Archive for category Mule Deer Fanatic Beginners

State Mule Deer Representatives Needed

Posted by on Saturday, 10 March, 2007

If you are interested in being a State Representative, please contact the administrator of this site.

Mule Deer FanaticYou will need to be knowledgable about mule deer in your state. You will also be asked to share information with our subscribers on an ongoing basis. There will be something in it for you as well.

Happy Hunting and may the Force be with you


Mule Deer Fanatics love to read about Mule Deer

Posted by on Thursday, 22 February, 2007

Mule Deer Trophies

Every Mule Deer Fanatic loves to absorb as much information about Mule Deer as he or she can. Here is a book that will add to your knowledge base and help you be a better muley slayer.

Happy hunting and may the Force be with you.

Do Mule Deer have eyelashes?

Posted by on Sunday, 18 February, 2007

Only the females. They blink them in rapid succession when trying to attract a big buck.

Seriously, yes – mule deer have eyelashes. They have a regular set, similar to humans, and then an extra set made up of long (2 inches) black hairs, above and below the eye. Had you ever noticed? When browsing in thick forage or when running through thick cover, these extra eyelashes may come in handy. We still don’t know if they help does attract bucks, but suppose they do.

Can you see eyelashes in the accompanying photo?  No? Look closer.

Idaho hunter

Happy hunting and may the Force be with you

Mule Deer and Baby Boomers

Posted by on Wednesday, 14 February, 2007

When I was 46 years old, I read of a study which concluded that the average age of a mule deer hunter was 46. I remember this because – I was the average age. Today, I am 55 years old. I am guessing that the average age of today’s mule deer hunter is lower than 55 because of the baby boomer effect.

If the age distribution of muley buck hunters follows the standard bell curve, then a high percentage of hunters are baby boomers. This makes sense because: a) baby boomers cut their teeth on the best years of mule deer hunting, and b) baby boomers represent a significant portion of the overall population. Game agencies have anticipated the day when the baby boomers will drop out of the hunting population and are worrying about dealing the loss of revenue.

I have hunted with the same hunting partner for the last 20-plus years. About 15 years ago I asked him how long he planned to hunt mule deer, and what he thought would be the cause of his quitting ( age, poor hunting, too much regulation, poor health, gun control, etc.) He thought he would hunt until age 70. I’m not sure it will happen…. disouragement being the cause. No matter what the cause, there is likely to be a large drop in mule deer hunting demand when the baby boomers exit. In 2007, the baby boomers are on the brink of quitting en masse.

So, what now. Near the early 1990’s overall mule deer hunting tags were cut in half while the agencies were busy creating hunting units and hunting lotteries. A lottery gives the appearance of short supply and creates a bit of a demand frenzy. It should be noted that there is an actual short supply. In theory, with the overall human population increase, there should be an increasing demand for mule deer hunting. Yet, with all of this – young hunters are not entering the ranks as desired.

I have four sons, none of whom are mule deer hunters. All of them, except one, have been hunting with me in their youth. Unfortunately, I have not been able to provide for any of them a “good hunt” as defined by the hunts of my youth. Hunting mule deer is boring to them. I must agree. It is hard to draw. It is unlikely that they will see what you are looking for. Seasons are short. Prices are high. And, it is probable to hunt an entire season without so much as firing a shot. Before I can get my sons to become mule deer fanatics, something needs to be fixed.Son with buck

Like me, they have been frustrated by the lack of opportunity, and additionally, they have many other activities available to them that are more exciting – such as video games. They can even hunt mule deer right in the comfort of their home.

Game agencies are doing all the wrong things to attract young hunters. In short, agencies cannot recruit young hunters by making hunting miserable for their fathers (parents). There are now special youth hunts, special pricing, special seasons, etc. The agencies have long since abandoned the notion of giving the fathers something in return for their investment. Many of them will not even acknowledge that they have customers. They still have an income, but bite the very hand that feeds them.

Fortunately, these problems can be fixed. In order to recruit young hunters, the agencies need to make hunting good for the dads. They need to be doing exactly the opposite of what they are doing. First, there needs to be a product: mule deer, and lots of them. Second, the agencies need to stop regulating their customers away from purchasing the product. Third, the product needs to be available with broad opportunity at a reasonable price. These are simple, good business concepts.

