Are you a Mule Deer Fanatic?

I am. I have been hunting for 44 years. I started hunting MULE DEER in 1966. I was hooked even before my first hunt – when I shot a nice 3 pt. The late 60’s were the last of the good ol’ days. Until 1971, I hunted every year with my family on our family-owned property. A large group of us would typically tag-out on opening day, if not on opening morning, and then we would anxiously await the next hunting season.

The deer hunt was always an adventure. We left home on Friday afternoon, then stayed up all night telling stories about past hunts and planning our hunting strategy. We usually left camp around 4:30 am and started hiking or driving to our favorite hunting spot…. There weren’t many 4×4 trucks in those days. No ATV’s. We did a lot of hiking. There were few binoculars, and few rifle scopes. The most common mule deer weapon? – the .30-30. We only took the antlers home if they were really big. Taxidermy was crude by today’s standards. A combination license came with a deer tag and 8 goose tags for about $5. And, best of all, you could hunt anywhere you wanted to. There were deer everywhere. We did not shoot does or fawns even when it was legal.

In the early 70’s things started to change. The great liberal experiment with resource “management” was initiated. Predators began to be protected and re-introduced. Forest management became anti-wildlife, and anti-livestock. The long-revered principles of Multiple-use and Maximum Sustainable Yield were supplanted by limited-use, no use, or least yield. Land owners became annoyed with agency policies and started posting their land and charging trespass fees.

Most of my family quit hunting mule deer by 1975. Few of them have ever returned to it. I found myself hunting with friends or hunting alone. In 1983, I decided to raise my standards on the size of buck I would shoot. I began applying for tags in multiple states each year. One year, I drew five tags, but usually I was lucky to get one non-resident tag each year. In the last fifteen years, I have killed few bucks, but prior to that, I had killed somewhere between 90 and 100 mule deer bucks. I have hunted in many of the western states and have always enjoyed seeing new territory. As of this moment, I have 10 bucks mounted and two in progress. I hope to hunt mule deer until I die, but I must say that the situation gets real discouraging at times. I devour information about mule deer. I study them, photograph them, and hunt them. I never get tired of seeing them. I have selected home locations where I can see them every day. At my present home , I can walk out the back door and right onto forest land. I have been blessed to have observed mule deer for thousands of hours.

I believe that the biggest problem facing mule deer today is poor management, and the worst part of that poor management is the lack of predator control. Mule deer face many challenges to be sure, but all other challenges taken together are insignificant compared to predation. In many states the obnoxious fact is that more deer are killed by vehicles than by hunters, and 10 times as many are killed by predators. And, to add insult to injury, the agencies continue to issue doe tags.

If you are a MULE DEER FANATIC, join me. Let’s enjoy what we have left and try to improve upon it.

To you – a dieing breed: Happy hunting and may the Force be with you.

#1 Mule Deer Fanatic