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2017 pheasant brood survey results

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from SD GFP:



Pierre, S.D. -The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) has completed the annual pheasant brood survey and the results show a significant decrease in the statewide pheasants-per-mile (PPM) index from 2016. The 2017 statewide PPM index is 1.68, down from last year’s index of 3.05.

"While this news is disappointing, it is not unexpected," stated Kelly Hepler, GFP department secretary. "The difficult winter weather and subsequent drought conditions in various parts of the state will result in hunters having to work harder at trying to take home their daily limit. Even with these conditions, the pheasant hunting opportunities in South Dakota continue to be the best in the country."

From late July through mid-August, GFP surveyed 110, thirty-mile routes across the state’s pheasant range to estimate pheasant production and calculate the PPM index. The survey is not a population estimate, but rather compares the number of pheasants observed on the routes and establishes trend information. Survey routes are grouped into 13 areas, based on a local city, and the index value of each local city area is then compared to index values of the previous year and the 10-year average.

"Weather conditions and available habitat are key factors contributing to pheasant numbers. We have to remember that over 80 percent of South Dakota experienced some level of drought by mid-July. During very severe drought conditions, pheasant nesting success and chick survival can be reduced due to less cover and a reduction in insects for chicks to feed on," stated Hepler.

This year, over 8,000 new acres have been enrolled in the Walk-In Area hunting access program within the pheasant range; providing additional places to hunt. This adds to over 1 million acres of existing publicly owned and privately leased land open for public hunting in the primary pheasant range of South Dakota.

"South Dakota is a hunting destination for people across the country and the world, with more than 1 million birds harvested each year. Pheasant hunting and other outdoor recreational activities have long been a fundamental part of the South Dakota experience. We look forward to welcoming that traditional sea of blaze orange once again this October," concluded Hepler.

South Dakota’s traditional statewide pheasant hunting season opens on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, and runs through Jan. 7, 2018.

More details and Information:

2017 Public Hunting Opportunities:

2017 Pheasant Outlook:

2017 Brood Survey Report:

10 Year Brood Count Trends:


numbers don't look good at all......down 50% from last year.

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Saw my first combine of the year out tonight taking out some beans. Lots of rain throughout the state last week and more unsettled weather this next week. Looks like it's going to be a late harvest.

Havent made it out to the grasslands yet but hearing grouse numbers are low and hunting isn't great. I will still try to make it out there for a mixed bag trip.

This year will be the first time in 10 years that I will only be hunting over one gsp instead of 2. Old dog is now retired and lives a easy life inside our home sleeping all day long. My other dog hasn't even slowed down so still got one bird finding machine and we have found a few out doing our daily conditioning:IMG_1858.JPG





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Rain rain and more rain. Not going to help harvest at all. I know areas near Huron got 5" inches of rain last weekend and now I see Mitchell area got 2" over night last night.

Some areas predicted to get another 1"-2" heavy rain over night tonight yet. 

If I was a non resident I would closely consider when and where you might be hunting and push back for a later trip. Its not doom and gloom by any means but if you only get 10 days or 2 5 days I would make the most of it and wait.

I know there is some traditions and excitement for the big opener but if it were me I would make a late trip to increase odds of a better hunt. But just depends where your hunting etc.

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Been running the roads daily. Always fun to find some bonus birds but its kind of hard to find the birds in the ditches when all their hiding spots are flooded. Looks like it's gonna be a late harvest around these parts.


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I am going to have the opposite issue when me, my son, and mother/father-in-laws  head out to far northwestern North Dakota on the 14th for the week .

They are still so dry out there we are planning on staying pretty much off the 2 tracks/section line trails so that we don't set off a grass fire unintentionally via the tailpipe.  Luckily almost all of the areas we hunted last year are accessible from gravel and short walks.

The numbers there are down even more than SD.   The count numbers in the NW section of the state were down 70% from last year (both # per 100 mile and broods per 100 mile).  Hunting is going to be much tougher, I'm just hoping alot of cover didnt get hayed or cut this year, but time will tell.   Any day spent walking the fields/sloughs with the dogs and family is a thousand times better than any day at work, no matter how few birds are out there this year.

