If you’re considering hunting wild Eastern turkey in South Dakota, you won't find a better place than the Southeast. If it's pheasants you're looking for South Dakota has them as well, along with geese and ducks. South Dakota hunters have access to nearly 4.5 million acres of public land to pursue a trophy Eastern turkey. Many private land owners are happy to let you hunt Eastern turkey on their property too. The secret is to get permission first, and to honor the privilege of Eastern turkey-hunting in South Dakota.
Additionally, many South Dakota outfitters provide private reserves that offer guided Eastern turkey hunts along with lodging and meals. Hunting Eastern turkey in Southeast South Dakota is nearly a year-round sport. Predator hunting fills the winter months, and spring signals the start of Eastern turkey hunting, as well as the snow goose hunt. The avid hunter will find Southeast South Dakota a virtual hunter's paradise, with abundant game of Eastern turkey and other varied species providing a variety of hunting opportunities. Though Eastern turkey, pheasant, and deer are the most popular, South Dakota hunters can find additional hunts for partridge, dove, coyote and fox. Traditional Southeast South Dakota hunting season for turkey – including Eastern turkey, of course – is: Spring firearm and archery, early April to mid-May, and Fall prairie Eastern turkey, early October through mid-December. Wild Eastern turkeys are found all across South Dakota in varying densities. In the eastern portion of South Dakota, Eastern turkeys prefer the woods and brushy hillsides of rivers, as well as tree belts. Spring archery hunters may hunt the entire state of South Dakota, and licenses are unlimited.
The spring season application process in South Dakota opens in mid-January, with a late February deadline. The tradition start for the season is the second Saturday in April, running through the third Sunday in May. It includes a prairie firearms season, archery season, Black Hills season, and Custer State Park season.
The fall season application process opens in mid-June, with a late July deadline. The season traditionally runs from Oct. 1-Jan. 31. This season covers most of South Dakota, with the exception of Custer State Park, where there is no fall season. There is no fall archery season, however archery equipment may be used for the firearms season. Adult male Wild Turkeys have a small, featherless, reddish head that can change to blue in minutes; a red throat in males; long reddish-orange to greyish-blue legs; and a black body. The head has fleshy growths called caruncles; in excited Eastern turkeys, a fleshy flap on the bill expands, becoming engorged with blood. Males have red wattles on the throat and neck. Each foot has four toes, and males have rear spurs on their lower legs. Turkeys have a long, dark, fan-shaped tail and glossy bronze wings.