Mountain Lion Debate

Some of you no doubt read story this weekend about the mountain lion that was treed by a Jack Russell terrier in Colman South Dakota this last Tuesday, and it got me thinking about Mountain Lion management in South Dakota.

While archery hunting this weekend my dad and brother found obvious signs of a mountain lion being just south of Iroquois SD in recent days.  Even with the a mountain lions large migratory pattern, it seems out of place to see lions ranging into eastern South Dakota and it starts to beg the question, Is the mountain lion population in South Dakota under control?

South Dakota GFP raised the mountain lion hunting  season this year to 45 lions or 30 females plus 5 in Custer State Park.   They also released a five year plan to reduce the number of lions from the calcuated 250 lions that live in the Black Hills down to 175 lions, through hunting.  To read GFP plan  and other information about mountain lions click the link

An increase in lion population would now doubt have a negative effect on other species including deer, turkey, and elk.  Not to mention the effect it can have on ranchers who use Black Hills National Forest Land to graze cattle in the summer.

Personally, I think something needs to be done to control this species before it explodes out of control and I am glad to see GFP raise the limit on the number of animals that can be taken this year.  I hope further studies will be done to get a better population count of the number of lions not only in the black hills but one which also range out to the east, so the management plan can be altered if need be.

Let me know how you feel about this topic.  Do you think the lion population in SD is under control?

Below are a couple pictures sent to us by a family friend.  This person went to start her car at her home outside Hot Springs one morning last year to find 3 lions sitting in front of it.  From stories I have heard enconters like this are becoming more and more frequent which may point to an increase in lion population.

Whitetail calling strategies

I have to admit I am new to treestand hunting, having harvested all my deer in a spot and stalk rather then sit and wait situation the idea of calling deer in is foreign to me and admittedly I was little skeptical on how well it would work.

Sitting on the stand Friday morning I saw five deer two of which( a small 4×4 and a taller 3×3 where  25 yards broadside.)  All deer had their noses to the ground and were running around not paying  attention to me even though I was downwind of them. 

Letting the 3×3 pass out of range I decided to try my grunt call to see if I could get it’s attention.  As soon as I let out the grunt that buck came running back around snorting, grunting and stomping his hooves.  Believing I was another buck and was trying to take over his area he was ready for a fight.

I don’t know if it was the rut or if this was just a buck that was ready to fight but it was amazing to be able to bring in a deer into shooting range with sound alone.  I don’t know from experience but I have heard you shouldn’t grunt call until you can see the deer you want to bring in. While you can use a doe bleet or rattling of horns as soon as shooting time hits. 

Obviously calling will be more effective during the rut as deer are more active and more apt to fight for available does. 

And everything I have heard on the subject is be conservative with any noise you make.  Rattling horns once every ten minutes or giving one or two grunts just to get the deers attention.

Comment on how you get that big deer to come in. Do you relay on good research and patterning or do you use calling and scents to lure them to the spot?

Also send pictures of any deer you have taken from this year. The rut is in full swing now and I know there has to have been some good deer harvested.

Broadhead debate

With the rut about to explode deer movement will be at it’s peak for the next couple of weeks.  This is a great chance to get out in the deer stand and try to fill that archery tag.   Before you hit the field making sure your equipment preforms as you intend is vital when the wall hanger buck walks into range.  One of the most important and hotly debated pieces of equipment  over the years is your broadhead.

More than likely you are either a mechanical or fixed blade hunter and you aren’t inclined to change your ways.  You either like the accuracy of a mechanical can afford, or the confidence of a large cutting surface immediately upon impact that a fixed blade provides.

Personally, I am trying out the Epek XC-3 mechanical broadhead.  Using this broadhead in practice mode (an ability to lock up the blades so they don’t deploy upon impact) I found field point accuracy and great penetration with the chisel head even without the deploying the blades. Pushing the tip of the head with little pressure made me confident that they blades will deploy upon impact when in regular mode.

I want to know what type of broadhead you are hunting with this year and why.

Leave a comment on the blog or if you have already harvested your deer send me a picture and your story with the type of broadhead you used.

Too much science in hunting?

For years now hunting companies have been using scientific research to mold and innovate hunting products.  This is causing everything from camo patterns, to scent elimination, and attractants to become more sophisticated as companies are starting to base products on how the animal you are hunting perceives the world around it.

Gore and Sitka Gear have created the optifade camo patern.

This pattern uses macro and micro patterns, and colors based on how an ungulate (such as a deer or elk) not a human views the world.

Bird Vision is a company that sells ultaviolet paint for decoys, because a birds visual spectrum is larger then that of a human.

