‘No-rifles’ will remain the rule for hunting South Dakota spring turkeys

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A citizen’s request to start using rifles again during South Dakota’s spring turkey-hunting season on private land west of the Missouri River has failed.

The state Game, Fish and Parks Commission deadlocked 4-4 on the petition Thursday.

The commission, citing safety reasons, prohibited using rifles last year.

The state Wildlife Division opposed reversing that decision Thursday. Director Tom Kirschenmann said records back to 1979 showed five accidents, including four fatalities.

The most recent death was in 1999, Kirschenmann said.

He acknowledged the division regularly hears of accidents involving pheasant hunters who use shotguns.

Commissioner Doug Sharp of Watertown favored allowing rifles for turkeys again. Sharp said he struggled with the commission telling hunters what weapons they could use on private land.

“I’m kind of leaning towards, this is OK on private land,” Sharp said.

Commissioner Mary Anne Boyd of Yankton preferred the no-rifle rule. “I’m inclined to leave things where they are,” Boyd said.

So was commissioner Jon Locken of Bath. “I have trouble with this,” Locken said about petition for the change.

Voting for rifles were Charles Spring of Union Center, Robert Whitmyre of Webster, Gary Jensen of Rapid City and Sharp.

Voting against were Travis Bies of Fairburn, Russ Olson of Wentworth, Boyd and Locken.

The tie meant the request failed, according to chairman Jensen.

The commission Thursday also turned down a request to allocate 500 special-buck tags for nonresident hunters to use for the East River deer season.

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