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“Are You a South Dakotan?” Hunting Residency Case Shows State Lacks Firm Legal Standards

Jeffrey Keith Peters is a retired Denver-area optometrist who, according to his Facebook page, went to school in Stickney and at SDSU and now lives in Milliken, Colorado.

Jeffrey Peters, Milliken, Colorado, Facebook, 2020.02.23
Jeffrey Peters, Milliken, Colorado, Facebook, screen cap 2020.02.23.

According to South Dakota News Watch, Peters owns 581 acres of pastureland in Aurora County. But in November 2018, in a legal notice in the Mitchell Daily Republic, Peters listed his address as Milliken, CO.

Mitchell Daily Republic, 2018.11.28, p. B6
Excerpt with Peters estate legal notice highlighted, Mitchell Daily Republic, 2018.11.28, p. B6. (Click to embiggen!)

Does Peters live in South Dakota? Is Peters a legal resident of South Dakota? Is Peters entitled to resident hunting privileges in South Dakota?

He wasn’t in 2016, when, according to Bart Pfankuch, Peters pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of “illegally obtaining a resident hunting license in Lake County.” Peters thus went to great pains the next year to establish an affirmative legal answer to all three questions so he could shoot South Dakota deer when he visited:

Before applying for a resident deer license in 2017, Peters bought a house in White Lake more than 90 days before applying. He paid to have it fixed up and built a shed in the back yard.

He also obtained a South Dakota driver’s license, registered his vehicles in Aurora County and registered to vote in South Dakota. He said he relinquished his Colorado residency and even purchased a non-resident license when he once returned to Colorado to hunt pheasants [Bart Pfankuch, “S.D. Hunter Residency Investigation and Arrest Create ‘Nightmare’ for Retired Combat Veteran,” South Dakota News Watch, 2020.02.19].

Game Fish and Parks and Aurora County state’s attorney John R. Steele went to great pains establish a strong negative to those questions and make Peters a repeat offender:

Before filing four misdemeanor charges against Peters in November 2018, state investigators obtained nearly two years of Peters’ cellphone records and correlated which cell towers were pinged; they drove by his South Dakota house at least 27 times and took 65 photos; they tracked his Facebook use; they interviewed his neighbors in White Lake and a contractor who worked on the property; they obtained real estate transaction and utility usage data; they recorded phone calls between Peters and an investigator; they examined UPS delivery information to both his homes; and they sent a state investigator to the Denver area in a failed attempt to interview Peters’ wife [Pfankuch, 2020.02.19].

Peters tells Pfankuch that fighting this prosecution has cost him $18,000 in legal fees. GF&P law enforcement supervisor Emmett Keyser says tough shiskey, there’s precedent at stake (and slips in a class-warfare dig):

“In his defense, Mr. Peters has attempted to look at all the facts and try to meet all these standards as best he can, but it still boils down to whether his domicile is in South Dakota or in Colorado, and it can only be one,” Keyser said. “I’m sure he argues that, ‘I live in South Dakota and I live in this small little house in small-town South Dakota and never mind that $700,000 house or whatever I have in Colorado, this is where I live.’”

Keyser acknowledged that the investigation into Peters’ residency was extensive, and that someone who is the subject of a potentially precedent-setting case may suffer some cost and hardship.

“It probably seems like it’s kind of odd the we would look at that with that much scrutiny,” Keyser said. “But it could, as with any case, it has the potential to set precedent” [Pfankuch, 2020.02.19].

But we got no precedent. Just before trial last fall, the prosecution caved, with state’s attorney Steele offering “a plea deal with no jail time, a small fine and no loss of hunting privileges. It was also agreed that Peters would be able to hunt as a resident….”

So it’s resolved: buy a house, spend a few days here each year (52 in 2017, 67 in 2018, says Pfankuch, based on Peters’s cell phone data), follow the law and the hunting handbook, and you’re a resident, right?

No you’re not, says state’s attorney Steele, with an apparent contempt for the rule of law:

“The language of the handbook; I don’t know that it’s terribly relevant,” said Steele, who resigned as Aurora County state’s attorney in January and now serves as an unpaid deputy in the state’s attorney’s office. “The law speaks of residence, where you actually live … you can do everything on the checklist but if you don’t live here, you’re not entitled to resident hunting privileges.”

