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Unit 2 Colorado Mule Deer
My brother got a Unit 2 Deer Tag and we were wondering if anyone had any insight on the area. We used to hunt Area 10 for elk but never ventured up to Area 2. Not looking for exact areas persay but any advice, do's/dont's would be greatly appreciated. Looking forward to a fun hunt!
Do not expect anything really big. The truth is they are trophy elk units and marginal deer units. I would say a 26 4x4 in the 150-160s is a good top end with only a few bucks larger taken every year. For comparison look at the outfitters in the unit and see their success photos. Chris Journey or Diamond Peak outfitters. In thier photos you will see some good deer but nothing huge. In some of the unit there is a really bad crab claw gene (at least there was in 2004-2008). I have spent a ton of time on the winter range in the unit and a top end buck was 170 and the biggest I ever saw was 180.
Is it an archery tag or a rifle tag?
I have never had a deer tag for the unit because I consider it a way over rated tag. The deer population is not great and the number of bucks is not impressive. The only good part is the lack of other hunters depending on season.
Do not over look the desert and low country. There will be fewer deer but in many cases the bigger bucks will have a little hole where they have cover/food in a little hole where no one messes with them. Anything along Vermillon creek, Anything along the snake river, if it is still really hot out look high on look out mountain. These areas all have fewer deer and fewer hunters, but it seems the biggest buck I have seen where a person can hunt have been in this area. From the bears ears along the rim above the creek or over by the snake river where the deer were watering on the river and then retreating into the hill close to river. Skip all of Sand Wash Basin only looking along the highest rims by look out.
Most people will tell you to head up to the boulavard. Up along the monument and around the walker ranch etc. This is a good area and will hold deer as well. It tends to be a little busier with elk hunters, people scouting and people filming etc.
I have always like the country from Allred to the little douglas to lone. It has spotty access on the bottom with private land but up on the ridge there is a lot of ground.
Good luck. Bring lots of water, have good tire with lots of tread as highway tires will get eaten up on the roads and likely leave you with a flat.
The only thing I will add is to scout heavily before the season and get your buck in the first week. Once they shed velvet they can disappear.
When we elk hunted in 2013 what coelker described was on the money. We had a mid-170s buck hanging around our camp on the Boulevard and a VERY experienced deer hunter was hunting one that may have touched 200 gross on the edge of Horton's. But mostly what we saw and cammed were smaller.
Good luck and hunt early.
Jaquomo, also nailed a major point with deer, especially in the hot and dry NW. When they shed they can be nearly impossible to find. I have seen this a couple times. If it is archery then I would hit the scouting now and hope to have a big buck patterned before they shed.
I worked with an outfitter who grew up out by sun beam and he was convinced that the better bucks went fully nocturnal after the shed until the rut began. I started paying closer attention and have found way more times that supported this theory than contradict it.
coelker and Jaquomo: Appreciate the great information! We will definitely get our fair share of scouting in as it has paid off in the past for us. Just new to the area so the advice is priceless. He has a 3rd Season rifle tag so we are hoping the big boys come out to play by then...! We will have a quad and will be canvas camping. It seems like the access to these places is pretty decent? Are these areas easy to get to or are some more off the beaten path? We are young so we may get more of an experience with trying to get off the beaten path a bit. What are your takes on Douglas Mtn?
There will be more deer on Douglas and the surrounding area than in the areas around the unit. 3rd will help out but early season scouting will not do much good to pattern bucks now. The majority of hunters will tend to focus on Douglas and the Bulavard due to it having the best looking Habitat. It is a nice area to hunt. Access can be a little more tricky than initially appears but with a little work a guy can hike or find a road around most of the private. I would still think 170ish is a solid buck with a small chance at a bigger. There is a ton of the unit that wil never see a hunter. Areas I mentioned from the bears ears to look out, the desert along vermillon creek, etc. There are a lot fewer deer in this area but also a lot fewer hunters and a chance a big one has been slipping through the crack.
he ATV will be fine for short trips etc. But the unit is really huge and if you want to access all areas you will still want a good off road tire. Not to mention it is 70 to 90 miles to a town with any real services. I would not go out that direction after mid October without good off road tires and 2 spares plus chains. Too far out to not be fully self dependent.
Yeah that makes sense. I think our early season strategy will be more focused on getting to know the area/terrain. Sounds like the areas you mentioned are more for our type of hunting. What are ideal optics for this area? Spotter necessary?
Yes with out a doubt a spotter and getting high on a ridge or a point. If the rut is happening the deer will move all day long and sitting in one spot may mean a new deer spotted every few minutes etc. I would still hunt to a location to glass from then glass pick a new glassing spot and still hunt to that spot and just keep moving and glassing.
This year the third season is closer to the rut but not there. Expect to see lone older bucks cruising, doing recon on doe groups. If you find does, they are your bait. Use this time of year to familiarize yourself with the roads and trails, get a good chip for your GPS. Like elk, the deer will be in the general area of ponds and springs, and there will be huge portions of the unit that look good but are devoid of animals because there's no water. The deer don't travel as far to drink as elk.
Then when season comes, glass, glass, glass and be in good shape to cover ground and intercept a cruising buck.
Guys: This info is so appreciated! This all makes perfect sense. Ill definitely be in the market for a spotter to pair my vortex vipers. We have multiple handheld Garmin with OnX maps so that should come in handy. Any idea on how the deer move from summer to rut ranges? I assume they are up high now or near the water like you said. Is it pretty dry out there this year?
It's always dry and hot in that part of the state. There is not really any significant migration for the rut other than to go where the does are. If anything, you should be looking for doe groups this time of year. Where the does are now is where the bucks will be when it's getting closer to the rut. There are bucks on Xenobia peak and bucks down low in Graystone. But like coelker said, you'll find concentrations of does around the ag fields, which are along the river bottom. If I were hunting archery I'd try to kill one of the bucks on Douglas Mountain. But when you're hunting I'd focus on the Snake River area above the ag fields, find some doe groups, then check on them periodically They won't go far.
The other thing is most of the water is on private land, which is extremely fragmented. That's why the private land was claimed in the first place, because of the springs. There are a good number of springs on Douglas Mountain, which is why you'll see deer when driving the Boulevard.
If you don't already have one, get a BLM map of Canyon of the Lodore. That will show you where most of the springs are located.