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South Dakota road hunting laws most permissive in the Great Plains

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South Dakota road hunting laws most permissive in the Great Plains

  • While it is legal in South Dakota to shoot pheasants or other small game on, along or even across paved and gravel roads and rights-of-way, like this section of land in Stanley County, most hunter safety teachers and law enforcement officers recommend against it.

No neighboring state is as liberal as South Dakota when it comes to traveling with loaded guns or hunting on, along or over roads. Despite accidents in which hunters have been killed or injured, it remains legal for a hunter to drive with a loaded, uncased firearm along almost any highway or road except an interstate.

The hunter can pull over, exit the vehicle and then fire at pheasants, waterfowl or other small game from the pavement or the ditch – even at a bird flying across the travel lanes.

In the Black Hills National Forest, big-game hunters are allowed to drive down forest roads with a loaded, uncased rifle in the vehicle, pull over when an animal is seen, then step off the gravel road and immediately fire.

Hunters cannot fire within 660 feet of any church, school, occupied dwelling or livestock, and with few exceptions – special permits granted to handicapped hunters or people trying to kill predators such as coyotes — are not allowed to shoot from the vehicle.

Even though driving with a loaded gun while on the hunt is legal, some law enforcement officers and hunter safety teachers say it is dangerous.

This was produced by South Dakota News Watch, a non-profit news organization. To read it in its entirety, and to find additional in-depth coverage, go to www.sdnewswatch.org.