What area of the sandhills are you hunting? A buddy of mine shot a 205 in mule deer on Sunday by Theadford. There are alot of nice deer in the sandhills esp. if you can get on a big ranch (15,000 or mor acres) where they can control what is harvested. good luck and let me know how ya do.
Well, not a great hunt. The person from Montana (originally from Nebraska) that set this up was in an accident while driving to Valentine, NE to meet up with us. So our private land hunting was out the window and had to resort to 5 days of public land hunting. Not a great experience. My brother in law and I both went down with the intentions of hunting big whitetails and ended up shooting small (at least by ND standards) muleys. The check station guys said that they were real nice for public land deer.
We are invited back next year, but not sure if we will go or not!
Sorry you had a tough experience here. Rifle season in our state does see some public land get pressured rather highly. I might suggest avoiding rifle season, trying muzzleloader instead, a lot less pressure. Or even archery.
If you do decide to come back next year, give me a shout.
We spent the better part of a day glassing the "National Forest" (still don't see how that name came about?) We walked what seemed like hundreds of plum thickets out there but darn near everyone of them had ATV tracks going right to and around them. Had been told of a huge muley hanging around out there somewhere, but we didn't see him. But than again were do you start on something that vast.
We spent most of the remainder in the Anderson Bridge WMA, quite a few hunters hunting the river bottoms, so our last day there we resided to the ridges 1/2 way up and on out to the tops. Just took our time and still hunted the ridges, we saw more deer there. They were bedded in the sun on the sidehills, but nothing big. Like I stated shot a couple small muley, one 4x5 and the other a 5x5.
I know the area quite well. That nat'l ground gets hit hard and by the eveidence you seen its not on foot. That WMA isn't the worst, small but decent. The ranch north of it is real good back across the river.
That is the ranch we were suppose to be on, but you how it worked out! But can't blame the rancher either as he has no clue who we were only the person guiding us. I did have a nice 6x6 and a super 4x4 under 300 yards but on the north bank of the river. I never prayed so hard to see a deer cross water?
From what we glassed on private to the deer we say brought to the check station, you guys sure have some impressive deer though.
One of the most important components of deciphering a new hunting area is distinguishing between the summer and winter ranges for the game that you plan to pursue. Without knowing this you cannot make reliable assumptions about where the game will be come opening day. Knowing these areas will allow you to take the current weather (as well as the past couple weeks) and apply that to the landscape and make an educated guess as to where you might find that big buck or bull.
There are a couple ways...