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2017 South Dakota Summer Pheasant Outlook Report

July 29, 2017 by

While other reports and forecasts are produced, you will see that none compare with the UGUIDE South Dakota Pheasant report and forecast.

The picture you see in this report was taken on my farm in South Dakota this year on June 29th.  You will see lush green growth in the way of a food plot in the middle of a dense CRP field.  Looks like ideal pheasant nesting conditions to you right?  They are!

Some recent national news articles might suggest otherwise.  Drought impacts South Dakota.

The Drought Monitor will indicate various levels of drought in the state but this is nothing new.

The problem is that the news articles coming out suggest the sky might be falling at the Pheasant Capital.  I thinking the only thing falling is a few snowflakes from the liberal left fake news media.  Even from the best biologists in the state I have seen no factual evidence to confirm bird numbers have been impacted.  While crops and hay supply we know have been impacted in the most severe areas, those same concerns do not always translate to pheasant nesting success or failure.

The other thing you will not see mentioned in the negative news is the recent relief and positive impacts from nice rains throughout the region in the 1-4" range in the last 2 weeks.

For those of you interested in reading more from other objective sources you can read Pheasant Forever's Summer Forecast.  It covers a multiture of states beyound South Dakota.

The Aberdeen News had a good source of additional South Dakota Pheasant Forecast News as well.

Here's what pheasant hunters need to know.  If you have good cover you have good birds.  I even think most biologists would agree with that.  From my 20 years of burning up the roads hunting in Iowa, you got good at look for good cover.  One of the single biggest impacts to pheasant numbers is the adoption ofr the Roundup Ready patented Corn and Soybean cropping system.  This now covers that landscape in Iowa and is moving in fast in eastern South Dakota.  It replaces small grains like wheat, sunflowers and sorghum in the crop rotation due to lack of profitability for producers.  The good news is the climate in western South Dakota makes it hard to adopt soybeans in the rotation and so small grains are still a popular choice.

An equally huge impact is the record low overall CRP acreage cap in the current farmbill.  24 million acres nationwide of which SD assume about a million of those acres. Currently there are farmers that would love to enroll a lot of acres in CRP but there are none to be had due to we are fully enrolled at the acreage cap.  This is good news because we needed to hit that "wall" so to speak and now everyone can get on their representitives agenda to request more CRP acres (as high as 45 million acres nationwide in the past farm bills) in the 2018 Farm bill being worked on now by Reps in Washington.  Do your part and make your voice be heard for CRP at the CRP Works movement.  In the last 20 years I have never seen a time when you could not signup some acres in at least one or two of the 43 different CRP programs.  This is unprecendented and the evidence supports that the 24 million acre cap is way too low!

Impact #3 is the Federal government's opening up CRP in SD, ND and MT for grazing and haying.  8 counties in South Dakota have been designated as natural disaster areas by USDA.  I personally feel that my CRP is spoken for by the constituents that support me (my tourist hunters as well as the federal taxpayer paying me for conservation benefits). However, ranchers and other producers should get on board with fully backing and supporting CRP for this very resource in times of shortage.  CRP is in effect a "Hay Bank" that can be accessed when forage is in short supply.  If you have a relationship with a farmer that has grass acres as part of their offering you may want to check with them and see what their use of their CRP lands was this summer.  Only up to 50% of any CRP field may me hayed or grazed with express USDA permission.

Impact #4 is the Soil Health and Sustainability movement in South Dakota.  This is a new system of cropping that banks moisture in the soil for these lean times as well as a system of cropping that not only builds soil but also supports a wider range of life on the prairie and in the fields.  Partnerships with the Nature Conservancy on Soil Health are one example of this movement.  You can help by simple learning more about the food you buy and consume and buy more food that you know is produced sustainably.  I see the stark contrast of these 2 main farming methods between my own crop ground and the neighbors that farm next door to me.  Addition of no-till, cover crops and additional crops in the rotation is making a huge impact for all including pheasants.  The South Dakota Soil Health Coalition is making an impact as well.

Right now the Game and Fish is driving their survey routes and will produce thier report pretty close to Labor Day as they have done annually for quite some time now.  This will tell some of the story but we have found does not always paint an accurate picture of what you will find in you game bag come hunting season.  I encourage you to driver a little further, dig a little deeper and find the fields where the sky still truns black in South Dakota this fall!

Check Here for Availability of UGUIDE Pheasant Camp Openings

More from UGUIDE:

- Articles in The Case For Pheasants series

- UGUIDE Pheasant Camps Fall Harvest Survey Report

Posted in: UGUIDE News, Pheasant Hunting in South Dakota, South Dakota Pheasant Outlook, Unguided South Dakota Pheasant Hunting, Self Guided Pheasant Hunting


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