Now that the Peters case has ended, Steele said he still does not consider Peters a South Dakota resident but has agreed not to prosecute him further.

“Do I think he’s a bona fide resident at this point? No, I don’t,” Steele said. “But he’s jumped through enough hoops that, yeah, we’re going to make the call that we’re not going to prosecute this case. That’s what that policy is all about” [Pfankuch, 2020.02.19].

Wait—what policy?

After the case, Steele took the unusual step of authoring a new set of residency guidelines called, “Prosecution standards for part time residents seeking SD hunting licenses.”

Steele told News Watch the guidelines are “an internal policy” in place only for Aurora County and that the policy was distributed only to [defense attorney David] Jencks, Peters, [GFP conservation] Officer [Lynn] Geuke and Steele’s staff.

…“It was our attempt to formulate a consistent policy that would be applicable to people who fall between the cracks, who have two residences in the sense of houses or other abodes and spend time in both of them,” Steele said. “How are we going to consistently handle those situations so that we’ve got clear lines of demarcation as to what we will look at as a violation of game laws and what we won’t?”

However, the local policy includes elements of residency that are not addressed in state law, such as defining “dwelling” as a structure with permanent electrical service, an indoor, functional kitchen and bathroom with hot and cold running water, and a sewage connection [Pfankuch, 2020.02.19].

Um, how do we get consistency if a state’s attorney is writing his own policy, based on standards that aren’t in law, and doesn’t show that policy to anyone but parties to his mostly failed prosecution? How does any landowner or snowbird or visitor know if the Aurora County state’s attorney and GF&P is going to come drag them through court for seeking a resident hunting license? How do any of us know who’s a resident and who isn’t if John R. Steele is making stuff up and keeping it secret?

The Peters case demonstrates that utter porosity of South Dakota’s definition of residency and the privileges and rights that flow therefrom. Home is where the heart is; South Dakota’s attempt to establish a legal standard clearer than that appears to be a complete failure. The Peters case indicates that whatever privileges and rights we’re trying to reserve for “South Dakota residents”—hunting, fishing, voting, donating to campaigns, circulating petitions—have little firm legal basis.

Related Legislation: The House is dawdling over House Bill 1184, which would allow nonresident landowners to get tags to hunt deer and antelope on their own land. But if HB 1184 passes, Peters will have to expand his land holdings to qualify: HB 1184 grants this hunting privilege only to nonresidents who own at least 640 contiguous agricultural acres. Big money and GOED support HB 1184; the South Dakota Wildlife Federation and the Izaak Walton League oppose it.

Related Media Critique: South Dakota News Watch is good, this story proves again that they are not purely objective. Many factors help determine residency; Peters’s past service in the military sheds no light on his current legal resident status. Yet SD News Watch headlines that legally irrelevant status, which Peters and his Madison attorney David Jencks repeat to build sympathy for his case. It would have been far more instructive and legally relevant to refer to Peters as a Colorado optometrist and Aurora County landowner. I don’t mind when SD News Watch steps away from strict objectivity and calls our attention to social injustice. But if there is injustice in this individual case (and Steele’s arbitrary extra-legal rule-making smells strongly of injustice), we can highlight it without legally irrelevant military fetishism.


  1. grudznick 2020-02-23 09:19

    That fellow should pony up for his out-of-state hunting license, just like Mr. Lansing has to.

  2. Scott 2020-02-23 09:39

    It would have been much smarter to get the law changed and make it clearer to what is defined as residency to get a hunting license. Then go after people who are clearly breaking the law.

    Lots of money and effort wasted to prosecute 1 guy. Sorry, this was just outright stupid and a big waste of money.

  3. jerry 2020-02-23 09:47

    Surprised myself by agreeing with Mr. grudznick. That dude has a whole lot of money so why not pay for a fee and stop dancing around. That military crutch is a little much. He just out spent the Game Fish and Parks, which is the new greed practice in the US.

  4. Mark 2020-02-23 09:57

    I’m a Colorado resident.
    (Not really)
    But, I have a house in Murdo.
    I guess that I can consume cannabis in
    South Dakota now.

  5. Buckobear 2020-02-23 10:11

    Can he vote in two states ??

