The sage-grouse is the largest of all North American grouse, and often referred to as sage-hen, sage-chicken, or sage-cock. Both the male and female sage-grouse have a grayish-brown appearance, narrow pointed tail feathers and feathering to the toes. Female grouse are more cryptic in coloration and adult males are distinguished by a dark throat surrounded by a V-shaped patch of white feathers on the neck. During courtship display activities, males extend two skin sacs of a yellow-green coloration found near the throat and possess pronounced yellow eyecombs.
Declines in sage-grouse abundance and distribution in South Dakota are consistent with range-wide trends. Sage-grouse once inhabited the western third of the state outside of the Black Hills, but now primarily inhabit only portions of Butte and Harding counties. A restricted hunting season is available for sage-grouse only when biological survey data meet identified thresholds.
Season is closed.The sage-grouse hunting season recommendation is based on annual population status as determined by spring lek counts. A harvest strategy is included in the Sage-grouse management plan for South Dakota 2014-2018. A season is recommended if the total count of males is ≥ 250 on all leks or ≥ 150 males on priority leks. Priority leks are a subset of leks which are a priority to survey on an annual basis. All active leks are surveyed annually when staff time allows. During the most recent hunting season in 2016, the two-day season allowed 40 resident hunting permits with a limit of one sage grouse per hunter. Permits were available through a drawing system. For more information about sage-grouse visit the Sage Grouse Initiative web site.