As many of you know I recently took a trip out to North Dakota with the family to try get myself a Badlands Whitetail. Let me start by saying this wasn't only a hunting trip for me. It was also a family vacation with my wife and three children, not to mention the ten or so friends who also came with. It was a big, well organized Horse Back Riding trip out to Medora. We had four rigs, each equipped with trailers hauling mostly Horses and Tack, but also fun things like John Deere Gators and Yamaha Four Wheelers, and don't forget all my hunting gear, which included portable deer stands, Blinds, Bow, Arrows, Clothes, Boots, Gun & Ammo etc... We were loaded for all kinds of fun! Did I mention we also had alcohol?
Anyway, the plan was to hunt as much as possible in between Horseback rides and trips to Theodore Roosevelt National Park with the kids. My guide/outfitter was going to put me on the deer so my chances would be good. I was excited to see some Mule Deer as well as Antelope while I was hunting for my trophy whitetail. And I'm happy to report that I did see all those species and more on this trip. What I didn't expect was the elusiveness of my outfitter. Don't get me wrong, I believe he was well intentioned, things just didn't work out for him to be much help to me. So I was on my own with limited time to find the deer on thousands of wildly varying acreas. Now if you've ever been to the Badlands of North Dakota you know how difficult this terrain is to traverse and explore. Beautiful country, but almost impossible to scout without weeks worth of time. Just to travel a quarter mile sometimes requires 3 miles of travel because of deep valleys, cliffs and impassable hills and small mountains. Basically I was lost in most of it. What I did find familiar to a point was the river bottom of the Little Missouri. And luckily I was in a cabin only feet from its edge. Now the cabin is a story of its own, but I won't get into that here. I found some deer sign down in the small forest of Cottonwoods along the river, so feeling I had no other option I thru up my trusty Muddy stand in what I thought was a decent location.
I will say sitting amongst the Cottonwoods had me seeing whitetails each time I visited my stand. Sadly, I was only greeted with visits by Does and Yearlings. Never once did I see antlers in Medora. Well unless you count the two Antelope Bucks I seen while Prairie Dog hunting or the mounted racks above the couch I slept on every night. So my first hunting trip to North Dakota was a bust. I can still say I had fun. I got to explore many miles of the Badlands, seeing things I've never seen before, chasing up Mule Deer, Whitetails, Antelope, Wild Horses, Monster Buffalo and even cows. I can say I completely understand why the area is called the Badlands and why so many people are drawn to visit it each year. It's truely the start of the West, with Cowboys, Cactus, Buttes, Ranches and the beautiful painted canyons that have inspired artists for ages. And I also believe trophy Mule and Whitetail Deer can be taken here, just remember to do your research and give yourself plenty of time. And take a lesson from me, Horseback Outfitters are no replacement for true Hunting Outfitters. And just because hunting is listed on their webpage doesn't mean they have a plan or even hunt themselves.
Will I ever go back to Medore to hunt deer? Probably, but only Mule Deer and it will always be a family Horseback riding trip, because it's truely the spirit of the area.
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