SD Archery Antelope?
Does anyone have any information on South Dakota archery antelope? This will be the first year I will be heading out to chase some speed goats and I have no idea where to start. There is a TON of public ground, but where do you even start? I've never hunted antelope, so is there a certain environment you look for? I'd like to do spot and stalk rather than sit over a water hole in a ground blind.
On another note, does anyone know if it is legal to camp on BLM ground? Most of the areas that are accessible in SD are walk in areas only, but some have BLM ground in the middle of it. It sure would be handy to pack in, and hunt out of a camp than having to walk in several miles every day to hunt the same ground.
Hunted the NW corner near Buffalo. There are a fair number of "goats'' in the area, and enough public land to keep you busy for weeks. Scouted before the season and there were literally goats everywhere. By the end of the first weekend they all appeared to have disappeared or moved to private land. Find terrain that is difficult to glass from the roads and you will find antelope...
I have been twice there, took my first archery antelope last year. You will want to be in either the NW corner or the SW corner of the state, either can be ok. Antleope took a pounding and everyone said don't go, they even cancelled the non-res rifle hunts last year. I had plenty of opportunities, its still just about the hardest animal in North America to get an arrow in spot and stalk.
Environment wise, you are never going to get close on the flat open plains. You need to look for broken terrain that provides the opportunity to put a hill between you and the antelope while you get close. Patience pays too, if you are in a good spot and they are coming your direction, wait them out. You can find this kind of terrain as the high plains break up going down to a river. This same envirnoment can hold good stalkable mule deer as well.
You will get shot opportunities in the 55-65 yard range about 3x as frequent as inside 40 yards in my experience. If you have your bow dialed in and can shoot those distances, your odds of success will increase.
There are more hunters in the SW corner than the NW corner. You will have the most opportunity in large tracts of walk in area. You can camp on BLM lands I think, but check with the game and fish first.
Spot and stalk antelope is a lot of walking all day. No way around that. Be ready to put 17-20 miles a day on your boots and you should be able to have opportunities from sun up to sun down.
Where to start - look at this antelope density map:
Next find public ground in the areas with the most goats. SD has a pretty good online atlas, I keep a printed copy with me when i'm up there.
Contact the offices for the areas that you are interested and have them mail you maps, its like $8-$10 per map usually.
Do some online research via msg boards, etc. Everywhere you find online to go will be way overhunted, but it can tell you what you want to avoid.
Everyone in SD was very freindly and supportive of hunting at the restaurants and bars. It can be good to stay in town, you get a lot of tips and information from locals that you can put to use if you don't have an area figured out.
Thanks for the tips! I have done quite a bit of muley hunting here in SD, but haven't been to the NW part of the state for goats. Actually, I have never hunted goats, so this would be a first. I actually just emailed the game and fish department, as well as, the BLM branch in SD. Camping is allowed on BLM ground even inside walk-in only areas, as long as all of the gear is carried in on my back. No problem there. As for putting on the miles, we typically hike 10+ miles/day when we are hunting mulies here. Its really hard not to hike that much in this wide open country! It sounds like the antelope hunting will be pretty similar to hunting the mulies out here. Lots of glassing and walking!
Doe, were you able to get a goat this past year? I heard a lot of bad things due to the drought and am still unsure as to how the population will be this year due to the drought actually getting worse. However, it is still a blast to get out, so I may try to go even if the drought continues.
Don't believe the hype, I got into P & Y goats every day, nearly cancelled the trip based on all the horrible reports. I ended up killing a very small buck, but yes I did get one, shot him at 45 yards. I view antelope spot and stalk with a bow as an opportunity hunt, you can't be that picky about which one you are going to kill, you have to get them in the right spot and have everything come together.
Here's my thread from this fall with some pictures:
This year we will have wyoming rifle tags, if we get done early, going to do a little scouting then drive over there to SD or NE and OTC bowhunt them.
Nice! Thanks for the thread by the way... I actually haven't ever been up to the NW part of the state yet. I have stayed pretty much confined to the east half and southern half, so I just have the NW corner to cover. I actually moved up to SD from the panhandle of TX, just north of Lubbock. A buddy of mine came up here to hunt mulies this past year and stuck a pretty nice one.
Here is the thread from when he was up here...
Let me know when you are heading to NE. A buddy of mine is going to be out there this year as well with his dad and brother, so maybe he can give me an update and I can pass it on to you if you are heading out there about the same time or a little after.
There is a nice campground on Highway 20 at the edge of the Custer National Forest. If I remember right it's about 10 miles east of Buffalo. Huge walk in area and lots of school land. Best to have a good GPS especially on the school land though. Years ago these were all marked and the ranchers removed them all. Some of them will try and convince you that it's private. I hunted the area several times when I lived in SD - Good Hunting.