PIERRE — Recent proposals to deer hunting regulations would remove the Fort Meade Bureau of Land Management property from the list of restricted lands.
During their March meeting, the S.D. Game, Fish and Parks Commission considered the proposal to remove the closed area specifications to the Fort Meade BLM property, located in hunting unit 49A, for youth and apprentice, as well as the West River prairie deer hunting season. The change is because the land is already limited to archery hunting only, and officials feel the limited success from that restriction could warrant additional hunting opportunity.
According to data included with the proposals, the amount of tag success for mentored youth deer has steadily decreased from 58% in 2016 to 49% last year, but the number of licenses sold has increased by more than 3,000 in that timeframe. Youth deer licenses have also decreased slightly, from 53% in 2016 to 49% last year, but license sales have decreased by about 1,400, with licenses modified into the apprentice deer season from 2019-2020. Apprentice deer tag success has fluctuated between 50 to 58% over the last five years, but data shows the number of licenses sold has steadily decreased every year from 2,845 in 2018, down to 527 licenses in 2022.
Another proposal that the commission is considering involves removing the archery only equipment restriction for the Custer State Park deer hunting season, from Nov. 1-15. According to the proposal, very little archery hunting happens during this time in the park. Harvest data for the 2022 Custer State Park deer hunting season shows that while license numbers have increased from 40 in 2016 to 75 in 2022, hunter success rates have decreased from 72% in 2016 to 56% last year.
For Black Hills deer hunting, GF&P officials have no recommended changes so far, and the commission will consider license numbers based on harvest and biological data during the April meeting. But since 2016, deer licenses for the Black Hills units have decreased from 4,455 to 3,813 last year, with hunter success rates declining from 72% in 2016 to 60% in 2022.
For all deer hunting proposals, GF&P staff state they will report biological data and give recommendations during the commission’s April meeting, scheduled for April 13-14 in Brookings.
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