SPEARFISH, S.D. (KELO) — Pheasant hunters will find good conditions when they head to South Dakota’s fields this fall.

So says state government’s wildlife director Tom Kirschenmann.

His message Friday to the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission was upbeat.

South Dakota is “sitting in a really, really good spot” right now, according to Kirschenmann.

He acknowledged drought was a worry three to four months ago. But then the rains came — and have kept coming.

“Habitat conditions look fantastic out there right now,” Kirschenmann said.

He acknowledged that haying is a concern but it happens every year. He said there will be good brood habitat, and all of the vegetation will also have high numbers of bugs and insects — the primary source of food for recently born pheasants until they’re about six weeks old.

South Dakota quit its summer brood-route survey in 2020. That same year, the state Department of Tourism joined with the state Department of Game, Fish and Parks on a marketing plan to get more pheasant hunters into the fields again.

Some local areas probably have seen nests flooded out this summer, but Kirschenmann doesn’t expect a statewide negative impact. Instead, he said, hen pheasants typically re-nest, and rains have helped habitat.

“Very positive, very optimistic,” Kirschenmann said. “I would say things look beyond fantastic right now.” 

At A Glance

South Dakota in 2021 saw 126,961 pheasant hunters — 54,411 residents and 72,550 nonresidents — take an estimated 1,067,423 roosters.

The 2007 season had the top harvest of 2,122,345 roosters, as well as the most nonresident hunters at 180,836.

2001 was the most recent season when more South Dakota residents than nonresidents hunted pheasants at 76,772 to 73,425.

2022 seasons: Youth only Sept. 24-Oct. 2. Resident only Oct. 8-Oct. 10. Traditional Oct. 15-Jan.31.

Source: SDGFP.