Contributors to this thread:
Hunting Ag land muleys
Last year I moved to western NE, really close to Ogallala if you know where that is. I have since gotten permission to hunt quite a bit of land. Unfortunately I have no idea how to hunt it. It is mostly pivots with some rangeland in the mix. This morning for example, I found 4 bucks with 1 giant. They were walking right through the middle if a fallow field and into standing corn. They were at least a mile from the nearest tree. If they aren't in standing corn, I can't imagine they ever are in a place where they can't see at least a mile. There are no funnels, ditches or well used trails. I imagine they just stay in a general vicinity from day to day, but they don't ever seem to be in the same place twice. I am beginning to understand why rifle hunting is so popular here. Does anyone have any advice as to how to hunt this terrain? My plan so far is to hang out in the first few rows of corn and hope to catch them moving into or out of it. Unfortunately, corn harvest is starting so if I don't get one on the ground soon I will be SOL.
One other general thing I've noticed: Growing up an eastern whitetail hunter, I looked for fence lines, wind breaks or other features to hold deer or provide travel corridors. What I found around here is the big bucks tend to stay in very open areas. They seem to avoid all major features. Is this common?
So...any tricks on hunting big AG bucks?
Once the weather starts they will move into draws and tree rows more. Also when I was a kid my grand dad would literally drive up to the herd within bow range get out and shoot a doe often with big bucks in the herd. Not very sporting but we needed meat and it worked for him. This was in the 90s in eastern Colorado.
You have the right idea about getting in the corn. If it will be combined, you can still set in the stalks for cover- chopped corn not so much. I also use pivot tracks. Some times it gets muddy and it's a shoulder burning nightmare of a crawl, but there is nothing else you can do.
Doe hat. Bring them to you.
Take advantage of the really windy days and still hunt the corn. They tend to hang near the edges of the fields. Especially the bigger bucks. It's a pain for them to go very deep in with all that head gear.
Go a row at a time, poke your head thru and check both directions. Believe me, it can be done.
I've used a ground blind in a plowed field, you could do the same along field edge. Find a trail they use to come into/out of the field. Put up a trail camera and your blind for several days. We used a very cheap blind. It worked on a doe for me- and much more comfortable than sitting in stalks. I would live door open into unharvested stalks, in case you need to get out and move as needed thru the corn. Not sure on baiting, but you could collect some of the ears after harvest and pile within range.
Try to be out and about when the last of the crop fields get cut. The bucks wlll be roaming and looking. The later into the fall, the bigger their herds get. You think it's hard to sneak up on one set of eyes, try a dozen. :-)
There's probably more stalking cover out there than you realize, especially if you're from back east. Good gloves, elbow and knee pads will make crawling much easier.
Decoying can danged-sure work.
You'll have fun learning...and don't be surprised if you find some huge whitetail out there in the wide openess.
Put a seat on the pivot and go for a ride.
I'd suggest staying mobile and glassing from a long distance so you can cover a lot of ground. Usually there's not a lot of deer per square mile and you have to find them. Trying to set up on open, flat country mulies has very low odds. Have a spotting scope so you can see them from 2-3 miles away. Park at the highest spots you can that you can see corn or milo. A fresh cut corn field is the best. Be there at day break and put on the miles until you find deer. You want to watch them from a long distance until they eventually bed down. Once they bed down wait until you get a good prevailing wind and stalk them. Trying to kill a deer in that open country while they are on their feet is very hard. Once you get to 40 yards by crawling wait the bedded deer out until they stand to pee or reposition and then shoot them. They may even get up and walk right to you. If you don't have the patience to wait them out carry a few rocks in your pack (there's never a rock around when you need it in AG/Prairie country) and throw the rock over the deer and well ahead of it. It may stand looking away from you but you also have a 50% chance it will jump up and run.
This is how we kill most of our CO eastern plains bucks.
Oh and don't waste all your hunting time before the crops come out. Once they get close to finishing cutting you'll want to be there through the rut.
Thanks for the help guys, If there is one thing I am quickly learning it's that muleys and whitetails have about as much in common as elk and whitetails. We had a good storm two days ago that cleared the track slate so to speak. I went out to see where the new tracks were in the morning. I found a few sets including one that I think was a lone buck but if there is a huge herd somewhere, it isn't here. As was mentioned by Quinn, deer densities are really low here. I was looking for a really tough hunt and I think I found it. I ordered a head's up decoy and am making a doe hat.
BigRed-I grew up on a farm and all we grew was corn. I used to do that same trick for whitetails and from time to time it did work.
bowcrazy-That was my original plan, but the deer around here are way too nomadic as far as I can tell, there are trends to their movement but no real pattern.
deserthunter-I like the way you think.
Quinn-I think you covered my game plan. Originally I thought I needed to kill a buck before the harvest now I think my best bet is to wait until after. The rangeland I can hunt backs up to corn on two sides and has some very nasty gullies and draws. I can glass these draws really well from a long ways off. Local farmers have told me that after harvest all the deer head for those gullies. To turn this hunt into anything more than a game of luck, I think I need to wait for harvest.