Rut Report Nov. 11: Are We Having Fun Yet?

Day No. 11 of a 13-day rut hunt is in the books. Discover what North American Hunter Senior Managing Editor Dave Maas learned during his day in South Dakota.

Unfortunately, the weather man was right and South Dakota started getting hammered with a winter storm early in this morning, and it’s not supposed to quit until after dark tonight. I’m typing this blog at around noon on November 10, and there’s already 7 inches of snow piled on the deck (photo above), and the air temp is 23 degrees and falling. When I look out the east window toward the highway and picked cornfields, it’s basically a white-out due to the 35-mph winds and driving snow. In a word: ugly!

Of course, I wasn’t smart enough to stay in bed this morning, so I left the house extra early knowing the roads would be bad and it would take me at least twice the time to reach my hunting property (15 miles). At that point we’d received only 3 inches of snow, and even though I had to smash my pickup through some good-size drifts, I made it down the minimum-maintenance road (read: no plowing) and was in a treestand 10 minutes before legal hunting time. But it never really became light; it simply went from black to dark gray. As my mom is fond of asking me when I return from an especially difficult hunt due to bad weather: “Are we having fun yet?”

I spotted one deer during my morning sit on stand, a 2x2 buck. Thankfully he walked right under my treestand and provided some entertainment for several minutes during the blizzard. I also jumped two antlerless deer on my hike out of the river-bottom back to my truck. I sat in my stand for only 2 hours because I knew the snow was falling so heavily that I’d have trouble making it back to civilization if I waited much longer. My Ford F150 does well in snow, but it’s not a snowmobile.

It was frustrating to leave the woods so early on November 10, especially when my wife had spotted the No. 1 buck on our hit list the previous day in the same area I was hunting, but no deer is worth dying for, and if my truck became stuck in a white-out a couple miles from the nearest traveled road, there’s no telling when help might arrive.

So . . . now I sit here . . . contemplating my next move. The highways are glazed with ice (someone needs to explain to me how it can rain when it’s 23 degrees) and covered with random foot-deep snow drifts. My drive home to Minnesota usually takes 3 hours; I can imagine it would take at least twice that long today, maybe three times. It’s simply not worth the risk on these dangerous roads.

I own a snowmobile and store it here in SD, but it’ll take some work getting in running (need to charge the battery, etc.) and there’s no way to complete those tasks by the afternoon hunt. And frankly, I hate riding the noisy and smelly machine into my hunting area unless it’s absolutely the only way to access my property. But this might be one of those times if I hope to bowhunt tomorrow and Wednesday (November 11 and 12), as well as this upcoming weekend. Decisions, decisions.

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