Category Archives: Hunt Mitchell

GFP Reminds Boaters to Practice Safe Boating

PIERRE, S.D. – As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) is joining a national effort to highlight boating safety.

Operation Dry Water will take place June 30 – July 2, 2017, promoting boating safety and responsible use of alcohol while boating across the country.

“We want to ensure that recreational boaters, paddlers, kayakers and others have a safe place to enjoy South Dakota’s waters,” said Joe Keeton, boating law administrator. “Alcohol impairs judgment and reaction time on the water just as it does when driving a car, even more so because with the added stressors of sun, heat, wind and noise on a boat. Choosing to consume alcohol while boating puts everyone at risk, including passengers and people in the water. Our goal is to remove anyone choosing to operate a vessel impaired and to keep everyone on the water safe.”

Alcohol consumption and boating continues to be an issue and is listed as the leading known contributing factor in all fatal boating accidents nationwide. As part of the national event, GFP will conduct extra boating safety patrols statewide to promote safe and responsible boating practices heading into the holiday weekend.

Tips to staying safe on the water this summer:

  • Boat sober. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths*. Alcohol and drugs use impairs a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time.
  • Wear your life jacket. 83% of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket*.
  • Take a boating safety education course. 77% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator did not receive boating safety instruction, where instruction was known*.
  • Use your engine cut-off device. Many boating accidents involve operators or passengers who have fallen overboard. Wearing an engine cut-off switch lanyard or wireless engine cut-off device will shut the engine down if the operator is ejected or falls overboard.
  • File a float plan. Leave a float plan with at least one person on land so they know where to find you if needed. You should be able to rely on this person to notify local law enforcement if you do not return within a reasonable hour of expectancy.
  • Check the weather. Not only can poor weather spoil a trip, but it can also cause an emergency situation out on the water.

Keeton noted that state regulations require all children under age seven to wear an approved personal flotation device anytime a boat is moving at greater than no-wake speed. He recommends taking the next step and keeping a personal flotation device on all occupants in the boat at all times.

“Before heading onto the water, check your equipment,” Keeton said. “Fire extinguishers, life jackets, throw-able flotation devices are required and must be in good working condition. The best way to prevent an unwanted tragedy on the water is to be prepared.”

Visit or for more information about boating under the influence.

Boaters can view the 2017 South Dakota Boating Handbook online at or pick up a copy at any GFP office.



Hunting More Than Pheasants

There has been a lot of talk recently about the decline in pheasant population in the Mitchell area, and it’s impact on hunters visiting our great city. The Daily Republic ran an excellent report on the various stakeholders involved, and it’s clear that there is no easy solution. Farmers and landowners have no obligation to forgo profit to provide bird habitat, nor should they be forced to. Pheasant hunting, it seems, may decline in eastern South Dakota – and with it, the economic boost it provides to our communities.

But like many products, hunting is not dependent on only one factor. Our birds may be playing hard-to-get (or hard-to-find), but I’m not convinced that hunters come to Mitchell exclusively for the ring necks. They’re simply a catalyst, a symbol of so much more.

Mitchell is a city that loves to play host. We open our arms wide for visitors – whether they come to see our excellent attractions, watch our phenomenal athletic teams, participate in our events and festivals, or hunt pheasants. Like Lumiere sang in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, “Why, we only live to serve!” Mitchell is at it’s best when we’re helping others enjoy our city. And hunters know it.

Chamberlain has the most birds in the state; this is not a trend I see changing anytime soon. For hunters who are after birds and birds alone, Chamberlain is the place to go – and I have no problem admitting this.

But if you want more? Well, as the saying goes, it’s Mitchell more than ever. Our hunters know it’s not just about limiting out (though that’s nice too). It’s about the tradition; the hospitality; the rustic pampering; the getaway; the evening after the hunt; the memories; the stories you’ll tell. And for that, we await you.

Mitchell is home to the most hunting guides, the most hunting dogs, and the most hunting lodges in all of eastern South Dakota. We offer a range of lodging options, from campgrounds to plush hotels. Our dining options run the gamut from customized filed lunches to fine restaurants, and our nightlight provides variety your entire hunting party can agree on. And, of course, we have exceptional hunting outfitters!

Let us be your escape; your home from the field. Let us help you create your favorite traditions, and craft the stories you’ll tell in the years to come. In Mitchell, pheasant hunting is a legacy you can live. Because you may hunt for birds. But hunting is the ‘more’ that only Mitchell can offer.

Give ‘Snowbird’ a whole new meaning!

With weeks left to go in the pheasant hunting season, now is a great time to plan or create your favorite outdoor tradition. Brood numbers are up this year, but due to the summer drought, those birds are playing hard-to-get. Deterred? Don’t be!

There are many reasons a late-season hunt is a great getaway. Safety is always top priority, and hunting later in the season avoids a crowded landscape. When the snow falls (this weekend?!), visibility increases. Rover will thank you, too – cooler weather is less stressful on your four-legged best friend. And if you’re looking for a low-cost vacation with your buddies or your family, late-season hunting is the answer as lodging rates are lower towards the end of the season.

So go ahead – give ‘snowbird’ a whole new meaning! The fields are open, and your memories are waiting.

