Black Hills Turkey Trip

Hunter2

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Feb 1, 2018
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Hi, I was wondering if anyone could share some tips on public land turkey hunting in the black hills. I am not asking for secret spots or specifics, just some general info on hunting pressure and stuff. I am planning my first trip to that area this spring. I have done some western elk and antelope trips and I’ve hunted a lot of Eastern birds but nothing like this yet. My initial thought is to buy both SD and WY tags and camp near the border in order to have plenty of options. I also would appreciate any tips on trout streams or rivers to try while we are in the area. Thanks in advance for your help.
 

Fatcamp

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May 31, 2017
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Sodak
Lots and lots of birds. I'm not a real experienced turkey hunter, but with a shotgun I think it should be pretty easy. They are not hills. Even late you can have significant snow.

Archery or shotgun? Dates? Your plan for WY/SD is solid.
 
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Hunter2

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Feb 1, 2018
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26
Lots and lots of birds. I'm not a real experienced turkey hunter, but with a shotgun I think it should be pretty easy. They are not hills. Even late you can have significant snow.

Archery or shotgun? Dates? Your plan for WY/SD is solid.
Thanks for the response. I was looking at the 1st week of May to try to avoid snow but still be there before the very end of the season. We were planning on shotguns since this is our 1st time in the area and we have limited time but we all have archery tackle so we could do either
 

wytx

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Feb 2, 2017
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Wyoming
You could find snow in May, we had some late snow this spring that affected some turkey hunters up that way.
Also contact the biologist, some areas have lots of turkey , some do not.
 
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Hunter2

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Feb 1, 2018
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You could find snow in May, we had some late snow this spring that affected some turkey hunters up that way.
Also contact the biologist, some areas have lots of turkey , some do not.
Thanks, I will definitely call a biologist. I am aware that there is always a chance for snow, we can deal with it if we have to. I was just hoping that by waiting until May that our chances of bad weather would be a little less
 

Gorp2007

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Dec 4, 2016
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423
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Rapid City, SD
Hunted there several times when I was stationed near Rapid City. Did a mixture of hiking all over the place and trying to shock gobble as well sticking to forest roads and just pulling over and giving it a rip. Honestly, had more fun hiking around but my success was from driving the forest roads because you can cover more ground. Pressure was always higher closer to Rapid City but once you got more than 20 minutes outside of town it dropped off pretty quick. Last year saw a bunch of snow dumped opening weekend, but it's impossible to predict what you're going to get.

If you really want to get after it you can get SD tags for the prairie and Black Hills.
 
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Hunter2

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Hunted there several times when I was stationed near Rapid City. Did a mixture of hiking all over the place and trying to shock gobble as well sticking to forest roads and just pulling over and giving it a rip. Honestly, had more fun hiking around but my success was from driving the forest roads because you can cover more ground. Pressure was always higher closer to Rapid City but once you got more than 20 minutes outside of town it dropped off pretty quick. Last year saw a bunch of snow dumped opening weekend, but it's impossible to predict what you're going to get.

If you really want to get after it you can get SD tags for the prairie and Black Hills.
Thanks, that was one thing I was wondering...I would prefer to spend my time hiking instead of driving to find a bird but I didn’t know how much ground we would need to cover.
 

Gorp2007

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Rapid City, SD
Thanks, that was one thing I was wondering...I would prefer to spend my time hiking instead of driving to find a bird but I didn’t know how much ground we would need to cover.
There’s plenty of birds out there and lots of places you can go and hike a big loop calling as you go. The Hills are mountains, but they’re ranging from 3-6K, so the altitude can take some getting used to, but it’s not SW Colorado. You can make good time even if you’re off trail, so if you want to go by foot you can definitely make it work. Plus there are trails and closed forest roads all over the place.

SD Game, Fish, and Parks has a free map app that syncs with your phone’s GPS to give you all your BLM, private, and park boundary information so you don’t need OnX to stay legal. Lots of chunks of private, so it’s very helpful. You can also download your license and your sunrise/sunset tables.

Here’s opening weekend last year, didn’t see any birds but still a great day in the Black Hills.
 

jmez

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Jun 12, 2012
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Piedmont, SD
A lot of turkeys in the hills. I live between rapid City and Sturgis, I would tell you to hunt from Piedmont to Sturgis. You should get into them every day. Not much pressure. I live right on the forest service border and rarely see anyone hunting them.

Turkeys are very vocal on the roost and not so much after fly down. They will shock gobble but a big percentage of them will come in quiet. Get on a high spot in a evening and you should be able to locate a few groups to hunt.

Weather is always a crap shoot here. It isn't spring until June. The later the better though

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jmez

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As for fishing, Spearfish Creek in Spearfish, Rapid Creek in Rapid City, Sand Creek just across the line in WY. A lot of smaller streams as well but those would be the main ones to fish.

Dakota Angler in Rapid City has a website with fishing conditions. Worth a stop in there as well, very helpful guys.

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Fatcamp

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Sodak
We found birds both by walking ridges and shock calling from the road at sunset.

Where we hunted the birds likes being high. I suppose to avoid pressure.
 

Paterfamilias

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Jan 14, 2018
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Midwest
I went the 2nd week of May, and still experienced good gobbling on nicer weather days. Did see some less than ideal weather for part of the trip. If I went again, I'd be looking to go later in the month I think.
 
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Hunter2

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Feb 1, 2018
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Thank you all very much for the info. I’m looking forward to giving it a shot this spring. If any of you are local to the area and know a good steakhouse I’d be happy to buy you a meal when I get out there.
 

high_rise_hunter

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Oct 4, 2017
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Scottsdale
When I was there we had zero issues finding birds and filling tags. Shock gobbled birds in the evening to coordinate our morning hunt. You can find birds by hiking ridges but driving the FS roads will probably be more efficient. The snow can definelty be a factor. We woke to a fresh 18" the morning we left!
 

jmez

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Piedmont, SD
Will you be bringing an ATV/utv? I'd recommend it if possible.

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Crghss

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Jun 1, 2018
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Jupiter, Florida
I went the last week of May in 2019. I only saw hens driving around southern BH’s first couple of days. Started hiking, on fourth day called in a hen and she had two Tom’s in tow so I harvested one. This year I’ll be going two weeks earlier.

I’m a fly fisherman so try and get some in every trip out west. The prior week they had over 2 ft of snow. Then it rained first day there so the rivers where flooded. No fishing but plenty of stuff to do there after you harvest a bird. I could have went to WY but with only 2 days left did other stuff.
 

jmez

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Good strategy out here. Call to hens loud and aggressively. You can call them right in.

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KurtR

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Sep 11, 2015
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South Dakota
I must suck at turkey hunting me and the kid have went last two years and not got any thing. Last year it snowed the three days we were there so that didnt help. That was that may snow
 

Fatcamp

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May 31, 2017
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Sodak
LOL. I've been trying with a bow. Nothing so far but awful close.

Gonna chase em with a gun this year. I feel like I'm a good turkey hunter, just not a good ARCHERY turkey hunter.
 
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Hunter2

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Feb 1, 2018
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Will you be bringing an ATV/utv? I'd recommend it if possible.

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We hadn’t planned on it but I definitely could bring one. I just wasn’t sure if it would be worth dragging a trailer along to haul it out there.
 
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