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Thread: SE SD Public Land Report

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    Default SE SD Public Land Report

    Buzz & I got a few this past 4-day weekend, but in my view, we earned more than we got. Here's the whining of a single hunter & dog on public land & walk-ins in a triangle with corners at Sioux Falls, Arlington, & Alexandria.

    So far this season I haven't experienced anything like a 47% increase in population. This doesn't surprise me in the least, since regardless of what the brood count survey reports, I never feel like there's a rise or fall in numbers exceeding 15-20% (where I hunt). The habitat is pretty much prime (and spectacular this year) & the variations from year to year tend to be less severe than the "statewide average". What I'm actually SEEING, though, seems like a slight decrease. But I think the birds are there......somewhere. Hunting conditions so far have been uncommonly difficult because of the weather & late harvest.

    Right now, conditions are about as tough as they get. The birds have played the game now hundreds of times & they know the drill. Most of the corn has been picked, but with no snow cover, the birds can poke around in the middle of a picked corn field & still feel pretty safe. The weather really hasn't sent them into cattails much yet, & most cattails aren't very cozy anyway. The floor is ice. And it's ice that most guys can't walk on without breaking through in some places. Hunting the edges of cattails has produced primarily hens (& not very many of them) that have great ears & run very well on ice through cattails. It's been so windy that I'm pretty sure most roosters are finding trees on private land. The public land in my triangle hardly has any trees (or food plots for that matter), & a single guy/dog couldn't do much about birds in trees anyway.

    Summary: If you hunt public land anywhere near standing corn, you're pretty well screwed, except for the rare really dumb rooster. There are still just a ton of options for them & most roosters aren't coming to roosting cover until after sunset. It's been so windy that they're finding trees where they're safe & warm during the day & have easy access to corn. We need several more days of cold weather so things freeze up to a point they're walkable. Then 8" of snow that sticks around & is refreshed by a little new snow here & there until the end of the season, which hopefully consists of a steady 8-10 mph breeze that's always in my face. I've bucked enough gale force winds. It can start now & in that order please.
    "Most pheasants in South Dakota don't react too well to #5s." -The Hunt for Red Rooster

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    Minnetonka/Minneapolis
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    1,846

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    Excellent report, Bret. Sounds like you have had a difficult go of it...

    Heading west of Chamberlain on 12/6 - by then most/all of the grain should be cut.

    I agree with your (46%) assessment; we haven't experienced the increase either. One farm where we have hunted the past 8-10 years, is about the same, if not less than last year.

    Your observation about cattail edges is interesting. I seldom find hens in the tails except when there's nowhere for them to hide. We are seeing very few hens ...

    Good hunting to you!

  3. #3
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    Oct 2016
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    Sioux Falls, SD
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonnyB View Post
    I seldom find hens in the tails except when there's nowhere for them to hide.
    That's......really baffling. In my 38 years of hunting, I'll bet my dogs & I have flushed several billion hens in cattails. (or so it would seem)
    "Most pheasants in South Dakota don't react too well to #5s." -The Hunt for Red Rooster

  4. #4
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    Oct 2009
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    Cattails late, grass areas early or in the grain. But not quite a "billion."

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
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    South Dakota
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    Went south of Mitchell and experienced exactly that. All the birds were hunkered in pretty thick. Ran a bunch when spooked. Did manage to flush two roosters in range. Only problem is they were together. So I only shot one. Learned a long time ago to only take one and pick it up before shooting another. Lost to many when I get greedy. Saw about 18 hens and only two other wild roosters.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Spring Grove, IL
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    Quote Originally Posted by A5 Sweet 16 View Post
    Buzz & I got a few this past 4-day weekend, but in my view, we earned more than we got. Here's the whining of a single hunter & dog on public land & walk-ins in a triangle with corners at Sioux Falls, Arlington, & Alexandria.

    So far this season I haven't experienced anything like a 47% increase in population. This doesn't surprise me in the least, since regardless of what the brood count survey reports, I never feel like there's a rise or fall in numbers exceeding 15-20% (where I hunt). The habitat is pretty much prime (and spectacular this year) & the variations from year to year tend to be less severe than the "statewide average". What I'm actually SEEING, though, seems like a slight decrease. But I think the birds are there......somewhere. Hunting conditions so far have been uncommonly difficult because of the weather & late harvest.

