Locating Mule Deer

Jason C. from Washington writes to ask, “where would I go to bowhunt for big mule deer?”

You’ve hit on one of my favorite species to bowhunt Jason. I haven’t done much hunting for them lately, but plan to get after them again soon. Back in the 1970s, the biggest mule deer bucks were found in the Book Cliff Mountains of Colorado. There were few to no elk there then, but that has all changed. You can still find good bucks there, but lots of elk.

Dr. Dave Samuel

I checked the Pope and Young record book to see where the big muleys were coming from and here is what I found. From 1989-1990 there were 273 mule deer put in the books and 58 of those came from Utah, 55 from Colorado, 25 from Kansas, and 21 from Arizona. Move to 2001-2002 when 368 bucks were put in the book. Seventy-six of those came from Colorado, 69 from Utah, 42 from Alberta, 29 from Oregon, and 26 from Wyoming. Interestingly, Kansas’ total dropped and it put only 15 in the book. In 1989-90 Saskatchewan put only one muley in the book, but in 2001-02, they had 10. In 1989-90 Alberta only had seven put in the book.

So, what is happening? Obviously Colorado and Utah still have lots of big bucks. I know that today in Colorado, there are more big mule deer being taken in the plains of the eastern part of the state. The bucks were probably always there, but they are now being hunted. The same thing goes for Alberta. The bucks were always in that open prairie country of southern Alberta, but guides focused on them and bowhunters have been successful there of late.

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Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for sportsmansguide.com. If you have a question for Dr. Dave, e-mail your question to Dr. Dave in care of Tom Kacheroski, senior editor of www.sportsmansguide.com‘s content at tkachero@sportsmansguide.com. Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he has been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for 31 years.

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