South Dakota’s Extended Hunting Season: Everything to Know

by Clayton Edwards

South Dakota is one of the best places in the country to hunt pheasants. There are millions of acres of open-access hunting land. Every year, hunters flock to the flatlands of South Dakota hoping to bag some of the birds. On average, they harvest over a million pheasants from the state annually. This year, South Dakota is extending pheasant season until the end of January.

This isn’t just good news for hunters who are looking for one last hunt. It is also a historic moment. It’s the first time in the state’s history that officials have extended the season this long. It’s a good year to grab your cold-weather gear and head to South Dakota.

Hunting late-season pheasant is a little different than hunting the birds during the fall. Chris Hull, spokesman for South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks filled in some of the knowledge gaps in a recent interview with GearJunkie.

According to Hull, this has been a great year for pheasant hunting in South Dakota. Their early harvest and good weather this year have helped hunters bring in plenty of birds.

The state has a variety of public lands to hunt during pheasant season. There are publicly managed lands as well as private lands least by the state. If you’re looking for a place to hunt in South Dakota, you can consult their Hunting Atlas.

Where to Look and What to Wear for Late Season Pheasant

If you’re taking advantage of late-season pheasant hunting, it’s going to be cold. Hull recommends wearing layers and using hand and foot warmers. Also, make sure you can pull your gun into firing position with your cold-weather gear on. Don’t let the butt of your gun get caught on bulky clothing and miss your chance at taking a choice rooster.

As far as where to hunt, Hull says to look for sloughs, stands of native grasses, heavy tree belts, or draws that are near a food source for the birds. Pretty much anywhere they can take cover after the snowfalls.

Tips for Out-of-State Hunters

If late-season pheasant hunting sounds good enough to travel for, you’re in luck. South Dakota’s nonresident licenses are good for two five-day periods during the year. So, if you purchased a license now, you could make another trip to catch the fall pheasant season.

If you’re looking to stay a few days and don’t mind cold-weather camping, South Dakota’s state parks are all open for camping. Some of them even have cabins available for rent. Hull advises that the parks’ comfort stations are closed but restroom facilities should be available in most parks.

If you’re not one for camping, that’s fine. Hotels and restaurants throughout the state’s “Pheasant Belt” are there to make your trip comfortable.

Whether you’re a resident hunter or traveling from out-of-state, South Dakota and its bountiful pheasant population are waiting for you.