FREE COPY 2012 Hand County HUNTING GUIDE A Special Publication of The Miller Press · www.themillerpress.com Photo by Jaimi M. Lammers | The Miller Press Pheasant broods up 33% Cory Flor Hand County Conservation Officer he 2012 regular pheasant hunting season is nearly upon us. I thought it would be time to discuss the Hand County pheasant brood routes. The pheasant brood routes are conducted during the same time frame every year between July 25 and August 15. Each route is 30 miles long and the survey begins at sunrise. Certain conditions must be met in order for the brood route to be considered a primary run. There must be no wind, sunshine and heavy dew on the grass. Hand County has three pheasant brood routes; a north brood route, a middle brood route and a south brood route. With only 20 days to run the routes sometimes getting the perfect conditions can be tough, but this year I had perfect conditions the ﬁrst time I ran the route. I typically run the middle brood route and other GFP employees run the other two routes. This year the middle brood route T showed an increase of seven broods in 2012 from 2011; it increased from 21 broods to 28 broods. That is an increase of about 33 percent from last year. Unfortunately we are not where we were three or four years ago when the hunting was outstanding. Hunters will no doubt have to work hard again this year to get their birds, but they can still have a quality hunt without limiting out every day. The ﬁrst week or two of the season should be pretty good with the majority of the crops having been harvested already. H unters need to be aware of several laws and regulations for pheasant season. First of all, make sure you buy your license prior to hunting. You can buy a license online at the SD Game, Fish and Parks website or visit one of our license agents in Miller. When you buy your non-resident license you need to pick your start dates. If you plan on hunting opening weekend you can mark October 20 as your ﬁrst Hand County Public Hunting Lands start date and then most hunters pick the last ﬁve days of the season for their second start date. However, prior to the beginning of the start dates hunters may change their start dates. For example, if you pick December 25 for your second start date you may change it anytime prior to December 25. The non-resident small game license is not valid for waterfowl. Non-residents may hunt small game and predators and varmints with the small game license. If you want to change your start dates you need to go to the place where you bought it, or do it yourself online at the GFP website. If someone asks to see your hunting license, you have to show it according to the law. It doesn’t matter whether the person is a law enforcement ofﬁcer or not, you still need to show them if they ask. Wearing hunter orange is not required by law for small game hunting; however, with the number of hunters in the ﬁeld during the pheasant season, especially the opener, it is still a good idea to wear orange for safety reasons. If you are unsure of a shot, don’t shoot. There will always be another pheasant. Safety should be the number one priority of every hunter in the ﬁeld. Trespassing is the most common violation during the pheasant season. If you are going to hunt private land make sure you get written permission from the landowner and make sure you know where their property is located. If you are convicted of knowingly trespassing your hunting, privileges will be revoked for a period of one year. If you are going to road hunt you need to pull your vehicle over to the furthest right-hand side of the road, turn your vehicle off and close the doors on the vehicle. If you shoot a pheasant and it falls onto private proper- Photo by Jaimi M. Lammers | The Miller Press ty while road hunting the hunter may retrieve the bird as long as he puts his gun down before crossing the fence, and he must be on foot. Remember, when hunting road rights-of-way there is a 660-foot safety zone around occupied dwellings (houses), livestock, schools and churches. The Department of Game, Fish and Parks gives out white Safety Zone signs to landowners who request them. The pheasant season shooting hours are 12 noon until sunset October 20 through October 26, and 10 a.m. thereafter until sunset. This law is probably the second most common violation during pheasant season. Shooting hours end at sunset, not onehalf hour after like big game seasons. A sunrise/sunset table is in the back of the 2012 South Dakota Hunting Handbook that is easy to follow. The daily limit of pheasants is three roosters with a possession limit of 15 after the ﬁfth day of the season. If you plan on hunting public land, remember that you need to use non-toxic shot. However, you may use lead shot on state school lands, Walk-InAreas and road rights-of-way. Remember to be courteous to other hunters and landowners. Don’t clean your game in the road ditch, as it is considered littering and it looks awful for the people who live here. If you plan on transporting your pheasants, you need to have a fully feathered head attached, or a fully feathered wing or one leg attached. However, if you shoot a rooster without a visible spur you need to have a head or wing attached. Hunters may only transport their own lawfully possessed game birds. If you have your birds frozen they must be packaged no more than two per package in order to facilitate identiﬁcation and count of species. T his would be a great year for people to pick up waterfowl hunting. A lot of waterfowl are in the area and it should be a great year for waterfowl hunting. Nonresidents who wish to hunt waterfowl in S.D. need to apply by July 5 of that year in order to have a chance to draw a license. If you didn’t do this by July 5 this year and already drew a license, it is too late to apply for this year. Non-resident waterfowl licenses are limited to 4,000 licenses statewide and they are all taken during the ﬁrst drawing. In order to assist waterfowl hunters the S.D. GFP has added a thunderstorm map to their website to show where waterfowl numbers are the highest in the state. Also, I have had several waterfowl access trails mowed to the water’s edge on area GPAs to assist hunters with water access. This year, 15 rooster pheasants will be banded for the Miller Chamber of Commerce. The birds will be released prior to the ﬁrst day of the regular pheasant season. When you harvest a pheasant make sure you look for a band on its leg, as each band is worth a prize and one lucky hunter will win a gun. If you have questions or comments feel free to contact my ofﬁce at 853-3644. Remember, this is a very busy time of year so it may take a few days to return your calls. If you would like to report a wildlife violation you can call the Tips Hotline 1-888-OVERBAG (1-888-683-7224) or you can contact the sheriff’s ofﬁce, 8532408.