Suggestions for First DIY Western Archery Hunt

Rainmaker

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Oct 24, 2020
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2
Location
CT
Hi all,

I discovered this site a few months ago and have been very happy with the wealth of information I have found on here searching. Hoping some of you can give me some additional advice. Sorry for the long post, but I'm hoping by giving a lot of info I can get the most useful info.

I have been bowhunting whitetails in the Northeast for over 10 years now, but have always wanted to experience western hunting and now I'm in a position to make it happen. I will have two weeks of vacation time in the fall of 2021, which given what will probably be a solid 2-day drive each way means I'll have about 12 days to scout and hunt. Although I'm not dead set on using all 12 days, given the distance I'm traveling I would like to plan on using a majority of that time.

I'm looking for a hunt where I could camp from my vehicle at established camp sites or out on BLM/state land. I have almost all equipment and gear necessary for this style of hunt so it would help keep costs down. This will be a solo hunt (unless there's other likeminded people on here looking to team up), I have no physical limitations, I'm comfortable shooting the further distances required for spot and stalk hunting. Budget is somewhat flexible, although I am trying to do this as cost effective as possible. (I've read about trespass fees on here and would be willing to consider depending on cost and if it really provides a significant advantage over public ground, but anything outfitted or guided is probably out of the question). Not expecting to kill trophies, just looking to experience new land, new species, new tactics and hopefully get a chance to harvest one with the bow.

Below are the two hunts that I've started looking into, but before I but the blinders on and focus on these, I wanted to see what others have for possible suggestions.

South Dakota Antelope - I've read that antelope are a good first western species to target. SD archery tags are a draw, but pretty much guaranteed and relatively inexpensive. I've heard the Northwest corner has the highest number of antelope, also the highest number of hunters but that the pressure isn't terrible and if you put some miles in, you should be able to find decent herds away from other people. It sounds like antelope hunting provides decent stalk opportunities, it is just very difficult, especially depending on the terrain. I have no real interest in sitting in a blind over water for antelope. It just seems too similar to stand hunting whitetails and frankly is something I can do when I'm older, I'd rather crawl around on the ground while I can. I know Wyoming is the goto state for antelope, but most stuff I've read says to put in for points for a better unit, which I don't think will work for next year, maybe I'm wrong.

North Dakota Mule Deer - Also an inexpensive tag and I believe pretty much sure thing draw. Seems like there is lots of public land in western ND and if I put in the miles, I could get to relatively low pressure areas. My understanding is I should expect to see fewer animals than antelope hunting and have far fewer stalk opportunities. I've read that the terrain would likely be more varied and a bit more rugged, which honestly might be a plus. Heard pressure is higher in SD, which is why I'm looking at ND.

Considering how much time I potentially have, I have thought about purchasing tags for both of these and focusing on one species. Then if I got lucky early in the hunt I would have the option of pursuing the other. This would mean going in September when seasons overlap, but it might not be optimal time for one species or the other. Plus, I think this would just be too much for my first trip, though the cost of the second tag would be a pretty inexpensive hedge given how far I'm driving.

Any comments, advice or suggestions for other hunt ideas would be greatly appreciated?

Thanks in advance for any help.
 

Dos Perros

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Jul 30, 2015
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1,990
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Lenexa, KS
12 days is a lot of time for an antelope hunt. I'd drive past the Dakota's and get into either Wyoming and/or Montana, and definitely have two tags, a deer tag and an antelope tag. There are places you can hunt both in the same area, but with draw odds it might not work out that way.

If'n it were me, I'd try to get both an antelope tag and mule deer tag in eastern MT, and whatever I didn't draw try to get in WY somewhere.
 

wytx

Senior Member
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Feb 2, 2017
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1,040
Location
Wyoming
We have some Region deer licenses in Wyoming you can draw with 0 PP. Archery hunting in the region I know is pretty low pressure.
I would second on getting a doe antelope tag or maybe even a cow elk tag, reduced price. Doe deer as well.
Heck apply for a buck pronghorn tag, random draw might pay off for you.
 

huntngolf

Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2020
Messages
61
You could easily get both a South Dakota archery antelope tag and a North Dakota deer tag and hunt both. 12 days would be a long time for antelope, but 5 or 6 days spent on each would be good. Depending where you hunt in each state could have very minimal drive distance between different hunting locations. At most you’d be looking at a half day drive. I don’t know about the North Dakota drawing system for archery deer but South Dakota archery antelope is guaranteed, just have to fill out the application
 

bsnedeker

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May 17, 2018
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MT
12 days is a lot of time for an antelope hunt. I'd drive past the Dakota's and get into either Wyoming and/or Montana, and definitely have two tags, a deer tag and an antelope tag. There are places you can hunt both in the same area, but with draw odds it might not work out that way.

If'n it were me, I'd try to get both an antelope tag and mule deer tag in eastern MT, and whatever I didn't draw try to get in WY somewhere.
Great advice. Just know you're gonna have a hard time drawing a goat tag in Montana without any points. Out of my 5 main hunting buddies I was the only guy who drew an antelope tag this year and it was a B tag and we are all residents, none of us trying for any premier units.

Edit: Whoops, didn't see this was for archery! Your odds are much, MUCH better to draw an archery tag!
 
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Bru2

Junior Member
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Apr 9, 2020
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25
You could consider going on a coues/mule deer hunt out in AZ. The season isnt necessarily in the fall its actually more of a december january hunt. But if your vacation could be used during that time its a super fun hunt to try out. Its an over the counter archery tag and there is tons of public land to go camp on and hunt.
 

WCB

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Joined
Jun 12, 2019
Messages
948
North Dakota is not a guarantee...I know guys that haven't got one in 3 or 4 years.
If you are spot and stalk hunting 12 days may be 11 days too many for Antelope and it may be not enough time. Sitting in a blind 12 days is way too many imo but not spot and stalk. I've hunted that area of SD a bunch and certain weeks the amount of people chasing goats is stupid and other times seems like no body for 100miles.

Personally Rifle antelope is a good first western hunt I would say a deer tag would be better archery wise. If you do go try to extend your shooting range to at least 50 yards. SD Mule Deer/ Any deer tags are guaranteed you just have to purchase them before a certain date to use on public.

First time out I would get 1 tag and focus on that. Research the states close by or whatever state you are hunting and have a back up plan incase you do tag out early. Like ND you can pick up a box whitetail tag over the counter. So if you were in easter MT or norther SD you could drive over grab a tag and hunt.
 

Scoot

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Nov 13, 2012
Messages
516
Odds of a NR drawing the ND archery tag were somewhere around 20-25% last time I checked (I think I'm remembering that correctly). I think both of your ideas are good ones. Lots of good options out there besides those two, though! Antelope makes for a great first trip IMO.
 

KCMuley

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Dec 3, 2020
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13
Location
SD
I live in NW South Dakota. Archery antelope is fun if you have the time and patience. Just remember that Archery Antelope is closed during Rifle Antelope. Usually beginning of Ocotober for 2 weeks then Archery resumes for a little bit, but then they are usually riled up.
 
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