Pheasant numbers bleak, but still reason for optimism - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Pheasant numbers bleak, but still reason for optimism

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Ten days ago they got the news.

"When those brood counts came out it wasn't very encouraging," said Executive Director of Huron's Chamber of Commerce Peggy Woolridge.

"According to Game, Fish, and Parks and the methodology that they use, it looked like the count was down about 64%. One thing I would point out is the brood count doesn't necessarily correlate to actual pheasant population," said South Dakota Secretary of Tourism Jim Hagen.

Central and eastern South Dakota counties often see a boost to their economies in mid October through January.

"For a lot of these smaller counties it's a lifeline. It's their life blood to see these pheasant hunters come in each fall," said Hagen.

That's why this year's pheasant outlook is so disconcerting.

"We've heard from a lot of hunters that have said yes we understand the numbers, but South Dakota is not alone in what's happening. Every state that has pheasants was affected by the drought in 2012, the cold wet spring in 2013," said Hagen.

But, don't bag the season just yet. Woolridge has reason for optimism.

"Just recently I spoke with representatives from Game, Fish, and Parks as well as area farmers and what they're telling me is there was a late hatch, and so now they're seeing the birds that they didn't see when they did the brood count," said Woolridge.

So, hunters might have to practice a bit more patience this season. You might not get your limit in a quick half hour. Instead, you'll get to enjoy more of the South Dakota prairie.

"There's still going to be birds. I think there's still going to be great pheasant hunting. You might have to work a little harder," said Woolridge.

Added Hagen, "Even despite the lower numbers or the brood count numbers we're still the premier pheasant hunting spot in the United States."

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