Re: South Dakota Pheasant Hunting Updates
I've been going out to SD for 20 years, sometimes 3x/season and have several local friends. Have hunted Mitchel/Huron, Hecla, Chamberlain, Presho, Pierre, Isabel, basically all over the state on both walk-in and private land. The 2013 drought and nasty 2014 rainy spring/hatch time put a real hurting on the bird populations for this year. But the reality is, corn and bean prices, huge crp contract loss and gov't crop insurance are the killers and the days of SD and bird flocks of the past are over. Last year I saw countless sloughs and cattail marshes that were dry because of the drought being burnt up - all pheasant cover/habitat. My farmer friends out there say that as long as the corn is planted and crop insurance purchased, the farmer can't loose: if the normal rains hit and it floods or the harvest gross is less than the input cost, insurance covers the different. I reviewed the 2014 Hunting Atlas with walk in and compared it to a copy a few years ago and most of the prime crp/walk in ground west river along interstate 90 in the classic bird areas are gone - now in crop production. So right now, SD and ND is experiencing the greatest landscape change since the 1910's- check out mags like Dakota County or any internet search. I'm out there in 2 weeks for 2 weeks and helping guide at a lodge so my dogs will get bird work. Not sure that I'd recommend a person driving 22 hours from Lancaster to Mitchell with hopes of birds, at best you have to go to the James River areas, 24 hrs away and scratch up a bird or two a day. Hate to sound depressing, but reality is, Iowa, SD, ND, Minn pheasant populations are basically controlled by gov't crp, wetland, tile/drainage policy and corn prices and it is going in the wrong direction for the bird. Final comment: the Corn Growers Association with this [censored] ethanol #@%#@% crap is putting the curtain on wild pheasants in the mid west. Should we take up golf??