  6. Scott Ehrisman 2020-02-23 11:20

    I have felt for a long time (growing up on a small farm that was mostly pasture and creek ravine land). That you should be able to hunt without a license on your own rural property under two conditions. You limit yourself to the same limits as licensed hunters and you eat what you kill (or give it to someone else to eat). I would also limit it to game fowl and deer. I often argue on the side of property rights. If I own my property and that game is residing there, it’s essentially my property not the state’s, so why should I have to pay the state a ‘fee’ to hunt and eat my property?

  7. bearcreekbat 2020-02-23 12:12

    The ultimate “plea bargain” is a disappointment and suggests a bad faith attempt to “save face” on the part of GFP and the States Attorney’s office.

    Once State representatives apparently realized that this accused individual could not be lawfully convicted of a particular crime, it seems an abuse of power to use, in effect extortion, to obtain any concession before the State agrees to stop wasting money on an improper prosecution and inflicting more harm on the person incorrectly accused.

    It is entirely understandable why any person accused of a crime they didn’t commit would agree to pay the extortion demand given the cost of continuing the defense and the uncertainty and danger of becoming a victim to the occasional unlawful and unjustified conviction that is an unfortunate reality in our criminal court experience.

    But, in my view, extorting some bogus “no contest” plea under the publicly described facts of this particular case strikes me as both an abuse of State power and an exercise of that power for an illegimate purpose, namely to save face for an obvious agency and prosecutorial mistake.

  8. Sandra Shelstad 2020-02-23 13:10

    All the resources that went into investigating this and yet 16 reports of bruises on a 2 year old child went uninvestigated. Shelstad v Shelstad has set a precedent that a husband physically hitting his wife, causing permanently disfigurement of her face, does not constitute domestic abuse nor a history of domestic abuse. It also set a precedent that a father convicted of a domestic abuse offense by statute and who testified to having hit his wife can still have custody despite the domestic abuse laws South Dakota has to prevent children from residing with abusers. This is the precedent South Dakota, and all other states, need to be concerned with. Bring this to the front page! WHAT WE ALLOW IS WHAT WILL CONTINUE!

  9. mike from iowa 2020-02-23 14:57

    BCB says so much in his last paragraph, but i wonder where the counterweight to abuse of power by wingnuts in red states lies? Seems patently obvious you can’t rely on voters to act against one party rule. And, as we have seen over and over, wingnuts cannot, do not and will not police themselves.

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-02-23 15:23

    Indeed, Bear, this plea deal seems to serve no useful legal purpose. It only makes clear that residency laws don’t matter or will be enforced only arbitrarily.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-02-23 15:23

    Buck, Peters says he registered to vote in SD and gave up his Colorado voting registration.

  12. David Bergan 2020-02-23 15:36

    Interesting story. For hunting purposes, couldn’t we say that (in addition to the other ways of establishing SD residency) owning an acre or more of land in the state lets you qualify for a resident license?

    I mean the dude pays property tax on almost a square mile of land in South Dakota. He’s a South Dakota stakeholder. It’s not like he’s trying to claim residency with just an RV and a PO Box.

    Kind regards,

  13. TM 2020-02-23 17:45

    To hell with Meth boys we need all hands on deck for this one. Spare nothing. To hell with raises for anyone we got misdemeanors to crush.

  14. Debbo 2020-02-23 18:04

    It is absurd that SD goes after this guy about residency for hunting to such an extreme extent, while casually waving a hand toward mailbox residences for voting, a critically important matter.

    Ms. Shelstad has every right to be outraged. The priorities of the SDGOP are so twisted and distorted it’s completely shameful and sickening.

  15. grudznick 2020-02-23 18:11

    It is enlightening and delighting to grudznick that Mr. E is in favor of the open fields doctrine that would have to be in place for his Murdo hunting doctrine.

    Mr. Rhoden laughing. Mr. Rhoden laughing.

  16. grudznick 2020-02-23 18:15

    Mr. Bergan. No.

  17. Porter Lansing 2020-02-23 18:49

    This issue would be clarified by a South Dakota State Income Tax.
    Also, grudznarc … Mr. Lansing was granted lifetime hunting privileges allowing for shooting from a car window in three states in the early years of this century. SD, CO, and KS. Your state recognized me as a four star “out of state truth teller”, you see.

  18. grudznick 2020-02-23 19:13

    That is a wonderful opportunity for you, Mr. Lansing, and I, for one, say, well befitted upon you. My name, young sir, is Nicholas or grudznick, as you prefer. I would ask that you either call me Sir, Mr, or by my chosen name, with the dignity expected by a man of your stature.

