Pheasant numbers increase in 2012 brood count
By Katie Zerr
South Dakota’s pheasant numbers increased in some prime bird areas, including Mobridge, according to the 2012 brood count conducted by the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks.
According to the annual count, released last week, South Dakota’s best pheasant hunting for 2012 may be in the Mobridge, Chamberlain, Pierre and Winner areas. According to the survey, Mobridge has 6.71 birds per mile, up from 5.73 in 2011. (See accompanying chart for further survey numbers.)
Hunters who make the annual trip to South Dakota should see a better hunting experience with the increase in numbers according to the report.
Brendan Peterson of the Mobridge GF&P office said the birds he saw during the counting period were an encouraging sign.
“Most broods that we saw had good numbers,” he said. “It should be a good hunting year in our area.”
He said he had expected a higher count in the Mobridge area because of the mild conditions in the 2011-2012 winter months, but cover and conditions on the days of the count might have impacted the survey.
Peterson said the number of broods that were counted in Corson and Dewey counties were down, but the number of chicks in broods was up. He said hunters should have no problem finding birds in that area.
Results of the survey show that pheasant numbers grew in many areas of the state, due in large part to a mild winter and ideal weather during the nesting and brood-rearing season. Much of the improvement in the pheasant counts came from areas of the state that had a good habitat base.
Biologists get their data from 107, 30-mile pheasant brood routes across South Dakota where there are enough pheasants to survey. Routes are surveyed from July 25 through Aug. 15 each year using standardized methods on mornings when weather conditions are best for observing pheasants.
No other locations in the state show more than five pheasants per mile, which helps pull the state average going into the 2012 season down to 4.21 pheasants per mile.
GF&P’s survey report suggests hunters may do better than in 2011, when they bagged 1.55 million roosters.
The pheasants-per-mile index for 2012 is 4.21, up 18 percent from the 3.57 index of 2011.
The pheasant season traditionally opens on the third Saturday in October, which is on Oct. 20 for the 2012 season
According to the GF&P, hunters in Walworth County generated an estimated $4.5 million in revenue in 2011. In Campbell County, hunters spent $3.3 million, in Dewey $2.5 million and in Corson, $800,000.
According to the GF&P, in Walworth County in 2001 there were 1,181 resident hunters and 1,938 non-resident hunters that harvested 33,628 pheasants.
In Corson County there were 438 resident hunters and 275 non-resident hunters with 6,762 pheasants harvested.
In Dewey County there were 461 resident hunters and 1,151 non-resident hunters with 19,481 pheasants harvested.
In Campbell County, 532 resident and 1,544 non-residents hunters harvested 4,777 pheasants.
– Katie Zerr –