Big Mule Deer

Running a forum, a guy get’s a 10K view of the state of hunting big mule deer. While there have been some significant changes to how tags are obtained—Idaho capping units to non-residents, and demand exceeding supply in other states—there’s still more opportunity to hunt big mule deer than most guys will ever be able to take advantage of.


  • I had three tags in various states last year—two I bought basically OTC, and one I purchased through the landowner system. I hunted all of my available vacation days plus a few more. By season’s end, I’d put in more than enough days to scratch my itch for hunting big mule deer. I didn’t tag a big buck, but that’s just big buck hunting.
  • I talked to a friend yesterday who had multiple mule deer tags in various states, and ended up not even hunting a few of them—just didn’t have time to do them all justice.
  • I talk to many many hunters who waste tags by not giving them the proportional effort it takes to kill big bucks. This happens for a variety of reasons. While some of those are beyond their control, most are not.  Lack of focus is the biggest reason I see people leaving unhunted days on the table. They’re thinking a few days on a tag is enough—it hasn’t been for me in 90% of my hunts.

As Idaho, Wyoming, Montana and a few other states allow you to hunt with multiple weapon types on the same tag, often one tag means two or three if you’re willing to hunt with archery or muzzleloader equipment. I said in my original Hunting Big Mule Deer book that big buck hunters must be willing to hunt multiple weapon types to create enough opportunity to kill a big buck. That’s more true now than ever.

If you’re not getting tags, you might be focusing too much on the hard-to-get tags. I’ve had to lower my standards, but at the same time, I’ve doubled down my focus.

It’s going to pay off for me in time.

I know it will

My point is that while tag allocation systems have changed, and will continue to do so, if you will focus on one or maybe two tags, you can still create more opportunity than you’ll likely ever be able to take advantage of.

Focus is the great equalizer

Simply longing for the past to return is wasted energy and thought, and it will only discourage you.

A modern day big mule deer hunter has to be adaptable.

Change is inevitable

I’ve had to adapt to many changes since I bought my first mule deer tag in 1981 (yet I still find big buck opportunity every year).

If I don’t adapt, I might as well quit. And that’s not an option.

“Say not, ‘Why were the
former days better than these?’
For it is not from wisdom that you ask this,”
-Ecclesiastes 7:10

I have a new book coming out later this spring: Hunting Big Mule Deer: The Stories

If you want to be notified when it’s released, be sure and subscribe to this blog at “Keep up with Rokslide” tab, right side of this blog post.

If you missed my first book, signed copies are available in the Rokslide store, or you can go Amazon for faster delivery.


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Robby Denning
Robby Denning started hunting mule deer in the late 1970’s, only missing one season in 35 years. At 25, he gave up the pursuit of all other big-game to focus on taking the best bucks possible. He began hunting the West on a DIY budget hunting an average of 30 days a year for mule deer. Robby loves the hunt as much as the kill and the entire process from research to scouting to hunting. He’s killed four bucks over 200 inches in the last 15 seasons, mostly on easily-obtained tags. He owns a public-land scouting service and runs a private-land outfitting business helping other hunters in their pursuit of deer and elk. Robby has scouted and hunted literally thousands of square miles of mule deer country and brings a wealth of knowledge about these experiences with him. To him, the weapon of choice is just a means-to-an-end and will hunt with bow, rifle, or muzzleloader – whatever it takes to create an opportunity to take a great mule deer. He is also the author of "Hunting Big Mule Deer" available on Amazon. Robby believes all of creation is from God for man to manage, respect, and through which to know its Creator