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Mule Creek Outfitting Hunt Report - By Len Backus

 
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Old 10-12-2011, 07:01 PM
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Mule Creek Outfitting Hunt Report - By Len Backus

Quote:
Outdoor writer, Jack O'Connor, would have enjoyed high country mule deer hunting on the licensed national forest concession of John and Jacob Berger, owners of Mule Creek Outfitting. In fact, maybe he once did hunt there! After all, for decades he hunted all of the western states during his long prolific writing career. I grew up reading Jack O'Connor's stories of hunting high country mule deer on horse back. Jack was the most important outdoor writer of his time and to me he was the ultimate authority on this subject. I dreamed of someday emulating his style of horse back high country mule deer hunting.

Well, on this horse (and mule) based trip I got to live my early dream. The style of hunting was to get up high, glassing down into the sides of bowls and the edges of heavy timber. The idea was to see these deer early mornings while feeding in the unusually green grassy areas before they head back to their bedding areas, and in late afternoon to spot them shortly after they enter these same feeding areas. Shots could be as long as any long range hunter wanted.
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Old 10-12-2011, 07:24 PM
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re: Mule Creek Outfitting Hunt Report - By Len Backus

Congratulations to both of you on a very successful hunt in some beautiful country. I don't doubt that you'll end up back there again.
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Old 10-12-2011, 10:53 PM
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re: Mule Creek Outfitting Hunt Report - By Len Backus

Thanks for sharing Len. Not sure how I missed this but your photography skills are impressive! Some really nice pics!

BTW, another thing you will appreciate about mules is they are much more stable on steep, rocky, or shale trails than horses. They really are the way to go for mountain work.
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Old 10-13-2011, 10:13 AM
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re: Mule Creek Outfitting Hunt Report - By Len Backus

Len,

Your criteria for evaluating a successful hunting experience are spot on. You were hunting in my backyard though I mostly hunt antelope a few miles down the road. Great story, pictures, and deer; in that order. Truly wonderful photos.

Congratulations on a very memorable hunt.

Regards!
Matt
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Old 10-13-2011, 11:32 AM
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re: Mule Creek Outfitting Hunt Report - By Len Backus

Just a question.....What is a licensed hunting concession? I'm guessing that the outfitter leases land for exclusive outfitting rights? Since the land is public, is it still for the public's use but just excluding other outfitters from conducting their operation on that particular tract of land?
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Old 10-13-2011, 11:55 AM
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re: Mule Creek Outfitting Hunt Report - By Len Backus

NMcCullough,

Let me take a stab at answering your question and I'm sure Len, and others, will add additional details or clarification.

I have several friends, here in Wyoming, that own outfitting businesses. As an outfitter, if you lease a specific area from the US Forest Service, you are the only licensed outfitter that is able to set up a permanent camp in that area. In most cases that permanent camp is quite a ways in by horse. Having your hunters stage out of that camp provides them with amenities and the chance to get up early and began hunting as soon as you step out of your tent. No other licensed outfitter can set up a camp in your area, however, he can operate "day hunts" in those areas. Again, an outfitter usually sets up his permanent camp quite a ways into the hills, so unless a rival outfitter wants to start horse packing his day clients in at midnight, he's usually not going to put much pressure on the best areas within the leased territory.

Public access is completely unfettered. As a member of the public, I could walk right through an outfitter's camp, although it would be very rude of me to do so. Several of my favorite mule deer spots are located within an outfitter's leased area. The advantage the outfitter has is that he's living in the middle of this game Mecca and he gets a real up close and personal feel for specific animals and animal movements. I've spent many hunting days within an outfitter's leased area and have never laid eyes on a paying hunter. Although, I've got to start walking at midnight to put myself in the best position for spotting mule deer at daybreak.

Sometimes I come across a gut pile where I expected a big buck to be eating breakfast. Those days I just smile and move on. Advantage goes to the guy who gets to live in the middle of the hunting area. I'm not positive about the specifics but outfitters pay tens of thousands of dollars a year for the privilege of maintaining their leased area. That's on top of a huge initial fee to whoever the previous outfitter was and his initial fee to the USFS. Those fees get into the hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the quality of the area.

Just a few things that I've picked up from my friends who are in the business. I'm sure there's more to it.

Matt
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Old 10-13-2011, 12:27 PM
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re: Mule Creek Outfitting Hunt Report - By Len Backus

Matt

Thanks for the response. That is mostly what I figured, but want to be clear. I actually live in Wyoming (Greybull) as well (probably should update my profile) and am slowly learning that lay of the land so to speak. I won't be considered a resident till next season as far as game and fish is concerned and figure that will give me some time to formulate a plan.
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