Backcountry Mule Deer Hunting Basics

By: David Dukat

Have you dreamed for years of hunting for mule deer mile and miles from the nearest road? Rumor has it that the actual hunt is not the most exciting part of the experience, its about the location. The same thing goes for true mule deer hunts. Mule deer thrive and live in some of the more uninhabited, magnificent areas around the world. Just looking at these astonishing creatures and the country they live is worth the effort. We would like to give you a few tips to make your first mule deer hunt a great success.

First, and perhaps most importantly, you have to get yourself into shape! I'm not just talking about the walk to get the paper each day or playing a game of basketball on the weekends. To really enjoy hunting for mule deer, you will need to be in really good shape. Now, I understand, that dependent on how old you are, that this may not be an option, so if that is the situation, shoot for the best condition you have been in the last five years. The important thing is to do everything you can. Personally, my workout is going for a jog three or four times on a weekly basis. I start walking and work up to jogging about three months before the trip, and when the trip arrives, I'd like to be able to jog for a straight hour. This is easier than trying to give a distance. If you can jog for an hour, you should have no problem climbing the mountains that would be required for mule deer hunting.

In addition, I go hiking, ride a bike, jump rope, and walk with my loaded pack . Any of these exercises are great to build the strength you will need on the mule deer hunt.

Second, practice shooting your rifle. The greatest advice I can give is to go shooting on a weekly basis at ranges of 300 yards. You will need to know where your rifle is going to shoot at the different distances. Start shooting at the 100 yard range with a steady mechanical rest. Test various types of ammunition until you find out what your particular gun works best with and stick with it. I like Winchester 130 grain Ballistic Silvertips in 270, but every gun will shoot differently and you've got to find the load that works best for you. When you figure out where your hunting rifle shoots on the bench, try shooting sticks, prone position, over your pack and other positions you will run across on the hunt. Just remember you won't have a bench during your hunt and even if you are a good bench shooter, that doesn't necessarily make you a great shooter during a hunting situation. You will also want to study angles versus distances. Generally shots made at mule deer are up or downhill and hunters have a tendency to shoot over the animals. Work on uphill and downhill shots. You will be surprised at the difference a steep angle can make. I would also recommend purchasing a laser rangefinder and use it during your practice sessions. It can also be helpful as you learn how to judge mule deer within the field. Hunting videos and DVDs by Mossback titled Mulies Gone Wild are an excellent tool for judging bucks. They give you the score after you watch footage of the bucks on the hoof.

Third, get the very best hunting gear you can afford. There are some excellent products in stores. Look for the lightest, yet sturdiest material you can find for your backpacking and clothing items. I won't go over each item, but a few I'd like to recommend are: an internal pack I use a North Face pack, but there are several to choose from, wool socks I use Smartwool, sturdy, stiff, hiking boots - I use Lowa Sheephunter boots, and light packable rain gear I use Frogg Toggs. If you're planning to hunt with an outfitter, request a list and follow it. Purchase quality binoculars! I use Brunton Epochs in 10.5x43 because of their magnification and light weight, but there are lots of good optics out there. I'll tell you again, invest in the best you can.

Lastly, find yourself some excellent mule deer hunting videos at .? This?will get your blood pumping and get you excited about shooting that big muley. They'll motivate you to exercise and find the deer of your dreams once deer season opens.

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