Pheasant numbers are up!

Pheasant numbers up for Mitchell area; CVB anticipates excellent hunting season.

With pheasant numbers up, Mitchell should see another excellent pheasant season this year. The South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks department has released their annual August pheasant brood counts and the numbers are up statewide as well as for the Mitchell area.

“Mitchell is definitely a destination for pheasant hunters,” said CVB Director Jacki Miskimins. “We are one of the best pheasant hunting spots in the country, and with brood numbers up we’re looking forward to a great season.”

The pheasants per mile count (PPM) for the Mitchell area is 3.91 for 2012, up 38% from 2.83 in 2011. For Game, Fish & Parks survey purposes the Mitchell area includes parts of Davison, Hanson, Charles Mix, Douglas, Aurora, Hutchinson, Jerauld, McCook, Miner, and Sanborn counties. Statewide PPM is up 18% to 4.21.

“For nearly three months each year, Mitchell is a highly-sought hunting destination. Our bird numbers are always great, but the services and accommodations available for hunters are extraordinary. We have the highest concentration of hunting guides in all of South Dakota. The services available in Mitchell make the city a destination even after opening weekend; our late-season hunt is very successful, as well.”

Miskimins notes that the economic impact on the community is significant. “In 2011 alone, pheasant hunters spent $7.5 million in Davison County and $6.6 million of that came from out-of-state visitors.” Miskimins adds that it’s not just about the numbers. “Our hunters come for so much more than just hunting. Many of the hunters that come to Mitchell are doing so as part of their family tradition. This is their annual trip, the big event that spans generations. It’s wonderful that our community gets to be part of their experience, and we’re thrilled that our bird numbers will help make a great season for them this year.”

The 2012 pheasant hunting season officially opens at noon on October 20 and runs until sunset on January 6, 2013, though several area hunting preserves enjoy expanded seasons.

With all due respect, we disagree!

We’ve seen the Pheasants Forever Blog article, “The 25 Best Pheasant Hunting Towns in America,” and Mitchell’s rating as the 16th best pheasant hunting town, and with all due respect, we disagree.

South Dakota still maintains the largest pheasant population in the country and is the top destination for the traveling pheasant hunter. Even with the harsh winter of 2010-2011, South Dakota still maintains the right to be called “The Pheasant Capital.” In our opinion, the top 10 should include Mitchell and other South Dakota towns including Aberdeen, Pierre, Chamberlain, Mobridge, Winner, and Lemmon.

Let’s look at factors such as area bird counts, annual harvest, acres of accessible public hunting land, local Pheasants Forever chapter activities and available lodging for the traveling bird hunter.  We think the following stats for South Dakota and the Mitchell area boast well for our case that the top 10 places to pheasant hunt are all in South Dakota!

  • South Dakota 2011 Pheasant Population: 6,600,000
  • South Dakota Pheasants Per Mile (10yr Average): 6.04
  • South Dakota 2011 Harvest: 1,555,307
  • Mitchell Area/Davison County 2011 Harvest: 37,893
  • South Dakota birds per hunter: 9.47
  • Mitchell Area/Davison County birds per hunter: 8.00
  • CRP enrollments in the state of South Dakota are currently at 1.17 million acres.

The local Pheasants Forever Chapter in Mitchell recently accepted the award for the largest Pheasants Forever Banquet Membership Chapter. With over 700 chapters across the United States and Canada, this marks the first time South Dakota has been granted such an award! For years, the Mitchell group has hosted its annual banquet on the eve of the state’s pheasant-hunting opener, regularly drawing more than 600 attendees, making it the largest outdoors-related event in the region. The money generated from the event stayed locally and was used to fund local hunting-related causes, with most of the money directed into food plot and conservation programs throughout the Mitchell area. Each spring, the group provides free seed to enrolled landowners; the seed is then planted and generally left alone, providing acres of food plots. Typically, the group donates approximately 3,000 bags of seed each year.

Not only is the hunting great, but the people are friendly, and the accommodations and the shopping extraordinary.  Mitchell boasts 17 hotels with over 1,000 rooms spread around the city, several wonderful bed & breakfasts, and many more hunting lodges and guide services for your convenience.  In addition, we also offer a wide variety of restaurants, sports bars, coffee houses, and retail shops.

Mitchell is just a little more than an hour from Sioux Falls, which is serviced by several national airlines. Mitchell also has a municipal airport along the northern edge of the city.

For all your hunting & fishing needs, stop by Cabela’s, World’s Foremost Outfitter of hunting, fishing, and outdoor gear.  This amazing “outdoorsman’s mecca” is located just south of Interstate 90 at Exit 332, and also features amazing museum-quality trophy mounts, a spectacular conservation mountain, and fantastic freshwater aquariums showcasing fish native to the Missouri River, which runs through South Dakota.  Also, make a stop by Leader Sporting Goods while you’re here, which has been outfitting outdoorsmen and handymen since 1917 and offers a wide variety of outdoor gear, firearms and tackle.

With all that information, it’s no wonder that Mitchell, South Dakota has been regarded as one of the best pheasant hunting spots in the nation, a position it has maintained for decades.

Join us for your next pheasant hunting adventure in Mitchell, South Dakota!