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September 2020 Outlook - Combines are rolling!

September 05, 2020 by

I can say that I have never had my dove hunt interrupted by anybody combining crops before.  Wheat harvest is long over in Charles Mix County and the USDA Crop Progress Tracker does not even show any crop harvest progress on beans, corn, sorghum or sunflowers.

Those 3 combines in the photo are harvesting soybeans in Charles Mix County on Sept 1st.  Beans are drying down fast but I think corn is drying down and maturing even faster since corn is usually planted before soybeans.

If you look at the crop reports from May 3 and August 30 (and all in between), you notice the same common theme:  "Well ahead of last year and ahead of the 5 year average".  This may be the biggest indicator of pheasant hatch success in regards to what you can find in your game bag if you are hunting pheasants in South Dakota this fall.

This is a forward looking statement, but if the trend continues this year's crop harvest will run ahead of schedule compared to last year or the previous 5 years.  If you hunted in the great state of pheasants last year, you know what the late crop harvest did to your hunt.  The late season hunters (weeks 7-12) tend to do better the later the crop harvest is.  Early season hunters (weeks 1-6) tend to do better when the crop harvest is ahead of average.

Maybe some of the best pheasant reports come from our local service providers:  Mail carrier-sees lots of pheasants in the morning after rains.  Thinks there are more birds than last few years.  Dept. of Health Lodge Inspector-thinks there's more birds than last year.  Friends and Neighbors-seeing birds, seeing large broods in 8-12 bird range. 3 different sources report seeing broods larger than 12 birds.

For me personally, I saw my first brood in early June and the chicks were surprisingly large for that early.  I saw my last young brood of non-flyers (1-2 weeks old) while mowing a newly planted shelter belt the 2nd week of August.  In a 4 acre belt I came across 3 of these new broods.  Again, let me dispel the myth of "first, second and third hatches".  There's no such thing.  One hen can raise one brood and if the COMPLETE brood gets killed off she will attempt to repeat the nesting cycle as long as the season allows.  As long as one chick survives, she is a full time mother to that chick for the summer.

I also saw what maybe was the largest brood I have ever seen, or it could have been two broods combined, but I did not see the second adult hen.  I easily lost count at 15 chicks+.  Today while returning from mowing new trees, I noticed a rooster pheasant killed by a vehicle hit on the highway bordering one of our farms.  I did not see it on the way over so it happened this afternoon.  My philosophy there is that when numbers are high, you see a lot more birds dead on the road from this type of encounter.  Can't hit em with a car if they don't exist.

You would think myself and the other UGUIDE South Dakota Pheasant Hunting Outfitters would harvest excellent pheasant hatch information but it seems the more we do this and the better we get at farming for pheasants the more appreciation we have for the mystical and mysterious nature of the elusive ring-necked pheasant and her ways.  Our hunters always know that pheasants can be found where there is good habitat and where they are farmed for.