When I saw this book, “So You Want To Hunt The West For Mule Deer: Now What?,” it was in my mailbox within a week.
I’ve always believed that we can learn from anyone we’re willing to listen to, no matter their skill set. If someone has an experience in mule deer country, there’s likely something to learn.
This book is very unique in that it was written by an transplanted mid-westerner to the West (Idaho specifically.) I don’t know the author, Dan Branagan, but he resides in SE Idaho not far from me. I recognized some of the country he wrote about and can testify that he knows how to find good places to hunt bucks.
As the Editor of Rokslide, and an active participant on our forums here, I see countless questions from hunters who don’t live in the West but want to come out for a mule deer hunt. Who can blame them? Hunting mule deer in the West is one of the most exciting hunts on the Continent, and one that can be done primarily DIY if someone’s willing to learn and work hard.
Dan’s book will answer many of those questions new-to-mule-deer hunters ask. He honestly shares his early struggles to adapt to hunting mule deer with only his experience of hunting whitetails to fall back on. He had to learn from the ground up how to find and hunt mule deer.
In “So You Want To Hunt The West For Mule Deer”, he lays it out, step-by-step how to put together your own mule deer hunt. From the conception, to the goal-setting, to the research, to the travel, to the hunt, it’s all there. He covers all the weapon types too: rifle, archery, and muzzleloader.
He stays in his lane of knowledge and experience, and fully admits that he’s not trying to write a book on hard-core big buck hunting. His aim was to help the interested but no-experienced mule deer hunter plan a successful hunt.
I think he did an excellent job and fully believe any new, and even very experienced mule deer hunter, can benefit from the book. However, if you’re curious if his methods can work on really big bucks, be sure and see Dan’s 6×8, 385 lb. buck on page 64; it will lay any doubts to rest.
Branagan made me think about my approach to mule deer hunting in different ways than before. For example, he illustrates why mule deer are very hard to find for a whitetail hunter from the East and Mid-West. This is because mule deer populations are typically scattered in very uneven pockets across vast country. Compare this to many whitetail ranges where those deer are more evenly distributed in similar densities throughout their habitat.
This helped me fully realize why I have to rule out so much country that doesn’t hold bucks and not to get discouraged in the process–just like my whitetail hunting brothers have to do once they head west.
That was just one example of several that made the book worth the read to me. There are a few redundant and too-basic content pieces that I had to push through, but I believe a new hunter would thoroughly benefit from those chapters.
If you’re a research nut, you won’t be disappointed in this book. There are ample number of tables and graphs–likely more than any mule deer hunting book out there–that Dan uses to illustrate his points and theories.
Here are a few of the chapters among the 14 total that I really connected with:
- Transformation to Become a Mule Deer Hunter
- Methods of Hunting Mule Deer (Branagan explores no less than 13 methods)
- Planning Your Mule Deer Adventure
- Understanding Fall Transition Patterns
- Mature Bucks & Boone and Crockett Mule Deer
I think any hunter can benefit from reading “So You Want To Hunt The West For Mule Deer, Now What,” and especially hunters new to mule deer. You can find Branagan’s book on Amazon in paperback or Kindle here
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