WON Landing Page March 2022

5 tips for mule deer hunting

Each year, LG and I hope to draw coveted Colorado Mule Deer hunting licenses. These gorgeous animals sport gray coats with black markings on their foreheads and white around their faces. The bucks boast antlers that typically grow up and out, branching toward the sky. In some states, it can take years to draw a license to hunt one. When we are lucky enough to draw the hunting license, LG and I search for the elusive “Monster Muley.”


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How to hunt mule deer

In the U.S., mule deer live primarily in western states. Their habitats include areas above the timberline, down to the sage-covered plains. They have outstanding vision and can spot your movements at a mile away. They can smell you farther than 500 yards. In order to be successful in your quest for a mule deer buck, you need to be prepared. Bagging a mature mule deer is a challenge.



Taking time to scout your area prior to hunting season is ideal. Look for their tracks or a good game trail. Look for buck-level rubs on small trees. Mule deer and elk tend to live in similar areas. A rub high in the tree would more likely be from a bull elk than from a mule deer buck. Make sure the sign you find is fresh and traffic is heavy, so you’re not wasting time hunting a barren area.


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Mia and LG with Mia’s Colorado mule deer buck. (Hank Anstine photo)



The best way to locate a mule deer buck is with a spotting scope or binoculars. Make sure you have quality optics. Mule deer tend to move in the evening, middle of the night and early morning hours, and they bed down during the day. Scan oak brush and tall grass for their faces, fur or antlers. It’s not often that you spot one right out in the open, but it can happen.

When you are scanning a hillside, do so in a grid pattern or as though you are doing a word search puzzle. Scan left to right and up and down, looking for not just a deer, but also parts of a deer. Look for antlers, legs, tails or just the gray shade of the mule deer’s fur. Often times, a buck conceals himself so well in the brush that you will scan past him several times without taking notice.


Proper Gear

You may be glassing across rugged mountain valleys, rolling hills or through cactus and sagebrush. Either way, once you locate your buck, you will generally have a stalk on your hands. Be prepared to go to him, as he generally will not come to you. Be in shape and wear good boots for the hike. Wear gear that is durable and quiet for walking or crawling through brush.



(Matt Howell photo)


Take your time

Go slow when you make your stalk. Avoid sudden movement. Use trees and brush for concealment. A mule deer can’t distinguish colors very well, but they easily can detect movement. Be sure to freeze behind the trees or brush when he is looking your direction. Don’t forget — GO SLOW.


Wind direction

Always play the wind. Stay downwind so his keen nose does not alert him that you are getting near. It may take years to finally catch him, but the success of a hunt is rewarding. Keep after him and eventually you will earn your prize.



(Lea Leggitt photo)


Calling the size of your mule deer buck

There is often confusion in calling out the number of points on a mule deer buck. When designating the number, they are called out as the number of points on 1 side of the rack, without brow tines. A mule deer, in comparison with a whitetail, would be called a “4 by 4” as opposed to a “10 point”.

  • About The WON

    The Women's Outdoor News, aka The WON, features news, reviews and stories about women who are shooting, hunting, fishing and actively engaging in outdoor adventure. This publication is for women, by women.


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