2020 SD Whitetail Story

JGuest

Junior Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2021
Messages
30
Location
South Dakota
This year was one of the toughest whitetail hunts of my life. Not because the deer were sparse or I had to work harder than usual. I had a first, and it wasn't an enjoyable first. That first eventually brought me to Rokslide looking for ways to better myself as a hunter.

My brother, dad, and I still manage about 400 acres of the family homestead as the rest is underwater. we food plot about 40-50 acres of the 100 or so that could be planted. We've had varying success and this year was a banner year. Whitetail and mule deer bucks everywhere. No mule deer bigger than my biggest so I chose to focus on whitetail even though it was my year to harvest a mule deer buck.

This is Missouri River bottom stand/spot and stalk hunting in a highly active area and my dad tagged out the first day, my brother on day two, day three rolled around. Nothing really moving in the morning I haven't been at the right place during the right time yet. So I decided to go set up near a large cornfield to the south of the main bit of hunting ground. My brother and his wife came with.

About 30 min before dark a nice whitetail buck shows up at about 300 yards, but he's in the corn. I'm comfortable out to 350 as I've shot a handful of deer out that far with flat shooting guns using MPBR. This buck is in the 140-150 class with heavy antlers and some cool webbing and palmation. About 15 min of shooting light left and he steps out. I set on a rest get prepped and squeeze, boom, SWOCK. We give him 5-10 go down and investigate, no deer. Short version of a long story we looked for 12 hours or so only found one small pool of blood and he made it into the Missouri breaks which are tough, real tough, 45 degree slopes and cedar trees so thick I crawled for half a day. That's how I lost my first wounded animal in my 30's.

Last night of the hunt I hunted a section that often saw mule deer bucks transition through it and set my mind to kill one that wasn't great but was mature. About 30 min before sundown I got a wild hare and went down to the low river bottom piece we have which was adjacent to where I was hunting and hope for a whitetail. As we sat there the does started to stream by, 1, 3, 5 , 9 of them in classic fashion a fork horn shows up. there's 10 min of shooting light left now. It's the last day, I'm ready. At this point I'm getting worried it's tag soup or skip another deer hunt in the Black Hills. Out walks the buck below, one shot with the .243 and it's all over. Same story, boom, SWOCK, different result. All in all a great experience but it wasn't worth wounding another animal.

As to why I'm here, no more MPBR for me. It's time to move on to being dead on at the ranges I plan and train to shoot. Thanks all and thanks for all the useful info on this forum helping me get there.


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OutdoorRookie

Junior Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2021
Messages
26
Congrats on a nice buck. That left antler has some character to it.

I feel your pain on your first wounded deer. This was my 10th year archery hunting and I wounded my first deer this year after years of success. Hard not to beat yourself up over it when you pride yourself on shooting skill and an ethical harvest. I know I personally learned from the experience and it has already made me a better hunter.
 
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J

JGuest

Junior Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2021
Messages
30
Location
South Dakota
Congrats on a nice buck. That left antler has some character to it.

I feel your pain on your first wounded deer. This was my 10th year archery hunting and I wounded my first deer this year after years of success. Hard not to beat yourself up over it when you pride yourself on shooting skill and an ethical harvest. I know I personally learned from the experience and it has already made me a better hunter.
I was really happy with him. I've probably taken 40-50 or so deer since I was 12 so losing my first wounded big game was a bit of a shock. I look at as a good learning experience.

This buck was old, he had almost ground off his lower front teeth. He's for sure down from his best. Still, I always prefer deer with a lot of character in their rack to the more normal looking racks. It's the reason I decided to attempt and harvest the buck I lost as well.
 

OutdoorRookie

Junior Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2021
Messages
26
That’s a lot of success! I don’t have anywhere near the amount of deer you have piled up, but also had the opportunity to redeem myself and put a wounded buck out of his misery this year. This guy came in gimping hard with a broken back leg that gave him a funky looking rack. Had a much bigger buck come in just out of bow range during the same hunt but couldn’t let this guy go on like that.

Side note - I plan on hunting SD this year OTC for the first time. Mule deer is the target species, but I’d gladly change plans if I see a whitetail looking anything like that show up!
 

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JGuest

Junior Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2021
Messages
30
Location
South Dakota
That’s a lot of success!
I've been lucky in that as a younger man my brother and I were tasked with doe control on some local ranches. So the total number of mature bucks I've harvested can be counted on a pair of hands. I've shot and killed a lot of does in the 50-200 yard range.

The oddball you shot looks amazing! My favorites are all off the wall like that and he reminds me of a mule deer buck I shot a few years back.

SD mule deer hunting is really fun but if you haven't hunted plains mule deer be prepared to glass, and put on miles. Middle of the day out on the plains check and double check every little speck of shade its amazing how easily a 200 pound plus animal can melt into a 2x2 or 2x4 spot of shade.
 
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