I estimate that there are 450,000 mule deer hunters in the United States each year, and atleast 1 million hunters that are turned away. Those turned away may experience disappointment year after year. Even if they draw a tag they will likely be disappointed. The most crucial issue is having more mule deer. This can never be done with predator populations what they are today. It just cannot happen.

It takes an attorney, an accountant, and a doctor to help a person get through a 2007 hunting proclamation. The doctor is for the headache. When I was a youth, a hunting proclamation was a one page document with a map on the backside. The agencies are regulating themselves right out of a customer base.

When I started hunting mule deer, if a person wanted to, he could hunt from mid August through mid January. Because hunting seasons were long, there was not such a sense of urgency. A deer hunt could really be enjoyed, and for more than five days. The agencies are cutting their own throats by making hunting seasons so short. Long seasons do not mean more deer harvested. They mean more enjoyment. Even if longer seasons meant more harvest, the solution is more deer – not shorter seasons. We have all been conditioned, by the agencies, to the idea that harvesting more deer is a bad thing. It’s not. Our youth are not going to join ranks without it.

I want to see mule deer hunting be as good as it ever has been. I firmly, believe it is possible. We simply need a management decision. I want my children to enjoy what I once enjoyed. The current strategy is the wrong one. I intend to be a voice for change and encourage you to do the same.

Happy hunting

Are Mule Deer Color Blind?

Posted by on Tuesday, 6 February, 2007

I’m going to start right off telling you that I am color blind. Years ago, I read an article that said deer are color blind. I think it would be hard to know. I’ve asked – but those darned deer just won’t tell me. I won’t go into detail, but after observing over many years, and after doing some experiments of my own, I believe mule deer are color blind.

black/white buck

What does this mean to the hunter? Well, it is very difficult, at best, for a color blind person to explain what he sees to a “normal” person. But, if I can get you to understand what I see, you may have a comparitive advantage over your fellow hunters when it comes to hunting (particularly bowhunting) mule deer.

It is rumored that color blind soldiers were used in world war II to spot ground camoflauge from airplanes. You see (maybe you don’t), to a color blind person, camoflauge is not camoflauge at all; it stands out somewhat like a neon light. Are you starting to see the picture? All you guys/gals that think you’re hiding from the mule deer are just making yourselves more obvious. If you are wearing camo, for heck sakes, don’t move.

The author of the aforementioned article said that deer see black, white, grey, and yellow. I’m not sure that is completely accurate. I find it reasonable to believe that they see like I do. Let me explain how I see, if I can. In the summer, when deer are reddish (so I’m told), I cannot see them unless they move. They blend in perfectly with their surroundings. I know this may be hard for you to understand. In the fall, when the deer are grey, then I can spot them like they were blinking. Go figure.

My hunting partner, of many years, has the quirky trait of having deer just stand around and gawk at him, while they run from me.

bugle deerI tell him it is because he looks funny with those thick glasses he wears ( he is legally blind, I am legally color blind). This has always annoyed me, and many times I have sworn to remedy the situation. One year, I had my daughter build me a hat with big mule deer ears on it. I chose the color green, even though I couldn’t tell it was green, because I surmised that the hunters would know I wasn’t a deer, but the deer wouldn’t. It was a real neat trick – until the ears started drooping like dog ears. The deer didn’t like that. They didn’t stand around gawking for very long, once those ears got droopy. But, it did cause them to gawk when the ears were upright.

Here is some color-related advice from a color blind person. The main color to avoid is white. Yellow is not too far behind. Blue would be next on my list. Most camoflauge on the market, even though there have been improvements, is bad. If you want to be seen by hunters, but not by deer use bright red. I think you should know, there is no such thing as bright red for the color blind. Flourencent orange does nothing to impress a color blind person either. Get 100 yards away with your flourescent orange and it might as well be drab green. As far as a single, good color goes, drab green is a good one. But, if you really want to hide from deer, look like a coyote or a lion. Theirs is a terrific camoflauge against color blindness. Sagebrush green/grey is also very good. Now you know.

