For the past fifteen years my dad has traveled to South Dakota to hunt pheasant. He goes with a group of about thirty men and some of them have been going on the same hunt for thirty-three years now. It has evolved into a tradition and these men have become more like family each time they go. Additionally, my brother got to attend for the first time three years ago and has been going ever since. They just got back last Friday and they had a great time as usual but they mentioned that they didn’t see as many birds as in past years. So I did some of my own research to find that the pheasant population has indeed fallen 64 percent statewide and has decreased even more in other areas, according to the Game, Fish, and Parks Department.
The town that they hunt in, Chamberlin, SD, showed that their annual brood count survey has declined 83 percent below the 10-year average. It has been said that the causes for the reduction in numbers is from a combination of weather and habitat loss. Furthermore, the Pheasants Forever Foundation has announced that the loss has been declining for years due to the habitat loss due to conversion of grasslands to row crops. They also indicated that reports have shown 1.52 pheasants per mile, down from 4.19 pheasants per mile just in the last year. Also, the drought in 2012 and a cold, wet spring in 2013 has contributed to the problem. Although the numbers are down, the South Dakota Conservation Department claim to still offer the best pheasant hunting experience in the country, providing more than 1.1 million acres of public land available for hunting.