Choosing the right mule deer area can be a very difficult and sometimes confusing task. Every state and area has its own set of unique challenges and barriers that lie between you and that buck of a lifetime. Learning to pair your own goals and expectations to an individual area can be an art form in and of itself. The following are five points to consider before pulling the trigger on your next mule deer application.
- Choose the Right State/States: If you really want a big mule deer buck on your wall, looking into the likes of Colorado, and Wyoming are critical. Add to that a few harder to draw states like Arizona, Utah and Nevada to start gathering preference points in might be a good idea. Keeping your big buck hunting skills sharp is key, so mixing in Idaho, and Montana as over-the-counter options while you wait for that coveted tag is always a good idea.
- Find the Best Genetics: For some reason, mule deer genetics tend to be very pocketed and predictable. Some areas just produce big bucks, they always have and probably always will. To increase your odds of chasing a huge buck, you will need to hunt in a top five county in a top five state. The Boone and Crockett Club or the MRS section of EHJ and EBJ are the best places to find this very valuable information.
- Look for a Reasonable Tag Quota: I always try to measure how much competition I am up against for that buck of a lifetime in a given hunt unit. A deer hunt with a 100 tag quota is a much different experience than a hunt with a quota in excess of 500 tags. Just keep in mind, the season length and huntable area can affect this measurement as well. Look in the new MRS tables for Hunters per 100 Square Miles and the Pressure grade.
- Check the Season Dates: The toughest time to hunt a big mature mule deer is between September 25th and October 21st. The season dates of a hunt can have a huge effect on the quality of the hunting experience. Early September and mid November are the best times to hunt a big buck.
- Take a Hard Look at Harvest Success Rates: Try to find an area with hunter success rates in excess of 50% on mature bucks if possible. When it comes to mule deer hunting anything above and beyond the 50% success rate is good and a historic success rate above 75% is outstanding.
The Member’s Research Section (MRS) in the back of every issue of Eastmans’ will give you the answers to these very specific questions and more. When conducting area research this very powerful tool is worth its weight in gold to getting you to that goal of a giant buck.