Big Buck Down! in South Dakota

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Hi i am john Stallone and welcome to Days in the wild this week we are going back to South dakota to try and break the South Dakota curse……

If you watched our SD show last year your heard about the south Dakota curse. Well for those who didn’t see last years hunt i will explain.

I have been to SD 3x for whitetail and never scored a buck….
First year We went with and outfitter that couldn’t find a deer in a TX high fence and when i offer to help he wouldn’t let us go hang our own stands needless to say i watched squirrels for 5 days, ate nothing but cheese sandwiches and slept in a bed that i was convinced has family of mice living in it.

The next trip out: the outfitter was better nice bunk house good food, but again he was more of a pheasant guide than a deer guide, but he was a nice man and tried really hard. i felt bad for him because we had bad rains, the roads were so bad we got stuck in the mud for a few hours in his truck, ruined first two days of hunting, we went to cabalas got some rain gear and decided to sit it out in the down pour anyway. We finally get a dry day and the outfitter moves me to a ladder stand as i am climbing up in the stand the ladders come apart and i was hanging from one hand because the outfitter did not put a tow rope and i had my bow in my hand and pack on my back. To make matters worst i had a terminally ill child with me from hunt of a lifetime, it was a complete disaster again did not see a deer.

Well last year I decide to go back to try and break the curse with an outfitter i knew personally, world class outfitter Dave Ciani of high prairie lodge and outfitting Man o man did i ever hit pay dirt! I don’t think I have ever seen some many shooter bucks in such a such a short amount of time I was kicking my self the whole time why hadn’t i come to hunt whitetail with Dave before? I knew he was an awesome waterfowl and turkey guide and I had scored a nice muley with him but i had never been to his home in the black hills of SD to hunt whitetail, i always thought if you wanted a big whitetail you needed to hunt the ag fields on east side of state near Iowa border. Man was I wrong, the first morning i saw at least 10 bucks over 130″ and one buck that was mid 160’s that was the dagger right there he was this beautiful chocolate horned beast that i was hell bent on getting, i saw him on three different occasions never within range and my greed brought me to the last day last 10 mins of the hunt when i finally decided to take a lesser buck, that’s where the curse struck again battery went dead on the camera and i did not shoot in the hope Levi could change the battery fast enough and quite enough to make the shot on film. well lets just say that didn’t work.

So hear I am again with High Prairie Lodge trying to break the curse and my philosophy is brown is down, i will not let greed, camera, rain, or other stop me from taking a buck. Im joined by 3 of my family members my two cousins Paul and mike and my father in law Frank the Tank so stay tunes as this years action unfolds

Before we start let me apologize we had some mic trouble and we were forced to use the on board mics for this hunt, so if the sound sucks you know why.

We hit the rut a little late this year we were hunting almost two weeks later then we did the first so i knew the action would be less intense but i also know that Dave deer have almost no pressure on them he only takes one group at a time on his place and he limits the amount of groups he takes a year to ensure everyone has a quality hunt. anyway we hit the stand early the first morning, i was breaking a new cameraman Dave who is actually the land owner of some of the property Dave hunts So i wasn’t sure how this was going to unfold. at first light i decide to do a little calling and rattling. i did a sequence that i learned by accident really a few years ago where a buck was tending a doe and the fawn she abandoned was doing locator bawls while the buck and doe were running around and bleating and grunting. I have been successful with this type of sequence before basically the locator sometime bring in other does which will have bucks shadowing them. Sure enough two does come running in and they come directly downwind of us the lead does know something’s up but she cannot figure it out just yet. We are both wearing The HECS camo system which after this hunt i have zero doubts in my mind that this stuff works. that doe look up at us for what seemed like an eternity and finally after awhile of standing still they decided we weren’t a treat and started walking off i had a doe tag in my pocket I and wanted to get the first hunt jitters out so after a short discussion with Dan I decide to take her, i let one fly and at first i thought i hit her, then i started second guessing the shot, we couldn’t see it on the view finder during play back, so i was really unsure. mean while my dumb cocky ass started texting the boys i had a doe down, i could see my arrow in my binos laying there and not stuck into the ground kinda resembling a pass through because it wasn’t in the ground and in direct line of my shot. So i started convincing myself i had shot the doe. We don’t want to get down and booger up the area we decide lets stay in tree and see what happens.

