Saturday, May 3, 2014

Turkey-less in South Dakota

Click pictures to enlarge

We arrived in Wood, South Dakota on Saturday, April 26th. Wood is located on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in the central part of the state about 30 minutes south of Murdo. The area itself is flat and dry primarily used for raising cattle and hay. At first glance you would not think there would be any wildlife in such a desolate area but on closer inspection you can see that the landscape is lined with drainages and dry creek beds. Here is where you will find pretty much the only trees in the area and most of the wildlife. Both whitetail and mule deer inhabit these drainages as well as coyotes, bobcats, antelope and of course turkeys. Both Merriam and Eastern turkeys are in the area and what the locals call “dirty birds” which are a cross between the two.

We were able to get out hunting for a few hours Saturday afternoon. Barb, Daisy and I loaded up the 4 wheeler and headed out to one of my tried and true areas I have had success in the past. We set up the blind, some decoys and sat and waited. Daisy got to come turkey hunting as it is too soon for her to be left alone after her surgery. While turkeys have amazing eyesight and hearing, they cannot smell at all. So as long as we stay in our blind and keep Daisy quiet we have a pretty good chance to seeing some birds and try to call them within bow range.  Unfortunately the turkeys had other plans and did not show up to the party that afternoon. We got up at 5am the next morning and tried the same spot, although we heard a few gobble in the distance, they did not respond to our calls. 
Certainly not the weather we were hoping for!

The weather turned to rain early Sunday afternoon so Barb and Daisy stayed in the trailer and although I saw a few birds, none came in close.  Two from our group did manage to bag a couple of birds so at least we know they are out there! If you have never experienced South Dakota mud in the rain and the snow in this area you are in for a treat. The “gravel” roads get so slick with the mud that they will often delay or cancel school! It is much like driving on ice where you have absolutely no control of your vehicle. Monday continued to rain and turned to snow so everyone stayed in camp and watched movies for the day. Tuesday the snow continued most of the day and the wind continued with 25-35mph sustained winds with gusts higher than that. Although some of us did get out it was very difficult hunting. Barb and Daisy decided that turkey hunting in the cold and wind was for the birds and stayed at the trailer. Spring is mating season for turkeys, hens laying as many as 15 eggs in their nests. When the weather is warm the hens will cluck and call to potential suitors while toms will goggle and run around looking for hens and other toms to fight with. However, when it is cold, hens get crabby and lose their desire to get frisky. They will not mate or nest when it is below 45 , as a result the toms are very hard to hunt. They seem to know any hen that is out there calling and looking for company is nuts, as a result when they see our decoys or hear our come-hither calls they tend to go the other way. Who wants to deal with a crazy hen?!?! By the end of the week the shotgun hunters within the group had taken 8 birds. In addition to me there were 2 other archery hunters, we got skunked.

 If you ever find yourself crossing South Dakota on Hwy 44, stop by for fuel and a meal at the D&E Service Station in Wood. Dave and Eileen are very nice people and Eileen is an awesome cook!

Thursday afternoon we packed up and headed to Minnesota to visit friends and family. We arrived late Thursday night and are currently “mooch docking” at my brother Bob’s house in Taylors Falls. For those of you unfamiliar with that term, mooch docking is kinda like boon docking but we are “mooching” space in their yard, hooked up to their water and power. We will be here for about a week where Barb is going to work for a few days while I get things ready for our 4 months at Pasha Lake Cabins in Ontario. I talked to Chad, the owner of Lake, who said the ice is not off the lakes yet but it should be off in time for fishing opener next week!

Mooch docking at my brothers house
We did not take a lot of pictures this week so I am including some pictures from earlier that did not make previous posts.
Barb fishing Ditch Creek in SD
A couple of brook trout hiding under a log
White-faced Ibis in Utah

Western Grebe in Utah
Black Necked Stilt in Utah

Avocet in Utah


  1. Loved the Avocet picture! Bummer you got skunked, but at least you were out there! Looking forward to hearing how your fishing goes next week.

    1. They are a pretty bird aren't they? Let us know how it goes picking up your truck and trailer this week, good luck!

  2. You should've stayed here. We have seen quite a few turkeys along with hundreds of deer and a herd of elk. Enjoy your time with family and friends.

    1. Dang it! I bet we would have missed the fun in the snow as well. I am thinking next April I will look for opportunities in that area.