South Dakota’s Traditional Pheasant Hunting Season Opens: A Day Like No Other

October 15, 2020

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota pheasant hunting season is underway with blaze orange as the state’s prime color. This weekend, hunters, families and friends from across the country will be welcomed to South Dakota to take part in a tradition more than 100 years old.

Pheasant hunting is a key part of South Dakota’s outdoor legacy. Earlier this year, a nationwide marketing campaign launched to encourage adventurers, traditional hunters, and those who may have skipped a year or two of hunting to experience pheasant hunting in our great state. #HuntTheGreatest is a collaboration between the Department of Game, Fish and Parks and the Department of Tourism aimed at getting more individuals and families into the field to share in the camaraderie, the flush of birds and the satisfaction of a great pheasant hunt.

“It’s not only about the birds,” said Kelly Hepler, Secretary of South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks. “This is about getting into the field with family and friends. Getting away from the screens, sharing stories, watching the dogs do what they love while taking in our amazing landscapes are all part of the experience here. In South Dakota’s fresh air and autumn sunshine, it just doesn’t get any better, and we are excited to welcome hunters from all over to our great state.”

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 39% of the corn in South Dakota was harvested as of October 11. This is well ahead of 4% harvested last year at this time and the 15% average, which is good news for bird hunters.

“Veteran hunters know that large amounts of standing crops can be a challenge, but that won’t be an issue this year. The air will be fresh, the birds will be plentiful and the outdoors will be open for everyone to enjoy,” concluded Hepler.

Increased public hunting access is also good news. With 1.1 million acres of public and private land open to public hunting within the heart of South Dakota’s pheasant range, great opportunities exist for public access to pheasant hunting. GFP has added over 40,000 acres of private land to the Walk-In Area program in the last two years, while also maintaining over 77,000 acres in the James River Watershed as part of the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). For more information on areas open to hunting, visit

In addition, some recent rule changes by the Game, Fish and Parks Commission are giving hunters more opportunity in the field. Shooting hours begin at 10 a.m., central time, starting on October 17, and the season will remain open until January 31. The most up-to-date information can be found in the hunting handbook online,

To purchase your South Dakota small game license, go online to or visit your local licensing agent.