Let us help you limit the number of mistakes you make on your mule deer hunting trip. Here are common mistakes hunters make and what you can do to avoid them.
Ignore the Wind
A buck may not bolt at the sound of a human voice or startle at a branch broken beneath a boot. But one thing is for certain: it will never second-guess its nose. A mule deer has about 34 square inches of naval cavity surface area with up to 297 million scent receptors in their nose. A human only has bout 2 inches of nasal cavity surface area and just 5 million receptors. Nothing will get past a mule deer’s nose.
That means it’s important to always be aware of the direction of the wind when you’re hunting. As you head out, check the direction of the wind by holding up a piece of thread, using unscented wind-checking powder, or if it’s cold enough, your breath. Check periodically, and if you find yourself upwind, make adjustments.
Move Too Soon
When a deer has its eyes locked on you, it can be tempting to slowly raise your gun and go for the shot. But the majority of the time, one movement is all it takes to make it vanish as though it was never there.
When a deer is staring your way, hold absolutely still. Take silent breaths and try not to move a muscle. The name of the game is patience, so you need to wait it out before taking the shot. If a deer is looking in your direction because it heard you or caught a glimpse of movement, it may stay around long enough to momentarily look away before leaving. If it does look away, that is your opportunity for a shot.
Avoid Bad Weather
Who wants to sit out in the bush in the rain during a hunting vacation? You do. It may not be fun to sit around waiting to shoot a buck in the wet and cold, but big bucks usually feel more at ease moving around on poor weather days than on clear, dry ones. And when they move, they feed and when they feed, they’re easier to see.
Scent is also significantly reduced on rainy days, as is sound. This means it’s the perfect opportunity to be mule deer hunting. So be prepared for anything Colorado weather can throw at a hunter and stay out there. This usually means warm layers and waterproof outer layers.
Use Calls Often
The bush is quiet and no deer seem to be in the vicinity. Time to make some noise? You could, but making too much noise, or the wrong kind of noise, is worse than making no noise at all. Calling often can sometimes make deer suspicious as they remain relatively quiet and don’t call a lot. Not to mention it can also help them pinpoint your position, increasing the odds you’ll be busted if they circle downwind.
When you call, keep it at a minimum. You only need to get deer curious in order to lure them into your general direction. Once every half-hour or so should be enough. Also, make sure to practice your calls. Work on grunts, bleats, antler rattles, snorts-wheezes, and fawn distress calls. The better your calls are, the more likely you’ll grab some deers’ attention.
Give Things a Quick Glance
One of the worst mistakes you can make when mule deer hunting is giving the landscape a once over and then moving on. The key is to look, then look some more. Sit down, lean back on your pack, and get comfortable. You’re going to want to follow the western hunters’ credo: “let your eyes do the walking.” That’s not to say you won’t cover a lot of ground with your feet, but your eyes need to cover a lot of ground as well. And carefully. It’s not usually the mule deer body you’ll spot right away, but the glint of an antler or flicker of an ear that will alert you.
Be in the Skyline
Whether you want to sit and look for mule deer or move someplace new, don’t go above the skyline. Mule deer have an acute awareness of their surroundings, and moving above the skyline is an easy way to out yourself to mule deer. Their eyes are trained to catch movement, and the skyline will make yourself (and your movements) easily visible. It’s best to keep to the tree line and use the trees and terrain features to break up your outline and conceal yourself.
It’s Time for a Mule Deer Hunt
We hope this article was able to help you avoid common mule deer hunting mistakes. If you’re looking to hunt mule deer with professional guides in the mountains of Colorado, you’ve come to the right place. At Soap Mesa Outfitters, we provide the best guided hunts in Southwestern Colorado and we’ll be happy to show you what you’ve been missing.