Hunting begins

 If it flies, it dies. That’s the motto most hunters have during this extremely popular sport o f pheasant hunting that only comes around once a year. Blaze orange will soon be found in fields and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program land.

The Chinese Ring-necked pheasant is the state bird of South Dakota, on the state quarter and is also the main hunting focus here.

There are three pheasant seasons for hunters beginning in October. The Youth Pheasant hunt began Oct. 4 and ends Oct. 8. Both South Dakota residents and non-residents ages 12 to 17 can participate in this hunt as long as they have a Hunters Safety certificate and small game license. Resident- Only pheasant hunting season begins Oct. 11 and goes until Oct. 13. On Oct. 18, pheasant hunting season will be in full swing, allowing both residents and nonresidents to hunt up to three rooster pheasants a day.

According to The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks’ annual pheasant brood survey, there is a 76 percent increase statewide in pheasants per mile. In Brookings, there are 1.16 pheasants per mile. That is a 50 percent increase from last year.

According to GFP, South Dakota has over 5 million acres of public and private hunting land leased for public hunting. Common privately-owned land leased for public hunting use is CREP. Walk-in Areas are also privately owned lands that are farms. They are leased for public use. The GFP leases over 1.25 million acres of land by using revenue from license sales.

According to the GFP, $140.8 million was spent by both resident and nonresident hunters in 2013.

Both students and other hunters will be looking to buy hunting licenses this fall. There are four locations in Brookings that licenses are sold. For students, SDSU Information Exchange in The Union is the closest location to purchase a license. In order for out of state students to purchase their hunting license they must bring a copy of their class schedule and their driver’s license.

Andrew Chmela, a freshman electrical engineering major, said he purchased his license at Runnings in Brookings and already has a plan for the season.

“I plan on hunting around Brookings, Kimball, White Lake area and a little bit around Parkston,” Chmela said.

With a new pheasant season around the corner, safety is important for all hunters to be aware of. Gary Gall, co-owner of Lone Tree Outfitters located near Olivet, S.D., stresses the importance of safety on trips with hunters before their hunts after he was shot in a hunting accident. According to Gall, communication is key to having a safe hunting trip.

“A good safety tip would be going over hunting rules before the hunt,” Gall said. “Don’t shoot near blockers, shoot high enough into the air; above the horizon, don’t shoot toward other people and always unload your gun when you’re crossing a fence or getting into a vehicle.”

Hunters should always be aware of their fellow hunters and dogs while in the field Gall said. Dogs are very important to pheasant hunting because it reduces the number of birds hunters lose while hunting.

According to Gall, hunters, especially from out of state, should consider calling a local outfitter because they offer more experience, bird cleaning, a place to stay and meals while visiting South Dakota for their hunts.

Most hunters don’t find storage for their hunting gear a problem, but for students it can be difficult.

Students cannot store guns in their dorm rooms but that does not deter students from hunting. According to the South Dakota State University Police Department, students can fill out a form and keep their guns at DePuy Military Hall.

Hunting is a way of life not many in South Dakota and Gall hopes it stays that way.

“I encourage moms and dads to take their kids out hunting to keep the tradition going.” Gall said.