Small Game Hunting

With nearly 5 million acres of land designated as hunting territory, South Dakota is a hunter’s paradise. At any time of the year, the state offers plentiful hunting of various prey. In 2004, nearly $275 million was spent on hunting activities by locals and visiting hunters, making it a major contributor to the state’s economy. This was a rise of $52 million since 2001, demonstrating a steady growth in the popularity and volume of the sport.

All South Dakotan hunters are required to have a valid license in their possession while pursuing, shooting, or transporting any hunted animal. Learn more about South Dakota small game licenses.

While pheasant and deer are by far the most popular prey of South Dakotan hunters, the state is rife with many other species that have their own designated hunting seasons:


Pheasant Hunting in South Dakota has definitely became the state unofficial pastime. In 2007, when there were an estimated 11.9 million pheasants in South Dakota, 180,828 hunters harvested 2.12 million pheasants and spent an estimated $219 million in the process.

Prairie Chicken and Grouse (Sharp-Tailed and Ruffed)

Located primarily in the western two-thirds and central portion of South Dakota, sharp-tailed grouse overlap with prairie chickens, which are located along the Missouri River near the central portion of the state. Many hunters frequent the overlapping area to hunt for both species at once.

Partridge (Gray and Chukar)

Partridges reside throughout the entire state of South Dakota, flocking most frequently to eastern agricultural areas and brush lands along grassy, mowed pastures.


Quail can be tracked in the southeastern corner of South Dakota—specifically, the counties of Tripp, Yankton, Clay, Union, Bon Homme, Gregory, Lincoln, and Charles Mix. They are often combination-hunted with other species in the same area.


The dove population is scattered throughout the state of South Dakota, and is also fed from migratory flocks from the north. Dove hunters can find their prey most frequently perched on tree limbs above water reservoirs. They can also be found feeding on corn, oats, or wheat from harvested fields.

Rabbit & Squirrel

Squirrels are drawn to the shade of tree belts and forested ridges, while rabbits are most often found in wetlands and tree strips in close proximity to crop-bearing farmland. Often hunted in combination with other overlapping species, rabbit and squirrel are not pursued nearly as frequently as other animal types.

American Crow

American crows are located in a variety of habitats and are the “Backyark Birds of South Dakota”. They are located throughout the state and gather in large roosts. They usually feed on the ground.

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