I learned a lot during my time in South Dakota on the hunt for the wily mule deer, but here are my top ten.
#2. Even though it adds weight, bring a tripod or bipod for your spotting scope.
#3. Buy the best optics you can afford.
#4. In South Dakota, when you’re looking down into a canyon, always assume what you think are scrubby little bushes are in reality really big trees. Assume your scale perception is off and everything is a lot farther away than you think.
#6. Never assume you can count on others. Always assume you are alone in this and you have no one to rely on but yourself.
#7. Cyclops headlamps are pretty much the best thing since sliced bread.
#8. When hunting out west in a completely unfamiliar environment using a completely unfamiliar hunting style and paying hundreds of dollars for tags, spend the extra money and go fully guided.
#9. I’m a lot tougher than I ever thought I was. My “15 Hours Alone Utterly Lost in an Unfamiliar South Dakota Canyon in the Pitch Dark with No Supplies Debacle” proved that when push comes to shove, you hike up your big girl panties and put one foot in front of the other.
#10. That there is great satisfaction to be had from an out of state DIY hunt. Even if you never even end up killing anything.