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Mule deer vs White tail deer
My father bought me The Total Deer Hunter Manual from Field and Stream. Is that good for Mule deer or just white tail? Or does it even matter?
Depending on the locale, mule deer and whitetail deer behave very differently.
I've been hunting Whitetails since about 1976, and Mule Deer for about the last 7 years, all DIY. I haven't read that book, but in my limited experience, you can get away with a little more with MD (movement, spooking after a missed shot) the WT.
Depends upon the pressure, if they're pressured both species wise up quickly...
Whitetails are the tougher team but Mule Deer have a greater home field advantage.
I got that book a few years ago. I remember it being very whitetail specific. I would not recommend it as a mule deer reference.
Never had a tag for a MD. So, naturally they have tried to commit suicide when I was elk hunting. And, I have been close to a couple world class MD that seemed about as sharp as a telephone pole. When I say close I mean goober range. If I can sneak up to yards of something, alertness is not it's strong suit, Seriously. Last time out, I was able to sneak with 12-13 yards of a dozen different MD bucks. One was a ear width wide 5x7. Another was a ear width wide 4x4. One was a 5x4 about 22 inches wide. So, in my very limited experience, trying to compare the alertness of the two is like saying black is white. Because the ones I've been around were plain dumb in comparison to an eastern whitetail. That goes for elk too.
Just my limited experience and, not meant to be nor, should be taken as the gospel. But, if I were looking for Mule deer hunting books, I wouldn't over shoot the goal so to speak. God Bless
One of the best books for mule deer is "Hunting Open Country Mule Deer" by Dwight Schuh.
I've hunted both and they both have there differences. When I want to relax I hunt whitetail. But I love big mulies.
I wouldn't say either is any harder than the other. Terrain and pressure dictate that.
Different terrain. Different skills necessary to successfully kill older, mature deer of either species. Based on a lot of experience with both, I would have to tip my hat to a truly big mule deer for being one of the toughest trophies to get with a bow. Close second to a good Coues deer.
Where I live in central MT our whitetails act like muleys is some ways. When pressured they will lay up in cut stubble 5-600 yards from anything. I once crawled thru mud and snow for over 300 yards to rifle one. The big ones actually leave the river bottom and hold up in tiny bits of cover or along fence lines.
Our muleys in the Snow Mountains live in woods as thick as any a whitetail does.
I hunt mulies using almost exactly opposite methods used by Dwight Schuh. Really don't need binoculars, for example.
I Mule Deer bowhunted only high mountain Mulies (10,000 ft. in Aug mostly) Spot & stalk very possible & if spooked usually run aways, stop & look back. Usually out of bow range. Whitetail spot & stalk possible but lots of luck most times. I've killed 13 Mule Deer (no giants + Does) all spot & stalk & under 35 yds. Whitetail, over 100 & only 2 spot & stalk (spotted going to my stand), rest from stands (ground & tree). Not familiar with any books, just fortunate to have bowhunted many years.
Where I hunt both on the plains they act very similarly. Except for whitetail rub lines and scrape checking (occasionally, much less than big woods whitetails) they occupy the same territories, bed in the same terrain, interbreed, and come to rattling, calling, and decoying much the same.
During the rut both will sequester with does way out in the middle of nowhere. Our whitetails sure are different critters than the Midwest farm country deer I've hunted elsewhere. Closer to Coues in behavior than their eastern cousins.
I've only hunted Mule deer once and they were spookier and cagier in that area than any Pennsylvania whitetails I've tangled with. This was western North Dakota in 2011. Those deer were wound tight and ALERT!
Early season mule deer are easier to spot and stalk. The earlier, the better. Every day after the first day gets significantly tougher to sneak up on a buck.
The young bucks up to "teenagers" (140-160") bucks can be very stalk-able.
The big boys - 190+ or 6+ years old are always tougher.
In velvet, they may hang with a group of younger bucks, but will tend to use the younger bucks for protection. They will hang back and let the younger bucks go out first, will position themselves with the wind in their favor behind the younger bucks, bed in more difficult places with the younger bucks scattered below, etc. When something spooks the group, many times the older bucks will leave the group and not come back. A lot of times the "teenagers" keep the same pattern as before.
When they rub the velvet off, they become much more difficult to hunt with a bow. They hold tighter in cover, do not come out in the open during daylight as much, and basically disappear until the rut kicks in.
The season structures in the western states dictate different methods for hunting mule deer than most of the whitetail hunting seasons.
I have hunted whitetails in velvet and they are significantly more laid back then as well. They tend to act similar to mule deer - spending more time in the open, staying in buck groups, staying in a consistent area, will let you walk up on them, etc.
Whitetail hunting is typically significantly less physical than mule deer spot and stalk above treeline. Different, but all lots of fun!
I believe all the deer species try their best to stay in the open when they are in velvet because their antlers are soft, fragile, and I believe they can feel with them, based on interactions touching "tame" wild deer's velvet antlers. I don't believe they want to be in a situation where they need to run and crash through bush with velvet antlers.