    Or, I guess you can still be an out-of-state name-caller. It really makes no difference to me, but it sure gets Mr. H hammered in the elections.

  19. Porter Lansing 2020-02-23 19:25

    Hair trigger, today? Mr. ??? I’m happy to call you by your family name except you choose to not be open with your friends here. Until then Que Sera Sera.

  20. grudznick 2020-02-23 19:34

    Oh, Mr. Lansing, you just need to get with my good friend Bob, or Bill, or my other friend Bill, or attend a Conservatives with Common Sense Breakfast. We’ll give you a hat.

  21. Porter Lansing 2020-02-23 20:08

    I’ve been to Tally’s many times this last year but no one there knows anything about a meeting of seniors that don’t tip. Are you sure it’s real?

  22. JW 2020-02-23 20:47

    It would benefit us all to review residency statutes from surrounding states in order to gain some perspective. None of this is simple and straight forward and frankly, never has been. Cory, I think if you’ll review the story again, you’ll see some mention of the defense attorney’s interest in calling Hepler to the stand to explain the intricacies of SD’s residency statutes. From my perspective that is when everything went south. The risk of embarrassment in front of a jury went way up. A plea bargain was really the only way out and unfortunately, it is within a prosecutor’s discretion to refuse to prosecute again. That decision, however, is not binding on other prosecutors. Of course, it’s a persuasive argument, that can be used but….

    States have been trying, for years, to construct uniform residency statutes that would greatly simplify the approach to these issues but the political ideologies and diversities just haven’t gelled. Each state is different in more than one respect and honestly, from experience, SD is one of the more liberal states for achieving residency to hunt and fish. 90 days, as an example is pretty loose when it comes to other surrounding states that are at a minimum, 6 months and some of them a year before a person can apply for resident privileges. And it doesn’t help matters that we have two or three sets of requirements to meet residency for different things.

    The legislature has monkeyed around with this for years but they never really reconstruct the statute to clarify and simplify. They’ve just added a word here or there and hope it fixes a singular problem. Believe it or not, it was possible to secure resident hunting privileges if you were a non-resident alien. The state lost a case very similar to this instant one involving a Swiss National that owned property in both Pennington and Custer Counties, had a SD DL and 2 licensed vehicles in Rapid City. He was a tour operator that had no sales tax license and didn’t need one because all his clients pre-paid him while he was living at home in Europe. Same number of charges only that time, he was found not guilty simply based on the wording in statute. Some years after that, GFP sponsored legislation that simply added the words “foreign country” to SDCL 41-1-1. (subsection 22)

    I don’t know if the legal conflict with Driver’s licenses and Wyoming still exists but for years, if you lived in South Dakota and had a job in Wyoming, Wyoming rquired a resident DL and no exceptions. If you drove truck or heavy machinery for your job, you had to have a Wyoming CDL. Of course SD doesn’t allow people to have two state’s driver’s licenses and you can’t buy resident hunting privileges without one.

    Also take a look at SDCL 41-1-1.1 below……. Stuff like this doesn’t help the residency argument at all.

    Its an absolute mess and I’d be willing to bet that in the next year or two, there will be a legislator or two who are overly sympathetic to these circumstances, that will react in a “landowner rights” sort of way and throw a big time monkey wrench into the middle of this already confusing mess and make it worse. A summer study and working with both the AG, the GFP Law Staff, conservation groups and perhaps Farm Bureau or some group like that along with adjoining states Wildlife Departments seems to be in order and I’d keep Rhoden as far away from the discussions as possible He’s already screwed up Water Law and the Public Trust Doctrine in this state. We don’t need any more power and control bias in the outdoors.

  23. John 2020-02-23 21:20

    This was another GF&P insanity. Imagine if the GF&P spent those funds and energy into habitat improvement. The GF&P is enamored with almost nonsensical law enforcement. Of course, we need reasonable law enforcement on natural resource laws and issues — but here there is no way the allegations in this case arose to “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard for a criminal conviction given the mish-mash of SD law and government publications.

    Since the license sales are down. Since the numbers of hunters are down. Has the GF&P reduced its law enforcement staff commensurately? If not, why not? Hunting is dying. It’s regulated out of existence. It’s lack of regulation caused it to be an unhealthly, dangerous food source.

