I ended my formal hunting season today by discharging my muzzleloader at a fence post (didn’t even look to see if I hit it). It was a frustrating way to end the season. I had high hopes this season for a little venison in the freezer but it didn’t happen. I had some close calls but for the most part this year the deer were pretty hard to find. As for excuses, I do think the strange weather (very warm and snow free) had something to do with it. Because it was so mild the deer could wait until well after dark to come out and eat, and the lack of snow meant plenty of food was available. In years past we have had TONS of snow for the muzzleloader season in January. Today for my last hunt of the year, I hunted without a coat for most of the day and had only a dusting of snow on the ground.
I also learned a lot about the challenges of hunting solo! Several times I tried to “walk” to locate deer. In the past I have hunted almost exclusively from a stand. I think I got the walking idea because I see so many deer while pheasant hunting (likewise when I was trying to quietly, sneakily deer hunt I had pheasants scaring the crap out of my every five minutes!). Unfortunately, after walking several of my best deer/pheasant spots and not seeing a thing, I finally saw a pack of deer on a farm today, they were of course sprinting away from me and gave me no chance. I need a hunting buddy for next year… a simple one man drive and one man block could have been very effective on a lot of spots!
The pheasant hunting season was OK. I had pretty good luck (including a limit) early in the year. But the bird numbers were down and it definitely showed! The birds were tough to find and you had to maximize your opportunities. I did get my first hungarian partridge which was pretty cool! I was also pretty excited about having a duck stamp this year as I always see a ton of ducks when pheasant hunting. I shot at plenty of high flying ducks but never connected, I had a golden opportunity to take a snow goose, but it was flying over very thin ice and I passed to keep my dog from retrieving it off the lake. Speaking of the dog, Dakota seems to get better every year and this year was no exception. She works hard, had some solid points, some great retrieves and was an excellent companion for me in the field.
All in all it was a good season. I am already thinking of next year and would like to do a little more planning to have a few more stands or blinds set up. I am also looking forward to potentially trying out some coyote hunting yet this winter and also turkey hunting this spring. While I love to hunt, fishing is my passion and I am hoping to explore some NE South Dakota lakes yet this ice fishing season.
While I didn’t connect on a deer for the freezer I did find a nice shed antler today for Elias.