KONES KORNER Country Store
OVER 2500 GUNS ON HAND
BUY • SELL • TRADE 18299 US Hwy 81 Castlewood, SD 57223
605-793-2347 • www.koneskorner.com Page 42 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - November-December 2018
There is no substitute for a sunrise over the Little Missouri Breaks, revealing miles of breath taking canyons. A landscape so raw. The sharp stems of grass speared through the shimmering layer of snow that blanketed the hills and ravines in front of me. Remnant layers of thawing snow and warm temperatures can make it tougher to find late season bucks. We knew we needed to stay mobile. Covering ground is the name of the game. When big bucks are rutting, the patient sit and wait strategies can pay off. The post rut conditions meant the deer would probably move less. If you want to contact one of these mature bucks you need to go find them. My strategy for this hunt was to sit no more than a couple hours glassing in a spot before heading to another lookout. Judging by the deer we saw day one it was obvious that the winter feeding patterns were in effect. Bedded deer were mostly up high catching sun out of the wind. Transitioning deer were lower in the drainages finding the best browse. Day one did not disappoint. I spotted a good number of deer. Even bedded up two mature bull elk which is a rare experience in North Dakota for me. Had a great encounter with two 3x3 bucks that fed past my ambush spot at 22 yards. Opportunities can be hard to come by. I went to bed that night questioning whether or not I made the right decision. If I end up eating tag soup, I would surely regret not taking a shot at one of those bucks. Early the next morning when the sky was still black and full of stars, I sparked the stove to brew a cup of coffee. Slowly turning the gas knob, watching the flame grow bigger and brighter in the morning darkness of camp. A hardy breakfast and a second cup of coffee made me wide awake. It was going to be a good day. I laced up my boots. We had a short drive to a fresh look out. Soon we were out hiking in the early morning twilight. Breathing that cool air as he hiked and waited for sunrise. The mornings in the badlands are incredible and the impeding sunrise was another miracle but we saw few deer. Finally after the third look out at midday...we saw him. A lone bedded buck in the shadows of a Juniper clump. He gazed upon the land below him. Big mule deer bucks can be so incredibly sly. He was hidden like a rattlesnake in tall grass. Small pieces of his rack were made visible only when the ferocious wind would blow branches out of the way. Never able to see his whole body, I could only guess what I was really looking at. My gut was telling me he was a good mature buck. I had to get a closer look at this buck. Located nearly a mile away, across a drainage, there were many difficult steps between us. The sun had heated up the air to above freezing but the powerful wind still bit at my face. A quarter of the way closer, I slipped up the hill to get another look. The buck was now on his feet and had moved into the sun. I couldn’t see everything with some cover in the way but my gut still told me he could be the one. Closing the distance half way, I was able to get another look and I could see the buck in full. With the sun casting a bright, beautiful glow across his body, my suspicions were confirmed. This was a warrior of a buck. The buck had the stature of a king with heavy shoulders and a long body. His belly had the tell-tale sag of an older deer. He was skinny now, his ribs shown a little through his tattered hide and loose skin on his neck suggested the rut had taken a toll. A wide and heavy 3x2 frame may not excite some trophy hunters concerned with score but to me he was an incredibly cool buck that had something I love...character.
Remnant layers of thawing snow and warm temperatures can make it tougher to find late season bucks. We knew we needed to stay mobile. Midwesthuntfish.com