This No-Kill, No-Pay Deer Hunt A Real Find


Published: December - 2002

South Dakota has long been known for its pheasant hunting. What is not generally known, however, is that this state also offers some outstanding deer hunting, for both mulies and whitetails. And some of these bucks are of very respectable size. A guide I have known here for 22 years, and can recommend, is Joe Kirwan. I hunted with Kirwan, as his first paying client, back in 1981 and enjoyed the experience immensely, taking a beautiful, 13-point whitetail buck. Recently, I hunted successfully again with Kirwan, this time for birds only. But while I was there I asked how his deer hunts were going and found out that he has structured the cost of his hunts so that clients can pay a low daily rate with a kill fee payable only upon taking a buck. I'll have more on that in a minute.

Kirwan does not advertise, so he is relatively unknown in hunting circles. All his business comes from word of mouth. Year after year, he quietly cranks out results for his clients, with very few of them going home without a buck. He showed me photos of the whitetail deer his clients have taken since 1981, and although they are not in the class of some South Texas, Saskatchewan or Alberta bucks, they were nonetheless quite nice, somewhere in the 150-range.

Kirwan has access to lots of private land, including approximately 1,200 acres of his family's land and another 7,000 acres of grazing land, farm ground, river breaks and grasslands. He is also a registered guide with the Rosebud Sioux Indian Tribe, giving him hunting access to a large part of four counties.

These hunts are not your typical, garden-variety deer hunts that often involve a lot of sitting and waiting in tree stands and dense cover, use of deer scents, decoys and the like. Instead, they are conducted in open, rolling country that is very scenic and involve driving around in a vehicle, glassing from open hillsides, making short drives, spotting and stalking and lots of walking. Kirwan sometimes rattles during........(continued)

 
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