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GF&P board revises deer drawing structure

The South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks. (Republic file photo)

PIERRE—The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission unanimously passed a new deer license allocation proposal Friday that would allow a hunter to apply for two of the six deer seasons in the first draw. These seasons include: East River/Special Buck, West River/Special Buck, Black Hills, Muzzleloader, Refuge and Custer State Park.

Special Buck license holders would be limited to one additional application in the first draw as long as that application was not valid for the same season as their Special Buck license. Nonresident hunters would still be eligible for eight percent of the allocation for West River, Black Hills and Refuge hunting seasons during the first drawing.

"We understand that initially, the intent was to get folks their most preferred tag, more often. While doing so, we lost some support along the way," stated GF&P Commissioner Russell Olson of Madison in a statement. "The commission has listened to our resident and nonresident deer hunters; we value public input and respectful dialogue has rewards. Because of this, we now have a compromise for those wanting to hunt East and West River in the same year allowing them to continue their family and outdoor traditions."

Other details include:

• In the second draw, a hunter may not apply for a leftover license if they possess two licenses for any of the East River/Special Buck, West River/Special Buck, Black Hills, Muzzleloader, Refuge and Custer State Park deer hunting units in the first draw. A person with one license for these seasons may submit one application for a season they currently do not possess a license.

• In the third draw, a resident hunter (even if they possess two licenses) may submit one application for each season they do not possess a license.

• In the fourth draw, resident hunters may submit up to five applications. Only those nonresidents without a license may apply for a license remaining in pools originally designated (8 percent) for nonresidents (West River, Black Hills or Refuge).

• After the fourth draw, all remaining resident and nonresident licenses would be pooled and sold first-come, first-served. There will be no limit on the number of licenses that a person can acquire.

In addition, preference points for the combined deer drawings would be free to youth age 15 or younger during the calendar year when the preference point is acquired. A first-time applicant for a combined deer drawing that is or was age 15 or younger in the calendar year of the drawing would receive a bonus preference point for that drawing.

Pending finalization of this new proposal, the commission intends to conduct a review of these potential changes in three years.

The proposal is open for public comment until the next commission meeting on Feb. 28. This proposal is subject to change upon finalization.