No matter the location or time of year, basic knowledge of mule deer hunting will help you successfully bag that trophy deer. Whether you find yourself on the plains of the West, or nestled high in the Rocky Mountains, mule deer are sure to make an appearance, and you want to be ready when they do.
Below are some basic tips on how to have a successful mule deer hunt. With these tips, and a little bit of luck, you are sure to have the deer hunting season of your dreams.
Start With A Good Vantage Point
The hardest part of any hunting trip is spotting the animal you are trying to shoot, and following them carefully without giving yourself away. A good vantage point is key to a successful mule deer hunt because spotting a deer is half of the battle. Find a spot where you can glass multiple locations at one time. More location options give you a higher chance of spotting a deer, or, if you’re really lucky, more than one and it’s up to you to choose which one you want to bag.
Be sure to pay attention to the wind direction, sun direction, and have a route picked out if a deer does come along and you need to adjust. There is nothing more frustrating than waiting long hours and finally spotting a deer, only to spook it with a poorly planned movement route.
Start By Finding Good Habitat
Mule deer live in different locations on your hunting ranch depending on the region you are hunting in. In some places, they live in the open seeking shelter from the sun in low spots of shade. In others, they live higher up on ridgeways and peaks. Regardless, there are three things every deer habitat needs: food, water, and shelter.
If you find yourself in an area that doesn’t have relatively easy access to water, the odds of a deer making an appearance are very low. Same with food. Deer don’t tend to move around all that much, and if there isn’t any food around for them to move to, you probably won’t spot them.
So take a moment and consider the location you’re in. If you can’t find traces of any deer in the area, it’s probably because the area you’re in isn’t suitable enough for them.
Use the Entire Day
The easiest way to increase your hunting success is to increase the amount of time you spend hunting. This means you should be out glassing before the sun rises, and you should stay out as long as you can still see through your binoculars. Mature bucks are usually most active three times a day, dawn, dusk, and mid-day when they get up to stretch a move towards a food source.
If you aren’t out glassing or scouting during these times, you are only hurting your chances of spotting and bagging any type of deer.
Don’t Rely Too Much on Your Scouting
While there are definitely advantages to heavily scouting an area during pre-season, don’t rely on the information you gather from your time scouting too much, at least when hunting deer. Mule deer are migratory animals and they change locations, routes, and behaviors based on the time of year and the type of hunting pressure they are feeling.
Deer will be migrating down towards the valleys in late summer. Then, they’re locations and routes change significantly during the rut. Then, post-rut behavior kicks in and they shift again. For this reason, it might not be worth an entire post season of heavy, boots-on-the-ground scouting, and it’s important to not get too caught up in the details.