    Right now, conditions are about as tough as they get. The birds have played the game now hundreds of times & they know the drill. Most of the corn has been picked, but with no snow cover, the birds can poke around in the middle of a picked corn field & still feel pretty safe. The weather really hasn't sent them into cattails much yet, & most cattails aren't very cozy anyway. The floor is ice. And it's ice that most guys can't walk on without breaking through in some places. Hunting the edges of cattails has produced primarily hens (& not very many of them) that have great ears & run very well on ice through cattails. It's been so windy that I'm pretty sure most roosters are finding trees on private land. The public land in my triangle hardly has any trees (or food plots for that matter), & a single guy/dog couldn't do much about birds in trees anyway.

    Summary: If you hunt public land anywhere near standing corn, you're pretty well screwed, except for the rare really dumb rooster. There are still just a ton of options for them & most roosters aren't coming to roosting cover until after sunset. It's been so windy that they're finding trees where they're safe & warm during the day & have easy access to corn. We need several more days of cold weather so things freeze up to a point they're walkable. Then 8" of snow that sticks around & is refreshed by a little new snow here & there until the end of the season, which hopefully consists of a steady 8-10 mph breeze that's always in my face. I've bucked enough gale force winds. It can start now & in that order please.
    Hey Brent, I hit a couple of the spots you mentioned on my way out yesterday. Put up 10 birds. Roosters flushed wild so I didnt have any shots. Today I went North of where I told you Im staying and found about 10 hens in the areas you mentioned above. No roosters. So Im 2 days into 5 without warming a barrel.
    Not sure which direction to head in the morning. Looks like the wind is going to sit down a bit on Tuesday.
    Mike

  7. #7
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    Oct 2016
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    Sioux Falls, SD
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    Quote Originally Posted by UplandHntr View Post
    Hey Brent, I hit a couple of the spots you mentioned on my way out yesterday. Put up 10 birds. Roosters flushed wild so I didnt have any shots. Today I went North of where I told you Im staying and found about 10 hens in the areas you mentioned above. No roosters. So Im 2 days into 5 without warming a barrel.
    Not sure which direction to head in the morning. Looks like the wind is going to sit down a bit on Tuesday.
    Mike, I feel your frustration. If the wind settles down, things might return to normal....a bit. On days that it seems you just can't buy a rooster on public land....they're probably hanging out in trees somewhere. I suggest trying to find some trees to walk through, either a big shelter belt or rows of cedars. Probably dang tough to get a shot, but you might move them somewhere they could sit for a real stealthy hunter. Or nice ditches near picked corn & off the beaten path. Know the rules though. Keep after em.
    Brent
    Last edited by A5 Sweet 16; 11-27-2018 at 09:22 AM.
    "Most pheasants in South Dakota don't react too well to #5s." -The Hunt for Red Rooster

  8. #8
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    Oct 2016
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    Sioux Falls, SD
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    Also, this is getting tougher & tougher, as pheasant & deer farmers seem to magically start their game farms adjacent to good public land. But try to find public land that does NOT have a bunch of nice private land across the fence. This late in the year, if that nice private stuff isn't socked in w/ snow, most roosters will have jumped the fence....for good. They have no sense of fair play.
    "Most pheasants in South Dakota don't react too well to #5s." -The Hunt for Red Rooster

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    I would echo these sentiments. I hunt a similar area and its been a very interesting year. Starting with water in places and fields I've never seen before and the harvest extending late into the year (still quite a bit of corn up around me it seems). The sloughs were not walkable early and are still not walkable because both dogs and walkers punch through the layer of ice which quickly takes a toll on the dogs paws. Also, I don't recall ever seeing such a disparity in the hen to rooster ratio this early in the year. My honest guess is the dogs and I are putting up 15-20 hens per rooster. 2 Saturdays ago I stopped counting at 40 hens and only locked up 1 rooster. I have also shot and seen more super young birds than ever before, no doubt there was a late second hatch in my area. Still nothing beats watching the dogs and they have been spectacular. The only dropped bird that gave them the slip was on opening day. My estimate is bird numbers are just about the same, possibly slightly down in our area from last year but again just a very unique year. Good luck the rest of the way!

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