Now Reading
Bird Hunting in South Dakota, Pheasant, Grouse, Chukar, Bobwhite, and More

Bird Hunting in South Dakota, Pheasant, Grouse, Chukar, Bobwhite, and More

Hunting pheasant in a corn field with a lab

There’s a good reason why the world knows about bird hunting in South Dakota from the pheasant state to wild grouse species. 

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 SpeciesDatesDaily/Season LimitsUnit Restrictions
Pheasant Youth Oct 5 – Oct 9, 20193/15See SD Website
Pheasant Resident Oct 12 – Oct 14, 20193/9See SD Website
Pheasant Traditional Oct 19 – Jan 5, 20203/15See SD Website
Prairie Grouse Sept 21 – Jan 5, 20203/15 (includes Ruffed GrouseStatewide
Ruffed GrouseSept 21 – Jan 5, 2020 3/15 (includes Prairie Grouse Statewide
Sage GrouseClosed since 2016
Chukar (Gray Partridge)Sept 21 – Jan 5,20205/15Statewide
Bobwhite QuailOct 19 – Jan 5, 20205/15Statewide
Mourning Dove Sept 1 – Nov 9, 201915/45Statewide
Common SnipeSept 1 – Oct 31, 20195/15Statewide
Crow SeasonSept 1 – Oct 3, 2019UnlimitedStatewide
Crow Second SeasonMar 1 – Apr 30, 2019 UnlimitedStatewide
Cottontail RabbitSept 1 – Feb 29, 202010/30Statewide
Tree SquirrelSept 1 – Feb 29, 20205/15Statewide

Ring-Necked Pheasant

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. 

Prairie Grouse 

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

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 

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. 

Pheasants Forever

Quail Forever

Ruffed Grouse Society

North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association

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.

View Comments (2)
    • Good observation Jeff. We list the species because the state has an officially listed season as hunters may encounter pen-raised chukar while hunting which can be legal harvested. This past season dates ran September 15th to January 6th.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


©2015-2021 Northwoods Collective, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without the express permission of Northwoods Collective is strictly prohibited.

Scroll To Top