Robo Ducks ( for example) have been around for many years and uses a small motor to spin the wings of a duck decoy to make it look like it’s landing.

My question to you is there to much scientific reasearch used in hunting or is this just part of a natural progression?

Is there a need for these new products?

Let me know how you feel about by commenting on the blog.

Whitetail rut almost here

The rut in South Dakota is almost here and I know bowhunters around the area are itching to get out and spend some quality time in those stands. 

Take a look at Outdoor Life’s new weather calculator.

It uses temperature, wind, moon phases and other factors to give you a five day forecast for hunting whitetails.  I wouldn’t live by these numbers by any means but they are interesting to look at before heading out into the field

Send me your trail cam pics of that monster you are going after or a picture of a deer you have already harvested this year and I will post it on the blog.

Personally, I have a couple places scoped out I want to sit at this year  and I saw a couple nice bucks while pheasant hunting last weekend.

Pheasant Time, Family Time

My wife and I traveled to Huron this weekend to hunt with our families during opening weekend.  Walking high corn that was mostly not stripped  birds were hard to come by but we still had success on opening day.  With 12 guns we took 30 roosters. 

 As more corn gets out around the area I expect to see hunting success increase greatly.  We saw quite a few birds but without headlands out or stripes made they would run right by us without flying.  

As it mostly is in my family, pheasant hunting is just as much about getting together and spending time with each other.  This year was no exception with a large number of aunts, uncles and cousins we set out to the fields for what is generally an all around good time.  After most fields were walked a period of BS’ing and snacking occurred before set out again. 

The noon start time allowed time for my dad, brother, brothers girlfriend, wife and I to go duck hunting in the mornings.  We shot ducks both days and had a large number working the slough we were in.  While the days get long, hunting both ducks and pheasants is a blast and I recomend it to anyone who can try it.

Let us know how your opening weekend went by commenting on the blog or sending pictures to

Check out some of the pictures my wife and mother took of this weekend.

Cabela’s Pheasant Classic

If you are hunting within 50 miles of Mitchell this weekend make sure you sign up for the Million Dollar Shot of a Lifetime at Cabela’s starting Thursdays morning at 8. 

Cabela’s will be releasing 100 banded pheasants on public and private lands that are worth prizes and money.  If you shoot a banded pheasant make sure you are present at 7 pm Sunday at Cabela’s on Sunday Oct 17th. 

Aside from the banded pheasant contest they will be running a variety of semiars, and tips for pheasant hunting starting Thursday and running throughout the weekend.  That should definitely be worth checking out.

check the link for more details.

Time to hunt our state bird.

Man I love South Dakota.  This weekend thousands of hunters will take to the fields to shoot and then later eat our state bird, the ring-necked pheasant.  Unless you count ruffed grouse in Pennsylvania..(and I don’t mostly because ruffed grouse are so dumb you can kill them with a rock) we are the only state to hunt our state bird.  We also hunt our state animal but i will save that for another post.

The largest hunting season in terms of state revenue officially began this last weekend with the resident hunt on public hunting grounds but the regular season will open at noon on Saturday.  

Some things to remember about the season.

  • Residents need a small game or combination license to hunt.  Non residents  need a non resident small game license that allows them to use it for two 5 day periods.
  • OCT 16-22 shooting time is from noon to sunset; after that it moves to 10 am to sunset for the rest of the season
  • Daily Limit is 3 roosters, with the possession limit being 15 roosters.
  • Wear Blaze orange
  • When hunting on or adjacent to public land you must use non toxic shot.
  • When transporting pheasants leave attached a fully feathered head , a fully feathered wing, or a leg
  • Make you are 660 feet away from schools, churches, occupied dwellings and livestock when hunting.
  • Also familiarize yourself with the hunting handbook before you head out to have a legal and safe hunt.

have fun and be safe.

If you went out in the field let us know how you did either comment on the story or send your pictures to

Good days, bad days

One of my No. 1 rules as a hunter is: If you want good results, you have to put the miles/money/time. Very rarely, the magic hunts come easily.

For me, waterfowling is king. And to find the beehive swarms of mallards isn’t particularly easy. Like Chris mentioned in our initial blog entry, we got a great couple hunts on opening weekend. But it came at a cost. Between the two of us, we spent more than just a couple hours searching for the perfect spot for the first hunt of the year. And that takes up plenty of gas money.

This week, I spent some time looking in an area I haven’t scouted much in the past. I found massive flocks of birds, but an empty gas tank and a pickup stuck in the mud still wasn’t enough to get me into the land.

