Early trends show that pheasant hunters have been experiencing solid but not spectacular returns through the first two weekends of the season.

South Dakota Game Fish and Parks Secretary Kelly Hepler says the traditional hotbeds for pheasant hunting are holding up with some areas lagging.

“It’s about what our forecast said. The central part of the state between Pierre and Mobridge has been good. West of the (Missouri) River has been surprisingly good. Toward the Aberdeen area then south of Huron toward Sioux Falls it drops off. It’s not like we had three or four years ago, but it’s still worthwhile trying to get out to find some (pheasants).”

When searching for answers on how to maintain good pheasant brood counts, Hepler primarily points to habitat and environment.

“I would have thought last year when we had a pretty good winter and we carried over some good brood stock that our counts would be a little bit higher. We still have enough habitat in this state where if we get the right conditions we can still produce a lot of birds. We’re still going to harvest over a million birds which is significantly higher than any of our neighboring states.”

Hepler notes that losses in habitat can be partially linked to fewer CRP acres in the state.

Pheasant season in South Dakota runs through January 1, 2017.

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