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10 Reasons Why South Dakota Has the Best Pheasant Hunting

When the state bird is actually an introduced species, you just know the state is serious about pheasant.

Planning a pheasant hunt? Look no further than South Dakota. This state offers tremendous opportunities to pheasant hunt using just about any method you like. Nearly any part of the state holds opportunities.

Joe Riekers
Joe Riekers


Statewide, the types of hunting vary from rural road-hunting to luxurious resort settings. Here are the top 10 reasons why South Dakota has the best pheasant hunting.

1. High Pheasant Densities

South Dakota reports brood counts of 2.68 or more pheasants per mile. This is substantially higher than the statewide average of neighboring states.

2. Increasing Pheasant Populations

The state is also seeing increases in the overall pheasant population. Intensive management of habitat and resources as well as constant adjustments to laws, rules and regulations allow for a healthy, growing population of pheasants. 2014 showed a 76% increase in birds over the previous year.

3. Generous Pheasant Season




The pheasant season in S.D. extends from the third Saturday in October until January. For 2015, the season will be October 17th through January 3rd. Special shooting preserve areas are permitted to extend seasons, with some extended from September until March.

4. Liberal Bag Limits

While many states that offer pheasant hunting are reducing the bag limit to just one or two birds, South Dakota has maintained a three-bird limit (roosters only). The season limit is 15 birds. If you are hunting on a preserve area where birds harvested are tagged, you can take up to 15 birds per day.

5. Realistic and Comfortable Shooting Times

There’s no getting up before the crack of dawn for South Dakota pheasant hunters. During the first week of the season pheasant hunting starts at noon, while shooting time starts at 10 a.m. the remainder of the season. This schedule permits the birds to fly safely from their roosting sites to breakfast before hunters put any pressure on them. This is beneficial to the hunters as well as the hunted.

6. Hunting Access For Everyone

There are over 5 million acres of pheasant hunting area in South Dakota. Public access for the do-it-yourself hunter is phenomenal. Programs such as Game Production Areas, Waterfowl Production Areas, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Walk-In-Area(s), Controlled Hunting Areas and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program areas make pheasant hunting accessible for anyone throughout the state.

7. Rooster Rush Communities

Joe Riekers
Joe Riekers

Much of South Dakota’s economy is maintained by pheasant hunters, both residents and visiting sportsman. The state relies on the pheasant hunting industry to supplement the economic intake statewide. Some rural towns do well over 50% of their business during pheasant season. Communities are set up to cater to pheasant hunters specifically. These Rooster Rush Communities are found near Aberdeen, Huron, Mitchell, Pierre, Sioux Falls and Watertown.

8. Pheasant Hunting Help

Whether you are inexperienced or lacking in equipment to hunt pheasants, or a seasoned expert looking to utilize all the latest gadgets, S.D. has someone to help you. There are over 300 registered outfitters for pheasant hunting throughout the state. These outfitters can provide access to private land, guiding on public land, dogs, transportation, food and lodging, among other services that cater to pheasant hunters.

9. Reasonable License Fees

South Dakota residents pay just $35 for a small game license and $7 for youths from 12-15 years old. Non-residents can get a 10-day small game license that is good for two five-day periods for $125. Non-resident youth licenses are $14 and shooting preserve licenses are $48 for one day and $78 for five days. All licensing fees in South Dakota are returned to the small game hunting programs within the state.

10. Visitor Access

South Dakota has six major airports throughout the state that will get you near any of the main pheasant hunting areas. Hundreds of commercial flights are available daily. The fairly low tax rate and state government initiatives help keep airfare, rental car fees and lodging prices reasonable and competitive. South Dakota also maintains an excellent highway infrastructure. When some states would suffer from weather-related road conditions, South Dakota is usually top-notch in keeping major thoroughfares safe. Major interstates enter and traverse the state from every direction making access uncomplicated.


Now you’ve counted the reasons, so there shouldn’t be much of an argument made for anyplace else when you’re deciding your next pheasant hunt.

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10 Reasons Why South Dakota Has the Best Pheasant Hunting