A state that is pursuing landowner programs is South Dakota. This state supports populations of mule deer and whitetail deer, as well as antelope. Moreover, there is a strong tradition here of allowing hunters onto private agricultural lands. In fact, many landowners participate in what's called the "Walk-In Area Program," which is designed to let hunters access some half-million acres of private property that is managed for soil conservation under the federal Conservation Reserve Program. The lands in this program are cropland that have been converted to grass cover for 10-year periods. CRP participants who sign up with the Walk-In Program receive a small payment from South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, which also helps control hunters and patrols properties. The Walk-In Areas include all types of terrain, and state Conservation Officer Ken Moum says they just signed a 10,000-acre tract of prairie into the program. The final date for landowners to sign contracts for this coming fall was July 1, and a list of Walk-In Areas should be available next month. To get on the mailing list, call South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.
Besides the Walk-In program, there are numerous other opportunities to hunt private lands in South Dakota by directly contacting landowners who offer everything from self-guided trespass fee hunts to fully guided hunt packages. A complete list of these hunts is available free from Dakota Outdoors Magazine.