In Pursuit of Pope & Young (PYP) – Establishing the Hit List

In Pursuit of Pope & Young Part 6

Ben Brettingen

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The first in PYP scouting trip for the 2013 archery season is in the books! I spent the last weekend in western NoDak trying to pin down a few bucks for when I return again on labor day weekend for the opener.

The theme of the weekend was hot, hot, heat! Holy man, we have been spoiled here in MN this summer. When we arrived it was a blistering 98 degrees.

I have never been out in the Badlands for an extended period of time, and all I can say is what an amazing place. The scenery, the wildlife, and the deer!

I knew I was bound to see a few deer by the river due to the crazy heat, so I took an evening and set up camp with my spotting scope about 150 yards from an area of the bank that was beaten to a pulp by deer traffic.

*I apologize for the picture quality in advanced! I had to jack up my ISO to get enough light and was 150 yards away, so hence the super crop!

Scouting 2 (1 of 1)
It took no time for the deer to show up as two fawns were already set up in the river splashing around with mom not too far away.

Spotting Cliff (1 of 1)

Fawns (1 of 1)

A few minutes later a bachelor group of 1 1/2 year old bucks popped up in the same area and milled around in the water. The woods-or rather the water- was coming to life!

Small Bucks (1 of 1)

Another 10 minutes went by watching the little bucks until something came into my peripherals along the bank. 2 nicer bucks peeked out of the grass and as soon as they looked out, they were gone.

Close up (1 of 1)

They again showed themselves again in the same area the other deer were milling around, after adding a friend.

2 bucks bigger (1 of 1)

Looky Here! (1 of 1)
Do you think any of these are P&Y material?

The light was waning and they continued to hang around the area, attempting to cross in the same area the does and little bucks did, but opted to walk to shoreline until they were out of sight.

As the sun sank lower and lower past the horizon, light faded as I left the scouting grounds. I was happy (very happy) and if bucks of this caliber were showing themselves well into daylight, I know there are a few who are even bigger trolling around the area.

The next day I waited until the noon lull and went back out in search of a suitable tree to place my hang on stand. What I determined, is this location will be perfect for a ground blind, as I can get closer to the point where the bucks emerge and I can take a lot of the guess work out of the equation.

All I could find was gigantic cottonwoods, and many of them were more crooked than a Chicago politician. I climbed up into one tree, pulled up my stand and realized it wouldn’t work, and pulled everything back out. I finally settled on a set, which utilized a break in the fence row that guarded the river. It seemed to be a great pinch point so deer wouldn’t have to jump the fence.

Snake! (1 of 1)

As I approached the tree there was a tire at the base of it. I had a feeling something may be hiding in there and sure enough, a good 2.5 foot snake lay in hiding. After taking care of him it was finally “Game on”!

Hanging the set (1 of 1)

The tree was quite full to say the least so a lot of trimming was required, but I did leave enough so I would still be hidden from below.

Cutting (1 of 1)

I’m not sure if any of the bucks I saw would go P&Y but if they were cruising around that early in the daylight, there are bound to be a few bruisers coming out closer to dark.

What do you think these three bucks would score. Post a comment below!

All in all it was an excellent trip, with a ton of new experiences! Also, the photography opportunities were endless! A big thanks to Sara for being my helper on this trip and making many memories!

Here are a few of the shots!

1 fighting (1 of 1) 1 gridlock (1 of 1) 1 horses (1 of 1) 1 pd (1 of 1)-2 1 pd (1 of 1) 1 Shooting (1 of 1) 1 sunrise (1 of 1) 1 sunrise bison (1 of 1)

1 white and mule (1 of 1)

Cat (1 of 1)



  1. Ben, I think that one of those bucks would score around 125″. I think the one on the right in the pic of the 3 would be in there depending on mass. He has pretty tall tines and good brows. Looks like a 9 point from the pic?? If there is any mass I think he would be close. With the new P&Y scoring formula giving an extra main beam length for the width you won’t be hurt there. Good luck!! I am rooting for you to get one.

    • Thanks Cole!

      We headed out there the first week of the season and those bucks were already nocturnal unfortunately! We are headed back out there the first weekend of November and hopefully can get into some seeking and chasing rut action! Thanks for following along.


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