I’ve been a member of MonsterMuleys.com for about 10 years. I’d say there’s been more information exchanged concerning mule deer on MonsterMuleys.com than all other media combined, ever. If you’re a mule deer hunter of any level, you can’t afford not to be part of that community. With thousands of members, very active forums, including state forums, great photography, and many other helpful resources, if you’re looking to up your mule deer game, you need to join MonsteryMuleys.com.
As Rok Blog followers know, I like to connect you with the hunters I feel are at the top of their game- an opportunity to learn how the best really get it done, so that you can become a better hunter. It’s no coincidence that the number one mule deer site is owned and operated by one of the best mule deer hunters around- Brian Latturner. Many people don’t realize what a seriously successful mule deer hunter Brian is. I invited him onto the Rok Blog to talk about his success and how it might help you tag the buck you dream about. He graciously accepted.
Before reading the interview, if you have any doubts about Brian’s ability, take a few minutes to watch his “Live” hunt from a few years back where he takes viewers along on a DIY-solo Colorado hunt. It is the best “Live” hunt I’ve ever seen and Brian shares his years of hard-earned wisdom. You’ll see him in action where he takes a top-end mule deer live on video. Link to “Heavy Hawg Down” here.
Robby: You’ll probably think I’m a stalker, but I’ve kept the Fall 2003 issue of Trophy Hunter on my shelf all these years. You made the cover with an incredible buck and included an article “The Quest for a Monster Muley.” It detailed your early beginnings as a young teenager hunting with your father Bud. I actually lost track of the number of good-to-great bucks you and him have taken. Seems your father was your greatest mentor?
Brian: Most definitely, my dad has always been a diehard hunter. I’ve always strived to make him proud and to be like him. He’s a good man. My dad taught me to give things 100%. To get up early every single day of the hunt, to get to where you need to be before daylight, and to hunt until dark. The list could go on and on.
Robby: Do you do anything different than him to be successful?
Brian: I use technology a bit differently, and probably spend more time looking through optics. I also spend more time scouting than he did. And, I’m younger, so I can cover more ground when needed, and that can make a big difference.
Robby: Although Kirt Darner is one of the most controversial mule deer hunters out there, I’ve learned a lot from him. How did he influence you?
Brian: When I was young, Kirt Darner’s book was a very big deal to me. The information in that book was more than a hunter could gather anywhere else. He was using a spotting scope when few others did. He scouted and hunted remote back country, when fewer folks did. He scouted for trophy caliber bucks more than most…..definitely more than anyone I ever knew. What was in that book was ahead of its time. I don’t know Kirt, but do believe he’s done some stuff he shouldn’t have. But none the less, his book was full of great information, especially for that time.
Robby: You’ve taken great bucks with archery, muzzleloader, and rifle. Is that a personal challenge to fulfill, or is there another reason you’re multi-weapon?
Brian: I like to hunt big bucks with whatever I can. If they had a slingshot season, I’d be looking for a tag.
Robby: If someone wants to take great mule deer, what characteristics does he need to develop in himself?
Brian: Commitment. It’s easy to talk about killing big bucks. It’s easy to talk about getting up two hours before daylight every single day of the hunt, and
staying out until after dark. It’s easy to “talk”. Actually doing it is far different. I know many people who have hunted great spots, where big bucks are, who give up after 2-3 days, or who talk themselves into sleeping in on day three, who opt not to walk to the next canyon because their legs hurt. If one wants to be successful at killing big bucks, one has to give it everything. Just like with other sports, or business, you can get lucky once or twice, but to be successful over and over again, it takes more.
Robby: Is there one thing a hunter must do to be successful?
Brian: Hunt where an animal you want to harvest lives.
Robby: What do you think you’re doing to be successful on such a consistent basis?
Brian: I believe my commitment and competitive spirit is what benefits me the most. I’m very good at pushing myself to be successful. Sometimes it causes fun things to become work though.
Robby: Does big deer hunting get any easier over the years?
Brian: NO! I think it actually gets harder. I learn more and more every year, and my skills get better. Technology and information benefits me, but it does the masses too. And because we’re dealing with a limited resource, the masses are competition for opportunity. And with less opportunity, it gets more difficult each year to be successful at hunting big deer.
Robby: Is success determined by size of the buck you kill?
Brian: For me, I judge success, and the accomplishment, on how well I did in comparison to how good a unit or hunt might be. If 1 in 1000 bucks in unit “A” is a 200-incher, and 1 in 100 is a 200-incher in unit “B”, I’d feel more accomplished to kill a 200-incher in unit “A.” Of course bigger bucks are more fun to look at on the wall, but the accomplishment I feel can be the same for a 180-inch buck as for a 210 buck. Only within myself is the true value of each trophy known.
Robby: How important are draw tags to you?
Brian: Without draw tags, I wouldn’t do much hunting. Not many good OTC tags available.
Robby: Does a hunter need to hunt multiple states to kill big deer consistently?
Brian: No. If I have only one tag, I just put more time into that hunt. Days afield do play a big part though. So the more time I can spend hunting big
deer, the better my odds. Obviously hunting multiple states gives me more days afield.
Robby: You pretty much only hunt mule deer, why?
Brian: I grew up hunting everything with my dad, but after killing my first big buck, I got the mule deer bug and that’s all I really hunt anymore. I draw
elk tags in Utah, but have returned them for a few years now because I’d rather hunt deer with the days I have available to be out. Someday I’ll hunt
the bull. Not sure I’ll ever hunt anything else, though.
Robby: What has set you apart from the hundreds of thousands of hunters out there who claim they want to kill a big mule deer?
Robby: Are all your bucks DIY or do you use outfitters, too?
Brian: I’ve never been on a guided hunt. Nor have I ever hunted posted private land. I think I hunted a bit once, but the landowner didn’t care who hunted it. I like doing lots of stuff myself….taxes, auto mechanics, home improvement, and hunting. Maybe some day I’ll do a guided hunt if I ever hunt
something outside the lower 48. I doubt I’ll ever go on a guided mule deer hunt.
Robby: Do you think, starting from 2014 and moving forward, a focused, hard-core mule deer hunter could expect the run of success that you’ve
Brian: That question would really depend on what “success” is to that mule deer hunter. If it’s to finish each season with a feeling of great accomplishment and a trophy on the wall that was in the top 10% from the unit hunted, then definitely yes. But if success is defined by how many 200-inchers are killed, then I’d say that hard-core mule deer hunter needs to be sure he or she is hunting where a few 200-inchers live. That usually means a unit where a good number of bucks grow old.
Robby: My hat’s off to you. I’ve always supported and admired you. Thanks for all you do for the sport of mule deer hunting.
Brian’s first Monster Muley, taken when he was just 16 years old.
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