The prairies are a firearm hunter’s paradise, however bowhunters can expertise nice looking right here, too, by adapting. (Photograph courtesy of Darron McDougal)





The large 5×5 appeared on the skyline, then bristled up and smashed a tree on the sting of a thicket together with his large antlers. I’d been recognizing and stalking all morning, and now it was midday. After raking the tree, he continued strolling via the draw beneath me. I predicted his course, and when he was obstructed, I received in entrance of him earlier than hunkering down, solely shin-high prairie grass hiding me.

His antlers appeared 45 yards away behind brush. I hunkered decrease and waited. After just a few moments, I grew impatient and raised up. I caught motion 15 yards away. He’d adopted a little bit ditch proper to me. I instantly drew again, and when he got here up out of the ditch and stopped 22 yards away, my arrow 12-ringed the 150-class buck. There wasn’t a tree in view that will’ve supported a treestand. I used to be on the prairies.

For those who’ve largely hunted whitetails in traditional whitetail habitat — timber, river bottoms and agricultural lands — then the prairies will definitely serve up some challenges. The one solution to be persistently profitable is to adapt. Listed below are 5 methods to do it.

1. Spot and Stalk Them

Treestands and floor blinds have their locations out west, however spot-and-stalk looking can put you within the recreation while you’re confronted with huge, rolling open nation. Even in the event you’re inexperienced, spot-and-stalk looking provides you the possibility to stretch your legs, be taught and infrequently succeed.

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Recognizing and stalking is a wonderful bowhunting tactic for the prairies the place bucks generally journey within the open. (Photograph courtesy of Mathews Archery)

Both preserve this ploy in your again pocket, or use it as your major approach and overlook treestands altogether. Regardless, in the event you spot a giant buck that you just’d like to kill, select an excellent route, determine some landmark references alongside it, get the wind in your favor after which go. Each good prairie whitetail hunter I’ve identified has bow-killed bucks by stalking in terrain the place treestands aren’t an choice. When executed properly, it really works.

2. Discover Remoted Cowl Amidst the Openness

Prairie bucks thrive in openness. Nonetheless, they search safety when attainable. Attempt to determine options like an obscure draw dotted with junipers or a 20-foot-by-20-foot plum thicket. For those who’re looking on public land, search attracts or small thickets which can be powerful to entry. Many hunters glass from roadways, so tie your boot strings and go exploring. I’ve discovered some actually unbelievable spots this fashion.

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Search for patches of remoted cowl amidst the openness. Bucks will mattress right here in early season, and because the rut kicks off, bucks will dart from one to the subsequent looking for does. (Photograph courtesy of Darron McDougal)

Bucks will typically use these little cowl pockets two methods. First, they’ll typically mattress in them through the early season. Second, they’ll dart between attracts and thickets through the rut seeking does. For those who discover sufficient deer signal to warrant looking, search for any attainable setup on the downwind aspect of the duvet and put in your time.

3. Hunt Them Over Water

Many of the prairie states are in a drought. I not too long ago interviewed an Oklahoma hunter who arrowed a 168-inch buck, and he had 12 different bucks frequenting the world as a result of a inventory tank sits about 75 yards away from his stand. He reported that creeks are drying up and that deer are concentrated round any legitimate water supply.

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With the prairie states in a drought, discover water, and you must discover the deer, too. (Photograph courtesy of Darron McDougal)

So, if yow will discover a dependable water supply on the prairies removed from any massive rivers, lakes or reservoirs, you might need a pile of deer concentrated there, as long as there may be loads of meals and a few cowl. Search for inventory tanks and pond dams. Some ought to be seen in your mapping app (I exploit HuntStand Professional), however be observant when you’re out and about, too.




4. Decoy Them

I’ve had good success utilizing decoys on the prairies. There are alternatives. You need to use a bow-mounted Final Predator Stalker decoy (at your individual threat) as a part of your spot-and-stalk strategy. You need to use a 3-D deer decoy and hunt from a treestand, if attainable, or tuck into the comb 25 yards away. Or, you possibly can mix the 2 when there may be little to no cowl. Place the 3-D buck decoy, then hunker within the grass or subsequent to a little bit tree 20-25 yards away on the downwind aspect of the 3-D decoy together with your Final Predator doe decoy hooked up to your bow (once more, at your individual threat).

With the third choice, you’re portraying a buck locked down with a doe. If a dominant buck spots your setup, he’s prone to come on a string. I virtually killed a giant buck with this actual setup final fall in South Dakota, however the wind modified when he was 60 yards out. Earlier than the wind modified, he’d completely purchased the setup and was coming in with hair raised. My solely cowl was my bow-mounted doe decoy.

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McDougal’s favourite decoying setup is to take a seat within the open or with minimal cowl, hiding himself behind an Final Predator doe decoy and positioning a 3-D buck decoy upwind about 22 yards away. (Photograph courtesy of Darron McDougal)

In 2020, I killed a dandy South Dakota buck at 20 yards that got here to my bow-mounted decoy. I grunted him out of a cattail slough. A killer state of affairs during which presenting the decoy as a buck — you possibly can add or take away the antlers on the whitetail decoy — will be extremely efficient is when a buck is courting a doe within the open.

Attempt to stalk unseen to inside 80-100 yards downwind of the deer. When the buck and doe aren’t wanting, current the decoy. Have your grunt name helpful, and if the buck doesn’t discover you, problem him with a grunt. If he doesn’t come, difficulty a snort-wheeze. You’ve invaded his consolation zone; he’ll very possible are available in. Be ready to take a frontal shot as soon as he’s inside 20 yards, because it is likely to be the one shot he gives earlier than he runs you over (this could occur, and also you assume the dangers through the use of the decoy).

With sit-and-wait decoy setups, at all times attempt to current your decoy(s) the place it(they) will be seen from not less than 80-100 yards away. By no means place a decoy in a spot the place bucks will likely be 25 yards away from it after they first see it, which usually alarms them.

5. Use Pure Options or Farm Gear As an Ambush

You typically need to get artistic when looking on the prairies. There are a lot of killer looking areas that don’t help a treestand or same-day ground-blind setup. So, search for artistic methods to hunt the spot anyway. Search for deserted vehicles, barrels, farm gear, hay bales, a slight despair, or a junk heap. Deer are used to strolling by the gear, bales or junk every day, in order that they’ll most likely pay little, if any, consideration to you or your floor blind, in the event you use one.

Pound a Prairie Buck!

Prairie whitetails supply a novel looking expertise in the event you’re accustomed to looking whitetails within the timber or in agricultural areas. Deer are typically extra seen, which suggests you typically get to see extra animals. Nonetheless, it’s a must to adapt to be persistently profitable with archery gear. The 5 ideas I outlined listed below are an excellent begin.



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