With South Dakota's pheasant-brood survey up 76-percent over last year, all signs pointed to a fantastic season opener on October 18. However I'll bet few expected it to kick off quite as well as it did.
According to field reports compiled by the South Dakota Department of Game Fish and Parks, hunters in nearly every county averaged at least half a limit. Many counties' hunters averaged 2 to 2.5 birds, while remarkably—and this makes me downright jealous of South Dakotans—hunters in the western region's Ziebach County averaged a 3-bird limit.
"We know bird numbers are higher this year due to excellent reproduction in parts of the state where quality habitat conditions still exist, primarily on grasslands including those enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program as well as fields of cereal crops such as winter wheat," said Jeff Vonk, Secretary of the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.
Here are the specifics, per SDGFP:
Central Region, Nathan Baker, GFP regional game manager
For most areas in central South Dakota, hunters averaged 1.5 birds each.In Hughes, Sully, Potter and Stanley counties, hunters averaged 2-2.5 birds each.
• Northeast Region, Jacquie Ermer, GFP regional game manager
• In northeast South Dakota, Spink county reported hunters averaging 2 birds each.
• In McPherson, Faulk and Edmunds counties, hunters averaged 1 bird each.
Southeast Region, Julie DeJong, GFP regional game manager
• In Beadle, Aurora, Hutchinson and Bon Homme counties, hunters averaged 1-1.5 birds each.
Western Region, John Kanta, GFP regional game manager
• In Bennett and Perkins counties, hunters averaged 1.5 birds each.
• In Ziebach county, hunters were limiting out, with 3 birds per hunter.