As the sun set Tuesday night, it also ended the first ever deer hunting season inside Sioux Falls City limits.
Those who helped organize the hunt to thin a growing and dangerous herd on the east side of town call it a success.
Scenes of a big group of deer have been common in recent years along the eastern edge of Sioux Falls. While the deer provide an up close look at nature, they're also dangerous. Nearby Rice Street has more car-deer crashes than any other road in the state.
To help reduce the risk, the city opened up a special bow hunting season in September, hoping hunters would bag 30 to 35 does. The last report from hunters show they've taken 20.
"We maybe didn't get the highest number that we were hoping to get, but yet we did make a small dent in the population," Lieutenant Galen Smidt of the Sioux Falls Police Department said.
An estimated 300 to 400 deer live in that part of town. Hunters had to apply for a license for the special hunt, and followed very strict rules. But Lieutenant Galen Smidt says so far, all the feedback is positive.
"Every hunter I've talked to after their session was over has had nothing but positive comments, even if they didn't get a deer, they were very happy with the program and how it was run," Lt. Smidt said.
That feedback is important because the Sioux Falls police and Game, Fish and Parks Departments hope to talk with landowners and hunters to work on future hunting seasons. Similar programs have proven to thin herds, reducing crashes in other states, but that can take time.
"But if we can do it over a period of a few years and reduce that population, I think it will be safer for the community," Lt. Smidt said.
And even though this hunt targeted female deer, photos from hunters show some of the larger males in the herd. It appears they're *all getting used to running from hunters because they're staying away from people.
“They're moving around. You can't just drive up there and stand and watch 35, 40 deer anymore. The second you stop and get out to look at them, they're moving," Lt. Smidt said.
One possible adjustment for the next hunt is the exact location hunters could use. If the herd shifts, so could the target area of the hunt.