Turkey Hunting in South Dakota

South Dakota


Not available

Wild Turkey Population

Merriam's, Easterns, hybrids

Turkey Subspecies


Number of Licenses Sold Annually

Varies (check regulations)

Cost of Resident License and Permit

Varies (check regulations)

Cost of Non-Resident License and Permit

South Dakota turkey hunting covers several regions. You have the famous Black Hills to the west, which cover more than 2.3 million acres, three-quarters of which is public (mostly U.S. Forest Service land), and open for hunting. And the prairie, where birds roam landscapes with minimally forested habitat, and grasslands.

But the turkeys are there, sure enough.

Turkeys, incidentally, are not native to the Black Hills. The Merriam's subspecies, for which the area is so well-known, were introduced from New Mexico in 1948 (eight birds), 1950 (15 birds) and 1951 (six birds).

The rest is turkey restoration history. 

In the Black Hills, if an area isn't posted, it's open for hunting. Of course, that makes the area somewhat popular, too, but there's room to roam if you're willing to work.

The secret to hunting success the Black Hills is simple: Get away from the roads and two-tracks, and hike in at least a mile into roadless areas. If you're not willing to walk and get away from the easy-to-hunt spots, you might have company.

But there is turkey treasure there if you give yourself a few days for scouting and use your legs. The Black Hills are beautiful, with ponderosa pine, spruce, quaking aspen and bur oak forests, interspersed with green meadows.

The prairie hunting is superb if you can gain access. There are often unbelievable bird densities in prime river-bottom and river-break habitat.

How many birds do South Dakota turkey hunters kill annually? About 7,198 turkeys were taken during the 2022 season.

Turkey Hunting in South Dakota © John Hafner photo

Go here for more Realtree Turkey Hunting.