Tuesday, January 31st, 2023
Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

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Do Unrecovered Roosters Count Against Daily Bag Limits?

A 2011 limit of Minnesota roosters to fill my daily bag limit thanks to the retrieving work of my shorthair, Trammell.I called our partners with the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Department and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources with the following question about pheasant hunting:

“When you knock down a bird, but are unable to retrieve it, does that unrecovered bird legally count against your daily bag limit?”

Over the years, I’ve heard countless hunters argue both sides of what they believe to be the law.  So, I called the sources to settle the debate. 

According to both Minnesota and South Dakota’s law enforcement divisions, a downed bird does not count against your legal daily bag limit if you are unable to find the downed bird.  In other words, if you can’t put your hand on a bird then it’s impossible to legally possess that bird.  (My sample size is two – the states I pheasant hunt most – so if you’re unsure about the law in your state, please be sure to check your state’s regulations to ensure you’re abiding by the laws of your state’s pheasant season).

Pheasants gravitate to thick cover, so a good bird dog becomes invaluable to finding downed birds.

You do, however, have to put in reasonable effort searching for that downed bird.  If you simply knock it down, but never search for it, then it does become a legal issue of wanton waste

The next question is one of personal ethics.  Even though it’s not the law, do you personally count unrecovered roosters against your daily bag limit?  

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever's Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter.

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