Rocky areas

street

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Dec 22, 2018
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Colorado
How rocky is too rocky mule deer? Is it more about the lack of non rocky areas? Read an article on gohunt and someone said mule deer like rocky terrain but not "sheep" rocky. So where precisely do you think the line is drawn?
 

OFFHNTN

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Apr 10, 2015
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They generally won't be in rock cliffs, scree, or typical sheep country. But they do like to bed under or next to rocks on flat ground. They need some dirt and vegetation to get around as their hooves aren't made for traversing rocks very well.
 
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street

street

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Colorado
Can the rocky areas create natural funnels? Anyone seen this sort of thing?
 

Macegl

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Dec 2, 2016
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Don't overlook an area just because it looks too rocky, as long as there is some vegetation even if it is sparse, there very well could be bucks there.

Case in point. This year I hunted an area that I haven't paid much attention in the past. It was so rocky and steep I had just hunted around the edges. Well this year I had a pretty good view of it and glassed it one morning when I wasn't turning anything up in the usual areas, and I saw 4 good bucks and one was the biggest buck I had seen all year. Getting in muzzleloader range was a different story entirely. I realized why they were in there, as steep as it was and as loud as the rocks were they were pretty safe.
 

Bambistew

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Alaska
Generally, "rocky" terrain contains considerable amounts of brush/vegetation that deer prefer. I have no idea what all the various types are really called, we just call it buckbrush. I think it would be bitterbrush, service berry, mountain mahogany, and grease wood (or maybe its buffaloberry?) Basically any of the low bushes you see in the west are generally forage for deer, and later in the year when the grass is dead, and snow is piling up, they will be in and around these types of habitats. It can be rocky, but doesn't have to be sheep country, although many of the same bushes grow in sheep terrain. Its all about the food sources.

I really like hunting "rocky" type terrain for deer.
 

excaliber

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Jun 21, 2013
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Southwest Idaho
Deer are where you find them and I always find them in the rockiest places in the areas I hunt. I've seen mule deer up in Mt Goat type rock country so steep I couldn't believe it. many years ago in Nevada I was as high as I could possibly go with a super steep drop off behind me.
I was sitting there glassing and eating a sandwich when a Mule Deer doe walked from behind me to the left of me and when she crossed in front of me at 10 feet .
She took the same route out of there a few minutes later and after 5 minutes I tried to figure out where she went. She was a mountain goat to go back down the way she came from.

Deer like to bed in rocks. Deer will travel good distances to bed in rocky areas. The biggest deer I've ever seen were in rocky areas.
 
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street

street

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Colorado
Nice feedback. I was out shed hunting yesterday and found a like of buck sign in the rocky areas. Not high in elevation but rocky sage/oak brush habitat. A lot of it was on the military crest.
 

ChrisA

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Apr 7, 2014
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Belle Plaine, IA
I've hunted a fairly pressured area half a dozen times and have seen deer head to very steep rocks after they feed in a steep grassy/Rocky area. This is second rifle.

Chris
 

wytx

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Feb 2, 2017
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Wyoming
Depends on what you mean by" rocky". We hunt very open country with lots of rock outcroppings. Deer are everywhere .IMG_0246 (960x640).jpg
 

LONE HUNTER

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Feb 25, 2018
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I think it depends. I think units where the deer population is near carrying capacity you will find more deer in the goat terrain. A unit I have hunted on and off since being a teenager has a huge population of deer and I have seen bucks in places I never expected to. The densities are much lower in that type of terrain though. The typical alpine terrain with feed and conifers seems to have way more deer.
 

Jaden Bales

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Wyoming
Nice feedback. I was out shed hunting yesterday and found a like of buck sign in the rocky areas. Not high in elevation but rocky sage/oak brush habitat. A lot of it was on the military crest.
All these comments are spot on from my limited experience. Shot my first buck with my bow off a nice 20' cliff that overlooked a grassy sage flat where they fed in the mornings.

Related to sheds, I've learned a lot about where they like to hang out by looking over those rocky areas in the low country for sheds. If you can find a good bedding area among the rocks in winter range, a guy can turn up a shed or two in there.
 

Savage99

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Jan 26, 2017
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CO
All these comments are spot on from my limited experience. Shot my first buck with my bow off a nice 20' cliff that overlooked a grassy sage flat where they fed in the mornings.

Related to sheds, I've learned a lot about where they like to hang out by looking over those rocky areas in the low country for sheds. If you can find a good bedding area among the rocks in winter range, a guy can turn up a shed or two in there.
I hope to take this to the bank. Found lots of sign and beds lower with lots of rocks around a few days ago.


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Jaden Bales

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Wyoming
I hope to take this to the bank. Found lots of sign and beds lower with lots of rocks around a few days ago.


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Well, now we've gone into shed hunting, but that's okay. I think if you find where deer spend a lot of their time based on shed concentration, it can really help you identify where to look for them in hunting/scouting seasons too!

I've turned up quite a few hard whites and chalk in those cliffy bedding spots lately. I don't think most folks like crawling around in the cliffs just because it slows you down quite a bit and can get a little precarious, so there's a pro tip if you live in an area with a lot of shed hunters. Don't overlook the tops of a cliff or outcropping at the end of a finger ridge either. Turned up 3 different buck's sheds on one skinny little end of a spine last year.
 

welch01

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Dec 16, 2016
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Idaho
Good stuff!

For the last few years, I've been archery hunting for mulies in November in the winter range. I only had one day to hunt last year, and I made a conscious effort to check out a very rocky and cliffy spot I found on Google Earth. My experience has been it is pretty difficult to close the last 50 yds to be in archery range because the terrain is so open. I was not disappointed with my decision, and I will be going back this fall. The rocks and cliffs made it a little easier to make the initial move to get closer to deer once I found them. Also, I found a pretty good game trail that should allow me to slip into a pretty constricted bowl. Game plan for this year is to make it in before first light and sit and let the deer move to me.
 

bohntr

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Feb 24, 2012
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White Mountains of Arizona
I know some have stated that they don't prefer rock cliffs, scree, or typical sheep country.....however, my Attach filesexperience has encountered the opposite. I've bowhunted mule deer at 13,000'+ where the sheep and goats were BELOW them! Big mule deer will often bed in areas where predators and hunters cannot get to them during the early archery season and on their typical summer range. NOTHING is too steep or remote for them IMO.

Here's a photo I took through a spotting scope on a CO bowhunting trip. There were goats and sheep 100' below this buck. He picked a great place to bed at just over 13,000', as no two legged hunter was ever going to get to him without rappelling gear. Darn deer!
 

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wytx

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Wyoming
He rough scored just over 190 last fall, that pic was the year before harvest. He has double drop tines at harvest.
 
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