State Commission Tries Another Proposal For 2019 Deer-Hunting Licensing Plan

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KELO Deer

The final chapter hasn’t been written yet for licensing deer hunters in South Dakota for this fall.

The state Game, Fish and Parks Commission made another proposal Friday.

It would allow a hunter to apply for two seasons. 

There are six choices.

They are Black Hills, East River, West River, Custer State Park, refuges and muzzleloader. 

In the past, a hunter was able to apply for a first choice in each one.

About 6,000 hunters had three or more licenses last year. The proposal offered Friday would get first- or second-round licenses to about 1,000 more hunters.

Depending on the season, the commission limits the numbers of deer licenses, including different categories such as any-deer and antlerless. 

Commissioners have tried for more than a year to change the deer-licensing process.

Their goal is to get more hunters into the field.

The Legislature’s Rules Review Committee rejected the commission’s proposal last year

It would have limited a hunter to applying for one license in the first or second round from four seasons.

They were Black Hills, East River, West River and muzzleloader.

Hunters could have received additional licenses in later rounds.

But some hunters opposed that restriction.

The numbers from 2017 showed 52,130 hunters applied for one or more of the four seasons. Of those, 35,706 were for one season.

Hunters would still have the ability to get licenses in later rounds under the proposal made Friday.

The commission plans a public hearing at 2 p.m. on February 28 in Pierre.

The proposal will be posted soon on the Game, Fish and Parks website

The commission could decide either February 28 or March 1 whether to approve the latest plan.

Commissioners agreed Friday the new approach should be reviewed no later than after the 2021 drawings.

Commissioner Barry Jensen of White River said the Game, Fish and Parks Department shouldn’t wait that long if officials see something that could be improved.

“If there’s a red herring in there, you want to correct it right away,” Jensen said. He added, “I think it’s a good compromise.”

Commissioner Cathy Peterson of Salem asked the hunters in the audience to invite friends to join them in the fields and woods this fall.

Peterson also commented on the increasingly negative tone of citizens’ comments during her time on the commission.

“This has been a surprise to me as I watched over the eight years,” she said.

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