Commission seeks comments on proposed elk-hunt seasons
The state Game, Fish and Parks Commission proposed six sets of seasons on Friday for elk hunting in South Dakota during 2018 and 2019.
The public hearing is April 5 in Rapid City. The 2 p.m. MT hearing is at Outdoor Campus West, 4130 Adventure Trail, located along Sturgis Road near Meadwood Lanes.
The main Black Hills seasons for any elk would run Oct. 1 through Oct. 31. There would be 425 any-elk licenses, a reduction of 18 from last year.
The Black Hills antlerless-elk seasons would run a variety of dates.
One group of three antlerless units (H1B, H7B and H9B) would be open Oct. 15 through Oct. 31 and re-open Dec. 1 through Dec. 16.
A group of five antlerless units (H2B, H2E, H2H, H3B and H3E) would be open Oct. 15 through Oct. 31.
A second group of five antlerless units (H2C, H2F, H2I, H3C and H3F) would be open Dec. 1 through Dec. 16.
A third group of five antlerless units (H2D, H2G, H2J, H2D and H3G) would be open Dec. 17 through Dec. 31.
The commission proposed 700 antlerless-elk licenses, a reduction of 450.
The 2017 success rate among the 1,581 licensed hunters for the Black Hills seasons was 66 percent overall with 366 bulls and 684 cows killed.
The archery season for elk in the Black Hills is proposed to run Sept. 1 through Sept. 30.
The commission wants to adjust archery license numbers.
Any-elk archery licenses would be 142, a reduction of five from last year.
Antlerless-elk archery licenses would be 80, a reduction of 50 from last year.
The 269 licensed archery hunters last year had an overall success rate of 27 percent, killing 48 bulls and 23 cows.
For prairie elk, there are eight units with proposed hunting seasons. One is a new unit in Harding County.
Prairie any-elk licenses would increase to 68. In 2017, there were 59.
Prairie antlerless licenses would decrease to 73. There were 90 in 2017.
The prairie seasons proposed for Unit 9A covering portions of Butte, Lawrence and Meade counties is Sept. 15 through Oct. 31 and Dec. 1 through Dec. 31;
The prairie seasons proposed for Unit 11 for Bennett and portions of Mellette and Jackson counties would run July 15 through Aug. 31 for 11A; Sept. 1 through Oct. 19 for 11B; Oct. 20 through Nov. 30 for 11C; and Sept. 1 through Dec. 31 for 11D.
The prairie seasons proposed for Unit 15A for portions of Butte County would run Sept. 1 through Oct. 31 and Dec. 1 through Dec. 31.
The prairie seasons proposed for Unit 27A for portions of Fall River County would run Oct. 1 through Oct. 31 and Dec. 1 through Dec. 31.
The commission plans to close the prairie season in Unit 30A for parts of Gregory County.
The proposed season for prairie elk in the new Unit 35A for Harding County would run Sept. 15 through Oct. 31 and Dec. 1 through Dec. 31.
Hunter success in the prairie units during 2017 among 149 licensed hunters was 54 percent overall with 41 bulls and 39 cows killed.
The Custer State Park rifle season for elk would offer nine licenses again. The season would change to Oct. 1 through Oct. 31. It ran 16 consecutive days in 2017 starting Sept. 16.
There were 8,828 applicants in 2017 for nine Custer State Park rifle licenses to hunt elk. Eight licensed hunters killed elk.
The early archery season for elk in Custer State Park is proposed to run Sept. 1 through Sept. 30. The commission again proposes offering three licenses. There were 3,704 applicants in 2017. Two hunters killed bulls.
The commission proposes another round of antlerless elk hunts in Custer State Park. The commission proposes 60 licenses.
Last year, the Legion Lake forest fire forced the final three seasons to be cancelled. Of 29 hunters licensed for the one hunt that took place, 24 killed antlerless elk.
Commissioner Scott Phillips of rural New Underwood asked if elk would move back to the Legion Lake area.
Chad Switzer, the wildlife program administrator, said GFP staff members are “pretty confident those elk are going to return to their home ground.”
The elk will be watched, according to Switzer. “We’ll monitor those elk movements and where those elk are distributed,” he said.