PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota regulations could get more complicated for some archery hunters seeking deer and antelope next fall.
The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission on Thursday proposed changing several of its regulations and cap the number of nonresident licenses that could be used on public lands.
For antelope, one of the possible changes calls for archery licenses for nonresidents hunting bucks on public and private lands to be limited to no more than 450. Those hunters would be chosen in a drawing. An unlimited number of nonresident archery licenses for antelope would be available for hunters on private land that isn’t leased by the state Department of Game, Fish and Parks.
For deer, one of the possible changes calls for archery licenses for nonresidents hunting any deer on public and private lands statewide to be limited to 2,200. There would be an unlimited number of nonresident archery licenses for deer statewide available for hunters on private land that isn’t leased by the department.
The commission plans a public hearing and final vote on any changes March 9. Whatever the commission approves would apply to the 2023 and 2024 seasons.
South Dakota Bowhunters Inc. has been pushing for a restriction similar to the 8% ratio of licenses available to nonresidents for most rifle deer and antelope seasons. The group’s secretary, Dana Rogers of Hill City, told the commission during the public-comment time Thursday that South Dakota is the lone state that still allows nonresidents unlimited archery licenses for mule deer and antelope.
The group’s president, Justin Broughton of Sioux Falls, added that restricting nonresidents to 2,000 archery deer and 200 archery antelope would be close to the 8% target. Broughton said nonresidents should be required to list on their applications the private lands they planned to hunt and should pay $500 or more for the licenses.
State Wildlife Division director Tom Kirschenmann described the proposals Thursday as “the starting point” of a conversation about how South Dakota should respond to growing pressure on public lands from a growing number of archery hunters. GFP senior big-game biologist Andrew Norton explained that the proposals were developed through an advisory group.
The commission’s current chair, Russ Olson of Wentworth, agreed that the current $120 fine was too low for nonresidents caught illegally hunting on public land and said he could see some nonresidents willing to pay that as a price for harvesting a trophy buck.
Olson said the bowhunters group had brought various proposals to the commission in previous years and those were set aside. “This is 100% more than nothing, and that’s what we started with,” he said in defense of the proposals.
Other commissioners sounded willing to consider the changes but several said they had reservations about various parts. “It’s got to be divided out, just like the rifle deal,” commissioner Charles Spring of Union Center said about the complex unit system used for rifle deer and antelope seasons. “It’s something that should be in our heads to work on.”