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PIERRE, S.D. – Success on the opening day of the season varied throughout pheasant country as hunters dealt with crops providing excellent cover for the ringnecks and persistent winds making shooting difficult.

 

Personnel from the S.D. Game, Fish and Parks Department tracked hunter success throughout the pheasant range, with the best bag reports coming from the southeast region of the state.

 

GFP Regional Game Manger Ron Schauer, Sioux Falls, said hunters in Beadle, Jerald, Aurora, Davison, Turner and Hutchinson counties were averaging two birds or better apiece. Groups in other areas of the southeast region averaged one bird or better per hunter.

 

Unpicked corn kept birds on the ground and probably contributed to reports of fewer hunters in the field. “We had rain last week,” Schauer said “and very little of the corn in this area has been harvested.”

 

Schauer noted that hunter attitudes were good. “They’re seeing birds, it’s just tough to get them up in the corn,” he said.

 

Another factor in the southeast region was the wind. “Birds that got up in the wind made for tough shooting,” Schauer said.

 

One accident was reported in Sanborn County when a hunter was sprayed by pellets. Schauer said only one pellet broke the skin and the hunter was taken to a hospital in Mitchell.

 

“As a rule, hunters were well-behaved,” Schauer said. He received reports of two trespassing violations and citations issued for the use of lead shot on public lands.

 

The report from the central portion of the state, those counties on either side of the Missouri River, was that hunters were averaging one or two birds apiece. “There were some areas where guys got their birds by 1 p.m.,” said Tim Withers a GFP program assistant in Pierre.

 

Withers said throughout the region birds were holding well in pastures, grasses and near sloughs. The southern area of the region was windier, which helped the birds and made shooting difficult. “Hunters found that when the birds get up, they’re gone,” Withers said.

 

Throughout the region corn was still in the fields. “There are lots of birds in the crops,” Withers said. “They know where they’re safe.”

 

Withers reported hearing about one hunting violation in Hughes County and a few warnings issued throughout the region. “Hunters are happy,” Withers said, “they’re seeing quite a few birds.”

 

Some areas in the central region reported fewer hunters than expected. Withers said the hunter numbers were down in the Miller area and in Gregory County. The report from Mobridge was plenty of hunters, but no overcrowding in the fields.

 

Withers said the area he works near Pierre was more crowded last Saturday for the first day of the resident-only season. “Maybe folks are waiting until the crops are out of the fields,” he said.

 

Hunters averaged one bird apiece in the northeast region according to Scott Lindgren, GFP regional game manger in Watertown. Throughout the region hunters dealt with high winds and trying to get birds to flush from standing fields of crops.

 

Lindgren said there were reports of 20 mph winds throughout the region with winds gusting to 40 mph in Brown County. “The wind made hunting very, very difficult,” he said.

 

Despite the tough conditions, hunter attitudes were good. “They understand that it’s tough with all the corn in,” Lindgren said.

 

One accident was reported in Clark County. It took place before the season started while hunters were practicing.

 

In the northeast region, the most common violation was the use of lead shot on public lands. “Hunters need to remember that on the vast majority of public lands, nontoxic shot such as steel shot is required,” Lindgren said.

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