South Dakota is renowned as the pheasant hunting capital of the world. Certain counties within the state are especially fortunate to have the highest pheasant populations, largely dictated by the availability of natural habitat that attracts, produces and retains the most wild birds. Brule County is one of the state’s premier locales, with a density of more than 200 pheasants per square mile. This makes our land far superior to most South Dakota counties, in fact world famous for pheasant hatch and rearing capabilities. This ensures your group maximum pheasant numbers during your hunt, maximum shooting opportunities, and the excitement of witnessing hundreds of pheasants daily.
Dakota Prairie Lodge & Resort contains numerous areas of natural habitat. Shelter belts provide the tree cover that pheasants desire, and the reed canary grass in our lakebeds is a perpetual favorite of our birds. Extensively cleared farmland is only marginal habitat, so our combination of natural woodland, farmland, scrub and wetlands is critical to maintaining our superior wild bird population.
Pheasant food plots can be planted with strip plantings of corn, millet, oats, buckwheat, or soybeans. Weed seeds such as thistle grasses, sumac, nightshade, burdock, and rag week are heavy seeders. All the wild berries and tame berry varieties are great attractants as well as beans, sunflowers, clovers, sorghums and dandelions. The food plots that can be planted for the different sub-species of pheasant will depend upon your locale and what will easily grow. Pheasants in the US prefer a habitat of woodlands, farmland, scrub and wetlands.
Dakota Prairie Lodge & Resort has almost 300 acres of food plots for our pheasants. These vast acres encourage the pheasants to nest here and helps retain the pheasant population during hunting season. Our food plots consist of specially mixed grains targeted for pheasants including sorghum, milo and corn. With their proximity to lakebeds and sloughs, these areas are ideal tracts for the entire life cycle of pheasants. Some of our most productive walks are through the food plots, as dozens of roosters are flushed for our hunters.
The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) not only has strong potential benefit to wildlife, but also reduces soil erosion and improves air and water quality. For example, field windbreaks can reduce wind erosion and improve air quality. Filter strips can improve water quality. These same practices benefit wildlife by providing increased wildlife habitat. Other CRP practices focus directly on benefits to wildlife by planting wildlife food plots, restoring native vegetation and wetlands, etc. The Department of Agriculture has found a 22% increase in ring-necked pheasant counts for every increase of 788 acres of CRP herbaceous vegetation.
Dakota Prairie Lodge & Resort boasts a mixture of switch grass, alfalfa and western wheat grass on CRP land. This provides exceptional habitat for our birds, and we have been rewarded with high hatch rates in the spring and strong, colorful roosters in the fall. Since we have seen the value of our CRP land and its contribution to our total hunting field package of food plots and natural habitat, we plan to expand our CRP holding in the future