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jaybe's picture
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Strategy for Hunting Mulies

  I will be hunting in N. Central WY this fall for the first time. From what I have seen from some pictures that came from this area, the terrain is what I would call, 'flat-to-rolling with some canyons and draws thrown in". I don't know if that's a good description or not, but those of you who have hunted out west may be able to picture that. Here's a picture that might help:

  This picture is of a friend, not me.

 My question revolves around the best strategy for hunting this type of terrain. My equipment will include a very nice spotting scope - thanks to BGH and Vanguard Thumbs up and I have a new pair of 10x42 binoculars coming soon. I will be carrying a .308 with 150 gr. Nosler Ballistic Tips.

  Are there specific areas (kinds of terrain, sides of hills, etc) that are best to spot for mule deer in the morning, mid-day and evening?

  Is finding a source of water important enough to hike several miles to?

  Any other important advice that I should know about?

  Any and all tips will be appreciated.

 

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exbiologist's picture
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looks a lot like where I'll be this fall

Keep in mind the three major habitat factors: food, water, cover.  Hunt the least abundant.  While water won't be abundant, the deer probably don't need to actually drink it much during the late fall.  If you're in an area with a mid October opener, then I'd certainly spend some time looking for water.  If there's snow on the ground or has been any rain in the last several days, forget about it.  

Food will be abundant, but if you have any irrigated crops nearby, station yourself to take advantage of it.

So instead you focus your glassing on cover.  The good thing is that country has very little.  I know they can bed down in the open stuff, but for the most part they won't feel very secure while doing that during hunting season.  

But your idea of cover, coming from Michigan, is different than a central Wyoming mule deer's idea of cover.  I would certainly focus on the shadier areas (north or east faces at midday), at the base of the rimrock that is so prevalent out there.  In some stretches you'll pinyon-juniper, in other areas you'll have have ponderosa pines also.  Glass underneath all of them.  Glass up and down the brushy draws.

If you're not glassing, small drives are easy to conduct in the coulees by stationing one man on each side of a draw and slowly walking your way up or down it, trying to jump a deer.

This is some of the same country, I took these photos Sunday:

 

exbiologist's picture
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more pics

 

hunter25's picture
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Be sure to watch small pieces

Be sure to watch small pieces of cover seperated from some of the larger pieces. I have seen some of my biggest bucks in a small patch of brush barely bigger than the deer himself a couple hundred yards from any other cover because they knew nobody would usualy look for them there.

Your binoculars and spotting scope wiil quickly become your best friends in most of these western hunts.

jaybe's picture
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That looks like very similar

That looks like very similar land from the pictures I have seen.

Thanks for the tips, guys.

Keep 'em coming when you think of anything else.

 

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Good luck!

The tips above are excellent!  I would add do not be afraid to use your vehicle appropriately during the hunt.  I am not advocating for vehicle hunting, but you can try to drive to a high point on a road or trail, and then use a spotting scope and binoculars to glass everything in sight.  From there, you can decide what areas you want to investigate on foot or plan your stalk on an animal you spot.  Cover as much ground as you can with your eyes before wearing out your feet.  Also, I think you will be surprised (I know I still am and I grew up hunting terrain like you described) how easily mule deer can appear and disappear using the slightest change in the terrain.  Do not assume you can determine the height of grasses and sage brush from a distance.  Grass that you may believe is only ankle high when looking through binoculars can end up being knee or waiste high when you walk through it. Likewise, sage that appears to be knee high can end up being waste high. 

Good luck!

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muleys

I have seen muleys here in the Black Hills National Forest, in fact my 1st deer ever was a muley doe.  I also had a 2x2 young muley buck watch me walk into my stand and then go 60 yards away from me and lay down.  We only see them sporadically.  He was there for the 2 hours that I was(I only had whitetail tags).  When I stood up to go to another stand, he stood up and walked down the hill toward me.  I have also seen muleys at the ranch where we hunt pronghorn.  Stalking them is fun if tiring.........lol.  I think I might try for one this year.  This past fall, I read an article in a hunting magazine that said that if you were to use a rabbit distress call(like they do for coyotes), that muley bucks will come to check it out due to curiosity and defens of their territory.  I might try that too.

WishIWasHunting's picture
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One more

I thought of another tactic that I thought I would share.  Get on a hill or ridge (try not to profile yourself) right as the sun is coming up or going down, and glass areas where you believe the deer are bedded down.  The angle of the sun at these two times of day seem to make it easier to spot the white on the mule deer's coat and their antler tips. 

Good luck!

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That's an excellent point. I

That's an excellent point. I have often noticed while hunting Whitetails in Michigan that the early and late light is very good for picking out the contrasting white against the brown/gray of a whitetail's fur. I call it "flat light", but I don't know if that's an accurate description or not. It comes during that 20-30 minutes before sunrise and after sunset - called "civil twilight" by the astronomical people. It doesn't last very long, but it sounds like a good time to be glassing hard-to-reach areas.

 Thanks for the tips, guys.

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good advice already given

You’ve received some great advice already.  I don’t have a lot of experience in hunting the wide open spaces but what little experience I do have conforms exactly with the advice that was posted. 

 

 Water is worth a look, but not the only place to look.  Cover is always where the deer go to rest and hide.  I was able to spot deer on the horizon pretty regularly when they sky-lined if they were moving.  When they were not moving I most frequently came upon them by topping a rise and looking down on them either in a gulley or across a canyon so I would advise you to make note of both these things and NOT let yourself be spotted against the sky by any deer looking up or across a canyon.

 

Good luck – hunt safely and let us know how you make out.

 

Exbiologist those are some great pictures, thanks for sharing them too.

 

Mike

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One thing about mule deer is

One thing about mule deer is that I have seen big bucks lay down in the sagebrush and lie there all day long.  When you look at the patch of sage all you see is the brush until you either see the tips of the antlers sticking up or they stand up and are gone.  It was mentioned earlier but I'll do it again, those small patches of trees will hold a lot of deer and they like to lay down in them.  A mule deer will and can hide in places that you wouldn't think could ever cover them but they do it well.

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