I’ve written in my blog before that in the pheasant production world, how South Dakota goes plays a large part in the U.S. supply and demand of pheasants. If there are ample wild populations in South Dakota, the demand from South Dakota preserves is diminished and since so many birds are sold annually into South Dakota, that surplus reverberates through the market. But the other side of the issue is even more dramatic. If the wild population in South Dakota is diminished (like it was in the fall of 2011) there can be a dramatic increase in demand for pen raised birds from South Dakota preserves. This increase in demand can be in the tens of thousands and can literally pull birds from states across the U.S. into South Dakota.
I drove to South Dakota this past Tuesday and spent three days driving across the state. I visited 12 different preserves and 3 producers. I went to South Dakota for several reasons. I went to visit customers but I also wanted to see if I saw pheasants. Over the years I have driven to South Dakota on numerous occasions and have seen pheasants by the thousands. On my trip this week I didn’t see many pheasants in the northeastern part of the state. Overall as I drove across the state I was amazed at how few birds I saw. I did see thousands of pheasants south of Pierre. More than just what I saw is what I heard from the experts I met. Everyone I spoke to agreed that the wild populations were diminished. And some people stated that it would take several years for the populations to recover. Others told me that because of the mildness of this winter, they felt populations would be back to normal this fall, if we have a summer with no catastrophes (torrential rains, or lack of rain). Without a doubt diminished CRP land will hurt South Dakota pheasant populations.
Without a doubt South Dakota draws more pheasant hunters in from out of state than any other state in the U.S. Being a pheasant producer I’d like nothing more than a repeat of the demand we experienced from South Dakota this past fall.