Non-Trophy Bison Hunt
The purpose of the non-trophy bison hunt is to remove excess cows and bulls, (primarily two year old bulls), from the herd. A guide will locate this class of animal for your selection.
Non-trophy bulls are typically 2 1/2 years of age. The cows will vary from 3 to 21 years old. The cows are selected on fertility.
Non-trophy bulls will range from 850 pounds to 1,100+ pounds, averaging about 950 pounds. The cows will range from 850 pounds to 1,200+ pounds, averaging around 1,000 pounds.
South Dakota Administrative Rule requires the hunter to be guided during this one-day hunt. Your provided guide will locate this class animal for your selection.
Field handling and transportation back to the buffalo corrals is included in your hunt. The carcass will be transferred to your vehicle. Delivery is available to a local locker for an additional fee ($50-$150)
Rifles must be at least .270 caliber and generate a minimum of 2,200-foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
Typical shot distance for firearms is 50-100 yards. Archers should be proficient out to 50 yards; however, often we can get within 25 yards.
You may archery hunt. Your equipment will be required to meet restrictions. In the case of a non-lethal shot, it will be at the park official's descretion if a follow-up firearms shot is required. Cross bows are not acceptable unless you possess a disabled permit.
The meat, hide and head are all the property of the hunter.
Typically, a non-trophy bison will dress 50-55% from live weight to hot hanging carcass weight. From hot hanging weight to boneless packaged meat will be 65% of carcass. Example: 1,000 pounds live meat will dress 500 pounds hot hanging carcass. From 500 pound carcass to boneless packaged meat will be 325 pounds. These numbesr are approximate, it depends on field handling, shot placement and how much trimming must be done.
The 2 1/2 year old bull would be the best option due to age. The younger cows up to 4-5 years typically are still quality eating, depending how they are harvested and field handled.
Custer State Park
- Custer State Park Resorts, 888.875.0001
- Camping reservations can be made by calling 800.710.2267 or by visiting www.campsd.com.
Outside the park
- Custer (15 miles from park headquarters)
- Hill City (25 miles from park headquarters)
- Hot Springs (35 miles from park headquarters)
- Rapid City (30 miles from park headquarters)
- 15 non-trophy bulls
- 10 non-trophy cows
Fee must be included with the application. Only successful applicants will be charged.
Download Information Sheet
Application deadline is 8 a.m. CDT on August 7.
Successful applicants will be contacted following the drawing date to schedule their hunt.
7 non-trophy bull and 5 non-trophy cow licenses are allocated to a residents-only draw.
Leftovers from the first draw will be available in a second draw to all applicants.
Bull season begins mid-October and closes late October. Cow season begins early November and closes mid-November. Hunts are scheduled Monday through Friday excluding holidays.
You are allotted one day. If applying as a group of two, both hunts can be scheduled on the same day. Typically a half day (3-4 hours) is sufficient.
Standard South Dakota big game regulations apply. Minimum age is 12 with hunter safety certificate.
Permits are available to both South Dakota residents and non-residents.
Guests / Groups
Group applicants (2 to a group) must both apply for the same license, bull or cow, not one of each.
One guest may accompany the hunter.
New in 2013, preference will begin to accumulate with the 2013 draw. The drawing will then be a weighted preference drawing in following years. Applicants may apply for preference only.
Local taxidermists are available to prepare a cape for shipping or for complete service in mounting the animal. Contact them early!