Pheasant opener challenging

Pheasant opener challenging Fewer birds and beautiful weather summed up the opening day of South Dakota's 2002 statewide pheasant season. Windy and cooler weather hampered hunters on Sunday, however.

"Fewer birds made this year's pheasant opener challenging for most hunters," said Assistant Wildlife Director

Emmett Keyser. "Many hunters acknowledged they were expecting fewer birds and would have to work harder for success this year. Overall, everyone hunting seemed happy to be in the field, and attitudes were pretty positive."

Statewide, hunters averaged about one bird each. Hunters fared a little better in the east central and south central areas of the state.

, where many averaged closer to two birds per hunter. Larger groups hunting unharvested corn fields reported having the best success. Some of these groups even finished out the day just a couple birds short of a daily limit.

Hunters in Western South Dakota struggled the most, as hunters averaged less than a one-bird per person. This summer's drought over much of the state left pheasant habitat in poor to fair condition in many of the areas west of Highway 281.

"From a hunting safety standpoint, things went very well, as there were just a couple of minor injuries reported where hunters were hit by stray pellets," Keyser said. "There were some violations reported by state conservation officers, most of which related to hunters using lead shot on public land.

"Conservation officers did cite several people for over-limit violations and there were also a few trespass complaints investigated. Overall, violation numbers were about average for the opening weekend," he added.

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