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Early season archery in South Dakota

Lowlight periods are the best times to find bucks on their feet during the early season
Christian McHugh

Only a month remains until the opening weekend of South Dakota's archery deer season and hunters throughout the region are devising their plans to harvest the big one. Here are a few tips to help keep the odds in your favor when chasing deer during the early season in the lower of the Dakotas.

All about timing
As always, when you are hunting, you strive to be in the right place at the right time. During the early season, it is especially important because the window of opportunity during the daytime hours is minimal. The deer do less traveling during the day, so those first and last minutes of light are crucial. Being in your stand or out in the field an hour or so before light will help increase your odds of catching that buck moving to feed or bed during those low light periods.

When things heat up
This years drought is one of the worst in recent years, so locating water sources can be a make or break aspect of your hunt. In areas that are wide open and offer very minimal shade, such as the national grassland areas and badlands areas of South Dakota, deer may make quick runs to water sources during the middle of the day. If you are on a day long hunt, set up during the warm afternoon hours in places that give you vision of any water sources in the region. When the temperatures really rise, the deer of prairies will hold tight until they absolutely have to evacuate their bed. One of their best survival strategies is to hang tight until the danger has passed, then to head the other way. If you are on a still hunting mission during the mid-day, walk no more than 50 yards or so then pause and look around. If a deer thinks it has been seen, it will jump up and leave its bed. That will then give you the opportunity to follow it and plan a stalk.

Beat the crowdsSouth Dakota still sees relatively light hunting pressure during the early weeks of the deer season because many outdoorsmen focus on waterfowl and upland game. Since the hunting atlas is released in August, the early season deer hunter has several weeks to scout and evaluate quality public lands before the real pressure begins. This often times allows hunters to scout along the field edges of sunflowers, corn, and other standing crops.

Come September when the South Dakota archery season opens, play your cards right to score on a prairie trophy. Put some miles on your feet, find some water, and be where you need to be come game time. Good luck this fall and let us know here if these tips helped you find success in the field!


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