  24. Debbo 2020-02-23 23:26

    John, you said, “Hunting is dying. It’s regulated out of existence. It’s lack of regulation caused it to be an unhealthly, dangerous food source.”

    How is hunting both over and under regulated at once. That’s what you seem to be saying.

  25. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-02-24 05:50

    David speaks in our Founding spirit of No Taxation Without Representation… but then what of all the nice folks from Madison who buy the majority of their groceries in Sioux Falls and pay Sioux Falls sales tax but don’t get to vote for Stehly or Jensen in April?

    And if owning land creates a right to vote, do we allow a wealthy man like Peters who owns land in two states to vote in both states?

  26. David Bergan 2020-02-24 07:24

    Hi Cory!

    I agree with you when it comes to voting (as described in my last email to you), that’s why I was careful to limit my opinion to just the resident hunting license… not venturing into the residency issues regarding voting, petitioning, state income tax (e.g. live in Iowa, but work in SD), etc. It’s not a strongly held opinion.

    I would prefer one clean clear guideline for residency that applies to everything. But if the system already defines residency piecemeal, then when looking at just the resident hunting aspect (e.g. cheaper license) it should be sufficient to say that this man’s already ponied up thousands in property tax, so he can qualify for the $90 discount on a pheasant license. A man with just an RV and a PO Box… not so sure that I’d give them the $90 discount.

    Kind regards,

    PS We also could just abolish the resident/non-resident hunting distinction. Makes the license a less invasive purchase. We don’t give residents cheaper state park passes, do we?

  27. Porter Lansing 2020-02-24 09:31

    My friend from Madison’s mom and her friends really enjoy going to Flandreau and playing in the casino, once in a while. As a side note, fewer groups are more fun to be around than retired teachers. They won’t go in the evening anymore because of all the deer on the roads. One senior friend that hits a deer will get your attention, pronto.
    Point is, there are so many deer in ESD that they’re a hazard. Y’all should vote to let people like the Milliken (a town of 7,000 in the ugliest county in CO) dentist hunt for free. However, because the people of SD vote something in, means little it seems.

  28. JW 2020-02-24 09:45

    A bit more explanation of history is in order. South Dakotan’s have always recognized the status and importance of agricultural land ownership to our culture and society in general. For the most part, agricultural landowners have been recognized and often rewarded for benevolence and stewardship of public assets like wildlife and water. For decades, landowners have been compensated for their stewardship of wildlife with such things as hunting and trapping on their own land free of charge, preference for 50% of all big game licenses, and a lot more. SD and all other states have historically offered a laundry list of compensatory dispensation for agricultural producers under the assumption that without these people’s stewardship and custodial nature, SD would not have the wildlife and heritage that it has…That recognition is what garnered landowners the qualified privileges they have. Much of that reality has now disappeared. Now, for a lot of them, those privileges are owed not earned and their stewardship, if any, is not readily shared with the rest of our society. Yes, there are still landowners that pay special attention to their land management practices to benefit wildlife and they share it as best they can to their own inconvenience but that number is obviously declining right along with habitat and wildlife numbers. On that basis, it’s a fair question to ask; if a landowner isn’t a good wildlife and land steward, and he/she is unwilling to share with the culture as they once did, should they qualify at all for special privileges? Should they qualify for wildlife damage? Should they even qualify for something like CRP? After all, if they want to sell access or otherwise privatize it to their own advantage, is there a legitimate reason for the state to reward them? No matter what the emotion or political advocacy is, our wildlife is still publicly held in trust for it’s intrinsic value and benefit of all citizens equally by law, not socio/economic status, political position or land ownership. We left the feudal system of landlord wildlife ownership over three decades ago and a few of us disagree with the ideology that takes us back to the de facto condition. Steele own’s land but aside from that, what qualifies him for hunting license privileges beyond someone that owns a house in town, supports agriculture politically and economically and supports wildlife with fees and contributions to organizations that support landowner stewardship like PF or DU or RMEF………Paying taxes on property is a universal obligation and has nothing to do with stewardship of either the land or public assets that use it.

