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South Dakota Hunter Tags 2 Big Bucks in 2 Weeks


South Dakota Hunter Tags 2 Big Bucks in 2 Weeks

Posted 2023-12-20  by  Michael Pendley

Shauna Woodward arrowed a giant palmated buck, and then shot a clean 5-by-5 with her rifle soon after

Rack Report Details
Time of Year:November 13 and November 26, 2023
Place:East River, South Dakota
Weapon: Hoyt Carbon Spyder  Thompson Center 30-06 

Shauna Woodward and her husband, Richard, farm and raise cattle on their South Dakota land for a living, but growing giant whitetails is their passion. “We watch these deer day in and day out, year-round, while we are out working on the farm,” Shauna said. “I know these bucks, how old they are, where they like to be. We plant trees and food plots, and keep water open all winter — everything we can to help the deer stay healthy.”

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Shawna Woodward took this massive palmated South Dakota buck with her bow, and then followed it up with a nice 5-by-5 with her rifle tag.

With that level of familiarity, the couple likes to target only mature bucks. “Growing up, my kids would get frustrated with me because we would see a good buck and I’d tell them to pass on it because I knew they had more potential with additional age,” Shauna said with a laugh.

This season, Shauna had her eyes on only one buck for her archery tag. She had been watching the deer for a few years and had passed on him numerous times in 2021 because he wasn’t mature.

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Woodward had passed on this buck the two previous years. At first, he wasn’t mature. The next season, he was busted up.

She saw the buck again early in 2022. “He was actually prettier last year than he was this year,” Shauna said. “But we had a massive drought in 2022. The cattle suffered, the deer suffered, and it was a rough summer on everything.” Perhaps because of the heat and lack of food and water, almost every buck on the ranch broke their racks off early. “Every mature buck here, including the buck I killed this year, had broken tines and main beams last year,” she said. “We didn’t shoot a single buck here.”

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Shauna decided early to hunt only this buck for her archery tag this season.

This season, a deer caught her attention early in summer. The buck that had looked so good early the previous season before destroying his rack was back. And this year, he was sporting massive palmated antlers more reminiscent of a moose than a whitetail. “I named him ‘Moose,’ and I decided right away that it was him or nothing,” Shauna said, noting that she wasn’t the only one chasing the deer. Her oldest daughter, Shelby, put in stand time whenever she was home in hopes of arrowing the buck.

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The buck’s massive palmation carried through both sides.

Shauna knew Moose was hanging around a particular tree grove, and she got a good wind to the hunt the grove one early November morning. She grabbed her bow and headed that way, intending to hunt a few hours and then return home to help Richard with the daily chores.

She found a good spot and tucked up into a cedar to overlook the cover and open land that surrounded it. Deer moved all morning, and before long, she saw Moose with a doe at 120 yards. She made the choice to hang tight in her spot. “I sent Richard a text explaining the situation and letting him know I wouldn’t be home for a while,” Shauna said. She didn’t realize how long a while would be.

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Early trail camera photos made the palmated buck easy to recognize.

The big buck chased does all around her that day. “He came by 10 to 12 times, getting as close as 60 to 70 yards a few times,” Shauna said. “I’ve set my archery limit at 50 yards, and I passed on him each time, hoping he would get closer.”

But he never did, and Shauna ended up crouched against the cedar all day, not returning home till dark. Because she hadn’t planned to hunt that long, she hadn’t packed anything to eat or drink. The long day took a toll on her body. “My daughter told me I was a grandmother now, not a kid, and I needed to start acting like it,” she said with a laugh.

A few days later, having finished her early morning tasks around the farm, Shauna decided it was time to hunt again. With a southeast wind, she had to take a long, circuitous route to get to her hunting spot. She reached the area she wanted to be at about 10 a.m. Again, she found a good tree to tuck into for cover and waited.

The rut was in full swing by that point. Shauna heard bucks fighting, snort-wheezing, and grunting as they chased does through the thick cover. Finally, a small 4-point stepped into the open. There was a fold in the terrain about 40 yards away, and as Shauna watched the young buck, she saw antler tips of another buck passing just below the rise. It was Moose, and he was just 50 yards away.

