Mule Deer hunting while Elk Hunting

Doc Holliday

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Jun 15, 2016
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So I am set on elk hunting next Sept in Colorado....drop camp. Have been advised by the outfitter that I should also get a Mule deer tag, that he will put us in an area with good mule deer bucks that is also great elk country. I have 2 pts and the area is 100% with just 1 point...or was in 2020 anyway.

My question is, is it likely that I might have an opportunity at a good mule deer buck while in the process of elk hunting? Or would I have to engage in completely different tactics for the mule deer where it would take away from time going after elk. I get the whole, if you tag an elk on first couple of days, now you have a deer tag and can keep hunting, but being an archery hunt in CO in a OTC unit, I am not counting any eggs. I would rather not burn my 2 points on a mule deer tag if it is going to be wasted.....I am going there to hunt elk. But, at the same time, if it is realistic that I might have an opportunity while elk hunting, I'd like to have the option to shoot. I have seen plenty of mule deer before, but don't know anything about "mule deer hunting" tactics for a nice buck in Sept, as you can probably tell by my post....

Thanks for any advice
 

def90

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Aug 12, 2020
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How much time are you going to be in the field? I'm guessing your primary aim is elk so randomly running in to a mule deer is what the tag would be for.

Depending on the unit, in Sept the big muley bucks are likely to be in the same places as the elk bulls.. up high above tree line, but again that depends on the unit. Otherwise, two years ago I could have gotten a really nice 4x4 muley while walking in to my elk area in the morning at day break.

Once again, if coming in from out of state and time limited I would be more biased towards focusing on one or the other, then again if your outfitter is being honest (he doesn't make any money from CPW for selling you on a deer tag) then you may have a good opportunity on both.. Or maybe the elk hunting sucks where you are going and he knows that you would be better off with a deer tag,
 

justin84

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Apr 12, 2019
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Wisconsin
I did my first archery elk hunt this year. Covered a lot of ground and could’ve shot one decent buck and likely would’ve had a chance at a couple more without much of an interruption in my elk hunting. I have changed my opinion and will now carry both tags if possible.
 

Phil j

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Jan 18, 2020
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I shot an Elk and a Mule deer on the first day of a Colorado hunt and wish I would’ve bought a bear tag so I could have kept hunting from now on I buy a tag for everything in season
 

Coues123

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Dec 18, 2020
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Arizona
I'd definitely get both. I'd rather be lucky than good and if you happen upon that buck of a lifetime you'll definitely regret not having one. The other option might be don't get the tag and see the buck of a lifetime and laugh for the next 20 years thinking about it.
 
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Doc Holliday

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I shot an Elk and a Mule deer on the first day of a Colorado hunt and wish I would’ve bought a bear tag so I could have kept hunting from now on I buy a tag for everything in season
Yeah I'm going to get all 3
 

Shawn_Guinn

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Mar 18, 2018
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the unit I have generally hunted in for elk is a 2 point and under deer tag. But this year I drew a any deer archery tag with a 2 week early start. I found several big bucks and a handful of elk. Shot a decent 4 point buck early and went back up opening day for elk and killed a spike I found deer hunting. I liked it so much I’m switching elk zones this year just in case I find a decent buck.
 
Joined
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If outfitter said to get a buck tag you may want to follow his advice. You are probably spending a bit of money on guides hunt and may as well have the tag. You are sure to see a big buck if you DON'T get the buck tag!
But if you want to build points and do a dedicated buck hunt, keep your points. I personally don't like hunting elk and deer at same time. They are different styles of hunting/terrain ... Where I hunt later seasons in CO I can walk out of camp to hunt withers species but bc of terrain I rarely see elk while hunting deer...I would focus on one or the other but bc of your $ investment do what feels right for you.
 
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Doc Holliday

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Thanks HCM. I wouldn't call it a guided hunt. We are getting a ride in and dropped off. Drop camp. He said the mule deer are awesome in this area and he will set us up in an area with mule deer that is also great elk country. FWIW, I asked him if I should bring my spotter and he said no, that there is alot of oak brush, and all I need are binos, if that tells you anything about the terrain we will be in....

FYI, I am about 1/3 of the way through Robby Dennings "Hunting Big Mule Deer" book.....just started it this morning and hope to finish either today or tomorrow.
 
Joined
Oct 10, 2018
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Ok, in Sept the bucks and bills will be in similar areas. Hunt the elk early am and dusk... Muleys during the day? As outfitter said you are likely to see either. It is only 1 point you are "losing" by using deer points now... Go for it! You would be sick of you don't get tag and see a good or great buck
Ps. Hunting oak brush is hard! Best of luck to you!
P.S.S. Re: your screen name of Doc Holliday, check out a song by Larry Keel called "tombstones." There is a solo guitar version of Larry at his home performing it on YouTube. Great song by my friend and favorite guitarist!
 

hobbes

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Jun 6, 2012
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There was always one sure way for me to avoid having an elk hunt interrupted by a mule deer..............buy a deer tag. Otherwise, I was always trying to figure out a way around them when I didn't have a tag.
 

Wassid82

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Dec 4, 2018
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On several occasions I have seen big bucks bedded near and sometime even in the same thicket or grove of trees as the elk. If I were archery hunting I wouldn't be too worried about blowing out elk by shooting at a good buck if the shot presented itself. If it were me I would probably do it. You'll already be at the expense of a drop camp and the the logistical travel... I think it would increase your odds of a successful hunt
 

bigmoose

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Apr 29, 2012
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Yerington Nv.
I would get both tags. If your guy taking you in this country says he's seen some big bucks, I would really want that deer tag. Lots of big bucks have been killed by elk hunters. Also having tags for both elk and deer increases your odds of being successful. I don't think you will regret having both tags.
 

Rich M

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Orlando
It is all about opportunities and taking advantage of them. How would you feel if you were walking down a ridge and a muley buck appeared in front of you and you didn't have the tag? If there was a big buck and an okay bull standing side by side, which one would you shoot?

I don't see you as doing anything outlandish in your hunting plans - you are going for elk, so you hunt elk and shoot a buck if you bump into one, and plenty of folks do when they are in decent deer country.

Have a nice trip - and don't pass on the first day what you would shoot on the last.
 
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