend, the traditional South Dakota pheasant hunting season opener welcomed over 13,000 nonresident licensed hunters and nearly 7,000 resident licensed hunters to the fields.

“We have heard reports from across the state that individuals and families from South Dakota and many other states were here enjoying cooler fall weather and chasing those roosters,” said Kelly Hepler, Secretary of South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks. “It’s incredible to know that this tradition is alive and well. We love to see people taking advantage of this historic outdoor opportunity safely while sharing it with others to ensure the next generation is able to carry on our state’s outdoor legacy.”

Reports from the field were positive, indicating higher bird populations than previous years. However, it was the South Dakota hospitality that took center stage, with hotels filling up as the opener approached.

“Hotels and lodges saw bookings increase in the last few weeks,” said Karen Kern, executive director at South Dakota Missouri River Tourism. “Guests were so happy to be back in South Dakota again – they love the wide open spaces and fresh air. Tom Steinhouser with Platte Creek Lodge said the hunters love South Dakota and our great people so much that hunting is sometimes second! Having an unbelievable time with friends old and new is truly at the heart of pheasant hunting in our state."

“Pheasant hunting is all about tradition for so many families and friends who have become family,” said Casey Weismantel, executive director of the Aberdeen Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We love hearing stories of traditions and hunts that are more like family reunions. We never know what Mother Nature has in store for opening weekend, but we always know there will be thousands of families enjoying a tremendous tradition around pheasant hunting!”

Double P Ranch owner Dr. Cyrus Mahmoodi credited Governor Noem’s leadership for his operation’s successful year.

“We would like to thank Governor Kristi Noem for her leadership,” he said. “Even though we have experienced a record amount of cancellations due to the pandemic, these spots have been quickly filled with the resurgence of people interested in visiting South Dakota to hunt and fish. We are having one of our best hunting and fishing seasons in recent memory. Well done!”

With crop harvest well ahead of the 15-year average, hunters will continue to see opportunities to bag birds throughout the season, especially with the season extended to January 31 and increased public land opportunities.

“South Dakota has 1.1 million acres of public hunting land within the heart of South Dakota’s pheasant range,” said Secretary Hepler. “These are great opportunities for public access to pheasant hunting.”

The Walk-in Area program, which is private ground leased by GFP for public hunting opportunities, added 35,102 new acres in 2019. So far in 2020, over 8,000 new acres have been added.

“We have a lot to look forward to for the remainder of the pheasant season,” said Hepler. “Without a doubt, South Dakota is the best place in the nation to hunt pheasants.”


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