One of the favorite conversation starters for the past few months here in Sioux Dakota has been, what a crazy winter we've had this year. OK. You're right, the phrases to describe our winter has been much more colorful than that. Sailor Blushing kind of phrases. It has been a tough winter. But what's it been like for the animals out in the wild? Difficult.

You can start by making a quick walk through knee-deep snow around your home in Sioux Falls. Rabbits have been finding what they could find in your backyard. The shrubs around your home? Most likely de-barked up as high as rabbits can reach.

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In town, if you head down Southeastern Avenue around sunset you'll most likely see deer. The deer have been expanding their feeding range deeper into neighborhood yards searching for something to eat. Out in the country, it's a whole new world.

Pheasant hunters know it can be difficult it is to find birds when the crops are in the fields and vegetation is plentiful and tall. Now, if you drive along a country gravel road, when you come to a bare spot, if you can find one, chances are you'll see all the pheasants you missed this past fall. The gravel along the road is also something the birds need this time of year. The sand helps them process the food they are trying to find.

I was recently out in the country. Level-full ditches, that you can walk on are everywhere. Correction, you can walk on them until you sink in, up to your thigh. Every step is tricky. Pickups, and four-wheelers? Not much good either. If you drive in the country you'll see mile after mile of snow-laden fields. With no tracks. Except for the wildlife.

JD Collins-Townsquare Media
JD Collins-Townsquare Media

The photos I have of these pheasants are from Charles Mix County. But keep your eye on the ditch as you travel and you'll see the same thing over and over. This picture illustrates how pheasants will look anywhere for a kernel of corn even if it's a leftover byproduct from cattle who were also calling this shelterbelt home earlier this winter.

The shelterbelts our grandparents put in place help. The leftover crops out in the field help too, but for the wildlife in South Dakota, it's been a long, cold winter. Tomorrow, I'll take a look at deer. And a word you might not associate with them.

Thank you for sharing this story with your friends and neighbors. You know, the ones who love the outdoors.

A Survival Guide For Your First Winter in South Dakota

Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and the rest of the Sioux Empire (AKA southeastern South Dakota) are welcoming thousands of new residents every year.

Many of you new folks will be experiencing your first eastern South Dakota winter. While it doesn't usually get as bad as our Dakota friends up north, I speak from experience when I say it can get a little rough.

So, to help ease you into winter in Sioux Falls and South Dakota here are some winter survival tips:

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