When it comes to big whitetails, guys always think of the Corn Belt: Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, and Kansas. Truth is, there are other options that don’t receive the pressure, or the notoriety, but offer some unique whitetail hunting options.
I’m talking about the Great Plains trifecta of Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
- I have been hunting eastern Montana for the better part of 15 years now—going back to my earliest days with Realtree. I still enjoy it as much today as I did back then. The deer aren’t huge (by Midwest standards), but they are plentiful, and the style of hunting is hard to beat. Since so much of the property is agricultural, surrounded by rivers and creeks, the bedding and feeding areas are pretty defined and therefore predictable. Unlike hunting in the big woods of the Midwest where visibility is often limited, in this part of the world you are going to see plenty of deer in the alfalfa fields, even if you don’t get a shot. While eastern Montana can be good anytime of the season, I like to hunt the first two weeks of October when much of the country is in a lull. The summer patterns are ending and the rut hasn’t kicked in; it’s kind of the calm before the storm. But in Montana the deer are still hitting the alfalfa. Best of all, they are getting interested in breeding, but not to the point of being so crazy they are unpredictable. Decoys work really well as does calling and rattling; the bucks are simply curious and are willing to walk across a field to check things out. There is one downside: A lot of the prime land in this region is private, but knocking on doors can still yield some free or cheap access. Combo Deer/Elk General: $976 Deer Combo: $580