- Associated Press - Monday, October 17, 2016

FULTON, S.D. (AP) - A large amount of crops still waiting to be harvested made it difficult for some hunters to find pheasants during the opening weekend of South Dakota’s season.

But a state wildlife official told The Daily Republic (https://bit.ly/2dVXwjB ) that many hunters still got birds, and success rates should improve as the season continues.

A statement released by the department said the bird count in the southeast region of South Dakota ranged between one-half bird per hunter in the east and 1.5 birds in the west. The most populated area to hunt was near Mitchell, to the east of Chamberlain. South Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks conservation officer Andy Petersen estimates the average bird count in the Mitchell area was one bird per hunter.

In August, the department reported a 20 percent decrease in statewide pheasants-per-mile index compared to 2015. However, Peterson does not believe the decrease played a significant role during the opening weekend.

“Even though we’re projected to be down 20 percent overall, this area was pretty similar to last year,” Petersen said.

In the Chamberlain area, Diana Landagent, a state conservation officer in Chamberlain, estimated that the average bird count for the weekend was two to three birds per hunter.

“We have a lot of commercial pheasant operations in the Chamberlain area, and they’re designing the land for pheasant habitat,” Landagent said. “Trying to optimize their pheasant potential and that’s why I think pheasant numbers seem to be doing better here.”


Information from: The Daily Republic, https://www.mitchellrepublic.com

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