My ‘Hit List’ of Whitetail Bucks


I’ll spend a good amount of time this week and next week in eastern South Dakota hoping to arrow a mature whitetail. I’m bowhunting a 160-acre river-bottom that’s owned by my in-laws, as well as the two adjacent properties (80 and 160 acres). In total, I have two dozen treestands in place, as well as two box blinds, and I can always set up pop-up-style ground blinds if needed, too.

Right now the farmers are finishing up picking corn in the surrounding area, so my river-bottom should get better from now through the end of the season (December 31). Of course, like much of the Midwest, we’re experiencing temperatures far above normal, and the long-term forecast calls for more warm weather. Because of these conditions (no frost yet this fall), my 1-acre brassica food plot hasn’t been touched, and the CRP and various pastures in the county are covered in waist-high grasses. In other words, there is deer bedding cover everywhere, and the conditions are so mild that the whitetails don’t have to leave the prairie and head for the river-bottom for protection from the elements.

But I’ll be out in the woods every chance I can get. All I need is for one buck to make one mistake and turn a slow season into a great one. So what am I after? The photos below from one of my scouting cams shows you what is currently living on or moving through my hunting property. While I’d certainly be happy to tie my tag to one of these bucks, I’m encouraged by the fact that a true giant could show up at any moment. All I need is a good frost (6-inches of snow would be even better!), or a group of pheasant hunters to push a cattail slough nearby my land and bump a 150-class whitetail in my direction.


Yes, I know the critter above isn’t a whitetail, but if he walks under my treestand, I’ll introduce him to a 125-grain Magnus Stinger Buzzcut.


The buck shown here (and there might be more pics of him below, too) is the size that makes me reach for my bow and clip my release to the string, but I wouldn’t shoot him. In fact, I passed on him at 8 yards on the morning of November 5. He’s probably 2.5 years old.


I included this pic simply because it’s cool. The buck doing the chasing (see him in the background above?) doesn’t appear to be a shooter.


Is a black cat passing in front of a trail cam bad luck? Perhaps. And when I told my mother-in-law what I planned to do if this pheasant-killing feline appeared in my shooting lane, she scowled.


Above, the same buck as shown on September 25? Probably safe.


I like the bladed G-2 on the right antler and the blocky body of the buck above. He’s probably 3.5; I hope to get a crack at him.


I think this 4×4 is a shooter. Would you take him?


Still only a 3.5-year-old, but he’s a good one. I’d be shooting!


Another 3.5-year-old shooter on my SoDak property. And check out the date/time stamp on this pic and the one below. Brothers?


The buck above is the same one captured on Cuddeback on the same day at 6:11 p.m. Maybe he’s lost and walking in circles?


Big body, dark antlers . . . what’s not to love?


Above, same buck as shown on October 19? If so, he’s put on a few pounds.


Too many 4x4s that look the same . . . I’m getting confused! And his body is borderline between 2.5 and 3.5. Shoot or don’t shoot? I guess I’ll have to decide in the treestand.


I think this is the same guy as shown on October 26. In any case, he’s a shooter because of his age and body. Maybe he’ll walk through my shooting lane this afternoon!

P.S. I’ll continue to check scouting cam memory cards during the next 2 weeks to keep you posted on whether any new, and larger, bucks arrive into my river-bottom. Stay tuned!

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