Mule Deer Terrain

dubbs

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Joined
Feb 17, 2018
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5
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MN
I'm going archery mule deer hunting in early November. This will be my second mule deer hunt. The first hunt was in 2019. We saw some deer and had a couple chances, but it was definitely a humbling experience. It was very different from the tree stand hunting for whitetails that I'm used to, but in a good way.

I have spent a ton of time e-scouting in the last few weeks. I have found some spots that look good to me, but I would like to know how the more experienced mule deer hunter would hunt this terrain.

These screenshots are not actual places I will be hunting, nor are they public land. They are spots that look similar to the areas I'm planning to hunt. I want to know how people on here would hunt this terrain and where they think deer would be spending their time. Obviously, there are a ton of factors to consider, and I'm not providing all the details. Generally speaking, I just want to know how others would approach these areas.

Spot 1-Badlands type terrain with many wooded draws and small water holes in the area. Terrain is very irregular, and the wooded draws are fairly thick. The open spaces are short grasses/cattle grazing.

SnipImage.JPG

Spot 2-Hilly terrain, about 200' from the top of a ridge to the creek bottom. Grassy areas with scattered small trees. SnipImage (1).JPG

Where would you expect to find the deer in these two locations. Thanks for the help.
 

Wapiti1

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Sep 18, 2017
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Indiana
They could realistically be anywhere. If it's dry country or there are ag fields, I would start at the water or food and work away from there. Get high and glass.

If there isn't anything like the above to concentrate them, then I'd get high and glass. I probably wouldn't key in on anything in particular other than good vantage points to see well. Early in the morning, they'll be up feeding. Later in the morning start to concentrate on cover more, but don't discount just off the top in shady spots, or rock outcrops. I'd work the ridges and keep glassing until I found deer.

Sometimes they will be cover oriented, but I've seen times where they liked to lay out in the open just off the top, or just below a ridge. It was better for them on a windy day, or for whatever reason.

This is how I would hunt that type of country.

Jeremy
 

AaronMColeman

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Nov 20, 2018
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711
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Wyoming
Get high, stay high and glass. Either of those spots could be good, I'd pick the one that gives me the best view of the surrounding areas. Find a ridge to walk and glass. Deer more than any other species just do what deer do in my experience.
 
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dubbs

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Feb 17, 2018
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MN
Thanks for the tips. Last time we didn't have much trouble seeing deer when they were on their feet, but seeing where they bedded was a different story. There are so many nooks and crannies that are out of sight for them to hide.

What would you do if there was a deer you are interested in, and on their way to bed they disappear out of sight? Either going over a ridge or dropping down in something you can't see into. Would you relocate and try to find a different glassing spot, or would you stay put and wait for them to get on their feet again?

Also, once the temperatures start getting colder in November do mule deer still relate to water? Do they still prefer to bed in the shade in colder weather?
 

The_Jim

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Sep 20, 2021
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29
Location
Nebraska
They seem to prefer the shadows yet in November to bed but last year mid November I picked up a 2 different buck/doe bedded in the sun on a warm November day so i wouldn't rule anything out. I know this is vague but it seems like you find them anywhere in that type of terrain.

Find some good vantage points, work the glass more than your feet, and you'll find deer.
 

targetpanic

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Joined
Sep 8, 2016
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167
Location
Massachusetts
I was very surprised when I went out west and saw some of the places mule deer lived. We still hunt in thicker forests in New England and that is where we are comfortable. When we were out West we hunted in some country like that with very little to show for it. When we started hunting more broken or open country we started seeing a lot more deer. We still suck at sitting on a glassing knob and looking way off, but we are definitely getting better at glassing and breaking apart country than we were on the first trip
 

Wapiti1

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Sep 18, 2017
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2,784
Location
Indiana
Thanks for the tips. Last time we didn't have much trouble seeing deer when they were on their feet, but seeing where they bedded was a different story. There are so many nooks and crannies that are out of sight for them to hide.

What would you do if there was a deer you are interested in, and on their way to bed they disappear out of sight? Either going over a ridge or dropping down in something you can't see into. Would you relocate and try to find a different glassing spot, or would you stay put and wait for them to get on their feet again?

Also, once the temperatures start getting colder in November do mule deer still relate to water? Do they still prefer to bed in the shade in colder weather?
I would follow, get the wind right and really pick that draw apart with my glass until I found them. That might mean working down or up that ridge, or it might mean crossing to the other side so I can see into that draw. Then make a plan for a stalk if they are in a good spot, otherwise, just keep tabs on them. They'll often move during the day. Not far, but enough that you may get a good opportunity. It can take hours to pick apart a draw if you are just peeking over the edge, glassing, then moving down, and doing it again. Lots of crawling and cactus thorns.

If I can't locate them, then that evening I would loosely set up about where they went into the draw and see if they come out in roughly the same area. If they aren't pressured, they will follow a pattern, not as tightly as a whitetail will, but they'll often feed in the same general area and bed in the same draw as long as they aren't blown out. You may get a pattern that is workable. Might not, but it's worth a try.

As to cold weather, they will be wherever. Might be a sunny spot, might be shady. One thing that I see consistently is they'll get out of the wind if it's blowing hard, so concentrate on the leeward side. Cold or not, in a dry area, they will relate to water. The difference may be that they don't hit it as often, but they still have to drink.

Jeremy
 

Jimss

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Mar 6, 2015
Messages
1,612
The trick to open country hunting is to cover gobs of country with truck, legs, and eyes! The highest points you can find the more country you can glass. You didn't mention dates of hunt but if the rut is on....look for does and you'll likely find bucks. If it's windy the deer will be hanging low and in draws/lower on ridges where they are tougher to find. If water is limited I circle every water source I can find in new areas. It also helps know what species of browse deer are concentrating on the time of year you are hunting.
 
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dubbs

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Feb 17, 2018
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Location
MN
Lots of good tips in here. I think I've got a better way to approach my hunt now. Thanks again.
 
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