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Bowhunting Mule Deer: Tactics to Overcome One of Hunting’s Biggest Challenges
Bowhunting Mule Deer is something many hunters dream of, but it rarely becomes a reality. Mule deer live in a vast area of western North America characterized by dry deserts, rugged mountains, forests, and prairies. Harvesting a mature mule deer with a bow is one of the most difficult things a hunter can do.
What is Bowhunting Mule Deer?
Mule deer hunting can mean different things to different people. Anyone who has spent much time in mule deer country can tell you how stupid a young mule deer can be. It wouldn’t be much of a challenge to drive down the road until you see a herd of immature mule deer, slide out of the vehicle and off the road and lick a 1-2 year old mule deer. These deer don’t know any better, and someone who is truly passionate about mule deer hunting would not be an accomplishment.
For the serious mule deer bowhunter, dreams are made of a mature mule deer. An adult mule deer is on a different playing field than a young mule deer. Although mule deer can breed successfully at 3 years of age, serious mule deer bowhunters generally refer to mature mule deer that are at least 4 years old. This is the age when you start to see the growth potential of their antlers and their ability to evade hunters. Although antler size continues to grow for at least a sixth year depending on diet, most hunters (regardless of weapons) agree that the four-year-old Buck is a marksman and has developed the skills to hold his own even with rifle hunters everywhere. place.
Unfortunately, many mule deer do not live past the age of three because they are shot when they are young and stupid. In general, in hunting areas where the number of hunters, especially rifle hunters, is not limited, in order for a mule deer buck to reach maturity, the odds must be overcome. If you can survive a few years of hunting season, you have a sixth sense for beating hunters and taking a bow is one of the most difficult challenges a hunter can experience. In the remainder of this article, we will discuss tactics that can make a hunter consistent in hunting mule deer.
Methods for bowhunting mule deer
There are several methods that can be used to harvest a mature mule deer. The most common are Spot and Stalk and tree or ground blinds.
Wood stand and ground curtains
One of the (dare I say) easiest ways to take a big mule deer buck with archery equipment is to use a stand or ground net. While sitting there waiting for money may not require a lot of energy, it does require a lot of patience. Patience is the easy part. The real work is finding a good spot that a mature mule deer will walk by in the daylight. This requires a lot of work with pre-season scouting, trail cameras and pattern bucks so you have a good idea of where they will be come season. It’s a lot harder than it sounds and takes a lot of time to be consistent year after year.
Of course, you can just put your stand or ground blind at any water hole, food source, or other high deer traffic and be successful with a mature mule deer, but this requires a lot of luck and possibly patience. When you find a good area that produces big bucks, it’s reasonable to assume that there will be more in the years to come, so hunting like this becomes easier once you’ve established a good area.
Spot and stem:
Although bow and crossbow hunting requires a little more energy than hunting from a stand or blind, it is generally a fast-paced way to hunt mule deer. The goal is to spot a big mature mule deer buck and then stalk it unnoticed to the bow area.
The number one thing to remember when locating and stalking mule deer is to be patient. If the conditions are not right, wait for them to improve. This might mean waiting for the buck to go to sleep in a better spot where you can get closer, or waiting for the wind to pick up or change direction so that your scent is not only carried away from the buck, but covered. of your noise when you get close.
Most mule deer bowhunters who consistently harvest big mule deer begin their seasons well before the antlers have even grown. It’s important to have a good idea of what the area offers for big bucks so you can develop a minimum size and order for which bucks to focus on first.
Of course, size isn’t the only factor in determining whether a buck is a shooter or not. An experienced hunter can often estimate the age of a deer based on body markings and antler shape. In my eyes, a 6-year-old buck with few scoring horns is more of a prize than a 4-year-old buck with a lot of future potential.
for spot and stalk hunting, it is important to have several shooter bucks picked up and known in common locations before the season begins. This is because it usually takes several stems for one to succeed. After several years of point and stalk hunting, I have found that stalks have an average success ratio of about 1/6. Of course, it can happen the first time or take 15 times. An inexperienced hunter can go several seasons without having a successful stand on a mature mule deer.
for Stop hunting (tree or blind) it is not so important to spot multiple bucks, as only one mature mule deer is needed in the area and it can be hunted all season. Of course, your odds are greatly increased if you can identify multiple shooters in the area. One thing you don’t want to do in the preseason is disturb the area too much. You might spook the buck before you even have a chance to start bowhunting.
