Aberdeen or Watertown?

danimal

New member
Booking hotel for Jan1-5 for a hunt only 3 of us and 1 maybe 2 dogs hunting all public land. Need to keep in mind that we will need smaller manageable acreage to cover adequately. Looking for opinions or experiences in either areas. I know this year will be different with all the rain and crops standing late in the season but any info will help. Wouldn’t mind the location of a honey hole either:) thanks in advance
 

Matt D

Member
In general farther west is better. I would recommend to go even farther west than Aberdeen. Late season should be great with crops coming out so late. Good luck.
 

hunter94

Active member
Booking hotel for Jan1-5 for a hunt only 3 of us and 1 maybe 2 dogs hunting all public land. Need to keep in mind that we will need smaller manageable acreage to cover adequately. Looking for opinions or experiences in either areas. I know this year will be different with all the rain and crops standing late in the season but any info will help. Wouldn’t mind the location of a honey hole either:) thanks in advance
just so you know, internet scouting is frowned upon here......but good luck, lots of snow around.
 

Miforester

Member
I wouldn't worry about size of area to hunt , I`ll go into any size with my dogs, if the birds are there your dog(s) will find them.
 

Dakotazeb

Active member
Skip the Watertown area. I live there and the hunting around Watertown hasn't been very good for quite a few years. I lived in Aberdeen for over 30 years and it's much better hunting up there. Public spots are much more productive. However, Aberdeen just got about 16 inches of snow so you might want to monitor the weather.
 

danimal

New member
Thanks guys,as the month winds down I would appreciate any more input on the weather conditions in and around Aberdeen
 
I was hoping to be hunting up around Aberdeen in a couple weeks, not sure now with that snow report, guess it will depend on how much more will be on its way between now and then.
 
I would let the weather and snow depth dictate where you will go, with the option of keeping the entire state open. Not sure where you are traveling from, but if you are already traveling several hours, why not drive a couple more to get to a better area, whether pheasant number or weather related.

For late season hunts like that, keep in mind a few safety things... I always travel with a shovel to dig myself out of a snowdrift. Tow straps. Fully charged cell phone. Food. Water (not frozen). Never leave the interstate or main highway area without a full tank of gas. You never know what can happen when you get stuck in a remote area and are 2 miles from the nearest farm and 15 miles from the nearest town.
 

A5 Sweet 16

Member
I’m not real familiar with public land in the Watertown or Aberdeen areas, and I don’t know the exact snow/ice conditions up there (I’m in Sioux Falls). But I’d want to get a good handle on those things if these 2 items are important: safety & seeing pheasants approximately in shotgun range. Here’s what I’m running into south of, say, Highway 14. I’m GUESSING that conditions in the Aberdeen/Watertown areas are similar.

Pheasants can be in the cattail sloughs. By & large, people and dogs can’t. The ice/slush is terrible & now there’s so much snow on top of it, that I’m guessing even in early January, in many places, you STILL won’t be able to hunt cattails. This isn’t terribly uncommon, but this year, if you go through, you could be up to your neck.

We’ve had enough snow & crappy weather that birds, especially roosters, are hanging out in trees/thickets near food much of the day (if they don’t have the safety of an unpicked corn or sorghum/milo field). Public land roosters, in most cases, are wise enough by now that the trees/thickets they choose AREN’T on public land. Then from 2:00-4:00 (in general) they’re out feeding & you can’t get to them. So for much of the day, most birds roosting on public ground…..aren’t on public ground. Again, not uncommon, but really frustrating since you can’t hunt the cattails toward sunset.

If I was coming to hunt public land for a few days, I’d want to try to find a place that somehow managed to have decent ice. I’d also want to be in an area that had trees/thickets I could hunt (if not food plots), as well as have enough guys that I could effectively hunt them. As we know, trees & thickets present different challenges than a rooster in the cattails or grass.

