First mule deer hunt: advice and discussion needed

jsummerfield

Junior Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2020
Messages
15
Hey y’all! I’m new to Rokslide and brand new to western hunting. Been contemplating making the trip for several years now and have decided 2021 will be the first of many.

I feel my goals are relatively simple and I’m managing expectations. Here is what I want out of my first muley hunt:
-i will be rifle hunting with my 270
-Want to hunt away from the truck so my hunting buddy and I will likely backpack in as far as necessary and hunt for 4-5 days
-Not looking for a 180+ class buck. Simply want to see some deer and anything over about 140 or 150 will have me tickled to death. It’s not going to ruin my life if we don’t pull the trigger but obviously that’s the preferred outcome.
-Would prefer to hunt high,steep country as opposed to rolling prairie

I live in Tennessee and will be driving to wherever I end up drawing/buying a tag so that I can carry all mine and my buddies gear, coolers, etc. Colorado fits the bill pretty well for what I’m looking for and from what research I’ve done, it seems like even though Colorado is a draw state, we have a solid chance between the two of us to get a decent tag in a good unit. Seems to me like 2nd rifle season isn’t preferred due to the fact that deer are in between summer and winter ranges and hard to pattern, thus making these tags more available to hunters in the draw. 3rd and 4th rifle seasons are in the pre rut and rut in most places making them hard to draw. We’re prepared to hunt late rifle season if possible and the weather that’ll bring. however, if we don’t have to hunt in 3 feet of snow, we’d like not to.

I’ve got several units jotted down with the seasons I would put in for but I was wondering if anyone had suggestions on specific units with decent numbers of deer and opportunities to get back away from the truck and camp in the backcountry? If I don’t get drawn in Colorado we may end up buying an OTC tag in Idaho.

If anyone has advice for either state or another state altogether, please feel free to slip me some either here or in a private message. I don’t like looking for a handout but it seems to me like regardless of how much info you have, you’ve still got your work cut out for you. Thanks in advance!!
 

Daubsnu1

Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2018
Messages
84
Location
Nebraska
Welcome! You are in the right place to research and learn about chasing Mule deer. Great information here. I don't hunt mountains or backpack in...been chasing Muley's here in NE since 2011. General advice:

- Your 270 will be good. Make sure you have it sighted in and ready to roll out to a range you are comfortable shooting. I sight my rifle in to zero at 250 yards. I'm comfortable out to 400 yards.
- Get good glass -- scope, nocs, and spotting scope if you are brining one. I don't bring a spotter...don't want the added weight. You are going to spend a lot of time glassing...spend the $$ to get quality stuff.
- Get the best boots you can afford, and get them good and broke in before you even think about heading west.
- Navigation and safety: I take GPS every time I leave the truck. Easy to get lost. Also have an InReach for emergency, and use OnXMaps on my phone when I can.
- If you have never backpacked / camped and hunted before, consider staying in cabin / hotel the first time you head west. Lets you focus on hunting vs. camping/food/staying warm/etc. My first backpack hunt was in Alaska for caribou. Learned a lot...made mistakes...wish I had more knowledge and experience going in. Devil is in the details...and backcountry camping requires a lot of equipment and preparation.
- Start working out now. Even if you stay in cabin, hiking the hills with pack/gun is going to be physically challenging. Packing out your deer even more so.

Good idea to start preparing now. Good luck!
 

Gunnersdad49

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2017
Messages
1,233
Location
Colorado
It’s definitely worth getting BaseMap or OnX to find roadless areas in the units you are looking at. Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Idaho all have opportunities at what you are looking for.

Some states have draw deadlines approaching already. If I were you, I would look at season length too. Colorado rifle seasons are pretty short compared to some other states. Moon phase, hunting pressure, and weather can hose you if you don’t have enough days available to you.
 

UA_Blake

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2020
Messages
10
You don’t want people to give you specific units on this website. If that were to happen about 19477 other people will be hunting with you on opening day. I did my first mule deer hunt last year. I did not tag out but found some deer and had a good time. My advice, find a roadless/trail-less area and just go hunting. If you put in some work I’m sure you will see animals. Look for places with a good mix of cover and open slopes for glassing and bring a spotting scope. I was shocked at how small a deer looked at one mile away and realized I had probably glassed over many deer without even knowing it. Also, and this is absolutely critical, be in good shape. Being in Tennessee there will be plenty if opportunities to train. Put on a heavy pack, find some steep trails, and climb as much as practical before the trip. Good luck!
 

Rich M

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2017
Messages
1,648
Location
Orlando
Apply as a group. I wouldn't do it any other way. All or nothing.

Lose the whole inches mentality. Decide what you want. I decided on a 16-18 inch wide and tall 3x3 as minimum - passed two 2x2s. Shot a 160" 4x4 about 400 yds from road. Almost shot a real nice 3x3 closer to the road the day before but property lines were questionable.

Bottom line, go have fun, hunt hard, be happy. Good luck. We're headed back 2022 I think.
 

Silveroddo

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2019
Messages
112
Either get good at looking up your own harvest statistics or get gohunt or something similar. Find the best areas you can where people are actually killing stuff and there is a hunt able population. We did a rifle hunt in Washington a few years ago when our Alaska plans fell apart. It was mostly just to get out and because we had family in the area, but the 10% harvest success on gohunt was very indicative of what the hunt was.

If you're doing the public land thing, have a plan A, B, and C. My Montana Deer hunt this year proved that quite a few guys saw what I saw on ONX or whatever they were using. I connected on plan B, but ran through all of them and about half of my highlights had guys on them.

My first western hunt was a combo drop camp hunt in Colorado, 2nd rifle Deer/elk. Outfitter packed us in and had a wall tent set up. Country was very steep. There were hiking trails through the area and we saw quite a few people come up to where we were camped but after the climb to that point none of them made it the next 1000' of elevation to where the game actually was. We filled our tags on mule deer in the 140-150 range and it was some work getting them down to where a horse could get them. It might not be the cool or trendy thing, but starting out with that drop camp was a good way to get a guys feet wet. I just looked a few of those units up on go hunt and they were running 60% success on the 1st rifle and 40 on the 2nd. A guy might be able to go in green and get it done, but if its your first time taking some of the variables out of it might lead to a better chance of success.
 

Bearguide

Junior Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2020
Messages
18
Location
Blaine Minnesota
If your thinking Idaho OTC they are on sale now and sell out fast. They will probably be sold out before you find out if you have been drawn in Colorado .
 

Trekenc

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 6, 2020
Messages
22
Location
Cambridge , MN
Staying at a hotel will also allow you to be more mobile and not 100% in on one area. Easier to try a different trail head if your not seeing much.
 

SteveW1473

Junior Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2021
Messages
19
UT draw is still open. Lots of great opportunities for NR tags. 2 hunts, early hunt OCT 13 - 17 late hunt OCT 23-31. Only 1 hunt can be drawn.
 
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