Mule deer are a great beginner deer. They are big, dark, and you’ll often find them standing broadside to you. Plus, they are easy to identify with their block-y figure, large, white rump patch, and almost comically large ears.
While mule deer may be more visible than white tailed deer, put a little pressure on them and they are gone. Try these strategies:
You will find mule deer often bedded on the edge of bushes or trees where they can make a quick escape. When they get up to feed, they’ll typically browse in an opening where they can see danger, including you, from far away. When they are ready to rest again, they may stay in the open or return to the edge of cover.
Use the subtle hills and dips of rolling terrain to cover your approach. Set up so you are ready when the deer is on the move again.
The open country of the prairie region doesn’t look like it could hide a jackrabbit, but somehow mule deer vanish into the open expanses. How do you get close when you can see – and be seen – for miles?
Using the wind to your advantage, set yourself up on main games trails in and out of the long winding prairie draws. Mule deer often stick to the bottoms of these draws and coulees. You can also travel across the tops of ridges to peer below. You might just find deer bedded in the open grassland where, without a stick of cover, they feel safe.
Mule deer hang out in farmland to take advantage of the high protein feed. Your first question is do you have permission to hunt the field? Your next question is how.
It seems deer in farmland are always in the open or even bedded in standing crop. They might get up and feed for a bit then bed in the field or along a strip of trees.
Try traveling up the fence line and use the fence and shrubs to conceal your movement. Make your way to nearby bush or tree cover, keeping an eye out for game trails so you know where the deer tend to travel. If you need to, crawl on your hands and knees through crops to get to cover (you won’t be the first hunter to do this and the thistle, thorns, and rocks will make for a good story).
The key to hunting mule deer in any habitat is patience. Watch the deer from a distance and take your time. It will eventually lead to an opportunity.