A Hunter’s Paradise in the Pheasant Capital of the World

Ask any wing shooter where the best pheasant hunting in the United States is, and you'll get one answer...South Dakota! With a patchwork of public lands and private agricultural land, pheasants thrive in the abundant mix of grasslands and prairie. With a season spanning several months, hunters have ample opportunity to take in the beauty of a flushing rooster pheasant and the majesty of the lands that he calls home.

 

The Pheasant

The ring-necked pheasant is a game bird that captivates anyone who has seen one in flight. Rooster pheasants with red faces and dark green heads betray their locations with loud cackles. Only their explosive flight is a more well-known feature of these grassland dwelling game birds. While their flights rarely exceed a few hundred feet, their rapid liftoff and long tails make leading the fleeing birds a challenge for even the most steely nerved wing shooter. Wounded birds will take to the ground and run into the next county if not chased down by a good bird dog. Be it a bird in the hand or two in the bush; a well-trained dog will make your hunting memorable.

 

South Dakota

The Mount Rushmore state is so much more than the iconic stone faces. The fertile soil of the prairie lands gave way to agricultural use for livestock and crops. This multi-use operation of private land and government permitted grazing of public lands have allowed pheasants to thrive in the mix of native grass and high-calorie food crops. Every opening weekend since the inception of the season in 1919, the state's sportsmen and many other states have gathered to kick off the celebration that is Pheasant season. Working dogs across the high grass to flush roosters is exciting to watch and even more memorable when you are the one holding the shotgun. With a traditional season beginning in October, there are abundant opportunities to make memories that will last a lifetime. With a ten year average of 1.2 million roosters harvested in the state of South Dakota there is a good chance that you too can add to that number this year.

 

Public Land

Even with 80% of the state's lands being privately held, there are still millions of acres of publicly held and managed lands that aid in the continued production of wild pheasants. With a continued effort to maintain hardy native grasslands, the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks and nonprofits like Pheasants Forever have put forth guidelines to improve habitat for all native wildlife, including pheasants. Many private landowners have implemented these guidelines and suggestions across the state.

 

Private land

Pheasant hunting can be hard work. Traveling across miles of grassland with dogs ready to flush birds is taxing for even the most conditioned hunters. The day's exhaustion can be compounded for resident and non-resident hunters when the cost of lodging or travel is factored into the mix. For those wanting to make memories in the field and relax in comfort after a day in the field, an outfitter is an ideal choice. Unlike public lands, where the use of the land and how it is maintained is split between consumptive use like hunting, and "non-consumptive" use, like hiking and horseback riding, private land managers have the freedom to maintain their lands to promote game exclusively.

 

Oak Creek Lodge

Oak Creek Lodge is a sprawling 2,000 acre private ranch. This seclusion puts oak creek in an ideal location to implement the best practices for habitat and wildlife growth. You will find this rolling prairie land maintained with the highest levels of environmental stewardship, producing world-class pheasant hunting.

 

Oak Creek Lodge doesn't just provide a world-class pheasant hunt on its thoughtfully maintained property. It also operates as an all-inclusive lodge providing hunters with a chance to make the most of every minute on the property. Guest hunters will relax before and after hunts at the lodge, where meals are prepared in-house daily. Breakfast, sack lunch, and a full sit-down style dinner are provided every full day. WIFI access is provided so you can brag to all your friends and family about the day's hunt.

 

Hunters will receive a safety briefing upon check-in and complimentary blaze orange caps from Guardian Outdoors to complete their hunter orange ensemble. On-site, transportation is available so you can focus on calming your nerves and take in the beauty of the great plains while the guides chauffeur you and your group to the ideal spots to begin your hunt.

 

What Should a Hunter Bring

While Oak Creek Lodge is an all-inclusive hunting property, there are still a few important items to remember to bring along, guaranteeing a safe and exciting experience.

 

·         Licenses

Regardless if you are a resident of South Dakota or a visiting hunter, you will need your hunting licenses before starting your hunt. For information on the cost and how to acquire your hunting license, check here.

 

·         Blaze Orange

Safety is paramount at Oak Creek, and ensuring everyone is dressed in the appropriate amount of blaze orange is required. Luckily South Dakota has common sense laws regarding the amount of orange required and your hat meets the necessary amount of blaze orange material.

 

·         Good Boots

From the rolling plains to creek beds, pheasant habitat is not overly technical but does require a healthy amount of cross country walking. Select a good pair of hiking or hunting boots with enough ankle support that your feet won't fall off at the end of the day. Since the season runs from October to January, a taller boot is recommended to keep snow out of your socks.

 

·         Your Vest

A good upland hunting vest isn’t required, but it’s an investment that will pay dividends when you have a spot for your shells, water, snacks, and limit of pheasants.

 

·         Your Shells

We didn’t say your shotgun but we hope you brought that too. Shells should be what patterns best for your gun. Lead #4-6s are fine for pheasant. 2 ¾” shells are all that’s needed since the density of lead is far more than steel. Regardless if you shoot 12, 20, or 16 gauge, the critical part is knowing how your gun shoots with the shells you’ve chosen.

 

The crew at Oak Creek Lodge has put in the effort to make their slice of South Dakota a hotspot for pheasant hunting. They have built a lodge comfortable enough to keep you coming back to the field well-rested and fed with meals to keep you coming back for seconds. The hardest part now is calming your nerves and focusing on leading that next pheasant, the one you will remember until you visit again next season.