Thanks to everyone who voted on the cover for my upcoming book “Hunting Big Mule Deer- How to Take the Best Buck of Your Life.” My editor Kelly Andersson and I have read every comment and are taking them under advisement as we put the final touches on the book due out in late July. Now it’s time to get serious about helping you all plan for hunting big mule deer this fall.
Depending on where you live or hunt in the West, scouting season is either here or just around the corner. I think the absolute best way to improve your chances at a big mule deer is to scout (even more important than drawing a great tag in my opinion.) At least three of my top bucks were prescouted weeks, months, and years before the season in units anyone could hunt. By knowing where these bucks were living, I was able to focus my limited hunting days and mental energy into only hunting where I knew a big buck was living. This is an advantage that is greatly underestimated by most hunters (and me earlier in my hunting career.) Big mule deer are too far and few in between for a hunter to just roam the mountains and hills hoping to kill one. As much as possible you have to hunt exactly where one lives and even then they can be very difficult to kill.
Take the buck I call Jalapeño for example. Lord willin’ this will be the fourth year I’ve hunted him (assuming he shows back up.) I’ve spent nearly 50 days on the exact mountain he calls home spotting him dozens of times and even being within archery range at least three times. Yet three unpunched tags reside in my office drawer. Everyone knows they don’t get big for a reason, and he’s a living (hopefully) testament to why a big mule deer hunter has to focus and focus intently on scouting and hunting if he wants to kill the best bucks.
Here is a quick clip of Jalapeño in 2013 when I estimate he was five years old:
In 2014, he was even bigger:
As I wrote earlier this year in Application Season, I only applied for hunts that would not conflict with archery hunting Jalapeño (including my annual Colorado muzzleloader hunt) so my schedule is open if he shows back up.
Stay close over the next few weeks as I prepare to start my own scouting season (“Subscribe to blog” upper right under Fitness/Other if you haven’t already.) Of couse Jalapeño is my first priority but a wise buck hunter always has a back-up plan. I estimate that he is at least seven years old now and with each passing year, the chances of his survival diminish. With that in mind, I’ll look for him first but start checking some of the country and units I know that have the potential to hold a big buck (see this post from last summer to better understand what scouting for big mule deer is really like in the West: Scouting: Crops, Fishing, & Traplines)
In upcoming posts, I’ll be touching on some of the subjects I cover in my upcoming book,“Hunting Big Mule Deer- How to Take the Best Buck of Your Life.”. Subjects like when and where to use trail cameras, how I personally scout the backcountry, why you must both have patience and perseverance, and how I prepare my gear and horses.
Time is short before the season is upon us.