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2008 South Dakota Pheasant Hunting Outlook Forecast - July

June 30, 2008 by

Late last season the final population estimates came out from South Dakota Game & Fish. The tally read 11.9 million pheasants. The best since 1945. One could hardly expect to top that number anytime soon and yet some of the most established wild bird SD enthusiasts and conservationists are hedging to say that 2008 may be yet another record year for wild pheasant populations. Sure this site books hunts and you might think it normal for us to be overly optimistic as it would seem to be to our benefit, but we stand on the facts and with 8 pheasant camps spread around the state we have an excellent source of factual real time data to back up the speculation. It should be noted that last year our speculation was right on and actually a bit low. I've heard early estimates from other credible sources say we could see 13.1 million this year. How you ask? Add up the facts: 1.) High mature bird carry over numbers from 2007 due to mild winter 2.) Heavy spring rains, poor field access, low cropping rates and high fallow rates 3.) Excellent insect production due to increased shallow water areas. 4.) Minimal disturbance during peak nesting times and a dry June and high quality dense nesting cover. 5.) Many fields will not be able to be cropped in time for crop insurance rates and they opt for prevent planting which means they opt to not plant the field at all leaving it until the following year. In essence, a mini soil bank. 6.) It is believed that any loss of CRP acres to production crops has been offset by the above elements. While Iowa was getting deluged with rain and flooding, South Dakota was enjoying a late spring dry-up and warm up. I saw several batches of day old pheasant chicks the latter part of June and also was surprised to see some larger than average chicks that were already flying. Let's see what the August report brings and keep our fingers crossed.