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South Dakota Considers Spring Turkey Changes, Including Limitations on Rifle Use

November 21, 2008.

From South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks:

South Dakota’s wild turkey population continues to grow at a robust pace across the state, and that means more opportunities for hunters. At the same time, to balance safety concerns, the S.D. Game, Fish and Parks Commission is considering further restrictions in the use of rifles and handguns.

At a teleconference meeting, the GFP Commission heard a proposal for the spring wild turkey hunting season that includes an 11 percent increase in resident tags available for the prairie units. “Our wild turkey population continues to flourish on the prairie,” said Tom Kirschenmann, game program administrator for the Game, Fish and Parks Department. “Because the turkey population is growing, we’re able to offer more opportunities to hunters.”

One important change proposed for this spring season would be the elimination of the use of rifles and handguns to hunt turkeys in the Black Hills and several other units in eastern South Dakota. Several turkey hunting units in eastern South Dakota have previously included this restriction. “The use of decoys and camouflage ground blinds have proliferated over the past several years, and we believe it is important to consider expanding this restriction to more areas during the spring turkey season,” said GFP Secretary Jeff Vonk. Rifles and handguns would continue to be allowed for use in West River prairie units during the spring season.

Proposed changes to the Spring Turkey season include:

  • An overall increase of 5 percent in nonresident tags available for the prairie units.
  • Combine the Perkins County units to become one unit.
  • Combine Marshall and Roberts counties into one unit with one season.
  • Eliminate the split season for the Day/Codington county units to have one season.
  • Open Moody and Hand counties to archery hunting, but close Brookings County to archery hunting west of Interstate 29.
  • Eliminate the use of rifles and handguns to hunt turkeys in the Black Hills and restrict to bow and arrow, a shotgun using shot shells or a muzzleloading shotgun.
  • Place all units in eastern South Dakota under a requirement to use only bow and arrow, a shotgun using shot shells or a muzzleloading shotgun for hunting wild turkeys.
  • Allow for the purchase of preference points.

The 2009 season would be held from April 11 through May 17 for archery, Black Hills regular and single season prairie units; from April 11 through April 30 in the split-season early Prairie units; and from May 1 through May 17 for the split-season late prairie units and the Black Hills late season.

The season proposal will be the topic of a public hearing when commissioners gather for their Dec. 4 and 5 meeting at the Ramkota RiverCentre in Pierre. The proposal can be accessed on the GFP Web site at

Citizens who would like to provide written comments on the proposal may do so up until 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 3. Those comments may be mailed to Game, Fish and Parks Commission, 523 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, SD 57501 or e-mailed to All comments must have the sender’s full name and address in order to become part of the public record.

Comments may also be presented in person at the GFP Commission meeting during the public hearing which is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 4.


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