More Pheasants Don’t Translate Into Better Hunter Success

South Dakota saw an increase in pheasant hunters last year, but they didn’t harvest as many birds as state biologists expected.

About 65,000 resident hunters and 85,000 nonresident hunters killed about 1.2 million pheasants in 2015. Game, Fish and Parks biologist Travis Runia says that was lower than expected given an estimated pheasant population increase of 42 percent from 2014.

Runia says weather likely was a big reason for the lower-than-expected harvest estimate. He says temperatures were around 90 degrees during the residents-only season, and hot weather is tough on hunters and their dogs.

The loss of grassland habitat also means there are fewer areas to hunt. Only 101 new acres of South Dakota land was enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program this year.