SD Lockout July 2005 Update
Landowners simply ask from GF&P what South Dakota has always stood for: Communication – Courtesy – Common Sense.
July 25, 2005

For Immediate Release


Larry Nelson 605-375-3719

Llewellyn Englehart 605-244-5402

Email your views or comments to SD Lockout:

As Fall Hunting Seasons approach and applications are available for West River Deer and Antelope, South Dakota Lockout recommends that before you apply, be sure you consult the landowners in the Unit for which you plan to apply. 

With over four million acres locked out, hunting may be limited in any given Unit. 

In addition, you may want to reconsider your plan to hunt only on public land or in walk-in areas, as they may tend to get overcrowded.

In most instances, participants in the Lockout have notified the hunters that have regularly hunted their ranches that they are Locked Out. 

In doing so they have requested the cooperation of their regular hunters to contact the Game, Fish & Parks Department and the Governor about eliminating the Open Fields Doctrine in South Dakota.

Hunters and landowners, working together, can get big game hunting back onto these four million acres.

The Lockout would be over -- and more than four million acres of privately owned land would be once again open for hunting -- if SB122 had passed during the 2005 Session of the South Dakota legislature. 

The Lockout did not ask for complete elimination of the Open Fields Doctrine; it only asked that access to private property by Game Department officials be limited. 

The bill specified that permission to enter private land would be necessary except if there was a reasonable suspicion that illegal activities were taking place, probable cause, any emergency situation or to assist other law enforcement entities. 

This was a compromise that they thought would be workable for all parties -- the landowners, the Game Department and the hunters. 

The Lockout has been accused of “drawing a line in the sand” and being unwilling to compromise. 

Fact: The compromise was submitted to the Legislature and failed due to heavy lobbying by Game, Fish & Parks and Governor Mike Rounds. 

The real “line in the sand” was drawn by the South Dakota Game Fish and Parks in Belle Fourche on June 6, 2005, at an Open Forum sponsored by the South Dakota Stock Growers Association (SDSGA). 

Game Fish and Parks Secretary John Cooper announced, “I will not compromise on the Open Fields Doctrine.” 

Also on the forum panel was Bob Meyer, a representative of the Attorney General’s office, who made the comment in his opening statement, “I represent the King.”

Without you, the hunter, not much progress will be made in getting these acres reopened to big game hunting, and the potential for the number of acres to grow is definitely a possibility.

Be sure to check with landowners before you apply for big game licenses in West River, and in some cases East River, as well. 

For more information about SD Lockout, read the six-part “Understanding the Lockout” series as well as other informative articles posted at the SD Lockout Home Page at

Understanding the Lockout

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Part Four:

Part Five:

Part Six:


South Dakota Wildlife on Private Welfare


Two conflicts prevent a good working relationship between Game, Fish & Parks (GF&P) and landowners over management of wildlife.

One is that landowners stress good wildlife management, whereas GF&P emphasizes enforcement of game laws.

The other is that GF&P has total control over all wildlife -- while landowners, given no choice, must foot a large part of the cost of maintaining these public game animals.

In other words: Wildlife on private land get free room and board, with all income derived from wildlife hunting going to GF&P.

The reverse holds sway when ranchers lease state land to run livestock -- they must pay rent as dictated by the state.

One main reason GF&P continues to purchase private land is to get more control and not have to deal with landowners. The landowner meanwhile does not appreciate having to provide habitat for wildlife without any control over number of animals, number of hunting licenses issued or any significant say in how wildlife are managed. Most ranchers will break about even financially, if they charge hunters to hunt on their lands. Deer and antelope seek the most productive land as habitat – hayfields, crop land and productive meadows. The ranchers provide feed, water and shelter – plus maintain the fences wildlife destroys.  Most of us in business would jump at the chance to have the same terms as does GF&P – sets the fee for licenses to hunt – controls the number of wildlife to be removed – keeps all income received – takes extra funds and purchases more private land as no taxes need to be paid. Landowners who run livestock can only dream of such a business. 

What can be done to improve the relationship between GF&P and landowners? As GF&P has almost total control it is up to them to approach landowners with a different attitude and accept landowners have legitimate complaints about current game management and rights to private land. Ranchers can not control deer and antelope populations on their land if hunting licenses are not available. Ranching requires a large investment with chronically low profits – ranchers have the right to charge hunters to hunt private land in an attempt to recoup some of the expensive of maintaining wildlife that is the property of the state.

If GF&P refuses to change the way it currently operates -- which has generated mountains of bad press -- landowners will put pressure on the government to make changes without approval from GF&P.

First, this agency should function the same as other government agencies -- receive a budget from the legislature. This alone will take power away from GF&P (and should have been done years ago). GF&P' arbitrary entering private land “just doing our job” will no longer suffice -- this open-ended right must be clearly defined.

The issues that originally inflamed the ranchers were the right to hunt coyotes and the right to hunt by airplane. Both issues must be written out in clear language. Arrogance on the part of GF&P over the obsessive need to punish individuals that it determines have violated hunting laws, is what got GF&P into this public debacle in the first place.

Landowners have sent GF&P a message: They will no longer tolerate the strong-arm tactics used on them in the past -- particular when it comes to violating their rights to their own private land.

If GF&P refuses to listen, the power of the landowners will be brought to bear to make them listen through legislative acts.

It is time for GF&P to share the income it receives from hunters, with landowners in the form of granting landowner hunting licenses and more out-of-state hunting licenses.

GF&P does not like to share control with hunting outfitters, but this is now a standard way to hunt and GF&P will have to learn to accept it.

Landowners simply ask from GF&P what South Dakota has always stood for: Communication – Courtesy – Common Sense.