    Residency discrimination is practiced universally across all 50 states for a variety of reasons. Many of those reasons are linked to the stewardship and conservation interests and obligations undertaken by full-time residents; living within the state’s borders and civically engaged in the affairs of the state on a daily basis. Many of our citizens take wildlife conservation, management and stewardship seriously and believe strongly that they have a civic duty and responsibility to oversee the conservation and stewardship of wildlife that belong to them. A non-resident, even a non-resident landowner, can not stand in that same position or capacity. There are exceptions- Ted Turner as an example who practices land, water and wildlife stewardship but doesn’t attempt to manipulate the management system to his advantage.
    The point is, full-time residents of the state are the ones that pay the annual fees, do the heavy lifting in the legislature, in front of the Commission, on the ground and the water with modest incomes and resources in an effort to preserve that which belongs to all the state’s citizens. They tend to take a rather dim view of non-residents that tend to use wealth, political horsepower, land ownership and so forth to skirt around all of that endeavor to secure privilege for themselves that they haven’t actually earned or sacrificed for.

  29. JW 2020-02-24 10:05

    I meant to say “centuries ago.”

  30. David Bergan 2020-02-24 11:39

    Hi JW,

    Thanks for putting the resident hunting license in perspective with its original intent. Has it lived up to that intent and does that kind of policy make sense in today’s situation, though?

    A few months ago, I took my kids to the Shoreview Community Center for an afternoon on their waterslides. When purchasing my tickets, the employee asked me what my zip code was. I was a little taken aback by that, but he explained that if I lived in a Shoreview zip code, the prices were lower than if I were from somewhere else. And the reason for that is because the Shoreview locals are already helping pay for the facility with their taxes. I didn’t give him my zipcode, but simply said that I was from out of state, and paid for non-resident wristbands.

    That’s what I had in the back of my head when I read about these hunting licenses, and formed an opinion based on Dr. Peter’s property taxes.

    Sioux Falls’s analogous aquatic center does not discriminate by zip code, it’s the same price schedule for everyone, regardless of residency. That’s a less invasive purchase.

    Land stewardship and conservation are important. They need to be regulated and encouraged across the board. But I don’t know if coupling those efforts with a resident hunting program is the most effective carrot, especially when we see that law enforcement is going to go to such drastic measures not to see how good a steward Dr. Peters is with his land, but to see how many days his cell phone says he’s in the county. (And, by the way, what if Dr. Peters had turned off his smartphone’s location tracking for a couple months? Because it drains my battery so quickly, I only turn that on when I’m looking up directions.)

    The more I think about this, the more I’m inclined to setting just one hunting license schedule for everyone. Conservation should be tackled independently. Residency should be tackled independently.

    What’s the downside to that approach?

    Kind regards,

  31. JW 2020-02-25 11:36

    David: Such a proposal will simply put a lot of people in jeopardy. Virtually every other state has similar policies that do not permit what is called dual residencies for the purposes of hunting and fishing. If SD were to enact your proposal and non-residents applied under resident criteria, they set themselves up for criminal violations in the state they live in. Every state requires you to choose a singular residence and you can’t have two or more except in certain circumstances in some states. Not SD.

    Another thing that you must understand is that there is already substantial US Supreme Court precedent in place that not only supports resident/non-resident discrimination but more or less attaches it to the jurisdiction of the Interstate Commerce Clause. See Baldwin versus Fish and Game Commission of Montana…….

    Lastly, by statutory law in every state, all non-migratory species of wildlife not classified under some federal law (such as waterfowl, raptors et. al) are declared property of the several states and are preserved for the use and enjoyment of that state’s citizens. There is no mention of any non-resident entitlements in that statute. As a result, states are lawfully allowed to not only discriminate against non-residents but prohibit them from hunting in some cases. SD does not allow non-resident elk, Mt. Goat, and Mt. Lion hunting and would not allow Big Horn Sheep hunting were it not for the current license auction arrangement that allows non-residents to bid on a single license.

    This is not an issue to be solved politically. Opinions are fine but they need to be informed opinions based upon historical law and precedent and what every other state does in the same regard…… State licensing of hunters is nowhere close (nor should it be) to a retail experience and the comparison between the public facility (Sioux Falls Aquatic Center) and the “semi-private Shoreview facility. Frankly, I think the Shoreview facility is skating on thin ice with that policy. None the less, public trust assets managed and held in trust for the public, and the access thereto, are regulated under an entirely different funding mechanism (including federal PR and DJ Acts) and do not collate on the same pages with taxes and other government revenue.