Long-winded, yet terribly insightful, right? ;)
 

BRITTMAN

Active member
Crazy. 2019 might be the worst year in a lifetime for weather (temps, wind, precip extremes), harvest (delayed) & climate (flooding/high water) across the Dakotas and Minnesota. Had a good early - mid season despite the lack of harvest and some issues with access.

Dropping through the ice to ones calf or knee is not fun. Dropping through to shoulders (or submerged) cannot be a good experience and downright dangerous especially if winter is full effect. So with that in mind have extra clothes and boots in the truck for everyone (and not back at some hotel). Couple of old sleeping bags is also a good idea.

Public land hunters impacted much more than the pay to player guys hunting narrow groomed strips of corn, sorghum, milo and grass
 

A5 Sweet 16

Member
See "Sand Lake NWR pheasant hunting alert" in the main "Pheasant Hunting Forum". Confirms my suspicions mentioned above.
 

3car

Member
Anything within a mile or so of the James River is basically flooded. The public land outside of that area is still ok to hunt. The Refuge is just crazy right now. The Refuge employees and neighbors are driving through fields just to get to their homes. I've never seen it like this in my 20 years in SD.
 

A5 Sweet 16

Member
Get them in 36”
Been there; done that. They're great if you need to cross vast expanses of snow to GET to a spot to hunt. And sure, they'd keep you from getting wet in a slough most of the time. But have you ever tried trudging through cattails in them? Nearly impossible. If you're able to stick to the edge of the slough, or meander around in paths withOUT cattails....then they work. So far this season, though, my dog hasn't found a single slough that HE won't break through. And he's a young, skinny puppy w/ big feet.
 

mgorvi

Member
Been there; done that. They're great if you need to cross vast expanses of snow to GET to a spot to hunt. And sure, they'd keep you from getting wet in a slough most of the time. But have you ever tried trudging through cattails in them? Nearly impossible. If you're able to stick to the edge of the slough, or meander around in paths withOUT cattails....then they work. So far this season, though, my dog hasn't found a single slough that HE won't break through. And he's a young, skinny puppy w/ big feet.
Yup it’s a heart attack just waiting. We only used them to get over the drifts to get to a spot, and around narrow rings of cattails surrounding pot holes, one guy on the ice and one guy on the outside, dog in the middle. Nothing worse than snow covered thin ice.
 

david0311

Member
Everyone—-

While many have brought up good points-on areas and personnel safety in swamp and cat tail areas especially—if you go into a area it’s your choice!!
BUT SENDING A DOG INTO THAT DANGER IS NOT THEIRS—BE WARE AREAS I HAVE HUNTED FOR YEARS WITH NO PROBLEM -WERE THIS YEAR DROWNING DEEP-A DOG BREAKING THROUGH THE ICE IN A AREA LIKE THAT IS IN DEEP TROUBLE-

A quick note on the snowshoe idea they are great for snow covered fields ect. HOWEVER—if you go through ice-cattails ect..you better have quick release bindings -OR YOUR NOT GETTING OUT IN DEEP WATER
 

danimal

New member
Thanks guys for the reply’s. Safety is no 1 concern. With conditions the way they are this year we have decided to hold off on a planned trip and see what the state is looking like towards the end of the month and if anything do a last minute trip. Keep the reports coming,I’m sure they are very beneficial to everyone on the forum-that’s again
 

Mrben

New member
My second trip there were some guys at the motel that almost lost a dog. The guys son went in over waist deep to get there older short hair out after he broke ice. Be careful. I'm afraid what I might do if it were my dog don't like to think about it
 
I broke through up on the high line of Montana. It was 10 below, and windy.The water was chest deep.I threw my gun, and was able to climb out.Luckily, the truck was only about a quarter mile away!! My good hunting buddy, also fell through at the same time, 200 yards away from me.He was up to his neck. I never want to go though anything like that again! I will never hunt that ice again, we both could have died.20 below wind chill.Be very careful on ice! It isn't worth it.
 
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