The Western Hunter's blog

Utah Mule Deer Hunting Overview

I’ve mentioned Utah’s deer hunting several times here, but never presented much of an overview of the whole state’s deer offerings.  Usually, when I have mentioned Utah, it’s in a negative comparison to Colorado, Wyoming or Nevada.  On a statewide basis, Utah still isn’t in the same category as those three states, but as one of the few states with good deer numbers and tags that aren’t overly difficult to draw, it still deserves a look.  It’s those too abundant tags that are my only real problem with Utah, which has a good reputation nationally, but in most units is only managing for a buck survival that leaves just 15 bucks for every 100 does.  Utah is planning on revising its management plans (wish I could take some credit, as they are making adjustments that address my criticisms) for the 2012 season, including raising their minimum buck: doe ratio management goals and going to more of a single unit management system, rather than a regional tag.  So, in other words, they are trying to become more like Colorado, which is a good thing.

Meat Hunts

The origin of hunting is rooted in the gathering of meat. To this day, most hunters are after meat first, antlers second. But the focus of most hunting shows and articles has been on trophy hunting. I’m guilty of that too in my writings. We all love antlers, but I suspect the majority of hunters consider them to just be a nice bonus. Besides, a yearling or two year old buck or bull isn’t likely to be much bigger than an adult female of the same species.

Western Whitetailed Deer Hunting

White-tailed deer hunting in the West is really no longer a novelty, as whitetails have expanded their range throughout most of the major river drainages in the plains since the 1950s.  Along many of those drainages, whitetails now outnumber mule deer.   It’s difficult to recommend hunting river bottom whitetails to anyone coming from the east, as it really doesn’t differ much from what you probably already have at home.  And the tags will cost you a lot more, and it’s almost exclusively a private land operation throughout the plains.  However, the west does have a few unique whitetail hunts on public lands, and that’s what I’m going to get into here today.

Mule Deer Hunting Roundup

mule deer huntingMule Deer inhabit the greatest variety of terrain in the West.  Their habitats can range from badlands, river bottoms, prairies, mountains, canyons, farm fields and dang near anything in between. They exist in huntable populations in all 11 western states, plus the 6 neighboring states in the Great Plains. The states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas are frequently overlooked when talking about mule deer hunting, but when examining your opportunities, it helps to keep all of your options in mind.  I’m going to try to lay out what sets each state apart in terms of hunting opportunities with this article, and why I’d choose one over another.

Nevada Mule Deer Hunting Overview

With just a few days left before the end of Nevada’s application period, I figured an article on Nevada’s mule deer offerings seemed in order.  To me, Nevada is one of those totally underrated mule deer states.  Sure, you hear about Arizona and Utah, Colorado to some degree, a fair bit about Wyoming and Montana, but Nevada is rarely on the tip of hunter’s tongue. I’m not sure why that is, maybe it’s because few people get off of the two main interstates going across Nevada.  Maybe it’s just that legalized prostitution and gambling makes more headlines. Regardless, Nevada offers some excellent mule deer hunting, and is one of the cheapest states to apply to if you only want to throw your hat into the draw.

Wyoming Elk Hunting Overview

As I hinted at in the Wyoming combo article, I think I’m overdue for a Wyoming elk hunting overview.  Wyoming is a very interesting state for elk hunting in that the elk are distributed throughout the entire state, even the plains.  Sure there aren’t many, but there are far more elk in Eastern Wyoming than Eastern Colorado.  Wyoming probably offers one of the greatest diversities of elk hunts in the nation. You can hunt them in the Red Desert, the Black Hills, the Pine Ridge, Thunder Basin Grasslands, the Bighorn Mountains, alongside Yellowstone National Park, inside the Tetons and the National Elk Refuge, in the canyons of the Green River around the Flaming Gorge, and dang near anywhere in between.

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

A few months ago I wrote an article, titled “Balancing Acts” where I was explaining the difficulties in accommodating the needs and wants of friends, juggling seasons and tag availability and detailing some of the other thought processes we were going through prior to submitting applications.  So this is kind of an update on that article, now that our applications are all in.

Wyoming Combination Hunts

Combination hunts mean different things to different people.  For most people, they refer to hunting two or more species in the same general area.  I always felt that you are compromising your opportunities on both species by trying to hunt overlapping range, but if you are willing to look at a combination hunt as either two species in the same unit or two species in the same state during the same trip, then Wyoming has some very intriguing possibilities.

Colorado Elk and Mule Deer Combo Hunts

Most folks have a finite amount of time that they can dedicate to hunting and want to maximize their opportunities when out in the woods.  While deer and elk habitats have a fair amount of overlap, I prefer to focus on just one species, as putting yourself in deer and elk country is often a bit of a compromise.  However, combination hunts make sense to many folks who can only dedicate an extended weekend or are coming from out of state and can only budget one big trip in a year. The prospect of going home empty handed is tough, so the concept of having tags for two species is very appealing. But you have to be careful about the areas you select if you want a legitimate shot at both species.

Colorado Wilderness Hunting

While many people dream of wilderness hunts, the realities of the physical and mental hardships involved are not for everyone.   For those who are willing to endure the difficulties of the backcountry, the reward of light hunter pressure, incredible scenery, undisturbed animals, and more mature bucks and bulls await.  A wilderness hunt is almost never your best bet at harvesting an elk; success rates tend to be much lower than in units with a good road system.  Backcountry hunts can be conducted anywhere without a good road network, but most of the places in the west where you can get more than 3 miles (as the crow flies) from a road have been given (imposed?) wilderness designation.  To hunters, this means no motorized vehicles, no wheeled vehicles of any sort, no chainsaws, no bicycles, no game carts. 

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