Mule Deer Behavior and How to Hunt Them

Mule Deer Behavior and How to Hunt Them

Those familiar with the somewhat crowded and close-range whitetail deer hunting of the East will find mule deer hunting a wide-open pleasure. The muley is frequently found in consort. It lives with the jackrabbit in places. Also, where the Eastern whitetail would run himself to death trying to find a place to hide.

Mule deer hunting can be a pleasant and fun thing to do for the hunters. With proper knowledge and guide, you can get the best out of the whitetail deer and mule deer hunting.

Mule Deer Behavior and Hunting Tips to Follow

Mule deer have some difference in behavior with the other deer like whitetails. So, hunting them should have some difference too.

In this article we will discuss on the mule deer, their weight, behavior, intelligence. Also. we will give insight on hunting them.

Mule Vs Whitetail Deer: Understanding Their Intelligence and Behavior

The first, and one that is sometimes shared by gunners from wide areas who have hunted both the whitetail and the mule deer is that the muley is stupid by comparison with the whitetail. The other is that mule deer run substantially larger than Northeastern whitetailed deer.

All animals have limited intelligence when compared with human understanding. If this is not true, the horrendous highway kill of animals would not occur. When we are trying to build up our own ego through citing the great cunning of our quarry. We are forced to admit to the limitations in intelligence possessed by dumb animals.

Hunting Comparison of Mule Deer and Whitetail Deer

In a comparison of mule deer and whitetailed deer-and comparisons are natural for anyone who has hunted each-I finds little difference in arrow effectiveness. By the same token, the methods of following up a hit are no different for either deer.

Although the muley may stand around longer than the whitetail, it is apt to travel much farther distances to a position of relative safety once it takes off. This is reason enough to delay looking for a deer which has been hit. a proper peep sight or binoculars may gives good view but you need the other things in your favor.

In total, it has been my experience that aside from differences in terrain and climate. The experience is hunting mule deer and whitetails require much the same preparation, woods lore, and tackle.

There are a few advantages to the hunter between the two species. Because hunting territory is frequently much more open, it is possible to see more game. Especially, in mule deer country and to make plans accordingly.

Mule Vs Whitetail Deer

It is just as true that the trophy bucks are tougher to come by. Since they tend to be solitary. Particularly, in the early part of the season when special privileges are provided for bow hunters. The mule deer hunter in that the animal is less apt to jump the string than the wary whitetail. This is a good advantages for hunting deer/

In all the shots I have taken at mule deer, if the animal was not already moving, it stood for the shot. Not so the whitetail.

Deer Behavior Patterns

It is a personal feeling that the whitetail and the muley are about equal in intelligence. True, anyone who has hunted the mule deer is aware of its habit of running off away and then turning to stare back at its pursuer.

This is more a matter of instinct than stupidity or intelligence.

Why Do They Stop and Stare Back?

The deer is simply trying to figure out what you are going to do next, and it has never quite figured out the effectiveness of a firearm. But it has been hunted with the bow for countless thousands of years. If you were a wolf, or a bear, or a cougar, deer would know what move to make after you made your move. Its normal stop helps protect it against things such as bows and predators.

Although it is not so obvious, the whitetail does about the same thing. This is more apparent to archers since they very often are unable or do not wish to shoot the bow properly just as a whitetail jumps up in front of them.

Quite often the whitetail will run off a bit and then turn around to study the situation, much as does a mule deer.

The whitetail is usually protected and often hidden by trees or brush. The mule deer simply adds more distance in the belief that its fleetness of foot will give it the edge it needs if it is pursued. Instinct teaches it that it will be pursued at whatever speed its adversary can move.

It has not learned much about ballistics. But, at the distance where it makes its distinctive stop to decide on its next move, it is usually well beyond sensible bow range. If you know how to hit with bow, it will get better.

As with the whitetail, the biggest mule deer bucks are the canniest. They get big by being smarter than others of their kind. Really big bucks are more apt to travel alone than with a herd. The exception, of course, is when a number of does in any given herd are nearing or in their estrus period.

Weight of Deer

When it comes to weight, mule deer rate somewhat with the whitetail. Their generally larger antlers tend to make the Western deer appear considerably bigger although statistics indicate that both the whitetail and the mule deer range in size according to their habitat.

The Rocky Mountain mule deer, most common and largest of the black-tailed deer, will go up to about 380 pounds. However, the average is considerably less than that, averaging about the same as the Eastern whitetail.

Pennsylvania whitetails average out, field-dressed, at about 125 pounds. Yet in New Hampshire, studies have shown that early season deer have averaged about 192 pounds. The State of Maine reports numerous deer quietly broken edges of canyons with their many side ravines and canyon fingers. Each of these should be thoroughly studied before they are entered since they are favorite bedding spots for mule deer.

