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.

In my eastern Montana county, I can drive hundreds of miles on gravel county and BLM roads and look over hundreds of deer. It’s a good strategy to get a fix on the rut, but also to see bucks that are literally running from one gang of does to the next.

I have a full tank of gas, a Weaver spotting scope on a window mount, and plenty of elk jerky. And I have my run-and-gun hunting pack. If I do see a buck I’m interested in, I’m ready to trade radial tires for boot leather and close the distance quickly. If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll have company for my ride back home!