The state Game, Fish and Parks Commission approved a big change last week to South Dakota’s system for licensing thousands of deer hunters.
The change puts four seasons into one drawing. A hunter would make a single choice of a license for either the East River, West River, Black Hills or muzzleloader seasons.
Currently hunters could apply for all four seasons in the first drawing. Several hunters received all four of their first choices in 2017. In 2017, more than 16,000 hunters applied for two or more of the licenses in the first drawings and more than 3,300 received two or more. Meanwhile nearly 30 percent of applicants didn’t draw their first choice at all.
The advantage of the change is about 3,500 more hunters could take the field. The disadvantage is hunters would have to wait longer to see if they received more than one license. Hunters could still get up to nine licenses total for the four seasons.
Opponents have massed against it.
Six state legislators have final say. Jean Hunhoff of Yankton, Julie Bartling of Burke and Steven Haugaard of Sioux Falls and senators Alan Solano of Rapid City, Craig Kennedy of Yankton and Lance Russell of Hot Springs are members of the Legislature’s Rules Review Committee. Lawmakers could let it take effect for 2019 or send it back for more work.
The panel looks at it November 20.