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A Strategic Key for Killing Mature Deer










The most important lessons I learned about hunting mature mule deer came at an early age growing up in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. A buck is very predictable throughout his lifespan. Mule deer have seasonal home ranges for summer, fall, the rut and winter.  In my book Mule Deer Hunting Tactics I wrote about this strategy and its been the #1 key for hunting and harvesting a trophy buck.

Flash-forward to the 2012 hunting season and I was in my favorite mule deer country in southwest Wyoming. Setting up the spotting scope, I glassed a creek bottom that had a lot of sagebrush cover and a nearby butte above the creek with several aspen groves on its steep face. It didn’t take long that morning to locate a buck with high back forks feeding with several smaller bucks in the sagebrush not far from the aspen grove. Through the 60-power Zeiss spotting scope I could see good back tines and a 28-inch outside mainframe spread. In addition, on both of his back G-3 tines were two three-inch in-line points. However, I spotted a 190-plus buck the night before so I elected to pass on that buck.

Now, fast-forward to the fall of 2013. During the hunt I passed on several young bucks that had cheaters but were only in the 160 class. I know where they live and next year I will look for those bucks to check their antler growth.

On the evening of the last day of mule deer season I found a buck that I knew very well while glassing a creek bottom – you know, the same creek bottom where the fall before a 28-inch mainframe buck with the two in-line points called home. Like clockwork the buck stepped out of the bottom at dusk. The rack was still 28 inches wide but had longer main beams and several more inches on his G-4’s! The rest as they say, is history. I harvested a 180-class buck this last fall.


In conclusion, unless the buck was winter-killed or harvested, he will come back to the same fall range year after year. If you want to harvest an old mature buck understanding this behavior is the key strategy!

-Mike Eastman

This hunt will air again at 9:00 pm on Eastmans Hunting TV on the Outdoor Channel September 23rd and September 30th 2014.


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  1. Just got done reading this book, and I was very impressed it gives a very candid/realistic look at hunting big mule deer. I have read a fair number of books on the subject and I must this certainly ranks up there in the top 2 or 3….Thank you Mr. Eastman

  2. David W. Sanders

    great vidio keep up the great work would be nice to know where these pictures are taken thanks

  3. mike, I remember the seeing one of you and yuour dads mule vhs video back in the 1980’s called “mule deer safari” if my memory serves me well. I think it had scenes of the infamous rubber raft ice filled creek crossing hunt which resulted in a fine buck. was that video ever reproduced on a dvd version for sale?

  4. Jake VanderZanden

    My name is Jake and I am from Northeastern Oregon. One of the areas that we hunt for mule deer is what we would call “canyon country”. I realize that high country mule deer have home ranges for different seasons. I also realize that there are many factors including predation, winter kill, and hunting pressure that effect my question. However, do canyon country mule deer range in the same general areas? Any insight would be helpful. Thanks again for your articles!

  5. Julius Vatalaro

    If this buck was taken on Wendell Fraughton’s ranch then everything he has spoken is a lie.

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