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Varmint Hunting

Prairie Dog

Prairie DogTraditional Season 

Western areas: Year-round on private land; season closed on public land March 1-June 14.

Range and Habitat

Found throughout western South Dakota, these small, gregarious rodents subsist on prairie grasses and can be an irritant to stockmen whose cattle compete with the grass-eaters. Prairie dogs prefer large basins, flat pastures and rolling hills.

They can be found on South Dakota’s five western Native American reservations: Standing Rock, Cheyenne River, Lower Brule, Pine Ridge and Rosebud. In addition, they can be hunted on South Dakota’s three national grasslands: Grand River, Buffalo Gap and Fort Pierre.

Non-resident shooters need a predator license, non-resident small game license, big game license or waterfowl license to hunt prairie dogs in South Dakota, or specific licensing from individual reservations.

More information about prairie dog hunting. (GFP)

Prairie Dog Hunting Tips

  • Check shooting area.
    Check your shooting area beforehand to make sure livestock and buildings are not in the background.
  • Keep hands out of holes.
    Do not put your hand down prairie dog holes. Rattlesnakes and black widow spiders use the holes for homes.
  • Leave carcasses alone.
    Never pick up or closely examine prairie dog carcasses. Prairie dogs are often carriers of diseases and fleas.
  • Ideal shooting time.
    The ideal shooting time for prairie dogs is May through September.
  • Avoid wet prairie gumbo.
    Rain can turn the prairie into a slick gumbo in minutes. If it begins raining, travel to a gravel road or highway to eliminate the chance of getting stuck or stranded. 

Coyote and Fox (Predator) Hunting

CoyoteTraditional Season

Statewide: Year-round.

Range and Habitat

Coyotes and red fox can be found statewide in varying densities. The largest coyote densities can be found west of the Missouri River and counties bordering the river. Red fox thrive in eastern farmlands and in the sagebrush, ranch country of the northwest corner of South Dakota. Gray fox can be found in the southeastern part of the state along major river drainages. Non-resident hunters need a predator license or any non-resident hunting license.

More information about coyote hunting.  (GFP)

Predator Hunting Tips

  • Calling and spotting-and-stalking.
    Calling and spotting-and-stalking are the two most popular methods for taking South Dakota predators.
  • Ideal shooting time.
    Prime predator hunting extends from October through February.
  • Use calls to lure.
    Animal-in-distress calls often lure predators within firearm range, especially during severe winters.
  • Choosing a calling site.
    When choosing a calling site, look for a high vantage point with lots of visibility to see incoming predators.
  • Continue calling.
    After shooting one predator coming into a call, continue calling because oftentimes a second or third animal may be running in as well. 

Bonus Furbearers

Non-residents also may shoot skunk and jackrabbit year-round with no limits. The same licensing requirements are needed for these as fox and coyote.

Trapping and Dogs

Non-residents may not take furbearers by trapping or with the aid of dogs.

More information about trapping in South Dakota.  (GFP)