Wednesday night – which was Game 1 of the American League Divisional Series – I decided to run out before sundown and do some looking. While driving down the dusty dirt road, I saw a flock of ducks lock up into a field, forcing me to immediately turn down a sloppy, muddy trail in order to get a closer look.

I pulled up to a low point on the trail with some standing water, but I figured with my 4-wheel drive pickup I could get through. I didn’t.

Instead, the front end of my truck got stuck and my main drive tire was lifted in the air without any traction. I hopped out, walked about 3 miles and found a famer combining his soybeans. He called his neighbor, who brought out a chain and eventually pulled me out about an hour later. Thanks, buddy. I pointed to the cornfield the ducks were working, and asked the farmer if he knew who owned it. He did, but said, “Good luck getting in there. The farmer usually doesn’t let anyone hunt.”

I took down the guy’s address and caught up with him the day after the Twins lost to the Yankees 6-4. It was a frustrating game to say the least, but at least I still had the ducks on my mind in hopes of getting in that cornfield. When I pulled into his driveway, he asked me exactly where I was hoping to hunt. I told him about getting stuck the night before and which field it was. Then, he says, “Well, I have someone from town that asked me to tell him when the ducks show up, so now I’ll let him know. Sorry, but you can’t hunt in there.”

I thought to myself, are you serious? Some guy from town gets to hunt the birds I found after spending my time and effort looking for? I get my pickup stuck searching for these mallards, and some guy gets the easy hunt? What a joke. Without much I could do, I left his farmyard pretty upset. I didn’t call the day a complete failure, yet, though. I kept looking.

Soon after, I found a massive flooded pasture with a barrage of puddle ducks about five miles away and started the investigation of the owner. Eventually, I found him working with his grain and asked him for permission. He shook his head no. Someone else was archery hunting in the area, and he didn’t want to mess it up for him.

Discouraged, I jumped back in my truck and headed home. Like our opening weekend, some days are good days, and some are just bad days.

Duck season opened with a bang

Opening day at shooting time.

Last Saturday my alarm went off 3:45am but I was already awake.  It was the start of duck season in South Dakota and with the number ducks we saw in the area we were going to hunt I could hardly sleep.  I meet Luke Hagen, the co-author of this blog, at his house and we made the ½ hour drive east to the flooded corn field we are going to set up in. 

Through the rain and with a thunderstorm raging to the south we walked soggy field and hauled the 2 dozen mallard floaters, 2 mojo mallards, 2 layout blinds, 12 full body Canadians and 6 shells 1/3 of a mile.  Soaked with sweat we set up our decoys and blinded up our blinds in preparation for shooting time.

Lying in the blinds exhausted from slogging through the muddy field with several hundred pounds of dead weight one might start to wonder if this is worth it.  This is a heck of a lot of work very early in the morning.  Once you hear the slicing of locked up wings through the cold morning air, your heart races and you realize it defiantly was. 

Even though it was past shooting time we let flock after flock of ducks circle and slowly land into our decoys not 15 yards from where we lay.  The cloud cover that morning made it difficult to identify ducks so instead of taking a chance on shooting one we didn’t want we waited until the sun had risen a bit more.

After about 15 minutes of teal, pintails and some mallards swarming us and landing practically on Luke’s blind we decided to take a chance a group of 6 mallards that were coming in.  We popped up out of the blinds and bang, bang, bang, duck season was on.

That first day we saw over 1000 of ducks in the air and had over 100 come into our decoys.  Some needed convincing through calling while others were locked up from the moment they saw our decoys.  We ended with a limit of mallards each along with one pintail and one wigeon. 

Sunday we went back out again this time in thick fog.  We limited on ducks again with me shooting my first wood duck, and also go two bonus candian geese that were driven down because of the fog.  We gave them a few clucks and honks and they came right over.

 The hunt, as it mostly is, was about more then the number of ducks we bagged (even though we limited out both days).  It was great just to get out in the field again and to hear the noises and see the sights that go along with an early morning hunt.  Perhaps the best thing about this hunt was being about to share it with a hunting buddy, this was Luke and my first hunt together but we will have many more together this season. Splitting the work when you are setting up and being able to talk and laugh about the hunt after you are done, makes the experience that much better.  

Swarm City

Luke in the blind

One more in the bag

My first wood duck

 Luke and I will be sharing hunting and fishing stories along with reviews, and insight throughout the year on this blog but we would also love to hear from you.  Let us know how you did this weekend in the field, either by commenting on a story or sending us an email with photos of your outdoor adventures and we can post some of the blog.