This photo was sent to me with enough forwards on it to make a United States Postal Worker dizzy. The little bit of information on it claimed the bucks were discovered in a densely wooded area in southeast South Dakota referred to as Newton Hills. I know the area well having grown up just a short drive from the area. The caption claims the bucks were found alive and shot using archery equipment.
Is this a sporting way to end your hunt? Locked-up bucks are definitely handicapped and shooting one or the other puts your ethics in question. I think if you query the masses they would argue that setting them free would be the best option, but as in most cases, there are no black and white answers. Were the bucks exhausted beyond recovery? Did one or both of the bucks sustain questionable injuries possibly leading to a guaranteed death? I don’t know the condition of these bucks, but I have seen enough wildlife and livestock in stressed situations to know that a complete recovery is not always possible. Critters don’t get the comfort of a hospital bed for healing after a traumatic event. It’s back to the awful world of the wild, broken leg or not.
Putting hunting politics aside, this area does produce bulky whitetails year after year like the ones in the photo. A friend of mine showed me a buck he shot in the area as a kid with the same gnarly mass. Coincidentally, it was also locked up after having gotten into a brawl with a big four-pointer through a fence. The duo tore down the fence and fate entangled them in a spider’s web of wire.
This area is open to nonresident and resident bowhunters alike. Archery licenses are unlimited and can be purchased online. Unfortunately, if you don’t bowhunt the area offers no opportunities for nonresident firearm hunters and resident hunters have to enter a lottery system in an attempt to draw a license. Most of the land is privately owned with only a small amount of public land available for hunting.—Mark Kayser