Strategy for CO hunt Sept 10-17?

Gatorgrizz27

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Hey all,

We have been on several CO elk hunts (archery and muzzleloader), and drew a mule deer tag with 3 points this year. We fly in September 9 and will be hunting starting the 10.

Have an area/unit in mind, but am looking for info on strategy during that time frame. From the research I’ve done that’s right around when they will be shedding their velvet and dropping below the tree line.

Strategy #1 would be finding glassing locations and trying to spot one in small openings in the timber, moving in and out of it at dawn/dusk, etc. From elk hunting, it can be difficult to see much when half the hillside is dark timber.

Strategy #2 would be how we have ended up most successful elk hunting, finish fresh sign and then creeping through the timber incredibly slowly, stopping and glassing with binos every few steps and hoping to spot one bedded down. It is effective but can be very taxing especially if deer density is low.

There may be another option I haven’t considered. Plan is to carry good 10x binos with tripods each plus my Zeiss 65mm spotter. Not being overly picky with scores, I’d love to kill any normal sized 4 pt.

When the deer transition down into the timber, are they just trying to get out of the heat and find good browse assuming they haven’t been hunted hard yet, or are they looking to hunker down in hell holes like deadfall covered chutes?

I’m assuming they will still want to be nearby water, though less so than elk, and that may be a solid plan if it’s still as dry as I have been hearing this year.

Appreciate any advice.
 

ElDiablito

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Spot and stalk is probably your best bet. Unless you know where some deer are, you can spend days still hunting in the mountains without seeing much. In many areas the bucks will be starting to transition to the trees. Many may still be near the treeline. Depends on the pressure from archery hunters as well. Very wet in some areas of CO this year so water will be a non-factor there.
 
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Gatorgrizz27

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Spot and stalk is probably your best bet. Unless you know where some deer are, you can spend days still hunting in the mountains without seeing much. In many areas the bucks will be starting to transition to the trees. Many may still be near the treeline. Depends on the pressure from archery hunters as well. Very wet in some areas of CO this year so water will be a non-factor there.

Thanks. Our strategy with elk has been burn through some areas on the trails until finding < 1 day old sign, then get off into the dark timber with the wind in your favor and slow WAY down. Found a lot of fresh mule deer sign and beds in there with them, but that was a different area.

I‘d figured the deer will be near the edges of the tree lines if they have just come down from the high alpine and have food and water up high-ish.
 

ElDiablito

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I’ll be in CO hunting deer at the same time. I plan to be above treeline glassing with 15s on a tripod. Good luck!
 
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Gatorgrizz27

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The way you phrased this, "unit in mind", is why I am asking this. Your planned hunt is within the unit(s) that your license states it is valid for?

Yes, just trying to avoid the unit number dropping game or “where should I go?” type stuff. I assume the strategy will be similar anywhere that has the appropriate elevation.
 

Jstumbaugh

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Jan 12, 2021
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Following. We are elk hunting the week after you are looking at. My brother picked up a secondary draw muley tag for the zone we are heading to. We are hoping to still hunt/spot stalk a buck while elk hunting. Seems like guys always run into mulies when they don't have a tag for them. Hopefully the tag isn't deer repellant.
 

rclouse79

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Id just go elk hunting and when you see a buck, your elk hunt turns into a mule deer hunt.
This is how I operate every year with my over the counter tags. In reality I am mostly just a bow hiker hoping to stumble into something I have a tag for.
 

5MilesBack

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Id just go elk hunting and when you see a buck, your elk hunt turns into a mule deer hunt.
I'd quantify this with "when you see a great buck". I'm not screwing up my elk hunt for anything less than a whopper. This is also why I don't even bother with grouse anymore......unless I'm already heading back to camp for lunch.
 

highcountrymuley

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Oct 10, 2018
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deer are not elk. they are not typically in the dark timber, as there is little food there for them. they eat browse- bushes and shoots of new growth. get up to timberline and glass. deer densities are low, but you aren't hunting for large groups of does and fawns. bachelor groups of bucks are still up high. I know you run into them while elk hunting but unless you have seen them enough to pattern them there with the elk, you would be better off up higher, imo. just my 2 cents. good luck
 

highcountrymuley

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it has been a very wet last half of summer so i would not count on water being an attractant. surprising how much water holds up high in open basin areas. good luck.
 
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