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A deer in fresh snow recently peers through a couple of trees.

Hunting seasons, especially deer hunting, will be one of the hot topics on the agenda when the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks commissioners meet in Rapid City today.

At the monthly meeting which is scheduled to be at the Outdoor Campus West this month, GF&P officials will present recommendations to the commission. One of the largest ones will be a recommendation to change the season dates for all deer seasons.

Currently, deer seasons have different starting dates but the muzzleloader anterless white tail, archery anterless white tail and the mentored and youth seasons end Jan. 15 of the next year. Wildlife program administrator Chad Switzer said GF&P will recommend changing that date to Jan. 1.

Switzer said that 10-15 years ago muzzleloader and anterless hunters could hunt until the end of January, Switzer said. 

In the late 2000's the dates were changed to Jan. 15, but Switzer said GF&P is still hearing from landowners and hunters that there is too much pressure on deer populations, which is why he said they are suggesting the change.

The recommendations gets tricky when looking at both anterless seasons, archery and muzzleloader. Both seasons are set to begin Jan. 1, which means if the recommendation becomes a proposal and that proposal is finalized that date would have to change.

Switzer said there are two options: one would be to have the season start following the 16th day of the East River season, which begins Nov. 17 this season, and going for nine days. The other option would start the season Dec. 26 and it would end Jan. 1.

"We’re trying to balance it on hunter desire, whioh time period would they prefer, but we also want to hear from land owners," Switzer said. "We hope hunting occurs on private land and there’s pros and cons, some might want to have the season done before Christmas, some might want family and friends to be able to hunt later on in the season."

He said GF&P, as well as some land owners, would prefer a later season date of Jan. 1 to help depredation efforts.

The other big change Switzer said GF&P is proposing concerns archery season, and some areas that had unlimited access archery permits for the last five years might not any more.

He said GF&P will recommend making a certain number of licenses available for residents and non-residents.

"Resident hunters shouldn’t see too much of a reduction of opportunities, where we will see a reduction is the number of non-resident hunters that will have an opportunity to hunt in those areas," Switzer said.

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Of the five areas where this reduction will be put in place, two are west of the Missouri River. The Slim Butte and Cave Hills area of Harding County and the Hill Ranch Game Production Area in Fall River County.

Switzer said GF&P is recommending that 250 resident and 20 non-resident any deer archery access permits be made available in Harding County while 40 resident and four non-resident any deer archery access permits be made available in Fall River County.

"We're trying to provide the highest quality of hunting to those who are trying to hunt in those areas," Switzer said.

He also said GF&P will recommend no changes to the pheasant season for the next three years.


Contact Geoff Preston at

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Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for the Rapid City Journal.