Well an hour goes by and i haven’t seen a single deer moving i started to think crap maybe I shouldn’t have shot the doe i may have killed the only hot doe in the area, this is a bedding area that was stupid.. no sooner do i get done slapping my self in the back of the head, 3 does come in to feed and bed within a stones throw of the stand. Then some more deer move in, and finally we see our first buck, this young guy coming in he’s checking all the does and grunting and prancing around he goes up to work this scrape then a rub about 50 yard from us making racket. two button bucks come in and they start fighting and head butting each other, that’s when i see the first shooter come sneaking in from behind us and another buck come from other direction they meet in this thicket and it sounded like WW3 in there i had never seen or heard a fight so intense and go on for so long it was like 4 mins straight well while they were in there fighting the wind shifted a little bit so i decided to squirt out a little buck bomb and biy did that stir thing up both deer came out of thicket and two other small bucks came into the area and they were all running laps to see who could find the doe who just came into estrous.

At this point i had decided i wasn’t going to pass up a buck i would shoot on last day, i did not want to repeat last year. I told Dan if either one of those two buck gave me an opportunity i would take him. Sure enough no sooner did i make that decision and Dan taps me on the shoulder and says that wide buck is coming back up from the bottom. I took one look at him determined he was an old deer and said dan I will take him he came right through the opening where the doe passed earlier and i drew back, however I never stopped him because per his gait i thought he would stop by himself.

I let down just as the other buck was crossing behind us on a does tail, it’s a good problem to have but I was actually confused as to which buck I wanted to take, the old wide buck was broke off on every point and the other buck although he had a nicer rack he was a young deer. Once I had made up my mind about taking the older deer, I hit the can once (very important not over call especially when they are close let curiosity kill the cat) and he started making his way slowly back up to me. And I could see every time he stop this buck was breathing heavy he was exhausted from fighting and running around in circles, he was so worked up he was blowing snot out his nose and drooling, that was it for me I had to have him and I knew I would have the chance he was coming right to me. He came to about 11 yards and I drew back and waited for him to clear I could hear him breathing and panting I could see his chest just heaving it got me so worked up I wanted jump out of my stand and wrangle him to the ground, and after what seemed like an eternity he started moving forward again right to 9 yards I got to say what true testament to HECS that deer had no clue we were there and god I cant say enough about swhacker broad heads, I am not even sponsored by swhacker, let me tell you I have shot 6 deer and one fox with them this season not a single one ran more than 40 yards. Its not only the damage they do but the fact that with my Mathews Z7 I can put those arrows exactly where I want every time. If you check out our blog on the hunting channel you will find an independent test we did on broadheads and see what we came up with.

We get down to see this buck and to go find my doe, obviously there wasn’t a track job for the buck so we go look to see where I shot the doe, and….. nothing!!! As I had feared I missed, I missed judged the yardage by 7-8 yards and shot under her what a jackass I was, and I told everyone I had shot a doe already, lucky for me I had the buck on the ground so no one could make fun of me. Before we go take a look at this buck.. lets take a break…

We head back to the buck to go do our commentary and as we walk up I see two doe go to bed down about 80 yards below us in this little hole to get out of the wind. The wind was blowing about 20 mph at this point so I offer us the opportunity to try a stalk on this doe. It took me about 20 mins to cover 50 yards, now from camera view you cant really tell but the landscape was actually covering my approach I was hiding behind e the rise and I was making my way toward her by seeing the top of a pine tree sapling she was laying behind. Once I was within 30 yards I had to expose myself to check for the shot, she picked me off right away but remained bedded, I feared she would jump up and run so I decided to take my chances and let one fly. I made a bonehead move and rookie mistake by not allowing her to stand first, because my shot was not clear and i did not make a good shot.
We looked for this doe for little bit a decide lets back out and go check the tape.

Well after getting buck out and eating some lunch at the lodge we viewed the tape and decided it was worth going to look for this doe, that it would be doubtful she went too far. I want to tell you this part is a little graphic, so if your like me and don’t like to see animals suffering don’t watch. So we go back in there after we put the guys back out in their stands and we are walking down this draw and I spot her and she is trying to run but cant so she is stumbling down this deep hillside and I’m trying to get an angle on her and Dan is trying to get her and me in view on the camera I finally catch up with her.. square up, and put another arrow in her to finish off the job. Now I am not proud of this but, I am glad I didn’t let her stay out there suffering but in hind sight I wish I would have just made a good shot from the get go. I could have edited all this out and know would have known the wiser, but we show real hunting, I just want to emphasize that when you pull the trigger bow or gun you owe it to that animal to do everything in your power to recover it and make sure its life was not goin to waste. We always make sure the meat goes home with us or that if its not possible to take that we donate it to go to good use. I had one butchered and the other we donated to hunters feeding the hungry I even decided to make my special backstrap skewers :
cut to me cooking deer, and diner.
Hey if you would like to find out more about my back strap skewers check out for a complete recipe.
Well that about wraps up our show this week, and if you would like to find out more about Dave Ciani and high prairie lodge check out and if you mention this show you will get 25% off any hunt

South Dakota with High Prairie Outfitters