While the youth and mentored seasons have been open for two weeks, the 2016 Deer hunting season in South Dakota opens in earnest Saturday with the beginning of the archery season.

With only a week left in September and Autumn upon us you may think it's too late to hunt deer this year. Thankfully, you would be wrong. You can still put a deer hunt together in South Dakota, at least if you are flexible.

There is no deadline for archery deer hunting. If you have a bow or access to a bow, and have a National Bowhunter Education Foundation certificate, you can buy your tag any time. I'm halfway through the class and don't own a bow so I won't be doing that this year.

There are a six counties with leftover tags West River for rifle hunting, but there have been three drawings so far. It is fairly picked over and no buck tags remain.

After the first draw for East River Deer tags there are still a total of 5,738 licenses available, many of which come with more than one tag. There are even some buck tags left.

Now if you are hoping to hunt right around Sioux Falls, you are out of luck. The farther southeast you go the fewer the number of licenses there are. But there are tags still available in Miner and Sanborn Counties which are just over an hour or less away from Sioux Falls.

Here is a breakdown of East River licences available:

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I added the names of the counties and the license type. For some reason GFP wants you to jump back and forth between pages with a list of license codes and county codes. It's annoying. It could all be on one page like I created above. Back to the point of this.

Paper applications for the second East River drawing must be postmarked no later than Sept. 30, or apply online before 8 a.m. CDT October 5.

I would rather hunt deer than not hunt deer. Before 2014 I had only ever hunted in Union County on my uncle's land. But my interest in hunting had gone way up in recent years after many years away from it. It is weird to say, but I'm glad I didn't draw a tag that year on the first draw. I have had way more fun going to Sully County the last two years. I'm going there again this year, but also have a Black Hills whitetail tag that I waited two years to get.

OTHER DEER STUFF: Bait Stations Are Illegal

South Dakota big game hunters are reminded that it is illegal for anyone to place any salt or salt lick or construct, occupy, or use any screen, blind, scaffold, or other device at or near any salt or salt lick for the purposes of enticing or baiting big game animals to the same for the purpose of hunting, watching for, or killing big game.

Additionally, South Dakota hunters may not establish, utilize, or maintain a bait station from August 15 to February 1, inclusive, and from March 15 to May 31, inclusive, to attract any big game animal, including wild turkey.

A bait station is a location where grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, hay, minerals, or any other natural food materials, commercial products containing natural food materials, or by-products of such materials are placed or maintained as an attractant to big game animals for the purpose of hunting. The use of scents alone does not constitute a bait station. This section does not apply to foods that have not been placed or gathered by a person and result from normal environmental conditions or accepted farming, forest management, wildlife food plantings, orchard management, or similar land management activities.

Hunters should also be aware that it is illegal to establish, utilize, or maintain a bait station on lands owned by the department and on properties managed and classified by the department as Game Production Areas, State Parks, State Recreation Areas, State Lakeside Use Areas, State Nature Areas, and State Water Access Areas.

For more information, please check out the online version of the 2016 Hunting Handbook.

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