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5 Tips For Success In High Country Mule Deer Hunting

5 Tips For Success In High Country Mule Deer Hunting

By Jason Verbeck

Itís getting to be that time of the year again. The weather is hot outside, there are blossoms on the apple trees, and the high country mountains are green, filling the bellies of mule deer bucks with the vital nutrients needed to grow dark, heavy and wide antlers that fill my dreams at night. However, it is also the time of the year that in my opinion is the most vital part of ensuring your success of harvesting a mature mule deer in the fall. With their red summer coats and sensitive velvet antlers, mule deer bucks stand out from miles away. By the beginning of July, their new horns will be large enough to estimate the potential they will have come fall.

5 Tips For Success In High Country Mule Deer Hunting

Mule deer hunting to me is more than just a passion; itíd be better defined as an obsession. Many whitetail hunters believe mule deer are not as smart as whitetail. I can understand this if your goal is a three point, or maybe even a small four point. However, there is a reason that 80 percent of mule deer bucks that reach the age of five years old will die of old age. Simply put, they inhabit some country that most donít dare approach. If you are up for the challenge, Iíve developed five key components that will set you up for a shot at success in the high country come fall, when most of the magnificent animals go back to being the ďgrey ghostĒ that they are commonly referred to by hunters.

I am sure youíve read it in almost every magazine out there, but the greater the amount of time you can afford to scout, the greater your odds for success. One thing you may not read, however, is that it really does you little good to start scouting before the first few weeks of July. Anytime sooner than that, and the deer you see will more than likely still be working their way back up to their summer grounds. However, there are always things you can do to increase the odds of success, even from your computer at home.

5 Tips For Success In High Country Mule Deer Hunting

Before I head out in the field I spend a great deal of time looking at maps, talking to local biologists, readying their annual reports and studying Google Earth and other similar programs on my computer. I look over the areas I already know, and look back at spots from years past where Iíve documented seeing smaller bucks that might have had some time to grow. However, I also make it a point to search for two or three new areas that I believe have the potential to hold some bucks. The more time one spends scouting and hunting mule deer, the easier it becomes to recognize the areas that will hold them.

Personally, I look for three things: 1) Benches with good forage and cover. Ones which are at least halfway up a hill and hold escape routes in both directions tend to consistently hold animals. 2) Open basins, with finger ridges that hold timber. Bucks love to bed above their food sources in order to keep an eye out for danger from below. 3) Lastly, rim rock cliffs seem to be a magnet for mature bucks.

5 Tips For Success In High Country Mule Deer Hunting

Keep in mind that, the biggest mule deer bucks arenít always in the furthest, most remote areas you can find. When looking at maps, look for places others might overlook. Canyons that donít hold any roads or hiking trails are definitely worth a closer look. I also make it a point to check out all areas of the high country that have burnt 2 to 3 years prior, as the area will have a more nutritional food source, and tend to be honey holes for mule deer.

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