Happy Hunting and may the Force be with you.

Developing skill with your weapon and equipment

Posted by on Monday, 5 February, 2007

There is nothing like on-the-job training. When you cannot hunt mule deer, by all means hunt rabbits, squirrels, gophers, coyotes, etc. Especially coyotes.

Mule deer stot, which is to say they bounce like they are on pogo sticks while they run.

pogo deer When you can hit a running mule deer, you are doing good – even if it is luck. It is better to shoot at a mule deer that is standing still, but if that is the only shot you can/will take, you limit your potential. One hunter, I know, practices with his target inside a tire, and rolls the tire down a hill while trying to shoot the bullseye. This may be extreme, but it has paid off for him. Be creative, but not dangerous.

Your choice of weapon, caliber, or model is less important than your skill with it. I have my preferences, which I will share, but so does everyone else. My favorite for mule deer is a M-77 Ruger .25-06 handloaded with 120 gr. rapid-expansion boat-tail bullets. My binoculars are Swarovski 10×42’s. I use a Leopold 3-9 rifle scope. If you are a serious mule deer fanatic, your equipment may get some rough treatment. Yours should be able to handle whatever you will dish out, without you feeling guilty about some scars and scrapes.

If you plan to do a lot of “noclarating”, get some “noclars” that don’t give you a headache after lengthy use. I find that the heavier binoculars are easier to hold steady when you are shaky. Both binoculars and rifle scopes have a tendency to fog up when you least desire it. Those that are resistive to fogging are valuable.

When buck fever sets in, strange things happen. You want the proper and correct use of your equipment to be able to go on autopilot when you get buck fever. This requires repetition. Practice, practice, practice.

If your first unaided view of a buck tells you he is a potential keeper, look at him with your rifle scope instead of your binoculars.

Finally, be able to make a quick shot, if necessary. Don’t, however let your quick shot rule over good judgement.

Happy hunting and may the Force be with you

Getting in shape to hunt Mule Deer

Posted by on Monday, 5 February, 2007

I know persons who have shot mule deer from the seat of their atv or vehicle. No discussion of legalities here. If you really want to hunt mule deer, you can still find places and methods that do not require you to be in physically good condition. Improving your condition, in any instance, will only make your hunt more enjoyable and beneficial. I look forward to the hunt every year because it gives me an incentive (which I otherwise lack) to get in shape, and also gets me in even better shape by the doing.

There is a lot of mule deer country that is rugged, remote, hairy, wild, and wooley. If you want the real thrill of the hunt go to such areas. Some mule deer have mountian goat blood in their genetics. Your chances for a trophy mule deer are improved by getting off the beaten path. Any exercise will help, I suppose – but, in my opinion, the only activity that is really up to the task is the task itself. Go to the area you plan to hunt, if at all possible, and hike like a crazy man. Scout for deer while your at it, and kill two birds with one stone. If you cannot do this, mimic it as closely as you possibly can. Unless it kills you, it will help you.

Happy hunting and may the Force be with you

Your Guide to start hunting Mule Deer

Posted by on Monday, 5 February, 2007

So, you want to hunt mule deer….

Well, if you’re like me, I’ve always wanted to hunt whitetail, but have never done anything about it. Maybe you fall in that category relative to mule deer hunting. Maybe you live in the east and don’t know where to go or what to expect. So, let’s get you on your way and answer some questions for you. If you have other questions, let me know.

First, see the topic: “All about Mule Deer“, if you believe it will help you.

choker buk

Second, Be in shape for high altitudes and rugged terrain. The best practice is hard hiking up and down steep hills.

Third, Westerners count antler points differently than Easterners. The equivalent of a whitetail 10 point would normally be referred to as a 4 pt mule deer, or a 4×4. Set your goals realistically, but I recommend that you shoot for a 4 pt, or better, if you are going to spend the time and money to hunt mule deer.

Fourth, Mule deer are largely creatures of big, relatively wide-open expanses. Expect to take, and practice taking what, to you, may seem like long shots. 500 yards is not unreasonable.

