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Pheasant Survey Indicates 47% Increase for South Dakota’s 100th Hunting Season

August 27, 2018

PIERRE, S.D. – According to the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP), this year’s pheasant brood survey shows a 47 percent increase over last year. The 2018 statewide pheasants-per-mile (PPM) index is 2.47, up from the 2017 index of 1.68.

“A substantial increase in the pheasants-per-mile index is an exciting prospect for South Dakota’s 100th pheasant hunting season this fall,” stated Kelly Hepler, GFP Secretary. “Weather conditions continue to play a significant role when it comes to bird numbers and better weather helped this year with the average pheasant brood size increasing 22 percent over last year.”

From late July through mid-August, GFP surveyed 110, thirty-mile routes across the state’s pheasant range to estimate pheasant production and calculate the PPM index. The survey is not a population estimate, but rather compares the number of pheasants observed on the routes and establishes trend information. Statewide, 85 of the 110 survey routes had a higher PPM than 2017.

“We are pleased to see pheasant numbers improve across the state; particularly in the far eastern part of the state where hunters will have more opportunities to harvest birds than in recent years,” stated Hepler. “The full report provides an overview of upland habitat; which remains a concern for all wildlife across the state. Just as changes in landscape-level habitat conditions have produced peaks and valleys in the pheasant population for 100 years, habitat will again be the key to preserving pheasant hunting for another century.” [Read more…]

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Planting for Game Birds : A Little Goes a Long Way

Early June is a great time of year to think about getting some food planted for turkeys, quail, or other birds you plan to hunt. WhistleBack is a warm season blend of sorghum, three varieties of millets, Egyptian wheat, and sunflowers. This mix is designed to produce massive amounts of seed and at the same time offer cover for many species of upland birds. WhistleBack contains varieties that all grow and mature at different heights offering food to birds as small as quail and doves on up to pheasants or turkeys.

Our modern day food plot planting practices are not very conducive to feeding quail, turkeys, etc; we plant every available open piece of ground for our deer and figure the birds will be fine. It doesn’t take a large area to feed a lot of birds and designating a third or a quarter acre section out of some of your deer plots for a strip or perimeter of WhistleBack will go a long way in feeding your game birds.

The plant varieties in WhistleBack will mature around 90 days and once the seed heads mature and dry up, they will begin to naturally drop seeds providing feed for your birds through the fall and winter. This blend also makes a very good bedding area for deer when planted in larger plots, and it can be used for a buffer or a transitional zone between the woods or bedding areas and your other food plots.

The seeds in WhistleBack are all fairly small and ground preparation should be as follows. No-Till drills work great for this blend, and most drills have a setting for planting millet or sorghums. If using traditional planting methods, I would suggest spraying the area to be planted a week to ten days ahead of planting with a non-selective herbicide, such as glyphosate, to kill all existing vegetation. The ground to be planted can then be disked or tilled and then cultipacked to create a firm seed bed. WhistleBack can then be broadcast and lightly dragged or cultipack again to incorporate seed ¼ to ½ inch into the soil.

WhistleBack can use about 250 lbs of 13-13-13 per acre, or an equivalent. All the seed varieties in this blend are nitrogen lovers and it would benefit growth and seed production to implement a secondary nitrogen application 4-6 weeks after germination, much like you would corn. Do your part this year and designate some ground for feeding your game birds.