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South Dakota Hunting License

Hunting licenses in South Dakota are issued by the SD Game, Fish and Parks department. Various types of hunting permits are available, depending on the type of hunted animal, the purpose of the hunt, the residency status or age of the hunter. The different types of licenses to hunt consist of varying fees and can be purchased online, in person from authorized agents or by mail. Small game hunting permits are available in unlimited quantities, whereas big game hunting licenses are only sold to the lucky winners of a lottery system. Some of the types of game available to hunt in South Dakota include mountain lions, bighorn sheep and elk, among others. The odds of winning vary each year, depending on the amount of entrants but applicants needn’t worry as leftover hunting licenses are available. The remaining big game licenses that are not chosen during the initial drawing can be won in a second drawing. Hunter education in South Dakota is required for some populations of hunters. For example, first-time bowhunters must take a certification course to qualify for archery hunting licenses. In addition to offering hunting licenses for youth and seniors, the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks department issues special types of licenses for individuals with disabilities. To review more detailed information on how to get hunting licenses in South Dakota, read the questions and answers covering the following topics:

  • Types of hunting licenses in South Dakota
  • How to buy hunting licenses in South Dakota
  • Hunter education in South Dakota
  • Replacing hunting licenses in South Dakota


What hunting licenses are available in South Dakota?

Licenses to hunt in South Dakota are divided in two major groups: small game hunting licenses and big game hunting licenses.

As the South Dakota GFP department handles matters on hunting and fishing alike, licenses to hunt small game can be standalone or part of combination hunting permits, which allow applicants to fish as well. Hunting licenses are categorized based upon age and length of validation and issued according to an applicant’s residential status. Junior hunting licenses are designated for individuals 16 to 18 years of age, while youth licenses are for minors from 12 to 15 years of age. Standard hunting license types are available to applicants who have reached 19 years of age.

The combination residential hunting licenses grant the hunter the rights to fish and hunt small game. An additional advantage these licenses provide is hunting privileges for species listed in the predator and varmint hunting license, excluding furbearer privileges.

Other hunting permits from the list give the same predator and varmint hunting privileges as well. Furthermore, residents younger than 16 do not need a license to hunt predators and varmints or furbearers. Finally, resident furbearer licenses include the predator and varmint hunting privileges, but the resident predator and varmint license does not include trapping privileges. Some hunting licenses are restrictive in the regard that they are valid only in shooting preserves.

Big game hunting licenses differ in one major aspect from the small game hunting permits. Only the winning individuals of the lottery application process may purchase a big game hunting license. Several steps must be followed when applying for a South Dakota big game hunting document. Before you apply, the License Draw Statistics will tell you how many individuals applied for and received a hunting permit for a given unit the previous year. Then, apply online awaiting to see whether you were successful in the draw. Leftover licenses to hunt are available in select draws for those who were unsuccessful in the first. The following types of big game hunting licenses are rewarded by the lottery:

  • Antelope
  • Deer
  • Turkey
  • Waterfowl
  • Elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, mountain lion (residents only)

Apart from the small and big game hunting licenses, the SD Game, Fish and Parks Department issues permits for groups such as terminally ill individuals, individuals who cannot use a bow and arrow, disabled hunters and disabled veterans alike, as well as for individuals who would like to participate in the hunt but are visually impaired or paralyzed and in need of a designated shooter.

Is hunter education mandatory South Dakota?

The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks department does administer hunter education courses in firearm safety and bowhunting. Though only youth that fall into a specific age range and certain first-time hunting license applicants are required to participate, all are invited to attend.

HuntSAFE is a course designed for youth hunters 12 to 15 years of age. Individuals who have reached 11 years of age can participate though they will not be issued a hunter safety card until after their 12th birthday. The course covers material such as safe firearm handling techniques and wildlife management.

The bowhunter education course is required for youth between the ages of 12 and 15 and first-time, big game archery hunting license candidates, regardless of their age. Applicants who hold a bowhunter course certification from any state or province are exempt from this requirement.

Where can I buy a South Dakota license to hunt?

South Dakota hunting licenses can be purchased in any of three ways which include by internet, telephone and in-person orders.

The procedures for acquiring hunting permits differ for small game and big game hunting licenses. The most practical way to buy a license is online. To place an online order, applicants must register for a user account. Upon purchase with an accepted debit or credit card, users can then either print their license document directly or take a screenshot of it with their smartphone device. Both methods (the electronic and paper copy) are acceptable.

Purchasing the small game hunting license in person can be done through the 400 different authorized agents across the state. Applicants should present their state-issued ID, pay a small purchasing fee and get a hunting license. Note that non-resident furbearer permits can only be applied for by mail.

To obtain a big game hunting license in South Dakota, an individual must complete the application form either online or by mailing it to the SDGF office. Large game species licenses such as antelope and deer can only be hunted by winners of the license lottery drawings.

How can I replace my South Dakota hunting license?

Lost hunting licenses can be replaced at any authorized agent. Applicants will be charged a small administrative fee for the replacement procedure. Additionally, a license previously purchased via the online licensing system can simply be reprinted free of charge by accessing your account from the online licensing system.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. All throughout the United States, hunters safety classes must be completed in order for applicants to obtain their desired hunting permits and stamps. Failure to take this specific course will result in the rejection of your hunting license request, thus requiring you to start over.
Depending on your state of residence, you may be able to buy hunting licenses in a variety of ways, including online (through your state department’s portal), by mail, by phone or in person. Choose the option that is most convenient for you. Make sure to also have any type of official documentation and payment for fees on hand.
No. Different states have different limits and regulations on hunting licensure. Certain animals may be considered “prohibited species,” whereas other animals may be legal to hunt, so long as you have the necessary hunting permit/stamp. Keep in mind that if you do hunt for any type of prohibited species, you will be subject to serious consequences.
Yes. States typically offer various short-term hunters license options, such as one-day and one-week passes, to those who do not meet residency requirements. In order to receive issuance of a short-term hunting license, make sure to get in touch with your state/hunting wildlife department to find out the available methods you have to apply.
In the event your hunting credentials are lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed, contact your state hunting/wildlife department to order a hunting license replacement. You may have to make an in-person visit to a local office to complete the process. At the time of your replacement request, you may be asked to present your state driving license or another type of identification.
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