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Public Land

Hunting Guides on Public Lands

A hunting guide is defined as a person who holds himself or herself out to the public as a hunting guide and (for compensation or remuneration) directs or provides services to any person for the purpose of hunting any wild animals.

No person, acting as a hunting guide, may guide any hunting activity on state-owned or managed
  • Game Production Areas
  • State parks
  • Recreation areas
  • Lakeside use areas
  • Federal land leased or under agreement to South Dakota
  • Land posted as a Game Production Area and managed for wildlife purposes
  • Waterfowl production area
  • Federal refuges
  • Private land leased or under agreement to GFP for the purpose of providing public access
  • Highways or other public rights-of-way within this state*

*The hunting guide or employees of a hunting guide may guide a hunting activity on the road right-of-way immediately adjacent to property owned or leased by the hunting guide.

Public Waters

No person (except the landowner or anyone with landowner permission) may hunt on public waters that inundate private land within 660 feet of livestock, occupied dwelling, churches or schoolhouses.

Small game retrieval

To be lawfully taken from a public road right-of-way, the hunter must be within the right-of-way boundaries when shooting, and the small game must originate from or be flying over the road right-of-way.


National Forests and Grasslands in South Dakota now have Travel Plans in effect. If you are planning a trip for hunting, fishing or other recreation please contact the local Forest Service office for the location you are considering to find out which roads, trails, and areas are open for highway and off road motorized travel, and if seasonal restrictions apply. New roads, trails, and areas have been developed and some roads, trails, and areas you may have used in the past may be closed to public use. Recreation fees may apply. Visit for more information.

GFP-Managed Lands

The GFP manages Water Access Areas, State Game Refuges, State Game Bird Refuges, State Waterfowl Refuges, Lakeside Use Areas, State Recreation Areas and State Parks.

These areas are regulated and may or may not provide public hunting

Other agencies with public hunting lands in South Dakota include the S.D. School and Public Lands, U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Wildlife Restoration logoWildlife Restoration

Look for this distinctive symbol on public areas across South Dakota. This symbol indicates that federal funds, derived from excise taxes on firearms, ammunition and archery equipment, were used to partially fund development, maintenance or acquisition of the area. Wildlife Restoration monies are also used to support hunter education, wildlife research, wildlife surveys and the Walk-In Area Program.

Game Production Area SignGame Production Areas

Game Production Areas are generally managed for the production and maintenance of all wildlife species. Although species emphasis varies from site to site, all wildlife benefits. South Dakota has approximately 730 Game Production Areas, totaling more than 281,000 acres. Signs are yellow and black.

Waterfowl Production Area Waterfowl Production AreaWaterfowl Production Areas

Waterfowl Production Areas are owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as satellites of the National Wildlife Refuge system. These areas are managed for the production of waterfowl, but other game and nongame species thrive on them as well. There are 1,000 WPAs in South Dakota, totaling nearly 150,000 acres. Public hunting is one of the benefits these areas provide. Signs are green and white.

Rules & Regulations

Federal Refuges, National Parks, and Monuments