There aren't too many places in the country that allow hunters to enjoy more than a 50 percent success rate every year while pursuing their quarry. But Black Hills deer hunters can do just that and have done so for the last decade. Wildlife officials estimated the 2011 population, the most recent available, at 37,000 whitetails in the Black Hills and 8,100 mule deer.
Perhaps the most sought after animals in the Black Hills are elk. The season is not open to nonresidents and residents have to wait at times up to 10 years to draw a tag. But when that envelope comes in the mail, hunters can enjoy a quality hunt pursuing large bulls and good numbers of cows. In 2011, elk hunters enjoyed a 55 percent success rate in the Hills with hunters killing about 500 elk in the Black Hills.
Just north of Spearfish is prime hunting for antelope. The area enjoyed near record numbers of antelope in 2008 when hunters bagged 17,056 antelope, the highest number recorded. Archery hunters harvested another 1,000 animals.
The newest big game season in the Black Hills is for mountain lions. The first season began in
2005 with 2,294 hunters receiving tags. Thirteen animals were harvested after the subquota of seven females was reached. The following year more than 3,000 tags were sold and hunters took 15 lions. In 2012, 73 lions were killed after the GF&P made a decision to lower the lion population. Officials set a 100-lion quota for a 2012-2013 season that began on Dec. 26th.
The Game, Fish, & Parks also offers two seasons for turkey - fall and spring.
The nearby waters offer waterfowl hunting opportunities for the resident and migrating ducks and geese. Grouse and pheasants can be hunted north of Spearfish.
For more information on hunting and licensing, visit the South Dakota Game, Fish, & Parks website.