Mule Deer hunting Tactics – 2007 Bowhunt

This entry was posted by on Thursday, 1 November, 2007 at

Every year, while I’m hunting, I have experiences which remind me of something I had already learned, but forgotten. This year was no exception. When you are still hunting, it is a good tactic and habit to look behind you on a regular basis. I don’t know about you, but once in a while, I just get a premonition to look behind me. On one such occasion, I had been sneaking down a ridge with deer on both sides of me, hoping to get past them all without being detected so I could slip quietly out onto some ledges and shoot at the bucks bedded below them. After a successful sneak, I peered down at two bucks, but they weren’t the ones I was expecting. Without any identifiable reason, I turned around and glanced behind me. There, on the skyline, in a spot where I had been standing only a few moments before, was a large male cougar. I put the binos on him. I could practically count his whiskers. Those eyes were riveted on me and yet staring right through me. There was no doubt about where they were focused. For about five minutes he watched me. I began to get uneasy. I clocked him at 123 yards and calculated that he could be on me in about 3 seconds. I knew he could smell me and see me, and it didn’t seem to bother him. One of the bucks spooked and ran up towards the cat, during which time, the lion continued to stare at me rather than at the buck. Apparently, the buck spotted or smelled the cat, and subsequently ran for about 3/4 mile uphill without stopping. Shortly afterwards, the cat disappeared without a sound. Because of this tactic and for my effort – I did get him on video tape.

On another note regarding this same topic, last year while bowhunting in Southern Utah, I was cruising around on the ATV when I got this peculiar notion to look behind me. To my surprise, a very large buck was watching me drive by from his bed. I had already driven past him and I wondered how often he had successfully used that tactic – since he was obviously old and, by inference, wise. Because I looked back, I was able to video tape this buck for about 3 minutes. I estimated him to be about 3 feet in width. Had I been armed and legal, I believe I could have ended his long and successful career of evading hunters. I would guess that buck to be at least 7 years old. As it was, I was able to put my hunting parters onto him, though they did not kill him. I am working on a DVD called Amateur Velvet. If you are lucky you’ll get to see this muley buck on DVD.

Kirt Darner reportedly used a technique he called the J-hook tactic which is akin to looking behind you. Mule deer often have a habit of circling around you ( especially in heavy cover ) and returning to their original location which is where they wanted to be in the first place – until you interrupted. To use this technique, you walk back over ground you’ve already covered and then hook to the left or right – wherever you think the deer might be circling.

As hunters, especially as bowhunters, we get fairly focused on what is ahead of us and sometimes to the side of us.  It can be interesting how much is going on behind us. Do you know what indian britches are? They are the kind that sneak up on your behind.  Keep eyes in the back of your head and don’t let anything sneak up on your behind.

Good luck.

4 Responses to “Mule Deer hunting Tactics – 2007 Bowhunt”

  1. In all the years I’ve hunted (especially mule deer) I’ve yet to stumble upon a Mountain Lion. I have always wanted to see one (from a distance) but havn’t yet. I have seen plenty of other predators; bears, coyotes, bob-cats, wolves…but no Mountain Lions. There’s always that thought though that something is watching you.

  2. huntmule

    30 years in the outdoors, ive seen only one at a distance. Take dogs out and we can tree 2 or 3 in one afternoon. You need dogs! There are more lions in Utah now than ever. The harvest should triple in order for the deer population to come back.

  3. Although I haven’t kept count, I would estimate that I have seen 15 or so lions in the wild, and the tracks of many more. I have never been behind dogs, though I would like to do that. I could not agree more about the number of lions in Utah (or any other western state for that matter), the number of cats that can be treed in one day, or the need to triple the lion harvest.

  4. I too have never been behind dogs, it would be an interesting experience however if I could put up with caring for the dogs. I also must agree that harvesting far more lions than are currently being harvested is a must if we are ever going to get our deer pop. back up.

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