There’s a good reason why the world knows about bird hunting in South Dakota.
It’s the pheasants. According to the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Department, there have only been three times in two decades that the annual pheasant harvest has dipped below one million roosters. When those harvests did take a dip, they remained well above a hearty 900,000. With such staggering numbers, it makes sense why South Dakota has the reputation it has for bird hunting. Besides the monolithic success of pheasant hunting, South Dakota offers an array of environments and other species to go with them.
Residents pay a fee of $55 for a combination license, while nonresidents can purchase a 10-day small game license for $121.
|Small Game Species||Dates||Daily/Season Limits||Unit Restrictions|
|Pheasant Youth||Oct 5 – Oct 9, 2019||3/15||See SD Website|
|Pheasant Resident||Oct 12 – Oct 14, 2019||3/9||See SD Website|
|Pheasant Traditional||Oct 19 – Jan 5, 2020||3/15||See SD Website|
|Prairie Grouse||Sept 21 – Jan 5, 2020||3/15 (includes Ruffed Grouse||Statewide|
|Ruffed Grouse||Sept 21 – Jan 5, 2020||3/15 (includes Prairie Grouse||Statewide|
|Sage Grouse||Closed since 2016||—||—|
|Chukar (Gray Partridge)||Sept 21 – Jan 5,2020||5/15||Statewide|
|Bobwhite Quail||Oct 19 – Jan 5, 2020||5/15||Statewide|
|Mourning Dove||Sept 1 – Nov 9, 2019||15/45||Statewide|
|Common Snipe||Sept 1 – Oct 31, 2019||5/15||Statewide|
|Crow Season||Sept 1 – Oct 3, 2019||Unlimited||Statewide|
|Crow Second Season||Mar 1 – Apr 30, 2019||Unlimited||Statewide|
|Cottontail Rabbit||Sept 1 – Feb 29, 2020||10/30||Statewide|
|Tree Squirrel||Sept 1 – Feb 29, 2020||5/15||Statewide|
At the end of the day, South Dakota pheasant hunting is the reason it has earned the name the “Pheasant Capital” of the United States. Look for them all over the state in croplands, wetlands, shelterbelts and grasslands. The season is broken into two parts, one traditional and the other for residents. The resident-only season runs from October 13 to 15 with a daily bag limit of 3. The traditional season dates go from October 20 to January 6 with the same bag limit as the resident-only season.
In South Dakota, sharp-tailed grouse and greater prairie-chickens are lumped together as prairie grouse. As the name suggests, the prairie and landscapes nearby are their primary habitat. That means you can find them in central and western South Dakota. Later into the season, prairie grouse organize into larger coveys. They can spend their time in croplands and near fields, but most of their time is spent in open grasslands.
The season starts September 15 and ends January 6. The daily bag limit is 3.
Ruffed grouse might not be the reason most go bird hunting in South Dakota, but this beloved species can still be found there. Since they largely depend on a certain age of aspen for their habitats, ruffed grouse occur almost exclusively in the Black Hills National Forest. Within the forest, the population is strongest in the north where aspen is more abundant.
Dates for the ruffed grouse season are September 15 to January 6 with a daily bag limit of 3.
Mourning dove populations run high in South Dakota. Additionally, their habitat covers much of the state and its many territories. Hunting mourning dove does come with a few extra rules. For more information, check the website for the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Department.
The season runs from September 1 to November 9, with a daily bag limit of 15.
Other Species for Bird Hunting in South Dakota
Bird hunting in South Dakota is not limited to all the species described above. Besides American crow, chukar and others, there are snipe and bobwhite quail. You can hunt snipe from September 1 to October 31 and bag up to 5 in a day. As a migratory bird, snipe are governed by federal law and you will have to fill out an HIP survey. The daily bag limit is also 5 for the bobwhite quail and the season runs from October 20 to January 6.
Related Conservation and Non-Profit Organizations for South Dakota Bird Hunting
The South Dakota Hunter Safety Course and Dog Training
If you want to get a hunting license in South Dakota, you will need a hunter education certificate. For children, the age minimum for receiving a certificate is 12. There is a fee of $17.95 for completion of the courses. Check out the hunter safety course.
The season dates for training your dog on public land in South Dakota are August 1 to April 16. You can use dummies, lures, and pigeons year-round. From August 1 to September 18, you can use public lands to train dogs on wild game birds.
The bird hunting season dates, game bird species available, and other information is subject to change. The article may not reflect this. Please visit the website for South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Department for the most up-to-date information on bird hunting in the state.