SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The 2023 South Dakota pheasant hunting season gets underway in a few weeks, and hunters will be out in the fields looking for birds.

In this week’s Flashback Friday, we take you back to 1988 for a look at how that year’s drought impacted the number of pheasants.

If you found birds last year, you should be able to find them again this year, that’s what Game, Fish and Parks brood counts indicate. Still, the pheasant numbers are somewhat disappointing because they should have been much better.

“We lost a lot of CRP and a lot of cover right at the peak of breeding season and that cost us a lot of birds.”

The drought of 1988 has significantly reduced the amount of cover available to the state bird. And while that’s a bad situation for pheasants, it should mean more hunters will be successful in finding birds this season.

“Where you find cover you’re going to find birds, that’s just pure and simple. Habitat produces birds.”

But if you want to fill your game bag come October 15th, the time to start, is right now.

“Those that go out and do their homework before the season starts and communicate with the landowners and line up places to hunt before the season starts will find better success.”

The regulations governing the 1988 pheasant season are largely unchanged from last year, with one major exception. A new law on the books requires hunters to carry written permission from the landowner if they plan to hunt on a public right-of-way with 660 ft of a farmhouse.

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