Rooster Wrap Up for 2023

Feb 12, 2024

A bit windy, but worth a read…

I am passing along this update and report to all of those of you who have either hunted with us or have shown serious interest in booking a trip to pursue our pheasants. If you have yet to pull the trigger, figuratively and literally, you owe it to yourself. Or, if you haven’t been out to see us in a while, the 2024 South Dakota Pheasant season would be the prime time to do so. 2024 season runs from October 19th till the end of January 2025. Do not overlook the increased shooting opportunities the later season dates provide.  

As we wrap up yet another hunting season, it is not hard to reflect upon just how fortunate we are to live here in Spink County, SD. Mother Nature tossed the birds another huge assist with a wet spring which helped to subdue some of the more questionable farming habits. Thus, leaving many acres idle and overgrown. Providing perfect nesting cover.

The Roosters obviously did their cocky thing and the Hens responded with early nesting efforts in the newly expanded cover. The well-received result was large and early broods. The timing worked out perfectly as when the chicks hatched the weather began warming enough to produce massive bug hatches. Providing instant access to plentiful protein. Quick growth and the mobility to help evade our ever-overpopulated predators ensued. When the hens did bring their hatchlings up to the road, we were seeing a dozen or more following Momma.

Just like we did the previous spring. Back-to-back above average hatches amount to big bird numbers. If we can pull off even an average hatch, we will have 2024 numbers that will rival and quite possibly exceed the hey days of the early 2000’s and the peak of enrolled and idle CRP acres.

By the traditional 3rd Saturday in October opener, we began seeing good numbers of already full sized and fully colored first year roosters and a new crop of very healthy hens. As daunting as our weather can often be, we experienced far above normal temperatures that are continuing with temps in the mid 40’s as the end of January concludes this season. We have only received a scant few inches of snow. All of this equates to our entire bird population that has yet to endure any stress whatsoever. Meaning, they should be easily able to weather anything Mother Nature may throw at them and be in good shape to produce another successful hatch. Providing us with the opportunities to showcase what we have to offer and pull off another banner season in 2024.

For the 2023 season, full bags were the norm and quite frankly, only limited by poor shooting. All left happy and I dare say that we accomplished our priority number 1 goal of providing not only fond memories, but even better, memories to endure an entire lifetime. We have now been around long enough to have been witness to generations of youngsters’ first hunts, with proud fathers and grandfathers at their sides. As encouraging as that is, every single season we are seeing more participation by the fairer sex. Not just young gals either. We are seeing many wives join in for the first time for the fun with their masculine halves. Or full-grown women taking an inaugural venture to the fields with dad or grandad. The bonds formed and the entire experience absolutely cannot be replicated anywhere else. Friendships made and bonds strengthened, fall color and country smells, noisy explosive flushes, great meals, and of course-our canine counterparts. These are just a few examples of the more notable images that will be conjured up and reminisced on forever. That is exactly what keeps us here and expanding to serve our guests. And keeps them coming back for more.

We look forward to each season as much as you do. It truly does amount to a form of extended family reunion. Raising spirits both figuratively and literally as some of our guests do build up powerful thirsts following our dogs raising the birds up within gun range. Regardless, fun and memories are always at the forefront.

Well, that’s current events. Now on to the important business of the future and a forecast:

First and foremost, the new lodge for guided guests will be completely ready to roll for this season. As will an additional bird cleaning station. Leaving us with 2 cleaning stations onsite in Mellette as well as others on our farms. Self-guided guests in the area are welcome to drop in to prepare their birds, grab a beer or a glass with cubes and B.S. with the other hunters. Cocks, cocktails, and camaraderie. Just doesn’t get any better than that.

This whole project drug on far longer than I had wished for and caused even more chaos and confusion than usual around here for the now past season. But I seem to thrive on it. Although, with the new building complete, I am breaking the habit and headed towards organization. Thus, things will run much more smoothly from this point forward. I really appreciate the patience of our guests who got to watch me struggle through it all. Growing pains, I guess?

The next order on the agenda is the acquisition of even more high-quality habitat through additional land leases. This is the fastest growing segment of our operation as we continue to strive to maintain our mission of having more ground than our Full or Self-Guided guests can ever hope to get over. As in the past, this is a matter of pride and something I simply will not cut corners on.

One of our newer ventures is taking advantage of the waterfowl we are blessed with in our pothole regions. Many folks may not realize this, but South Dakota perennially leads the nation in duck production. Add this with their counterparts from the north stopping to feed on untold acres of harvested crops, and you have the perfect scenario for some epic hunts. Often, the guides will have mallards spiraling down, right in your lap. Even the most hardened waterfowler will instantly appreciate what we have here.

South Dakota does present a hurdle in the form of applying for the traditional waterfowl season. Which must be completed by the first week of July. We are more than happy to help guide you through the entire process. Please note, this does not apply to Spring Snow Geese or the September Non-Resident Canada Goose Reduction Season. Just come on out, we can get you into the geese. Big time! There is no limit on the Snows and 15 per person per day on Canada’s. Furthermore, we supply all the shells.

We will have more help on hand to see that our guests are properly catered to. The more staff the better for everyone and keeps the old guy at the helm on an even keel and at times, a steady course. Now, those of you who know me too well, stop laughing, show some support and think positive.

We continually strive to take steps to grow at a sustainable pace and make improvements where needed. All of us here at Dakota Pheasant Guide contribute to the overall experience for all our guests. We most emphatically thank all of you for your continued support and patience as we find our way.

I must admit that I enjoy the camaraderie, storytelling (some even true), beverages (some even not-intoxicating), meals shared, and of course, taking aim at our roosters (some even hit), watching the dogs perform and interact just much as the rest of you do. Just as long as our guests keep coming, we will be here awaiting your arrival. While not young, chasing birds for a living does aid in slowing the progression of the inevitable aging process. For that, I am truly thankful and list high on the reasons I go through 9 months of preparation for 3 months of what amounts to an annual pheasant and people party.

Let’s let the party and the good times continue to roll. I am being much more aggressive with getting bookings down and done earlier. So, if you and your group would like to join in and get a jump on the roosters, the time to start getting firm dates together is right now. Therefore, guaranteeing your desired dates and locations.

For those of you who have hunted with us:  We love to relive the experiences via the images and rave reviews that are generously shared with us.  Just go here to upload photos, pass along some positive commentary and then click the Google link to leave us the ever important Google review.