To get a big mule deer, think like one
Mule deer hunting’s just about perfect. It’s not too physically demanding, but it’s no walk in the park, either. It’s even better when you get one.
If you’re looking for a monster muley this year, you have to think like a big buck. Head for the high country. That’s where the big ones’ll be until the snow pushes ‘em down.
If you’re an elk hunter, you should be familiar with working the hard-to-reach terrain. But even if you have to go high in the hills and navigate steep slopes, hunting deer isn’t quite as strenuous as elk hunting. Especially when it comes to packing the meat back out.
But trying to get the big one is still pretty tough. The hardest part’s finding him. Get up above timberline and glass the basins, especially the ones with a bit of brush in ‘em. Look at the bases of rimrock ridges, too. Look carefully with good binocs or spotting scopes, because deer can be surprisingly hard to see, especially if they’re bedded down in shadows.
Once you find the deer you’d like to take home with you, you’ll have to get close without being seen. If the deer’s up on a hillside, try coming around from the other side of the hill in the afternoon. In the early morning, there’ll probably be a breeze coming down the slope, so if you try to come in the back door, he’ll smell you before you can see him. If the wind’s going up the hill, though, that tactic might work.
You can also try to lure the buck down. Come in on him from below, but don’t break out of the timberline. Stay in the trees, and try a trick from the whitetail hunter’s book. If you have a couple of shed antlers, try banging them together. Or use one and whack it against a sapling a few times. Quite a few hunters who have used this ruse on whitetails have found it works quite well for muleys, too.
You can also try to intercept the bucks when they come down to feed. There’s not much to eat above timberline, so if you can figure out the route they use to come down, you can put yourself there early in the morning. Keep in mind that they’ll come down just before or after sunset, and they’ll head back up at the first hint of dawn. The trick is to meet them during legal shooting hours.
Hopefully one or more of these tips’ll help you. Good luck this season.