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2018 South Dakota Pheasant Season

January 21, 2018 by

The wild pheasant population in South Dakota took a severe beating this past year due to a late year ice storm in 2016 and a severe drought during the 2017 nesting season. The 2016 ice storm covered the beaks of the hen pheasants with ice, restricting their ability to breathe properly. Many died from this stress. Then an extended period of dry weather in April-July, the lack of any morning dew and unseasonably hot, dry weather all combined to take its toll on newly hatched chicks. It was nearly a 100% death loss as chicks are dependent on morning dew and insects for their nutrition and hydration during their first week or two of life. We saw numerous August and September hatched pheasant during our 2017 hunts. None had the size or plumage necessary to shoot, however.

The devastating death loss effect could even be seen at Eagle Pass Lodge in spite of our six nesting areas with ponds. Our harvest rate in 2017 was 4.13 birds per day. Well below our record harvest of nearly 5 birds per day in 2016. We released some Chukar partridge and some supplemental pheasant cocks to supplement our wild inventory. The Chukar release was very popular with our guests and we will continue that practice in 2018.

Our plan to rebuild our pheasant breeding base is already in motion. We have already released hundreds of hen pheasants and have more scheduled releases planned early in 2018. The winter this year has been very cold, but all of the food plots are nearly snow-free. The pheasants appear to be in good shape for the next breeding season. If 75% of the resident hens raise an average clutch of 6-8 chicks, we will once again have a butt load of wild pheasants in 2018.

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