If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to go on a pheasant hunt either by yourself or with a group, now is the time to begin your planning process. If you are a first-timer and have decided that you would like to cross this one off your bucket list, this task may be a bit overwhelming to you.

Here are few pointers on making your hunt successful and memorable.

I would recommend that you choose a professional pheasant hunting guide or outfitter for your first pheasant hunting trip. Leave the details to them and you won’t get a headache over planning your trip. When using a guide service, you just show up with your buddies, associates and/or clients, and they will take care of you. I guess it isn’t that simple as you will still need to buy your airline tickets, bring your shotgun and buy your hunting license. You can do an internet search and find many, many outfitters and guides to select from. South Dakota has over 300 registered pheasant hunting services available. Each one has different pricing, options, packages, locations, caters to groups, caters to small groups, offers self-guided and/or guided hunts, offers different styles of hunting and the list goes on and on.

If you wish to pursue the wily rooster on your own, the first thing you should think about is your budget and how much time you have. These are guiding factors in most all other decisions related to your quest. The cheapest route would probably be doing a self-guided hunt, hunting on public hunting land. It may be a hit or miss situation depending on many different factors. You will need to do a lot of research and pre-planning before heading out. South Dakota would be a good selection for this endeavor with five million acres of public hunting land available.   

When hunting public land, you will need to be in excellent condition as you will be doing lots of walking and a good hunting dog will be essential for a successful wild rooster hunt. Many people enjoy this freedom to explore. It would be best if you knew someone who could direct you or could join another hunter who has done this before. 

Another avenue would be to load up the vehicle and drive to South Dakota where you can simply road hunt. I would suggest a 4-wheel drive especially during the times of questionable late fall or winter weather conditions. Be sure to read the current South Dakota Hunting Handbook for rules and regulations. Road hunters are not welcome by many landowners because some “road warriors” have not abided by the rules. If you want to pursue the ring neck in this manner, make sure you keep the 600-foot distance from farm yards and residences and do not trespass on private property. Also, South Dakota landowners do not need to post “no hunting” signs on their land. All private property is off limits unless you have permission from the individual landowners or go through an outfitter. I would suggest you research the best areas to road hunt by reviewing the pheasant brood count which usually comes out by the end of August. 

If you don’t have the time to plan your trip or have the extra days needed to do a self-guided trip and you are ready to part with some of your hard-earned cash, check out the many outfitters in South Dakota. You can find an outfitter for almost any situation you have in mind. For instance, you may want to find a farmer or landowner who will offer their private land on which to hunt. This can be very hard to do, but you may be able to establish a relationship with a farmer and earn the right to hunt on his land. This is getting more and more difficult to do in South Dakota as there is a cost to building good pheasant habitat and idling land for wildlife, and most farmers want to be paid for it.

There are some outfitters in South Dakota who lease their land to one person or group for the entire season. This is also not an easy find either. This may be an ideal scenario for a group of hunters that want exclusive rights to the land.

There are a few outfitters in the state who offer self-guided hunts on private land. You may be hunting wild pheasants or a combination of released and wild pheasants. This is for hunters who have their own dogs, want to feel free to hunt the property the way they choose and know they are on the right parcel of private land. It would be helpful to be an experienced bird hunter with good shooting skills as well as have a good dog and know the best hunting strategy for a successful pheasant hunt.    

There are many preserves are available for hunting in South Dakota from September to the end of March. The preserves are mandated to release a certain ratio of birds based on the number harvested. Many of these preserves have wild birds mixed in as they provide excellent bird hunting habitat and help to increase pheasant numbers. There are separate preserve licenses in South Dakota. You can obtain a 1-day, 5-day or season-long license. Check with each preserve for what their package includes. Many are all-inclusive. 

You can obtain the services of an experienced professional hunting guide service for yourself or your group. With this service, you leave the details up to the service. You may not have the time to invest in researching places to hunt, accommodations, restaurants, etc. South Dakota lodging properties and restaurants are especially busy during hunting season. By choosing this service you can be assured that you will have lodging and restaurant availability. Guide services or outfitters provide a complete package. This includes, bird hunting, professional guides, hunting behind top bred, highly-trained dogs with access to fine pheasant habitat and bird numbers. Bird cleaning and shotgun shells are included. You may be a business person wanting to provide a quality, fun hunt for customers, employees or associates and don’t want to worry what the outcome may be. You may not have all experienced hunters and want to be assured you will be placed in good hands for a safe and successful hunt with everyone leaving with smiles on their faces. 

If you don’t worry about the price and want to be pampered along with your hunt, South Dakota and other states have all-inclusive hunting lodges that offer everything from lavish accommodations and gourmet cuisine along with their hunting packages. Some of the best ones are endorsed by leading sporting retailers in the U.S.   

South Dakota’s regular hunting season opens the third Saturday in October and ends around the first weekend in January. Check the SD Game, Fish and Parks website to receive the most up-to-date information on hunting season dates and costs of licenses. Chambers of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureaus offer information on local hunting services, restaurants and accommodations. Make your reservations early. Start thinking about booking your 2019 pheasant hunt now.

About The Author

Midwest Hunting & Fishing

Midwest Hunting and Fishing magazine is a bi-monthly magazine providing relevant and timely content to our readers throughout the Midwest through our high-quality print and digital magazine. Fisherman and hunters alike find MHF there one stop shop to find the latest news and information on the hottest trends, fishing and hunting reports, destinations and quality content only found in MHF issues. We bring real-time outdoor news to our readers and viewers through our many digital formats such as this website, social media channels and our bi-weekly e-newsletter. To stay up to do date with all things Outdoors subscribe to our e-newsletter and follow along on our Facebook and Instagram pages.