Fifth, You may expect to haul a mule deer quite a long distance over some difficult terrain in order to get it to your vehicle. If you can’t do this immediately, beware of predators and endeavor to keep your animal away from them.

Sixth, Just before a spooked mule deer disappears from your view, it will often stop a moment to assess what your next move will be. This is often a golden opportunity. Once the mule deer disappears, however, they will typically do the unexpected until you learn to expect the unexpected.

Seventh, Most states have lotteries for mule deer hunts. Many have preference or bonus points for the undrawn hunter in order to improve his/her odds of drawing in subsequent years. Some states make you pay for these points, some do not. Start applying today in order to hunt tomorrow. You will nearly always need the license in order to apply for the tag. Some states won’t refund your license (fee), if you don’t draw. In that case, go kill some lions and coyotes to allow for more deer the next year – put your license to good use.

Eighth, There are golden opportunities for archery hunters, especially if you are a competent archer.

Ninth, Plan on covering a lot of ground to see mule deer. They move around over a much larger area than whitetails. Use your instinct, which is often correct, to tell you when you are very near deer. Then, become as stealthy as you can.

Tenth, Mule deer love transition zones. This is where there is a fundamental change in vegatation, usually due to elevation. In such areas, deer have a larger variety of feed and cover.

Eleventh, Mule deer will stay relatively close to water. One Mexican sheep herder put it this way: “Water – deer. Deer – water.”

Twelveth, Don’t be a noisy hunter unless your strategy is to spook the deer so you can see them.

Thirteenth, Even though mule deer have large, respectable ears; and eyes that are super-sensitive to movement – the nose is where it’s all at. The nose is never doubted, even though the eyes and ears sometimes are. Be Aware of the wind and your scent. A wise old buck will sneak away upon hearing or smelling you before you see him. Mule deer behave as if you can smell them – they don’t know you can’t. They also behave as if you can see in the dark.

Fourteenth, When a group of does and/or small bucks breaks cover and runs, be extra keen on watching for a big buck doing something entirely different than the herd.

Fifteenth, If you jump a mule deer, and do not spook it too badly, you can wait patiently and it will quite often return. Watch the wind though.

Sixteenth, Big bucks will bed in such a way that other bedded deer protect them from intruders. If you come upon a bedded doe, don’t spook her just because she is not a buck. Look around for the buck first, and remember the first sentence while you’re looking.

Seventeenth, Mule deer are usually bedded by one hour after sun-up. They usually start moving around again when the evening shadows cool things down a bit.

Eighteenth, Mule deer can’t be rattled or called very effectively – like whitetails. If you use a fawn distress call – expect the does to charge you and the bucks to flee from you. Since there are now few, if any, rut hunts – calling and rattling are pretty useless.

Ninteenth, Mule deer hunters have a nasty habit of moving past you in the dark – quite often spooking deer for both you and them. Such hunters believe they should be in their favorite spot before sun-up.

Twentieth, Carry good binoculars. Hunting mule deer without them is tough at best. Keep them handy.

Lastly, dress in layers. Temperatures and weather can change rapidly in mule deer country. Be able to start a fire in extremely difficult circumstances, including you shaking so badly that you can scarcely strike a match.

Happy hunting and may the Force be with you

Top 10 for the New Mule Deer Hunter

Posted by on Monday, 5 February, 2007

1) Get in shape. Go up and down steep hills – there’s nothing better.

2) Develop in-the-clutch skill with your weapon and equipment. Buck fever happens.

3) Pick a hunting area that has the kind of bucks you expect to harvest.

4) Obtain the necessary finances. Credit card expiration dates need to go beyond fee withdrawl dates.

5) Apply for and obtain a license and tag. Some states start this process as early as January. Most have online applications.

6) Preseason scouting. If possible, select the buck you will harvest.

7) Attitude is important : Apply faith, enthusiasm, effort, and skill to your hunt.

8 If one spot doesn’t produce, quickly switch to another. Be flexible.

9) Hunt dawn ’til dark.

10) Expect to succeed. Take a knife, rope, deer bag, salt, baking soda, camera, and anything else necessary for when your buck is on the ground.

evening buk

Happy hunting and may the force be with you