Everything You Need To Know Mule Deer Hunting

With all of the choices that today’s big game hunter can make there is probably no finer choice than to pursue a mature mule deer buck in the American West.  A mature mule deer buck was taken while on a fair chase hunt is one of the most difficult trophies to obtain.


Mule deer occupy some of the most remote and rugged habitats in the American West. For this reason, a hunter must take time to research hunting opportunities, hunting locations, habitat use patterns and mule deer hunting license availability to be successful. If you want to be well known hunter you should familiar with your hunting gear otherwise you wouldn't be success your hunting mission. 

Mule Deer Behavior and Ecology for the Hunter


Mule deer differ than the more widely distributed white-tailed deer in that they are somewhat larger and darker in color, thrive in less productive and more rugged environments and escape predators by stotting uphill versus fleeing on the run in the flat wooded country. 


Mule deer also tend to migrate more than white-tailed deer, and they can be found in alpine habitats up high during the warmer months of summer and fall.  The antlers of a mule deer typically fork versus all of the points originating from the main beam. 


Mule deer racks can be quite large and western big game hunters treasure them.  Because mule deer often occupy more remote and open habitats than white-tailed deer, hunters can enjoy spotting, glassing and stalk mature mule deer in their favorite hunting areas.


Do It Yourself (DIY) Public Land Mule Deer Hunts

The western United States abounds with accessible public lands that are open to hunting.  There are many mule deer hunting options for the DIY mule deer hunter on these western public lands. 


The first step is to read up on public land mule deer hunting, and a great first step is to get a copy of Eastman’s Hunting Journal.  Eastman’s Hunting Journal features DIY public land mule deer hunting, and they are still considered the authority on western mule deer hunting on public lands.


Prospective hunters should also purchase United States Forest Service travel maps to learn about open roads, trails, and campgrounds that can be utilized during the hunt.  Many State Fish and Game Department websites offer hunt planning information, mule deer hunting district information and mule deer success rates by the district for the DIY hunter.  Be sure to take advantage of the information provided by these free agency websites.

Guided Mule Deer Hunts


There are many experienced quality mule deer hunting guides and outfitters throughout the west.  The first step in locating a reliable mule deer hunting outfitter is to research by state the local guides and outfitters association websites.


The next step is to solicit referrals from mule deer hunters who have hunted with that particular outfitter in the recent past.  Once you have chosen an outfitter, you can then research the State Fish and Game website for license availability and application deadlines.  A quality outfitter should also help you with this licensing process.  Be sure to check references before you provide a deposit for your mule deer hunt.


Mule Deer Hunting Equipment


Quality hunting gear and an appropriate rifle caliber are also essential as mule country can be unforgiving.  One of the more popular mule deer rifles is the Winchester .270 made famous by the legendary Filed and Stream editor Jack O’Connor.  The widely used 30.06 caliber is a fine option as well.


Good backpacking and survival equipment may be required for those hunters that choose to pursue mature mule deer bucks up high on public lands.  Hunting clothes that can be worn in layers are recommended.  

Western weather can change rapidly so a variety of hunting clothes should be available to the mule deer hunter.  One of the most important mule deer hunting aids is a good pair of binoculars and a quality rifle scope.  As a mule deer hunter, you will find yourself glassing the mountainsides for long periods of time looking for an old buck.


Where to Hunt Mule Deer


The most popular mule deer hunting State in the country in Colorado.  Colorado has historically produced fantastic bucks on public lands.  Other noteworthy destinations are Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and Montana.

Boone and Crockett's bucks have been taken recently in all of these western states. 


British Columbia and Alberta, our neighbors to the north, have also offered mature mule deer buck hunts.  For exceptionally large mule deer bucks, many hunters are choosing to book a hunt with an outfitter in Northern Mexico, just south of the border.  Some fantastic trophies have been taken in Mexico recently.


One of the best resources available to hunters is located on the Boone and Crockett Clubs website under the category of Trophy Watch.  Hunters can view recently taken mule deer trophies and read about the hunts on this fact-checked the website.


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