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Upland Bird Hunting

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Can upland bird hunting really be experienced without the work of a good bird dog out in front?

By: Chris Hitzeman
UGUIDE South Dakota Pheasant Hunting

Is South Dakota Your Next Upland Game Bird Destination?

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase "Upland Bird Hunting"? I suppose it depends on where you were born and raised. If you're like me and come from the Midwest, it means chasing ruffed grouse, ring-necked pheasant, and Hungarian partridge. If you are from the south, it means pursuing bobwhite or gambles quail. If you're from the west, maybe it reminds you of chukar, blue grouse, sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chickens. From Canada? How about ptarmigan?

Wow! What a list and I know I am missing a bunch. Where do you specifically find these species? Wherever you find an abundance of their native habitat and that can vary widely. Thankfully organizations like Pheasants Forever and now Quail Forever are helping to preserve our upland bird hunting heritage by preserving some of our favorite upland game bird's critical habitat.

If you were asked "what is the king of upland game birds?" what would be your answer? I suppose that might depends on where you grew up again and then where you had been in the country. But if the question were posed from a national level, my response would have to be that the king of all upland game birds is none other than the Chinese Ring-Necked Pheasant. 

At the Cabela's store in Mitchell South Dakota, I'm told that on the opening day of pheasant hunting in October they have customers from every state in the USA come through their doors. I have to ask myself, what other upland game bird attracts this much pursuit from a national level? In addition to pheasants in South Dakota, you will also find Hungarian partridge, prairie chicken, sharp-tailed grouse and even bobwhite quail in the utmost southern regions of the state.

If there was ever a state in the union that catered to out of state hunters, it would have to be South Dakota. In 2007 we saw some of the highest pheasant populations of all time. Mild winters and an abundance of CRP have been helpful factors.

Along with pheasant numbers, the variety of pheasant hunting experiences is abundant. Hunters can participate on the do-it-yourself level by staying in motels and hunting on the plethora of state public walk-in lands. If you're in for a premium experience, there is a bevy of all-inclusive outfitters to take care of your every need. If you're looking for something in between, we've got that too!