Good luck to you and the pup this year, that's a nice looking GSP!

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Great looking pooch rundrave!! Having daily walks in bird country is dynamite. Early spring before crops came up I saw lots of birds west central mn, but lately just a few. Friends of mine go out to eastern sodak to see rellies said the same thing...lots of birds early on. So as of this spring it looked promising, late season could still be a good shoot.

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SD resident opener is this weekend. Have had a good few days in a row here of sun, wind and dry weather so should help dry some things out. I did see one combine out yesterday near me on my daily run with the dog. Supposed to get more rain tomorrow but nothing significant. I am hoping to see some more harvest activity these next couple days. 

I wont be out tomorrow but plan on hunting Sunday and Monday. Don't really have a plan in place yet but I will be heading west and I think the further west I go  past hwy281 the better luck I will have with crops being out. Monday still looks a little warm to run the dogs hard but we will see. 


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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • Your point is very valid on the lack of habitat in much of southern MN as it is in much of the old zone 4 area. Each area of the state has a different "hole in the bucket". While that area lacks habitat, many other areas, including mine, have plenty of habitat, but lack high quality food to get the herd thru hard winters.
    • Leech,  I think many areas in WI have herds that have declined just as much as MN. I hunt SE of Turtle Lake, and used to see 25+ deer on opening morning before 9am on a regular basis. Now I feel good if I see a few critters the whole weekend. The many years of "T" seasons, "Herd control, and liberal antlerless tags have  dropped numbers in that area to a fraction of what they once were. It is what it is. I don't think they are doing better than MN is, but they started with a lot larger herd.  Their wolf issues will continue in the north, and CWD in the south. I don't envy their situation either.   FYI,  My land sits on the south end of the wolf range in NE Wadena county, MN. They generally do not bother my area except in the spring during calving season, although I have two of the buggers wandering around last November during rifle hunting. I usually have way more issues with coyotes and bears taking my fawns than wolves. 
    • I like sustainability as well. We party hunting and while that is a dirty word to many of the solitary hunters it's what we do. We never deplete the deer in our area and it's rare for us to fill even half our tags. Nobody gets more tags than one in our area.  I did actually make a solid proposal- habitat. But nobody took a moment to even touch that one.   I'm not sure if you are familiar with the southern part of the state but here is very little habitat outside of the southeast region. You just can't maintain the numbers to hold the numbers of deer that you need to get to where everyone who wants to harvest a deer can do so.   There was one specific post calling for an end to party hunting.   Habitat, habitat, habitat.   We should be focusing on improving habitat, bringing youth into the lifestyle and providing a positive public image to ensure future generations can enjoy hunting as well.    
    • Big Dave2, Just throwing the no party hunting out there as one possible solution. I certainly do not advocate getting rid of it. There are several other things being thrown around out there that I don't agree with as well.
    •   I would bet some cash there is a ton of lady bugs that wintered in there!
    • Well i wasn't sure if its the glue in the plywood or what. Have they been known to do tge same to a cedar or redwood built house?
    •   Op, ran off to the Sportsman show with my son before posting the map that went with my post.    Satchmo, I didn't think you were saying that Wisconsin was doing anything better.  It's just a lot of folks hold them up as a better state for Deer when there are a lot of factors our DNR has to deal with that they don't.   Good thread. Lot's of close personal feelings being shared.
    •   Improvements for you are not necessarily improvements for everyone.     Who advised you to do that? I didn't hear anyone give out that advice.     No one called you a name at all. Seems like you are being a little dramatic today especially since it is the "meat hunter" label that is really disparaging these days.     So you want changes only where it will benefit your way of hunting?
    •   Ummmmmm, I think you should read your posts and Wanderer's posts again.....      
    • Been a busy morning. Kettle if soup, venny neck roast for deer camp 2018, and Chinese chicken for supper tomorrow. Sure hope the photography passes leech approval.