Monday, May 20, 2013

Pierre SD prime place in nation for bird hunting - Pheasant, Sharped-tail, Prairie Chicken, Hungarian Partridge

By David Rookhuyzen

South Dakota and Pierre are known for good pheasant hunting, but the capital city recently received another acknowledgement as a place where bird hunters can find everything they want.

The city and surrounding area, including the Fort Pierre National Grassland, was recently named as the number one place in the country for bird hunting by Pheasants Forever because of the diversity of its hunting opportunities.

Pierre was followed by Lewistown, Mont., Hettinger, N.D., Huron, S.D., and Valentine, Neb., on the 25-slot list.

Anthony Hauck, the online editor for Pheasants Forever who compiled the rankings, said it started last year as the 25 best areas for pheasant hunting. While South Dakota was well represented, Pierre was not mentioned, in what Hauck said was a “glaring omission,” while trying to be representative of the whole country.

“The reality is you can pick 25 towns from South Dakota (for pheasant hunting),” he said.

For the overall bird hunting list, Hauck said the area gained the number one spot because there are not too many places in the country that provide the mix-bag opportunities at the level offered in Pierre. Within an hour’s drive of the town there are opportunities for a hunter to bag “the grand slam” of the Dakotas: sharp-tailed grouse, prairie chicken, Hungarian partridge, and, of course, pheasant.

Also, the ability to hunt on public lands solidified Pierre’s standing, Hauck said. Public access is crucial for people who want to travel and hunt, and not necessary rely on a lodge or hunting guide, he said.

Hauck gave special mention to the Fort Pierre National Grassland, saying it’s managed specifically to foster bird populations.

Ruben Mares, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Forest Service at the grassland, said the whole theory behind the grassland’s management is to provide habitat for various birds, using the greater prairie chicken as an indicator species.

Read the rest of the Capitol Journal article

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