Creating Hunting Opportunities

Waterfowl Hunting Opportunity Limited in South Dakota

Waterfowl Hunting Opportunity Limited in South Dakota

Although the GF&P survey identifies lack of opportunity as a major cause in the decline of resident waterfowl hunters, commercial waterfowl operators claim there is an abundance of opportunity. They point to maps that show significant public land and public water. Opportunity, however, requires more than the presences of public land and water. It requires all four of the following factors:

–adequate water in sloughs and lakes and habitat on land
–access to the water or the fields
–the presence of ducks and/or geese on that water or in those fields
–limited hunting pressure.

If any one of the four items is missing, opportunity doesn’t exist. For example, a slough or field that doesn’t hold waterfowl isn’t an opportunity; a slough that holds waterfowl but doesn’t have reasonable access isn’t an opportunity; a field that holds waterfowl but is leased by a commercial waterfowl operator isn’t an opportunity; a slough that holds waterfowl, is accessible but is inundated with hunters isn’t an opportunity.

As commercial operators tie up more and more acres of private land in South Dakota, resident waterfowl hunters will become increasingly dependent on public land and water for hunting opportunity. As a consequence, the SDWA has established the following two goals directed at increasing opportunity:

  • Develop a statewide GF&P plan to maximize physical access for waterfowl hunters—This plan should include state game production areas, walk-in areas, conservation reserve enhancement program areas, cooperative hunting access areas, controlled hunting access program areas, waterfowl production areas and school and public lands
  • Make increasing hunting opportunity a larger component in GF&P decisions to purchase or lease land