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GF&P proposal would drastically expand South Dakota's license limits, locations for fall turkey hunting

Beyond the number of licenses, the proposal aims to significantly expand the areas where fall turkey hunting is permitted.

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Turkeys wander a field in eastern Davison County back in December 2020.
Mitchell Republic file photo
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ABERDEEN — A South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GF&P) Commission proposal to drastically increase the number of permits and allowed locations to hunt during fall turkey season is heading toward finalization after discussion at June's GF&P meeting in Aberdeen on Thursday and Friday.

The proposal calls for the expansion of fall wild turkey hunting licenses from no more than 100 to no more than 500 one-tag any turkey licenses issued to resident hunters for the Black Hills unit while also raising the cap from 400 to 2,500 one-tag and from 35 to 2,000 double-tag licenses in prairie units.

In 2020 — the most recent year in which the GF&P included data in their proposal — 109 licenses were sold in the Black Hills unit with a 23% success rate, while 438 licenses were sold in prairie units with a 38% success rate.

Beyond the number of licenses, the proposal aims to significantly expand the areas where fall turkey hunting is permitted.

Currently, fall turkey hunting in the Black Hills unit is only allowed in portions of central Custer County and north-central and northwestern Fall River County. Prairie units allow hunting in all of Bon Homme, Jackson, Roberts and Yankton counties and in a portion of Marshall County.

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Under the proposal, fall turkey hunting would be established or modified for the 2022 and 2023 hunting seasons in part or all of 22 counties — including Aurora, Davison and Hanson counties.

Originally brought forth at May's GF&P meeting at Custer State Park, commissioners heard from senior wildlife biologist Chad Lehman before officially recommending the changes. The proposal is set to be finalized after a public hearing at the GF&P's meeting in Spearfish on July 7.

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A South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission proposal would significantly expand where fall turkey hunting is permitted in the state.
Maps courtesy of the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission

Other business discussed

Archery and muzzleloader deer

The Commission continued discussions on the proposed adjustment to administrative rule and would allow for one “antlerless whitetail deer” muzzleloader or archery deer license in only those units that offer firearm antlerless deer licenses. This proposal would also exclude Custer State Park from the archery and muzzleloader deer hunting seasons.

CWD regulations

The Commission continued discussions on the proposed clean-up of administrative rule, clarifying that wildlife processors must dispose of all cervid (deer and elk) parts with a waste manager provider or permitted landfill.

Mourning dove season

The Commission continued their discussions on their proposal to allow for mourning dove hunting at Shadehill State Recreation Area in Perkins County. This would provide additional hunting opportunities without compromising the objectives and services provided of the recreation area.

Firearm and archery antelope hunting seasons

The Commission continued discussions on their proposal for the 2022-2023 antelope hunting seasons with dates of Oct. 1-16, 2022 and Sept. 30 – Oct. 15, 2023. Proposed tag numbers for the two coming seasons are 2,335 "buck only" licenses and 50 special antelope licenses.

The Commission also proposed the 2022-23 archery antelope hunting seasons by changing the license types from a license that would allow for the take of a buck or doe antelope, to a license that only allows the harvest of a buck. This season is set with season dates of Aug. 20 – Oct. 31, 2022 (closed during firearm season) and Aug. 19 – Oct. 31, 2023 (closed during firearm season).

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Mentored antelope hunting season

The Commission proposed some changes to this season for the licenses to be valid in any open firearm hunting unit west of the Missouri River for private land only.

Public comments currently being accepted

The GF&P Commission is currently accepting public comment on a variety of their proposals and discussion items. Anyone interested in submitting comment can visit the GF&P's website or mail them to 523 E. Capitol Ave. in Pierre.

To be included in the public record and to be considered by the commission, comments must include a full name and city of residence and be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on July 3.

To hear the discussion on these proposals, audio from the meeting is available through South Dakota Public Broadcasting and will soon be available on the GFP website as part of the meeting archive .

Dunteman covers general and breaking news as well as crime in the Mitchell Republic's 17-county coverage area. He grew up in Harrisburg, and has lived in South Dakota for over 20 years. He joined the Mitchell Republic in June 2021 after earning his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He can be reached at HDunteman@MitchellRepublic.com, or on Twitter @HRDunt.
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