Unfortunately, the giant buck turned toward the young buck instead of giving Shauna an open shot. He was soon 300 yards away, chasing does along the cedar strip. Shauna thought about the box blind that stood a little closer to where the big buck had last entered the cover, so she quietly slipped to it and climbed in.

When inside, she only opened only one window to keep scent down. Soon, Moose was back in the open, splitting his time between chasing does and intimidating the smaller buck. Finally, a hot doe worked from near the big buck toward the box blind.

“I had to turn and quietly slide another window open to have a shot where the doe had passed by,” Shauna said. “I ranged a couple of open spots along the trail in hopes that Moose would follow. She soon realized he was. Shauna drew her bow and readied herself for a shot.


When Moose stepped into the opening, Shauna released the arrow. “It was a pass-through, but slightly farther back than I wanted,” she said. “I’m a perfectionist when it comes to shooting at deer. I only want to make the perfect shot to put them down quickly.”

Not wanting to take a chance on jumping the buck, Shauna quietly slipped out of the blind and headed home to tell her husband about the hunt. “He was excited and wanted to go back to look immediately,” she said. “I told him to go do his chores, and I’d tell him when I was comfortable going back.”

After about three hours, Shauna returned to where Moose had been standing at the shot. She quickly found good blood and soon after had her hands on the buck. His palmated rack felt massive. She texted her husband and youngest son, Jesse, and they were soon on hand to haul out the buck.

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Husband Richard and son Jesse came to help on the retrieve with their homemade deer wagon, dubbed the Bone Collecter, with a purposely retained misspelling.

The 7-by-5 frame had an 18-inch inside spread and extreme mass ranging from 5 to 7 inches. “We have a green score a little over 151, but score honestly doesn’t matter to me on this one because he is so unique,” Shauna said.

For most hunters, taking a buck like that would make a season. But Shauna still had a South Dakota rifle tag in hand. Nearly two weeks after taking Moose, Richard came in from chopping ice in one of the pastures.


“He told me he had seen a really nice buck bedded down with a doe,” Shauna said. “It was actually on the same strip of trees Moose had come from, just on the opposite side so he could get in out of the wind.”

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Richard came in from morning chores and mentioned that he had seen a nice buck bedded down.

Shauna grabbed her rifle and went to check it out. As she got closer to the tree line, she saw the buck’s symmetrical 5-by-5 antlers shining in the sun. She recognized him immediately as a 7-plus-year-old buck she’d been watching for years. She decided to try to take him.

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Shauna recognized the older buck immediately and decided to take him.

“I crawled on my knees for about 80 yards,” Shauna said. “My daughter’s words came back to me as my knees began to lock up. I got to a spot where I probably could have made the shot, but the bowhunter in me made me want to get closer.”

She belly-crawled another 80 yards until she was just 40 yards from the bedded buck. Soon Shauna got into position, a young buck came through and bumped the doe the big buck was bedded with. That was enough to make the buck stand. When he did, Shauna took aim and fired.

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The big buck collapsed in place at the shot.

The heart shot dropped the big buck in his tracks. “We’re big fans of suppressors for our rifles,” Shauna said. “We take a lot of kids out hunting each year, and not having to deal with the loud noise helps them shoot better. Plus, it keeps the noise down so we don’t disturb other game.”

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The buck was a clean 5-by-5 — a stark contrast to the palmated buck she had taken with her bow.

The latter was important because her youngest daughter, Caitlin, was hunting nearby with her boyfriend, Riley. “I didn’t want to risk bumping deer away from them, so I just went up and admired the buck where he lay for a minute, and then slipped back to the house,” Shauna said. “We all went back in and recovered him after they finished hunting that evening.”

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Daughter Caitlin, hunting nearby, was on hand to help with the retrieval.

“Our place holds a lot of deer each winter, and we take great pride in that and in what we have built for our future generations,” Shauna said. “This place is our legacy. Richard likes to say that anyone can do this, but most folks aren’t willing to put in the time, work, money, and dedication it takes. I grew up hunting everything with my dad, and continuing to hunt here with my family is what I love.”

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