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2011 South Dakota Pheasant Hunting Season Outlook Forecast Report-May

May 12, 2011 by

After spending several weeks across a few months at the farm in Charles Mix County South Dakota, I am highly encouraged by the amount of pheasants that carried over from this last winter.  Although the 2010-2011 winter was as harsh as the 2009-2010 winter, the bird numbers making it thru the winter this year was 25%-50% higher than last year.  I observed this first hand when I mowed my 40 acres of milo food plots off in the spring which were loaded with birds (mainly hens).  Recently as the weather has warmed up, I am now seeing more roosters as they move to the roads to display, crow and territorialize.  I have also had conversations with all the UGUIDE Pheasant Camp owners and the feedback is similar in that they are seeing good carryover pheasant numbers.

2011 Spring Pheasant Nesting Conditions?

I make it a habit to review multiple sources of data throughout the months of April thru August.  Some of the metrics I watch for are things like:  heating degree days, average rainfalls, crop planting reports, delays in crop planting and soil temperatures to name a few.  Overall, I would say the state is higher in moisture content which is good for farmers and habitat as long as it is not too much.  Right now the water levels are better for ducks than pheasants as the sloughs are fuller than average and at all time highs.  That was the case last year though so I don't get real concerned with that as long as we get good heat thru the months of June, July and August when the bulk of nesting goes on which was the case last year.  Last year the heat finished crops early and also gave the newly hatched pheasants the heat they need to survive.

Current conditions show that crop planting across the state is 2-3 weeks behind the 5 year average and behind last year.  Soil temps are wetter and cooler than last year and the 5 year average.  Heating degree days are also behind but we recently had temps in the 90's and it is warming up.  I would say the southern part of state is in better condition than than the north as far as moisture levels being lower and crop progress being further ahead.

The good news about higher moisture levels is that habitat conditions can be excellent due to grass and trees having more moisture to draw from the soil.  Insect levels are also typically higher which is critical to pheasant chicks since that is their main diet for the first 2 months of their lives.

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