Mule Deer are one of the Elite Big Game Animals of the Entire World
By Dennis Wintch
As another season draws to an end and I’ve once again spent 30 days hunting mule deer, I ponder over what is it that makes us hunt one species of game over another? I know some hunters think elk hunting is the ultimate, others think sheep hunting is the best and another group would say whitetail deer are the best of all big game to hunt.
For myself its no contest; hunting mule deer can’t be beat! Why mule deer? A lot of writers have said they are dumber than a box of rocks; ” There is nothing to killing old big ears!” I will agree that I also don’t enjoy hunting any animal where there is no challenge, however, they are definitely not talking about mature trophy muley bucks.
If you want a trophy mule deer, which is one in a thousand, the following are a must according to my book.
Brain power; be able to make quick intelligent decisions, know where to walk, when to run, when to stop, be able to read land layout at a glance so you will know where to be and then read tracks in all kinds of weather and terrain.
Physical condition; be able to run and walk all day, be able to shoot fast off hand with 90 percent of it running through the trees, rocks, and all kinds of bush…and never have to rest very long because your quarry hardly ever comes and goes in the same place. If you can do all these things then you might be successful.
Why is a big muley so difficult? He never makes noises that would tell you where he is and is usually a loner and very hard to rattle or call in. He has excellent eyesight allowing him to sees really well in the daytime or at night; his sense of hearing is incredible letting him hear you a mile or more away and last, but not least, he can smell you at distances of several hundred yards. He runs in some of the worst mountain terrain Mother Nature has to offer, and can cover the same distance in five minutes that will take a man 30 minutes to walk. He is highly intelligent; I have seen a big muley back track, hold tight, crawl on his belly if needed, and use every wash, tree, dip or hill to his advantage. I have seen him double back, run 20 miles nonstop and change his bedding place three or four times in any given day. He hardly ever sleeps in the same place and most of the time he doubles back on his own tracks before lying down and always has two quick escape routes so he can be out of sight in a hurry.
Contrary to what some of the writers I have read say, when a big muley knows what you are and where you are he never stops to look back. He will only stop a mile or so down the ridge to watch his back trail. A big muley is a master of escape and camouflage in the land that he lives in. You must hunt him in far back, hard-to-get-to, steep, rugged terrain. If you truly know anything at all about big muley bucks you know that if you kill only one good one in a lifetime of hunting you’re a “Nimrod” of hunters.
I know I didn’t list all of the things big muleys do, but to me these are a few of the “little” things about this great, wonderful, marvelous animal that makes him one of the elite big game animals of the entire world. He is in a class of his own. The best of the best.
The next time you go into someone’s trophy room and see a grand slam of sheep, all of the Alaskan and African animals, and four or five big whitetail ask them, “Where are your big mule deer?” Maybe 40 years of hunting big muley bucks hasn’t been so bad after all. When you think about it, I’ve been there and done that with the best there is in the hunting world. Hunting big muley bucks just doesn’t get any better than that.