Archery practice: One thing that cannot be overlooked is shooting a bow. No matter how good your booth location is or if you’re the sneakiest person on the planet, if you can’t seal the deal when it counts, you might as well stay home. Of course, anyone who has hunted enough has missed or taken a bad shot, but shooting year-round can increase your odds of performing when you need to. A good thing is to participate in 3D competitions, where you have the opportunity to shoot at life-sized deer targets in different positions, angles and distances.
During the season:
Once the season starts, you’ll obviously target the mule deer buck you like the most. One thing to keep in mind is that you won’t always be number one on the list with bowhunting. Sometimes you only get one chance, and if it doesn’t happen the first time, you may never see that money the rest of the season. That’s why it’s important to know where other shooter bucks hang out.
Stand BowHunting Mule Deer:
If you sit on a pedestal, you have to be patient. Just because Opening Day didn’t produce much doesn’t mean the big bucks won’t show up the next day exactly where you want them to. I have an impatient friend who moved his tree after opening day because the buck took a different route. Then, the next day, he got tracking camera images of the buck in the tree where he was standing just 12 hours earlier, sitting in a tree a few hundred meters away. Should have stayed out!
Spot and Stalk BowHunting Mule Deer
You should have a good idea of where a good buck will be on opening morning if you’ve done a lot of preseason scouting. It is best to spot him from a distance when the first ray of light begins to appear. Once you’ve found your intended target, you should assess the situation and find out if the conditions are right to put on the stem right away or watch and wait until the conditions have improved. Only experience and common sense can help here, because every place and stem situation is different. Knowing when to pursue it and when not to, and how to go about it, varies greatly depending on how things fall into place.
The same factors responsible for the failure of most mule deer bucks to mature are the same factors that make them so difficult to catch with a bow. Many of their inhabited areas have no cover to escape rifle bullets that can shoot more than 500 yards. For this same reason, it is difficult to get the bow to carry a mature mule deer that has managed to sneak past rifle hunters. A bowhunter simply doesn’t have much cover to hide behind to get a good shot. In this case, you need to use the ground to get close enough to the bow shot.
Bow hunting mule deer equipment:
Mule deer bowhunting can be made easier with the right equipment. In fact, some gear is essential for bow hunters to gain the upper hand. Below is a list of archery equipment that you should consider purchasing before starting a mule deer bowhunt. Just remember you get what you pay for, so go for the best you can afford and then upgrade as much as you can.
- Distance meter: Knowing the exact distance to the target is a huge advantage, especially when shooting long distances or hunting with a bow. The rangefinder has specific specifications, so make sure you check the link below to make sure you get the right one.
- Binoculars: Spot and fallow deer hunting requires finding the deer. It’s amazing how many more deer you can find with binoculars that you wouldn’t see otherwise. They are also essential on the stalk because you have to find the deer before they find you, which means using your binoculars to pick up an antler tip or tail trigger.
- Observation area: Both are used to spot deer and then evaluate them to make sure they are stalk worthy. Spotting scopes are also important when you want to find other deer and anything else that might compromise a stalk that is in your intended path. It’s very easy to get knocked down by an animal you didn’t know existed. A sighting sight is mandatory for point and stalk hunting.
- Boots: When stalking deer, it is important to be as quiet as possible. I’ve taken off my boots and put on my socks before with success, but cacti and thistle are common in my hunts so this isn’t possible. That’s why I wear light boots made for stalking to get the rest of the way to the front. They have saved my feet and helped me be much more careful.
- Camouflage: With a deer look, it’s not as important to be the same color as the background, but above all to break up your silhouette. In addition, in a typical location and stem, the foliage may be dry and yellow in grasses or green in trees and shrubs. That’s why it’s important that the camo pattern is very versatile.
- There are other pieces of equipment it gives you an advantage that you might want to take advantage of, which we’ll talk about later.
Experience: Now go learn for yourself
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