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Nonresident Big Game Hunting

Black Hills Deer Hunting

Traditional Seasonph_main_BigGame_R.jpg

Firearm: November.
Archery: October through December.

Range and Habitat

Extending 100 miles long by 50 miles wide, the Black Hills harbor both whitetail and mule deer among the ponderosa pine, white spruce and aspen-covered mountains which reach elevations of more than 7,000 feet. The Black Hills cover 2.3 million acres with 1.2 million acres open to public hunting.

The deer herd is approximately 75 percent whitetail and 25 percent mule deer, with success averaging 30 percent for the buck-only

Licenses are limited and available through a lottery basis. Unlimited archery licenses are available for a season that opens October 1.

More Information

More information about Black Hills deer hunting. (GFP)
More information about deer hunting (archery). (GFP)

Black Hills Deer Hunting Tips

  • Four-wheel-drive recommended.
    Access to the Black Hills is good, but a four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended for rougher areas. Areas with limited access offer backpacking opportunities.
  • When with a larger group.
    Organized drives are a popular and effective method for hunting the Black Hills with larger groups.
  • When with a smaller group.
    Still hunting or stands work well for solo hunters or small groups, especially with other hunters moving deer and rutting deer activities.
  • Decoys.
    Decoy placement can spell success or failure for your hunt. Group species accordingly and leave landing pockets for optimum shooting opportunities.
  • Prepare for the weather.
    Plan for fast-changing mountain weather patterns. Sunny, warm days can be replaced quickly by raging snowstorms.


West River Prairie Deer Hunting

Traditional Season

Firearm: Mid-November to late November.
Archery: Late September through December.

Range and Habitat

ewriverdeermap2.gifSouth Dakota's prairie country west of the Missouri River is characterized by rolling prairie hills cut east-to-west by winding cottonwood-lined rivers. The deer herd is about 50 percent whitetail and 50 percent mule deer.

Whitetails generally prefer the brushy creeks, cottonwood river bottoms and adjoining prairies, while mule deer can be found in the gullies and cedar draws of the river breaks as well as in Badlands terrain. The area is open to non-resident firearm hunters on a limited lottery basis. Archery west river deer licenses are unlimited.

More information about West River deer hunting. (GFP)

West River Deer Hunting Tips

  • Use binoculars or scopes.
    Use of binoculars or a spotting scope aids hunters locating deer on South Dakota's vast prairies and farmland.
  • Permission needed for private land.
    Most of South Dakota's west river units are comprised of private land and permission is needed for hunting.
  • Avoid wet prairie gumbo.
    Avoid driving in prairie areas immediately following rain or snow. South Dakota's wet prairie gumbo makes roads impassable, while ruts make for unhappy landowners.
  • Late season hunting.
    Hunt late in the season after opening weekend. Many landowners have guests for opening weekend, but welcome other hunters later in the season.
  • Archery licenses.
    Archery hunters may buy one west river deer license, good for either a mule or whitetail deer of either sex. They also have the option of buying one statewide archery deer tag, which cancels the option of buying one license east and one license west of the Missouri River.