South Dakota Pheasant Hunting


Few creatures are as wild as a South Dakota pheasant. If the John Deere folks were headquartered in the Rushmore State, they’d have a ringneck as their logo, because nothing runs like it  Pheasant hunting is a genuine adrenalin rush when a big, long-tailed rooster explodes from cover, cackles like some horror-show witch, and gives you just moments to aim, lead, and shoot, all the while enjoying the wide open spaces of the Western Great Plains. South Dakota is blessed with excellent populations of pheasants, but getting close enough for a shot is a real challenge. One year I was invited to the Governor’s hunt and quickly learned how cagey these birds can be. I opened a gate to the farm we planned to hunt and witnessed pheasants flushing half a mile away. I saw at least 100 roosters on that farm and never got a shot.

Josh Wolf takes you through the thrills of the hunt in this OutdoorHub post where he shares the experience:

South Dakota Deer 09 212For reasons which you’ll soon discover, I am not going to relinquish the name of the farmer or the whereabouts of his farm in this story. If you know him or can find his place, that’s fine. He doesn’t promote hunting of any kind but will take the occasional pheasant hunter…if you should be so lucky.

But I will tell you what “Bill” (let’s call him that) does do. He’ll put you in the birds even in the worst years. Much like this year in fact. Am I correct that I heard pheasants took a pounding back during the spring hatch due to rain and cold? Think so. Lucky for us, Bill only takes about four groups a year, thus his birds are not over-hunted.

His accommodations are nothing short of stellar—a regular Man Palace, I’m here to tell you! Complete with a big-screen TV hooked up to satellite, recliners, and soft leather couches, a refrigerator full of beer and more recreation within a five-minute drive than you could shake a stick at; take that however you want. This unlikely correspondent just happened to show up in the right spot at the right time back in 2005. Or was it 2007?

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Joe Byers
Joe Byers has more than 1,000 magazine articles in print and is currently a field editor with Whitetail Journal, Predator Xtreme, Whitetails Unlimited, Crossbow Revolution, and African Hunting Journal magazines. He’s spent the last three decades depicting the thrill of the chase and photographing the majesty of all things wild. Byers is a member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association and numerous other professional and conservation organizations.