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State commission proposes all deer hunting ends Jan. 1

PIERRE -- All deer hunting would end no later than New Year's Day in South Dakota starting in 2019 under a proposal made Friday by the state Game, Fish & Parks Commission.

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PIERRE - All deer hunting would end no later than New Year's Day in South Dakota starting in 2019 under a proposal made Friday by the state Game, Fish & Parks Commission.

Tom Kirschenmann made the recommendation to the commission. He is chief of terrestrial resources in the state Wildlife Division.

The public hearing is May 3 at 2 p.m. MT during the commission meeting at Creekside Lodge in Custer State Park.

Archery and muzzleloader hunts that go deeper into January would need rule changes if the commission adopts the Jan. 1 closing date. It would apply for the 2018-2019 seasons.

Commissioners took a somewhat unorthodox approach Friday on a second matter regarding deer seasons.

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They are floating two ideas regarding the additional nine consecutive days that hunters have been allowed to pursue antlerless deer.

The nine days traditionally began on the Saturday after Christmas.

Commissioners agreed they want antlerless-only seasons for both of the East River and West River deer seasons this year.

Some parts of western South Dakota need more deer taken, Commissioner Scott Phillips, of rural New Underwood said Friday.

"We need more doe harvest and this is one way to do it," Phillips said.

But before making a formal proposal, commissioners first want public comments on two options for how they would structure the additional hunt.

The comments would shape the formal proposal commissioners plan to make at their April 5-6 meeting at Outdoor Campus West in Rapid City.

The commission would then hold a public hearing May 5 at 2 p.m. MT on whatever that proposal is.

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One option calls for the antlerless-only season to run Dec. 26 through Jan. 1 for both East River and West River.

The second option would start the antlerless-only season on the Saturday after the conclusion of the main East River season.

That second option would run nine consecutive days for both East River and West River. That would be Dec. 8 through Dec. 16 this year.

The commission has eight members. The five who participated in the decisions on proposals Friday followed advice from Tony Leif, director for the state Wildlife Division.

Leif said state Game, Fish & Parks Department staff members would start spreading word about the two versions of the antlerless-deer proposal through news releases, Twitter and electronic messages.

But, Leif continued, the department wouldn't submit the proposal language to the Legislative Research Council until after the commission decides at the April 5-6 meeting what the proposal should be.

Without the various changes, the antlerless-only season would cover the period of Dec. 29 through Jan. 6.

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