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New drawing system part of South Dakota deer hunting proposal

PIERRE, S.D. - South Dakota’s seven deer hunting seasons have been proposed for 2019 and 2020, which sets up the first use of the state’s new deer hunting license drawing system.

Big changes to the state’s deer hunting license system got their final stamp of approval March 28, from state legislature’s Interim Rules Review Committee. The main feature of the new system requires hunters to pick two of the state’s seven limited-issue deer hunting license types to apply for in the first license lottery drawing. Before the new system was created, hunters could apply for up to six of the seven limited-issue license types.

Most of the state’s deer hunting units are currently under the population objectives Game, Fish and Parks Department biologists have set. That means, GFP is reducing the number of tags available to hunters in many areas. There are a few exceptions for whitetailed deer in the western half of the state.

The number of licenses that allow hunters to kill a whitetail buck in the state’s East River region will increase by about 5% but the number of doe tags available in the region will drop about 13%.

In the West River region, the number of buck licenses would drop about 2% while the number of doe tags would shoot up about 39 percent. Most of the increase will go to increasing the antlerless whitetailed deer harvest in areas that are over objective.

The same is true of the Black Hills region. The northern and eastern edges of the region have too many whitetailed deer according to the biologists, so they’ve proposed adding 500 antlerless whitetailed deer hunting licenses for use in that unit.

In a further effort to increase the harvest of whitetailed deer in areas where there are too many, the season proposals for both the East and West River regions include the creation of several new private-land only units for antlerless whitetailed deer. East River hunters will be able to apply for private-land doe hunts in Hughes, Brule, Hyde and Hand counties. West River hunters will have opportunities in parts of Fall River, Butte and Lyman counties.

The season proposals will be open for public comments for 30 days and are scheduled for a public hearing and final vote at the GFP Commission’s May meeting at Custer State Park. Once approved, the state’s new deer license drawing structure will assign licenses to hunters.

The recently approved license allocation system, said Scott Simpson the GFP Wildlife Division administrative chief, required a slight rebuild of the computer program GFP uses for its limited-issue deer hunting license lottery drawing. The program is nearly ready to go. The first deadline for paper applications under the new allocation system is scheduled for June 14. For online applications, the deadline is June 19. Results are expected to be ready by July 12, Simpson said.

To submit a written comment on the deer season proposals visit