    Regardless, the precedents across the length and breadth of the US, with regard to the treatment and administration of non-resident licensing have already been set and I see no avenue for any sort of reversal. It may seem inequitable to you, perhaps because you’re just not very familiar with the history or the legal structuring of licensing and conservation revenue distribution. It’s complicated and contentious but it is what it is….

  32. David Bergan 2020-02-25 16:40

    Hi JW!

    Thanks for the reply!

    You’re right that I’m ignorant of the complexities here, and thank you for taking the time to help me understand. I live in SD and do hunt occasionally in-state, and by coincidence, am related to an army veteran retired snowbird optometrist hunter. (But not the one in the article.)

    I can see where there would be trouble if we let out-of-staters get a SD resident license, but perhaps we can get to the same destination by another route:

    Option 1) Abolish the resident license and effectively make all hunters purchase a non-resident license. (And then adjust the price and scope accordingly.)

    Option 2) Make the resident and non-resident licenses identical in price and features, and then remove the laws that penalize someone for buying a resident license when they aren’t a resident.

    Do either of these options have cross-state legal troubles that you can think of?

    From your explanation, the sentence that raised the most questions for me was:

    State licensing of hunters is nowhere close (nor should it be) to a retail experience

    To me this is very much like a retail purchase. It’s like buying a gym membership. If I want to use the treadmills, I pay the price. Some people (kids, employees, seniors) might get a different price. If I want to shoot pheasants this year, I buy a “membership” that allows me to do so. Some people (kids, GF&P employees, seniors from Minnesota) might get a different price. Every hunting license purchase I’ve ever seen was literally at a retailer. Sold on behalf of the state, of course, but still, it’s not like we go to a courthouse, a state park, or a GF&P version of the Drivers License Exam Station.

    My suggestion isn’t based on what I see as being inequitable so much as a desire to simplify the system. Dr. Peters’s pain was unnecessary. I mean, as far as we know, he registered to vote in South Dakota and received a South Dakota drivers license without hassle. Think about that. He’s going to drive every day. He gets a vote in all of our elections. He renounced his voting rights in Colorado. And yet if he tries to get the resident discount on his hunting license, we’re going to put him through $18,000 of barratry? Really? That’s where he crossed the line?

    Dual-residency issues do fiscally matter in states where they have a state income tax, like Minnesota. I can see going to these sorts of lengths to make the case that a rich Minnesotan snowbird is evading taxes by declaring residency in another state, when in truth, they spend all year at home in MN. The cost of that investigation is justified by the amount of evaded tax being recouped. And, like Porter’s night-driving adverse retired teacher friends, it could send a deterrent chill to other would-be evaders.

    But how many non-resident hunting licenses does it take to recoup the state’s cost spent on investigating Dr. Peters?

    State park passes don’t price discriminate between residents and non-residents, and I still don’t see why hunting licenses should. What am I missing?

    Kind regards,

  33. leslie 2020-02-26 21:14

    Why would anyone go to such great lengths to prosecute or defend evasion of license requirements based on residence? (Irony) These explanatory posts should be worth something. Residency is inexplicable.

  34. Jeffrey Peters 2020-03-12 14:44

    This was irrelevant to the article, but I own & help manage 6 different food plots and tree belts in Aurora County for the survival benefit of SD’s wildlife, and have been a habitat producer in Aurora County for the past 20 years. I have held a SD driver license & a registered SD voter since 2017 plus I activity disenrolled from CO voter registration in 2017. Many of your readers, and maybe even the blogger, are making assertions and assumptions regarding what is written in the official SD Hunting & Trapping handbook. The residency criteria as spelled out are very simple. The criteria are not ambiguous at all as has been asserted by others who are posting. I am from Aurora County and have more ties to this area than do most South Dakotans plus most of my immediate family is already buried in rural Aurora County. I don’t see how my ability to become a Dr to earn my livelihood has anything to do with whether I fulfilled SD residency requirements in a legal manner.
    I hope this helps to clear up some of the misconceptions that are apparently out there.

  35. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-03-13 12:16

    Hey, Doc! Thanks for checking in.

    Did I assert any false statements?

    I don’t dispute that the hunting handbook offers clear residency criteria which it is relatively simple for people who don’t really live in South Dakota to satisfy in order to qualify for resident hunting privileges. The same is true of RVers who spend far less time and own far fewer assets in South Dakota than you do but are able to qualify for voting residency here.

    I am curious: why did you list Colorado as your address in that November 2018 notice?

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