If you’ve lived in South Dakota for a while, you know it’s called the Pheasant Capitol of the World.
This year there are fewer birds than last year, according to the Pheasant Brood Survey Report.
South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks recently released the new numbers. The reports says pheasants are down about 17% statewide compared to last year.
Wildlife officials say fewer hens and broods were counted on the survey routes this year, but the number of roosters is close to the same.
Weather could likely be to blame.
In the report, Game, Fish & Parks says wet conditions and acres of unplanted crops may have had a negative impact on the survey.
Still, hunters are ready to be back in the fields in just over a month.
You don’t have to spend much time in Dan Griffith’s home to figure out what he’s passionate about.
“I don’t remember life before hunting pheasants. I’m sure it existed; it just wasn’t important to me,” Dan Griffith said.
The lifelong hunter has watched pheasant numbers go up and down over the years.
He’s not surprised by the latest report.
“When we looked at the winter we’ve had, I knew it was going to go down. And then we had a spring that had too much moisture all at the same time so you’re going to flood a lot of nest out,” Griffith said.
Mike Schatz is a volunteer for the Minnehaha County Chapter of Pheasants Forever.
He’s gearing up for another season, too.
“I’m going to go out on the GF&P website and find the counties that are up and that’s probably where we’re going to travel to hunt,” Mike Schatz said.
Griffith predicts he and his fellow hunters will still find plenty of birds to shoot.
“Still be a lot of good hunting in South Dakota. We’re still the pheasant capitol of the world,” Griffith said.
Game, Fish & Parks is reminding hunters that this year’s pheasant population index is still higher than the recent lows of 2013 and 2017 when people shot an average of 900,000 roosters.
Hunters are being told to use caution this year because of roads that could be flooded or damaged.