As whitetail deer continue to elbow their way into portions of the West that was once the sole province of mule deer, many muley hunters lament that their preferred game is running out of habitat. They complain that crossbreeding between the two species is resulting in animals that resemble mule deer in body, but whose antlers are characterized by beams and tines rather than forks and mass. [ Read Full Post ]
I probably give mule deer too much credit. I’m reluctant to push a good buck, because my experience is that even “oblivious” muleys get more wary with age, and I’ve gotten careless on stalks or told myself the wind doesn’t matter – only to find the deer I was pursuing was gone.
So I tend to treat mule deer like whitetails. I sneak and crawl and am always conscious of the wind and my profile.
The rut changes some of that. This week I’ve walked up on a couple of decent bucks in full view, with the wind at my back. And they’ve been so preoccupied with ready does that they didn’t care about me. They survived only because I didn’t care to shoot them. [ Read Full Post ]
My East Coast colleagues impacted by Super Storm Sandy earlier this month were knocked back by power outages, downed trees, flooding, and gas shortages.
But the whitetail hunters amongst them were antsy for another reason: they wanted to be in the woods the moment the storm broke. They knew deer would be moving with the suddenly clear weather and bucks would be roaming in pre-rut seeking phase. [ Read Full Post ]
I call it the two-track troll. This is a day to spend behind the wheel, checking out every likely mule deer spot in your territory. The reason is simple: that’s exactly what mature mule deer are doing, too, right now. Bouncing from one herd of does to the next, checking out which girls are ready for lovin’.
It’s not my favorite way to hunt, driving miles in my pickup. It’s like trolling a big reservoir for scattered walleye. Boring. But a vat of coffee in my travel mug and Outlaw Country on my XM Radio make the hours go by. And it can be effective. Years of prospecting like this has turned up a class of bucks I might not have found had I stuck with a single herd all day. [ Read Full Post ]
The temperature hovered in the single digits as the sun came up this morning, on the first day of Colorado’s fourth rifle season. My friend Blaine and I pulled our truck into a wide spot along the two-track and started glassing as the landscape—a mix of rolling sage hills, willow bottoms and stands of aspen and pine—revealed itself.
The frigid conditions had the deer on the move, up and feeding with a purpose--to maintain sufficient energy to combat the cold and prepare for the harsh mountain winter that will be soon arriving.
We counted twenty-something does and a handful of small bucks nosing through the dusting of snow to nibble on grasses, leaves and other tasty morsels. But no big bucks. [ Read Full Post ]
I spotted the buck last night, a thick-shouldered stud that left a gaggle of maybe 10 does for an unseen deer in cover along the creek.
There was something about the mass I detected at last light, and his aggressive behavior, that interested me. I decided to make a play for him this morning at first light.
The pre-dawn temperature stood at -12, and I was thankful it was a calm, crackling cold without a hint of a wind. I knew the big buck was likely to be working does at this point in the season, and I knew that any doe in the vicinity was likely to be feeding up on my neighbor’s alfalfa, trying to put calories between their bodies and the appalling cold. They had likely been feeding all night, and getting close to the buck was simply a matter of hiking to a spot where I would be likely to intercept deer leaving the alfalfa after first light on their way to bedding areas. [ Read Full Post ]