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jwhawkridge

Looking for guide service recommendation

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Hey all - I'm starting to plan for a SD pheasant hunting trip this fall and I'm not exactly finding what I'm looking for online. I was hoping I might get some recommendations from FM'ers - I'm going later in the season, so don't worry I wont be shooting ALL the birds.

I'm looking at heading to Gettysburg - Potter County - and splitting the four days we're out there between public land and private (possibly guided) land. Right now I have two dogs that are more than willing to kick up birds and I want to get them some real action before they get any older (the almost 7 year old is starting to slow already) - went out there last year and didn't do too well on public land around Mitchell. I'm looking at some of the prices and some of the policies a lot of the ranches/guides have and I'm not liking what I'm seeing. Now, I'm not looking for your guys' hot spots or dropping a lot of money and I really don't want a guide to stand me 10 feet from a bird have his dog flush it - I want to get on decent numbers of birds (which probably means getting on private land) and do it myself. Any help would be appreciated - you can email me at j w hawkridge @ gmail . com (no spaces).

Thanks all!

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I would say skip the guides and save your money. You don't need to pay money to shoot pheasants in SD.

I can understand your frustration with the lack of results last year, I can express the same. But last year was just a weird year to begin with. There were a number of variables that played into that.

After this very very mild winter, and a pretty good spring so far, I would expect to see a nice increase in numbers compared to last year.

I suggest you get one of the free public hunting atlas from the SD GFP and study it. Map out an area that you would like to hunt and go for it. Sure you may spend some $$$ on gas locating them and scouting them out but I would rather do that and earn my birds than pay for someone to put me on birds.

I would also suggest to stay away from earlier season, and opener. Allow some time for the crops to come out and fair weathered hunters to be done pounding the WIA's and you will have some great hunts. Sure you may have a down day but there will also be plenty of days where you will have no problem getting your 3 birds.

Good luck

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Thanks for the advice, really do appreciate it.

We're planning on heading out around Thanksgiving so the crowds will hopefully be a little thinned and the fields should be cut by then. I originally was looking at (still haven't' ruled out) the Pierre area - would like to hit the national grasslands and there is quite a lot of other public land out there.

I've heard there are snakes on the west side of the river and that is not a risk I'm crazy about running with the dogs. Has anyone been past the river in late November? Are snakes an issue??? Am I being over paranoid????

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I have hunted on the grasslands but am far from an expert. I know you said you have labs with one that is starting to slow. They can get the job done on chickens and pheasant out there, but its lots of large wide open areas, and caters more towards pointers. I really let my dogs run big out there and you have to cover lots of ground (be prepared for some good walking) to find birds at times.

I don't think snakes would be an issue that late in the year but if the weather is mild I suppose anything could happen (I get just as paranoid as you) However you can get a vaccine for your dogs from your vet for snakes prior to going out.

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Something to consider is that South Dakota deer season usually starts on Thanksgiving weekend. Some farmers are not as willing to let you on their property when they will be deer hunting out there. I love the late season hunts but I normally wait until the middle of December. It becomes more of an endurance test, but you have most of the areas to yourself. Not knowing your experience, but the late season birds are usually very concentrated. If you can find a picked corn, soybeans, or sunflowers with a few patches of cattails mixed in them, you have found a honeyhole. Also, don't be afraid to stray away from the typical "hotspot" areas like Chamberlain, Mitchell, Huron, Aberdeen, etc. The bird numbers may not be as high in other areas, but access is normally easier to get and the hunting pressure isn't nearly as great.

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East River Deer (rifle) season opens November 17th.

Plan your hunt between the missouri river and HWY 281. Good bird numbers and depending on the terrain, chance at sharpies too. Land access is going to be hit or miss. Some guys are good about no fees, some want $150 per gun. I haven't been up that way lately to see what conditions are like, but I'm sure there is less grass and cattails than last fall as things finally started to dry up and allow for more conversion into corn ground. On the flip side, those remaining cattai pockets shouldn't need chest waders to hunt this fall!

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Drive from Brookings to Pierre to Faulkton and around the Aberdeen area at least once a week for work and the highest bird numbers I have seen have been from Highmore west to Pierre. Seems like there is a fair number of birds all over in that area.

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Hey everyone - thanks for all the advice. I think I'm going to go out to Gettysburg - found decent lodging sounds like there's places to eat and plenty of lands to hit. I'm going to try ground pounding without the aid of guide. Here's the a good summer for the ditch chickens!

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Well, there is one less rooster just east of Gettysburg, hit one today with the work pickup. Good area, get through there every couple weeks at least. There seems to be quite a few birds through there.

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Drive from Brookings to Pierre to Faulkton and around the Aberdeen area at least once a week for work and the highest bird numbers I have seen have been from Highmore west to Pierre. Seems like there is a fair number of birds all over in that area.

Yeah...I've made the drive to Pierre a couple times, and can tell you that the Redfield/Faulkton/Miller/Pierre area has a lot of birds. I usually hunt further north (Eureka/Bowdle/Ipswich/Leola area), and there are good numbers there, too.

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