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Governor's Column: Pheasant Hunting, A South Dakota Tradition


            Office of Gov. Dennis Daugaard

500 E. Capitol Ave.

Pierre, S.D. 57501






FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Friday, September 12, 2014

CONTACT:  Tony Venhuizen or Kelsey Pritchard at 605-773-3212


EDITORS/NEWS DIRECTORS:  Please consider the following column from Gov. Dennis Daugaard. For an audio recording of the Governor’s weekly column, visit http://news.sd.gov/player.aspx.



Pheasant Hunting – A South Dakota Tradition


A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:


Next month tens of thousands of hunters will take to the fields and grasslands of South Dakota, seeking a colorful upland game bird – the rooster pheasant.


This is the 95th year that South Dakotans have pursued ring-necks in South Dakota, and over the last century pheasant hunting has become one of South Dakota’s most beloved traditions.


We’ve come a long way since that first season in 1919, when about 1,000 hunters bagged a total of 200 birds. Last year, with pheasant populations the lowest in a dozen years, more than 132,000 hunters bagged just under a million birds.


Everything is relative, of course, and compared to the early 2000s, the 2013 season was a down year. Still, South Dakota remains the world’s premier pheasant hunting destination, far outpacing our surrounding states.  With the recent brood count survey indicating a 76 percent increase in the pheasants-per-mile index, we anticipate another great pheasant hunting season in South Dakota.


Even so, the decline in grassland and CRP acres over the last decade poses a significant challenge to maintaining our strong pheasant hunting tradition. That’s why I hosted the Pheasant Habitat Summit last December and appointed a work group to evaluate the hundreds of comments, suggestions and letters that resulted from it.


The work group produced a final report that included a series of practical recommendations, and I have already taken steps to implement them. They are available online at http://gfp.sd.gov/pheasantsummit.


One of the primary recommendations was the establishment of the South Dakota Conservation Fund, dedicated to providing financial resources directly to conservation efforts, including pheasant habitat.


We have already received donations for the Conservation Fund and are actively looking for more. If you would like to contribute, please contact Stephanie Judson with the South Dakota Community Foundation at 605-224-1025.


As I talk with our citizens and community leaders, it is clear that South Dakotans are passionate about pheasant hunting. It has become part of our state’s identity and together we can help preserve this South Dakota tradition for generations to come.