The seasons that archers in South Dakota and Nebraska have been waiting for have finally, the Archery Season has arrived or will open shortly.
The South Dakota archery antelope season opened up on Aug. 15 and will remain open through Oct. 2.
According to the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks, “Pronghorn, commonly referred to as antelope, populations in South Dakota persist at lower numbers than were historically present.
Pronghorn densities are greatest in the western rangelands of the state but herds exist in most counties west of the Missouri river and some counties directly east of the river. Important habitat features include rolling terrain that allows good visibility and a mixture of grass, forb and shrub forage plants.
Antelope inhabit agricultural lands (e.g., wheat and alfalfa) when interspersed with grassland habitat, primarily on the arid short grass prairies of the western United States, with South Dakota hosting one of the highest populations of antelope in the nation, ranging across the west and central regions
Antelope rely on their peripheral vision, the safety of the herds, and the ability to reach speeds of nearly 60 miles per hour to detect and elude predator’s, which include coyotes, bobcats, and golden eagles.
Their long white rump hair is erected when the animal is frightened, serving as a warning “flash” to others. They are a curious animal and often to a nearby ridge and pause to look back.
Pre-season scouting is important, no matter what species of wildlife you’re pursuing and finding out what water holes are being used by the antelope will give you an advantage, allowing the hunter to place their blinds near these watering locations, well before the season opener.
Public demand for hunting opportunities is strong and current populations are likely limited by weather: extremes of drought and severe winters, decreasing available habitats and social tolerance.”
The South Dakota archery deer season, originated in the 1900's, and wasn’t open to hunting until the 1950s, allowing deer populations to recover from historic lows.
White-tailed and mule deer are the most highly sought-after big game species in South Dakota and throughout North America.
Hunting remains the number one tool for managing deer populations across South Dakota and harvest strategies are intended to ensure the well-being of the species and its habitat while maintaining populations at levels compatible with human activity and land use.”
Their archery deer season will soon open on Sept. 1, staying open until Jan. 1, 2021.
The earlier opening may give some hunters an opportunity to take a buck still in velvet, as the first part of September, is about when most bucks have rubbed, but there may be some bucks still in velvet.
Tree stands and deer houses placed before season in areas where heavy deer trails coverage, where the hunter uses the wind in their favor and things work out the way they were planned, they’ll have an opportunity for a shot as the deer make their way from their bedding areas to where they feed.
I had a friend that did some work using deer decoys, both the foam bedded doe as well as the full body buck decoy which he put out just prior to the season so he could see which decoy received the most attention.
On the doe decoy, he added a pretty good dose of Mrs. Doe Pees Fresh Doe Estrus Urine, while on the buck, he added Mrs. Doe Pees Buck Urine.
The bedded doe decoy received the most of the attention, with several smaller bucks using their rack to try and get the decoy to stand, and when they flipped it over, they moved up on it, but left after several attempts to mount it.
The buck decoy got some attention, but from affair, as the bucks that came out of the corn gave the decoy a second look, but then retreated back into the corn.
In Nebraska, its archery antelope season opened on Aug. 26 with archers having the opportunity to hunt these sharp-eyed fleet footed animals through the end of December.
The largest concentration of antelope is found in the western part of the state, in the Sandhills and throughout Nebraska’s Panhandle, with the largest concentration in northern Sioux County centered in the Ogallala National Grasslands.
Those hunting water holes should have a good chance for shooting opportunities because of the extreme heat as the bucks will make more trips to the ponds to water.
Bucks are very territorial and will face off against other bucks making moves toward their harem, because of this antelope decoys work very well, allowing the archer to hide behind the decoy and slowly approach the bucks.
I’ve hunted antelope with my bow several times, and using my Montana Decoy, was able to make a stealthy approach on a buck, with the buck becoming aggressive as it approached me, unfortunately, I under estimated the distance and shot under the antelope.
I had an opportunity to line up a South Dakota Archery antelope hunt for Jared Wire, one of our Team Outdoorsmen Productions members.
The method they used was quite ingenious, they hunted in areas where here were horses feeding in the same pastures as the antelope, because the antelope were used to being around the horses, they used the horses to get within bow range.
The guide used two horses, with the guide walking beside the front horse while Jared walked beside the back horse as they made their way towards the buck, as they got within bow range, Jared squatted down beside the horse, drew his bow as the guide walked the horses ahead, giving the him very close shot at an antelope that had no idea he was there.
The Nebraska archery season deer season, that’s open throughout the state, opened September 1st and goes through the end of December.
I’ve taken a few deer with my bow, that our late friend Otis “Toad” Smith developed that very seldom missed, allowing him to take some excellent bucks.
He hunted thee corn fields, especially those that had begun to dry on windy days, with the wind in the right direction, in his face.
He’d scouted ahead of season and had the well-used deer trails leading into the corn figured out, where he’d as quietly as possible enter the field, going in a row at a time, where he’d then look down the rows and seeing no ear or any other part of the deer, continue to move slowly down the trail.
He did this on windy days so as the wind blew through the corn, the noise it made would help cover his noise.
Once he came across a trail leading off into the corn rows or spotted a deer, he’d move back a couple of rows, entered that row and make his way so that he was directly behind the deer, giving him a clean shot at the deer.
As with any type of wild game hunting, your pre-season scouting, which you should do a lot of is very important as things can change very quickly in the outdoors.
During the pre-season, the corn fields may still be standing, but as things warm up, by the time the season opens, it may have been chopped or combined, eliminating your corn hunts.
The mast production, “acorns” that were all over the ground last season, may have not so good this year and because of the weather, found to be simply just a poor year for acorns.
Another thing I’ve learned when it comes to mast production, deer will prefer the acorns from a white oak over red oak, as the white acorn has less acid and the white are the first to drop their acorns, at times as early as August, while the red hold onto theirs longer, and once the white oak acorns are gone will eat the reds if times are tough.
Once your deer is down, body cavity cleaned and tagged, if prepared properly makes some for excellent as well as healthy eating.
There are deer hunters out there that acquire numerous deer permits, those with deer depredation problems or some attempting to managing the buck to doe numbers and have more than they need, they can donate their deer to these programs where the deer are processed at no charge to the hunter and the venison is then donated to needy families.
In Nebraska, the , Nebraska’s Hunters Helping the Hungry have a program where deer can be donated, with the deer processed and venison then furnished to the hungry, If you’d like more information or interested in donating a deer, go to: http://outdoornebraska.gov/hhhfaq/
In South Dakota they have a similar program called Sportsman Against Hunger for more information go http://feedtheneedsd.com/
In conclusion, if you do your pre-season scouting, know the lay of the land, use the wind in your favor and have done enough practicing with your bow and zeroed your rifle, this should be a good deer season for us all.
Gary Howey (Hartington, Neb.) is an award-winning writer, producer, and broadcaster and was inducted into the "National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame" in 2017. He developed and was the Producer- Host of the Outdoorsmen Adventures television series for 23 years and is the Co-Host of the award-winning Outdoor Adventures radio show. If you’re looking for more outdoor information, check out garyhoweysoutdoors.com, and outdoorsmenadventures.com, with more information on these pages, Gary Howey's Facebook page, Outdoor Adventure radio and Team Outdoorsmen Productions Facebook page.