April 16, 2013 by Chris Hitzeman
2013 Spring Pheasant Report & 2012 Harvest Survey Results
My summary below will give you up to date conditions of pheasants in the state of South Dakota along with spring nesting conditions and also a abbreviated summary of the 2012 South Dakota Game Fish and Parks Hunter Harvest Survey Results from last season. In addition I will give my analysis, on the above, as far as what hunters can expect come fall in regards to pheasant hunting in South Dakota.
The 2012 South Dakota Pheasant Harvest Survey Results
First off let me start by stating that there is plenty of bad press in the media about the state of pheasant hunting in South Dakota. Yes we are losing CRP acres and yes there is more ground being converted to crops and yes some hunters are losing their hunting spots they have gone to for years.
With that being said all the hype in the media is being based off the comparison of last year to the record high harvest within the last ten years. If you compared last year against the 10-20-30-40 year averages you might not agree that things are as "bad" as what the media is saying they are.
For instance......the state currently has just under 1 million acres of CRP in place. There were two times in past history where the state had 0 (that's right zero) set aside acres in place. The 2012 total pheasant harvest in the state was 1.4 million roosters (all wild and this number does not include preserves which release pheasants).
Going forward I will refer to numbers as reported by Non-Resident hunters since I believe that more accurately applies to to the audience and hunter base for the UGUIDE Pheasant Camps.
In 2012, NR hunters harvested 829,000 pheasants as opposed to the 10 year high of 1,100,000 pheasants harvested. NR hunter satisfaction, on a scale of 1-7 with 7 being the highest, was 5.14 with the 6.00 being the highest over tha last 10 years.
Now we will summarize the number of pheasants harvested by county and average harvest per NR hunter by county. It should be noted that the NR hunter hunted an average 4.35 days per season (which was comparable to the 10 year average).
COUNTY TOTAL HARVEST AVG # PER NR HUNTER UGUIDE CAMPS IN THIS COUNTY
Charles Mix 27,724 8.10 Pheasant Camp Lodge, Cattail Haven
Dewey 16,447 10.4 West River Adventures
Edmunds 64,212 10.5 Roscoe-Hosmer
Faulk 51,982 10.5 Faulkton
Hand 54,505 9.20 Wolf Creek, Miller
Hyde 17,674 10.7 J Bar Lazy 7
McPherson 31,974 9.80 Old Bank Lodge
Miner 23,976 8.20 Boar's Nest
Perkins 15,754 9.20 Meadow Creek
Walworth 32,407 8.90 Gunner's Haven
Here is a link to the full South Dakota Hunter Harvest Survey Report
It should also be noted that these numbers were a blend of NR hunters that hunted public and/or private land. I would argue that the private land numbers only would be a little higher yet as conditions are typically more favorable for pheasant hunting on private land vs. public, in general.
2013 South Dakota Pheasant Outlook Forecast Report
As far as birds over-wintering we had some of the mildest conditions on record. With the drought contining thru winter pheasants had good access to food in the form of waste grains leftover from harvest and cover was not impacted by heavy snows. The NE part of the state had the heaviest snow amount but we do not have any camps located in that region.
Good bird numbers have been reported coming into spring. However, this spring is developingn much later than normal and temps have remained unseasonable cool. With that has come some much needed moisture not only for farmers but also for pheasants and ducks alike in regards to nesting cover growth and insect production needed for the critical 2 month brood rearing period in summer. I would hope to say the offset for late spring is balanced by the moisture needed to get some good nesting cover going.
In summary, since 1992, hunters have averaged close to 10 pheasant per hunter on an average of 4-5 days hunting per year. To date, no other state in the union can make these claims or comes close to this year over year performance as far as wild pheasants and hunting is concerned.
Please post your comments, observations or questions in the blog below.
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