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Hunting Seasons are Here by Gary Howey

  You have to feel it, the air, the cool brisk temperatures and the breeze that will soon bring the cold weather our way. 

  My old hunting dog, “Mo” knew right away that it was here; he had a little more bounce in his step when I let out for his run

  He would come out of the kennel on a dead run, nose to the ground, tail high in the air and after two or three laps around the yard, run to the back of the pickup thinking that it was time to go hunting.

   You will not have to look at a calendar to know that fall arrives on September 22. You will feel it!

  With the arrival of fall outdoorsmen and women, know that hunting seasons have begun or are getting close

    In South Dakota, one of the first seasons to open is the sharptail grouse/prairie chicken season, which opened Sep 15, 2018, closing January 6, 2019. 
  South Dakota Game & Parks lek surveys indicated that grouse numbers were looking good this year with substantial increase in numbers in several counties including; Jackson, with a 321% change, Beadle with its 100% change and Jerauld-Aurora  that has a 125% change over last year.

  Sharp-tailed grouse, the sharptails and greater prairie chickens, known as prairie grouse, closely related native birds found across areas of the state where you will find mainly prairie landscapes of central and western South Dakota. 

  Sharptails have a short tail with its two center feathers longer and darker than its outer tail feathers, giving its tail feathers that sharper look than those of the prairie chicken and where these birds gained their name. Their coloring is mottled dark with a light brown and a light background, while prairie chickens have a shorter tail that is, dark, and rounded. Grouse have feathers running all the way down their legs to their toes, while the prairie grouses feet are hairless.         

 Most prairie grouse hunting occurs on large expanses of grassland, but some birds occur in cropland along the field edges in grassland areas. They group up in coveys, which grows in numbers size in later season. Prairie grouse can also be found in mixed flocks in areas where their habitat or range overlaps.

  Grouse are a creature of the prairie and like most other wildlife living on the prairie; depend on their eyesight for safety.

  Grouse locate in areas where they have a clear sight of vision.  At times, it will be an area with thinnest cover as this gives them the ability to spot danger at a distance.

  Since they inhabit the prairie, where it seems like it is always windy, look for grouse on the downwind side of a ridge or hill.

  They will move into thick cover to get out of the sun and I have found them nestled under cedar trees on very warm sunny days.

  If you are hunting on a day that is very warm, especially during the early season, look for them around stock tanks, ponds or any location where they might easily find water.

  The edges of irrigated alfalfa fields are also a good spot to look for grouse as the alfalfa is a good food source for the birds and the irrigation systems wheel tracks generally hold enough water to quench the grouses thirst.

  A good way to locate grouse is to look a field over with your field glasses before heading into it to hunt. As grouse will usually have a sentry or two with their head protruding above the grass looking for danger. [Read more…]