If you’re a pheasant hunter who has a relationship with South Dakota, you understand the bad news.

Grasslands on either side of the northern Missouri River were parched to the extent of driving down insect populations, leaving birds hungry. The drought was so bad during April, May and June that some land never greened up. Later, farmers were allowed under emergency rule to mow down critical pheasant habitat to feed livestock.

In short, the persistent blight wreaked havoc on reproduction and left the birds vulnerable to predators.

But before you cancel your trip, it’s still worth checking on local conditions. Plenty of landowners manage agriculture with pheasants in mind. In some pockets, wheat fields were left in place to provide cover and food.

Tony Kennedy