Movement of the Mule Deer

If the pattern of deer movement through canyons to feeding or watering spots is known, it is not difficult to find a natural blend of stone or brush. If the movement is somewhat indiscriminate and deer tend to fan out over a wide area in their movements.

It may be necessary to build a blind of sage or some other handy vegetation.

Movement of the Mule Deer

I recall one particularly discouraging week in which my oldest son built a blind of sage after observing the usual pattern of numerous mule deer movements through a shallow basin leading into a large canyon.

Crossing the Basin

The deer crossed the basin each morning, but rather than go into the canyon, they would move up on the prairie toward some other destination. For several days they had passed a given point, and that is where he established his blind.

He had numerous chances at does, but the bucks that normally came through were avoiding the spot. Consequently, on the last morning, he moved to the opposite side of the basin. This seemed to be favored by the antlered deer.

Of course, that morning six bucks milled about his former blind while he watched helplessly out of range.

A Good Pair of Binoculars is Needed

This should be a strong hint that a good pair of binoculars is essential hunting equipment in mule deer country. Another surprise awaiting the uninitiated who comes from the East is the difficulty in judging distance.

In heavily thicketed Eastern forests, it is quite common to overshoot deer with the bow and carbon hunting arrow. Since they are often much closer than they appear to be. In the open areas of the West, sometimes almost completely devoid of vegetation, the game frequently appears much closer than it really is.

The tendency is to undershoot or to take shots beyond the hunter’s ability simply because they appear much closer than their actual distance.

Choose a Binocular that Matches with Bows

When choosing a binocular, it is important that it can be kept inside the shirt or a large pocket. Otherwise, there is always the risk of catching the optics with the bowstring. Or it can happen with fouling up the draw when the bulge or the actual binocular gets in the way. Aiming the bow for hunting the deer can be little difficult.

There is little more disturbing than having any object oscillate from one’s neck or shoulder. Especially, when hunting with the bow and arrow.

My muley hunting with the bow and with the camera has been confined primarily to California, Colorado, Wyoming, and South Dakota. Personal experience has quashed for me two common fallacies common to eastern hunters.


Hunting Deer in Snow

When deer hunting in the high mesa country, prior to the game’s being pushed down by snow, driving is much more practical than in the open prairies and canyon country. Areas of quaking aspen or scrub oak provide driving opportunities quite similar to those in Eastern forests.

But, because there is so much territory to hunt, Western drives are frequently quite long and cover considerably more area. If a probable movement of alarmed deer is known, excellent stands can be established for those on the waiting end of the drive.

Despite the larger areas to cover, the terrain is frequently such that deer can be funneled through the more obvious spots such as heads of canyons and necks of timber created by open areas of stone or sand. In such areas, having someone along with knowledge of the terrain and deer habits is essential for any consistent success.

Hunting Deer in River Bottoms

An exception to this is a long river bottoms where there are frequently stands of cottonwood trees and thickets of young quaking aspen. Careful driving in such cover can produce good shooting. A too hurried drive may send the deer into the surrounding hills and canyons.

But, if care is used, the game will stick to this cover or briefly take to the outside to permit the drivers to pass before returning. Other times, they may break into the open to gain ground and return to the thicket ahead of the drivers.

Of course, their purpose in breaking away may be simply to cut behind the drive so that they can resume whatever it was they had in mind before being disturbed.

Stealth Techniques in Deer Hunting with Bows

As in any deer hunting with the bow, stealthy movements and the slow approach, with frequent stops, are good ways of hunting. Over a headlong rush toward the standers. The mule deer habit of stopping to reconnoiter after it has jumped from its midday bed. It is to work to the advantage of any other drivers in the area.

And, it is certainly true that many deer are moved out by drivers without their knowledge. These may work toward another driver as well as toward the waiting standers, or sitters.

Stealth Techniques in Deer Hunting

Spotting, Hitting and Afterwards

While it is true that it may be easier to spot an animal downed by an arrow, this advantage should not be negated by moving in too soon before the arrow has had a chance to do its work. In the East, there is usually a road or a good trail within a reasonable distance of any kill.

In the West, terrain may be such that it is impossible to get even an off-the-road vehicle. Especially, anywhere near the spot where the animal succumbs. Consequently, pushing a wounded animal to the limit of its endurance can make a lot of trouble for the hunter even if he is successful in finding a deer.

It is a natural tendency for any animal which is mortally wounded to go into the most inaccessible area. It is to possible to escape its pursuer. Trying to drag or carry a deer can be a back-breaking sequel to a thrilling experience.

About the Author Alex Raynold

Looking at the bluest sky, I forget all my stresses. Going through the green I try to breathe, more than I do in my reality. So, that's why I love camping.

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