The hunt is a management tool to remove the oldest breeding bulls from of the herd of Custer State Park. 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.
Both residents and nonresidents may apply. There are 8 trophy bull bison licenses available. Two of these licenses are set aside for residents only. The remaining 6 licenses are available to both residents and nonresidents.
To apply for a resident license, a person must:
- Have a domicile within South Dakota for at least 90 consecutive days immediately preceding the date of application for, purchasing, or attempting to purchase any hunting, fishing, or trapping license/permit. A domicile is a person’s established, fixed, and permanent home to which the person, whenever absent, has the present intention of returning, and
- Make no claim of residency in any other state or foreign country for any purpose, and
- Claim no resident hunting, fishing, or trapping privileges in any other state or foreign country, and
- Prior to any application for any license, transfer to SD the person’s driver’s license and motor vehicle registrations. EXCEPTION: The following persons are eligible for resident licenses:
- Any person who previously had a domicile in SD who is absent due to business of the United States or SD, or is serving in the armed forces of the US, or the spouse of an active duty military person;
- Any person who previously had a domicile in SD who is absent due to the person’s regular attendance at a post-high school institution as a fulltime student or due to the person’s regular attendance in a medical or dental residency program;
- Any person in the active military of the US or that person’s spouse who is continuously stationed in SD;
- Any person who is a patient in any war veterans’ hospital within SD;
- Any person who is an employee of the veterans’ administration or any veterans’ hospital in SD;
- Any person residing on restricted military reservations in SD;
- Any person attending regularly a post-high school institution in SD as a full-time student for 30 days or more immediately preceding the application;
- Any foreign exchange student over 16 years of age attending a public or private high school who has resided in the state for 30 days or more preceding the application;
- Any foreign exchange student who is between the ages of 12 and 16 who has completed the GFP course of instruction in the safe handling of firearms and has been issued a certificate of competency upon completion of instruction and who has resided in SD for 30 days or more preceding application for a license;
- Any person who is a minor dependent of a resident of SD.
Termination of Residency
A person (other than a person who fits into one of the previous EXCEPTIONS) is deemed to have terminated their South Dakota resident hunting, fishing, and trapping status if the person does any of the following:
- Applies for, purchases, or accepts a resident hunting, fishing, or trapping license issued by another state or foreign country;
- Registers to vote in another state or foreign country;
- Accepts a driver’s license issued by another state or foreign country; or
- Moves to any other state or foreign country and makes it the person’s domicile or makes any claim of residency for any purpose in the other state or foreign country.
- However, a person who has lawfully acquired a resident hunting, fishing, or trapping license and who leaves the state after acquiring the license to take up residency elsewhere may continue to exercise all the privileges granted by the license until the license expires if the person’s respective privileges are not revoked or suspended.
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. The meat, hide and head are all the property of the hunter. Typically, bison will dress 50% from live weight to hot hanging weight. From hot hanging carcass to boneless packaged meat will be 60% of carcass.
Social Security Number
The last four digits of your Social Security Number are required. The Social Security Number information is required from all U.S. residents before this application will be processed [SDCL 25-7A-56.2]. This information will be kept confidential. The information is required to be in compliance with state law on collection of delinquent child support payments. South Dakota law prohibits the issuance or renewal of any hunting or fishing license if an individual owes $1,000 or more in past-due child support unless the individual enters into a repayment agreement with the Dept. of Social Services for payment of the delinquent child support [SDCL 25-7A-56; 25-7A-1(28)]. There is a requirement to enter into a repayment agreement with the Dept. of Social Services even if the individual is presently making child support payments, or if child support is being withheld from wages or income. To enter into the required repayment agreement, individuals must contact:
Dept.of Social Services – Office of Child Support Enforcement,
700 Governor’s Drive - Kneip Building
Pierre SD 57501, or call 605.773.6456.
Applications must be submitted online. Successful applicants for limited licenses are selected at random by computer lottery. Applicants will be charged only if they are successful in the drawing. Unsuccessful applicants will not be charged and there will be no refund required. Payment for applications submitted online must be made with a valid credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express). Your credit card will not be charged until, and only if you are successful in the drawing. Non-payment in the form of a cancelled credit card will result in your license being withheld and the blocking of any future license purchases until the unpaid fee, along with any penalties, is paid in full.
You may submit only one application per season for the first drawing and receive no more than one license. Licenses may not be transferred to another person. Group applications are not accepted for this hunt.
- Residents and nonresidents must be 12 years old by Dec. 31 to hunt.
- Residents under age 16 must successfully complete a HuntSAFE course.
- Nonresidents under age 16 must include the certificate number from their hunter safety card, or a current or previous hunting license issued to them from any state.
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 a preference point unless they select to purchase the preference point. Seasons with a limited number of licenses have a preference point system for applicants who are unsuccessful on their first choice in the first drawing. One preference point may be purchased each year the applicant is unsuccessful. Preference points are 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. Preference points cannot be transferred to another person and are only valid for the first drawing in the applicant’s first unit-type choice. If you have any questions about your preference points, please contact the GFP Licensing Office.
Local taxidermists are available to prepare a cape for shipping or for complete service in mounting the animal. Contact them early
Hunters have a maximum of three consecutive days to hunt. Hunts are scheduled Monday through Friday excluding holidays. 3 days as scheduled Nov. 20, 2023 to Jan. 5, 2024 excluding holidays and weekends. Hunts are scheduled with Custer State Park staff after the drawing, based on draw order. South Dakota Administrative Rule requires the hunter to be accompanied by a park representative during this three-day hunt. Your park representative will provide transportation in the field and 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.
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. The area within the boundary of Custer State Park as designated by park staff is the hunting unit.
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. 8 licenses available to residents and nonresidents will be available. 2 trophy bull licenses are allocated to a resident-only online draw. Successful applicants will be contacted by Custer State Park officials to schedule the hunt the week following the draw. The fee is $6,506, only successful applicants will be charged.
Any leftovers after the first draw will be available in a second draw to all applicants.
Standard South Dakota big game regulations apply. Minimum age is 12 with hunter safety certificate.
Deadline: September 6, 8 a.m. CST. Fee: $6,506 for residents and nonresidents.