‘Three-splash’ hunt considered for S.D. ducks

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Only a few sportsmen have put thoughts in writing about a ‘three-splash‘ option for duck hunting that the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission is considering.

And just one person spoke up Wednesday at the commission’s public hearing. The commission plans to take more testimony by teleconference on all of its proposals at 9 a.m. CT Thursday.

The three-splash plan would start in 2021 and allow a hunter to take three ducks of any type and any sex per day. A more-complex formula would remain for hunters who prefer the traditional approach.

The experiment reflects the state Game, Fish and Parks Department’s latest response to declining numbers of waterfowl hunters.

One of the written comments came from Todd Scheuble of Webster, Minnesota. “This is the icing on the cake of insane management practices,” he wrote. The bigger problem, he said, was South Dakota’s tight limit on nonresident licenses.

Scheuble added, “Try making licenses available and affordable, invest in habitat, work with landowners to allow walk-in access and quit encouraging/coddling big bucks estates and corporate retreats that monopolize opportunity.”

Greg Knebel of Webster, South Dakota, offered this perspective: “I do not think it is the kind of duck that is shot that is keeping hunters from hunting. It is more the cost of the hunt and the place to hunt. If they watch any of the outdoor shows you should have dozens of decoys, a special
gun, clothes, ammo, etc.”

Knebel continued, “I think the mentor programs are doing a good job but might need to do more promoting of these programs and how to do them or some type of a reward program for taking them out and introducing them to waterfowl hunting!!”

Nancy Hilding of Black Hawk, head of the Prairie Hills Audubon Society, testified Wednesday to the commission. She said the goal of shooting more ducks doesn’t meet the commission and department “three Rs” — recruitment, retention and reactivation, in response to declining participation in hunting, shooting sports, angling and outdoor recreation —  because bird watchers, photographers and people who enjoy wildlife could be negatively affected during periods when duck populations are low. 

Numbers of duck hunters continued to gradually fall in South Dakota during the past decade. There were 13,394 licensed residents and 4,132 nonresidents in 2011; by 2018, residents had dropped to 10,271, while nonresidents were at 4,051.

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