President’s message – George Vandel, Pierre
February 2021

It’s time to update you on some issues:

1) Legislation. So far, with one notable exception, the 2021 Legislature looks to be rather quiet regarding waterfowl hunting/nonresident waterfowl license allocation issues.  But nothing is safe until the session ends.  I have renewed my lobbyist credentials for the SD Waterfowl Association but due to Covid, and my so far successful ability to remain Covid free, I do not intend to in-person lobby this year.  If needed, there are methods available to testify remotely and I will promptly notify you if a bad waterfowl bill is introduced.

There are however several bills that as resident hunters you should be aware of and as individuals, contact your local legislators about.  A bill (HB 1047) has been introduced by GFP to allow nonresident landowners the ability to obtain landowner-on-own land East River any deer, antlerless deer and antelope tags.  Doing so will result in a decrease of ER buck deer tags and ER antelope available for resident hunters.  I strongly suspect it will eventually lead to transferrable landowner tags for commercial big game hunting in SD.  Another bad bill (HB 1140) 595748 595748, this time a Governor’s bill, would eliminate the ability of GFP Wildlife Conservation Officers (game wardens) to access private land without landowner permission – the so called “open fields” issue.  Although the concept gets complicated, in essence it would create an “anything goes” hunting on private land situation.  It creates two separate and unequal classes of hunters.  Those who hunt on private land vs those who hunt on public land.  It would eliminate the ability for compliance checks on private land thus the deterrent to maintain lawful hunting on private land.  Its being sold as a private property rights issue but it grants new, additional rights specifically to those who own or have access to private property.  At its core, the legislation is unconstitutional as it establishes a 2-tiered law enforcement system.  Our SD Constitution clearly states that law enforcement must be applied to all, equally.  Finally, please be aware of Governor Noem’s recent executive order to merge the Department of Environment and Natural Resources with the Department of Agriculture.  Only someone on drugs would believe the merger will increase environmental enforcement – especially enforcement of ag run-off into our already polluted lakes and rivers.

For a daily update and status of conservation related bills I suggest you subscribe to the SD Camo Coalition (

I do intend to lobby aggressively on behalf of SDWA in opposition to HB 1140 and strongly encourage you to do likewise.

2) Waterfowl access plan.  Several of us along with the SD Wildlife Federation have been working with GFP staff to develop an access plan for waterfowl hunting in SD.  We are now working on a second draft. I have attached the second GFP access plan draft and our joint SDWA/SDWF plan for your information. I will keep you in the loop as we move forward.  We have already observed some significant success.  Last fall GFP enhanced access on 45 sites!  Trails and parking areas mowed, signs posted, and shoreline access provided on these areas.  I found a few myself and assume that you did as well.  They were great spots to launch a small boat and/or wade out to hunt a few ducks.  We still have work to do, for example mapping these areas so we know where in the hell they are, but this was a great start.  It is an example of how SDWA is working hard to make a difference for all SD waterfowl hunters.

Our main issues 1) expanding and increasing quality waterfowl hunting access opportunities in South Dakota 2) maintaining quality waterfowl hunting in our state by balancing nonresident waterfowl hunter numbers such that they not create undue conflicts with resident waterfowl hunters and 3) to ensure that commercialization of waterfowl hunting in South Dakota remains low.

Board: John Simpson – Pierre, Spencer Vaa – Brookings, Tom Yseth – Brookings and Bill Koupal – Pierre.  Bobby Cox will serve as Secretary Treasurer and Chuck Dieter will serve as Past-president.

South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Waterfowl Hunting Access Plan

Rebuilding South Dakota’s Waterfowl Hunting Heritage