Off for a 4 day spot and stalk hunt in Central South Dakota on some private land. Hopefully I'll have some good pictures to share next week! I go with one other hunter, last year neither one of us tagged out, so I'm betting there are some bruisers running around there.
More tag soup for me!
I got inside 50 yards 3 times on decent bucks. First day we had a one with huge backs and crabby fronts at 50 yards laid up against a hay bale. Just waiting for him to stand up to put an arrow in him. He stood turned right showing us his hind end and walked straight away never presenting a shot.
Day 2 my partner hurt his foot so we put him in a tree stand on a river bottom and he arrowed a nice 8 pt whitetail. Huge bodied deer, the pictures didn't do it justice.
Day 3 we watched the bucks bed on some shale banks in a draw. We waited for the wind to come up to cover the noise of our stalk (lots of tall dry noisy grass) and started our stalk. We got 40 yards above the deer in the draw and the wind shifted then died. This pinned us down and blew our scent right to the deer. Three bucks put their heads up looking our direction offering no shot. All 3 watched us for a minute then bolted out of their beds and never offered a shot.
If you get winds in excess of 15 or so mph, walking the corn can be a productive way to locate deer. That afternoon with temps above 90 degrees and winds around 18 mph we walked a huge cornfield (1.5 mi x1.5 mi). We were able to locate 4 does, 2 inside 20 yards and the one at 8 yards turned herself inside out when she finally figured out what we were. That walk took 2 hours though and kind of a nutkick not seeing any bucks.
The last day I watched some deer go out of sight in a draw. We were creeping into position and saw antler tips just over the rise in front of us. We got to 35 yards and stopped. In hindsight I should have stayed there and waited for a shot to present itself. At the time we decided if I came to full draw and walked straight at the buck I should get a shot. I tried this, got to about 25 yards and the buck threw his head up and looked right at me. The problem was he was on a ledge below the top edge of the shale bank he was in and all I could see was head, neck and about the top 3 inches of his back. He turned and ran, I debated taking a running shot at 40 yards, but elected against it.
I have hunted this area of Central South Dakota the last 5 years now. It has gotten markedly more difficult to locate mule deer. While they did have a tough winter up there, the whitetail population was doing fine, so I don't think that is the culprit in reduction of mule deer seen. More likely it is changing agricultural practices. As the price of corn and sunflowers has gone up so much, there is a huge increase in production of these crops vs. the CRP, milo or wheat that they used to be. This gives the bucks great places to hide until harvest. I think we may have to re evaluate the ideal time frame for an archery hunt up there. I think late October after pheasant season starts and the crops are harvested is going to be optimal. The bucks will be more cagey, but you can't kill them if you can't see them and for that reason I think later on in the month is best.
I spent the last evening in a tree stand and nothing came in, did see a nice 8 and two does cruising but nothing offered a shot.