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Hunting Seasons / Licensing Info

Hunting rules can be confusing, as South Dakota has pheasant preserves, which have different rules.
A preserve is set up for hunting lodges, as a way to allow hunting more birds per day, but all the pheasants must be tagged and replaced.  Some lodges are preserves, some are open hunting land, and other lodges are part preserve, and part open hunting.
Open Hunting Regulations
Daily Limit: 3 rooster pheasants (15 pheasants on a preserve, with proper tagging)

Possession Limit: 15 rooster pheasants, taken according to the daily limit. The limit accrues at the rate of 3 birds a day, and 15 birds may not be possessed until after the fifth day of hunting.  The pheasants must have one distinguishing feature left on the bird, see the photo, most hunters just leave on one leg and foot.  For hunting preserves, you can shoot 15 or more birds per day (see main FAQ page).

South Dakota Pheasant Shooting Hours:
The first hunting weekend of the year, open hunting is 12 Noon to sunset, Central Time
10 a.m., Central Time, to sunset the rest of the season.
NOTE: Central Time is used for opening shooting hours statewide.  The time zone changes in the middle of the state, hence West River SD pheasant hunting will start an hour earlier.

Future Pheasant Season Opening Dates: The pheasant season in South Dakota traditionally opens on the third Saturday in October. The current breakdown is as follows:
Sept 1: Preserve Hunting opens and continues through March 31 (all hunters)
For Non-Preserve hunting:
Youth only hunting starts on the first weekend of October.
SD Resident hunting starts on the 2nd weekend of October.
Traditional hunting starts on the 3rd weekend of October.  Most hunters use this date as the opening date, as many lodges have both preserve and non-preserve land.
Non-Preserve hunting goes through the Christmas holiday break, and usually ends sometime around the first few days in January.

License Requirements:
  • Residents = Small Game, or Combination, or Junior Combination, or Youth Small Game; or 1-Day Small Game
  • Nonresidents = Nonresident Small Game, or Nonresident Youth Small Game (each valid for two 5-day hunting periods; start dates must be identified before license issued)
  • Purchase a license online: Purchase and print off your license from the comfort of your home.
  • You may purchase your license by visiting these storefront license agents 

Resident Licenses & Fees
  • Combination (small game & fishing), around $50
  • Junior Combination, ages 16-18, around $25
  • Small Game, around $30, small game is needed for pheasant hunting
  • Furbearer $25
Non-Resident Licenses & Fees

  • Small Game (two 5-day periods) is just over $100
  • Youth Small Game, ages 12-15 is around $25

Hunting Regulations: A summary of the rules and regulations that guide your hunt provided by the South Dakota Game Fish & Parks.

Public Hunting Areas: South Dakota offers over 1 million acres of Walk-In Areas (private land leased for public hunting) to supplement SD's many other public hunting opportunities. Not only can you access these maps from the state Game Fish & Parks website, but they offer options to personalize maps to meet your needs and even download map information to your GPS unit.

When is Pheasant Season Open in South Dakota?
SD Pheasant Season Dates : Oct. 16, 2010 - Jan. 2, 2011

Where can I buy a South Dakota Hunting License?
South Dakota hunting licenses are sold at retailers throughout South Dakota and can also be purchased online from South Dakota Game Fish and Parks Website at http://gfp.sd.gov/hunting/licenses/