Early on in my hunting career, more often than not, the larger bucks always seemed to get away. However, with that being said, over the course of the past three decades I have learned a lot about this amazing animal while chasing them around in high country and I can proudly say, more often than not, I end up getting the buck I am after. This reversal took lots of research, many years of trial and error and fine–tuning of hunting methods. Over the course of this series, I am really looking forward to sharing a good amount of this information with Alti2ude members. I am hoping that the information contained in this series will in fact give you The Edge over other hunters in your quest for a trophy high country mule deer and will give you the ability to harvest trophy bucks on a regular basis.
Recently, I was asked by another writer who was working on an article, “In your opinion, why do you think that certain individuals are able to harvest trophy animals on a consistent basis?” Without hesitation, I stated the following three (3) reasons:
- Amount of time spent in the field
- Proficient glassing skills and techniques
- Behavioral knowledge of the animal they are hunting
Let’s look at these three reasons individually. Time spent in the field – this one is relatively straight forward. The more time you spend out in the field hunting, the more you can sway the odds in you favor. Even if you don’t have great glassing skills or much behavioral knowledge of mule deer, your odds of taking a good buck are increased simply because you are in the field more often.
Now, if you throw in proficient glassing skills combined with great amounts of time spent in the field, this is where you will begin harvesting a good buck on occasion. I can’t stress enough the importance of good glassing skills and will break it down into detail in a future segment of this series and why it is so important.
Finally, get a guy who spends a great amount of time in the field, who has also mastered the art of glassing AND has taken the time to learn behavioral traits of mule deer, now you are talking about a guy that will undoubtedly be harvesting above average bucks on a regular basis.
Now, with all that being said, there are obviously a lot of other factors that figure into the equation, such as trophy quality of the area being hunted, quality of hunting gear being used, mental toughness, physical conditioning, shooting ability, etc, but for the most part, I strongly feel that these three factors are what will enable you to swing the odds in your favor when you go head to head with bruiser bucks.
Before we start diving into detail of behavior, hunting techniques, gear, etc, let’s start with a simple question in which you must answer yes or no. The question: “Do you really want to be a trophy mule deer hunter?” If the answer is yes, here are a few things you need to consider:
- Sacrifices – this is a big one! In order to kill good bucks on a consistent basis, you must be willing to put in the needed time and effort. This includes spending many days of researching, scouting and hunting which will mean a lot of time spent away from your family. Trust me when I say this, having a very understanding spouse is critical. I am very fortunate that my wife Cheryl has allowed me to spend so much time pursuing my passion.
- Cost – It will cost a lot of money. Making numerous scouting trips, hunting trips and purchasing quality gear can put a dent in your pocketbook. Even the smaller things like fuel, food, out of state licenses, etc can add up to a significant amount of money.
If you are willing to make the needed sacrifices, will commit to spending the required time and money and are willing to accept the fact that you may come home with an unfilled tag on somewhat of a regular basis, congratulations, you are well on your way to being a successful trophy mule deer hunter.
Next Installment: The Edge Part 2 – Setting Your Goals
This is a picture of my first 30" buck from way back when.....I was hooked!