GFP: Fresh snow shouldn't impact pheasant season

PIERRE, S.D. (KSFY) - The winter weather has hit early across parts of South Dakota.

And with the pheasant hunting season opener next weekend, the question is 'what will happen to the pheasant?' KSFY News spoke with the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks to find out.

"During the storms, if they last two or three days, the pheasants have fat reserves that they store on their body and basically kind of utilize that as an energy reserve until they go out and feed," said Nathan Baker, SD GFP.

Baker says even with this early snowstorm it shouldn't have much of an effect on the state bird if they find adequate shelter near their food source.

"Usually, pheasants aren't dying from starvation or things like that," Baker said. "It usually is when you have winter cover that is a long way from their food source, then they either have to fly or walk that far out there and then they are more susceptible to predators, to the elements."

Right now, the state of South Dakota has seen a decline of 17 percent on pheasants heading into the 2019 season.

"The primary thing that drives the pheasant population in the state of South Dakota would be the availability of quality nesting cover. So, grassland habitats are the most critical components. If you have that, your pheasant population will continue to thrive and rebuild."

Neil Record is from Clinton, La., and is making his way up to North Dakota for their pheasant season opener

"We left home at six o'clock on Wednesday morning, drove to Sioux City, Iowa, picked up one of my buddies there," Record said. "Started out, left there around noon, in Sioux City and the weather just deteriorated from there. Obviously, as you can see behind me it is pretty bad."

Record says this experience is one he'd be thankful to never deal with again.

"We drive in hurricane weather all the time, but we don't drive in snow at all," Record said. "We don't have snow very often in Louisiana."

Record said he's hoping the snow doesn't stick around long.

"We're not going to hunt in this kind of weather," Record said. "But, if it eases up, wind eases up, and the sun comes out. We'll go after them. It's perfectly fine with me if it would melt."