It's been my observation that once they harden up everything goes deeper.
To the OPs question, from what I know about the manual, it is primarily written for whitetail hunting, by whitetail experts.
As far as mule deer, there are distinctly different methods required to hunt them early in velvet, after they shed, pre-rut bachelor period, during the different stages of the rut, post rut, mountain alpine vs low mountain vs. prairie vs. desert.
My upcoming article in Bowhunting World is a primer for hunting the different stages of the muley rut. Treeline is probably the premier Bowsite authority on hunting them early, alpine, in velvet. If you plan to hunt muleys, best to start a thread asking about the specifics of when/where you plan to hunt.
Mountain mule deer are a completely different beast, IMO........when chasing big velvet clad bucks above 11,500', the odds are most definitely in the mule deer's favor.
IMO muleys are one heck of a lot tougher to kill than elk or whitetail. Mature muley bucks are as sharp as they get in my experience. I've walked up to young whitetails and muleys and they have been, on occasion, dumb as heck! Mature whitetails and muleys are smart, but I think killing a big ol' muley in spot and stalk hunting is really tough.
I think a lot has to do with hunting pressure. When I hunted Whitetails back in Maryland and Virginia, they were wired and even when they were in range, they would avoid my arrows.
Here in Colorado, the same tactics on riverbottom whitetails out by Kansas, they were pretty susceptible to calls, rattling, and using trails which every one I shot at I put down.
I think the best time to hunt Mule Deer is right between the end of October and start of November when you see them and they give up their cagey wise old buck ways to start getting ready for the rut. Hunting them in full velvet, I feel is tougher than that late season stuff-
If you want to find out how good of a spot and stalk guy you are hunt low desert mule deer when they aren't rutting. It can make you feel pretty humble.
If ahunter55's broadheads are as sharp as his scissors he's had some short bloodtrails....
Those low-country desert mulies are cake, compared to spot & stalk Coues deer!
Love hunting the desert in December and January...
"Those low-country desert mulies are cake, compared to spot & stalk Coues deer! "
So I have been told. If they are that much harder I don't need to be hunting them. I get my arse handed to me enough by big desert muleys. And I agree completely about the desert during the rut. Don't know what more a guy could ask for when it comes to AZ mule deer hunting unless it was a strip tag. Big bucks, long season, OTC tags, and weather that is absolutely perfect!
I'd say both can get educated. But I think being able to see the animal from a distance and then plan a stalk has to be a HUGE advantage compared to trying to sneak up on a deer in thicker terrain like the Appalachian mts...There isn't really much in the way of spot and stalk in Appalachia like the west...You don't sit on a mt here and glass for a couple hundred yards out.
Just seeing a deer BEFORE it sees you, when your sneaking through the woods is a feat in itself let alone stalk it.
I have stalked numerous whitetails in open terrain such as old overgrown fields farmland ect....Being able to see them from a distance and then use terrain and bushes trees ect for cover to get closer is way easier than trying to stalk through the mts and get close to one.
You can tell by the replies that there aren't many folks that have hunted mule deer above alpine. :)
Heck, Roy, I live in Colorado and there are very few guys that bow hunt the high country bucks consistently.
I am Wisconsin whitetail hunter,I like to hunt them and have shot my share for over 40 years with a bow.I have gone on over 30 western hunts mostly for elk and mule deer,I consider a big alpine mule deer by far the hardest to hunt.
big public mulie is way harder than big public land whitetails, I've done both and the mulie still eludes me gonna keep going till i get it done.
Whatever Bohntr and Treeline say is what is correct about alpine velvet muleys.
Don't know, but I'll be chasing one in the high Sierra this August...Whoot!
Don't know many guys that kill big whitetails and big Mulies. Must be a different kind of hunting (or skill set)?
I kill small whitetails and small mulies... it requires no skill set :)
Hmm living in the midwest hunting public whitetails and going out west to hunt mnt mulies its a diff ballgame
you must learn a new skill set in my opinion
Probably less about the animal and more about the circumstance of where and how they live. Each has developed skill sets and tactics for their own terrain. Thick bush offers different advantages to open country and vice versa.
I find that all prey animals become cagey as they age, even with little hunting pressure. I get big urban bucks on cameras that I never see in the daylight. And they are exposed to human sign and scent regularly.
This quickly turned into what species is harder to kill. Roy is correct about alpine mulies being a very tough hunt but in saying that you giving credit to the time of year and where they live, not the deer themselves. Most big whitetails are killed during their rut. Hunt mulies during the rut and it's no contest. Whitetails are way harder to kill. Every year I get a pictures of a couple of big whitetails that I never even see. You will never say that about mule deer. Let's limit ourselves to only hunting whitetails in January, after the rifle hunt and after the rut and then make the comparison. A person can target the biggest mule deer on the mountain (Randy Ulmer) and with enough skill and persistence, kill that buck. Do the same with the biggest whitetail on most properties and your lucky if you ever lay eyes on it no matter how good you are.