I want to hunt big mule deer. I have hunted mule deer in Montana and missed and I have done high country early season hunting in Colorado with no luck. I prefer bow hunting but would consider a rifle/muzzleloader. Im leaning towards a guided hunt but love DIY hunts but Im so out of my element that I feel I have a lot to learn. I have a 3 points in Colorado and 3 in Wyoming but I don't care where I hunt as long as its free range.
You have enough points for a solid hunt in either state. With the cost of points going up, I would plan on burning both in the next year or two, then focusing on areas and states that you can hunt every year or two at the most. Mule deer are definitely good DIY critters and you just need more time hunting them. There are a few really good outfitters out there that consistently turn up big bucks. Look up Comanche Wilderness Outfitters in Colorado. He does very well on big mule deer.
Im not sure what I consider big for a mule deer but Im looking for a frame more than a score. Im obsessed with whitetails and so mule deer naturally have me intrigued. Id love to pull off something DIY as I find it a bit more rewarding but I also don't want to burn years of points to come up short again(my last colorado hunt we never seen a buck in 6 days).
If I were you I would continue to hunt MT/ID OTC for mule deer and stack up a couple more points in WYO/CO. You can get in some damn good units with 6 in WYO. I have no CO experience so I won't chime in there. I would also pick a unit with the amount of points you are wanting to use and scout it during the season if possible. Even if you aren't hunting, it can be a ton of fun to pack in and look for deer. In the meantime you will be learning how to hunt them in MT/ID.
If you want to go DIY I would recommend getting David Longs book Public Land Mulies. Get a plan and hunt every year til you get one. Archery is a lot more difficult, and very few options for bow hunts in the rut. For most mule deer hunters, big is something over 180" gross, (exceptions for a 30" spread or exceptional mass). I set that goal and over a course of a few years I did multiple hunts in, WY, CO, AZ, UT with both rifle and archery, drawing some very lucky units, being close multiple times to 200"+ deer, killing some decent bucks but not til the last hunt on the easiest tag to get in a super crowded public land unit did I accomplish my goal with my bow. You can do it, but will take time and dedication.
I would think about saving your points and looking at MT, ID, SD, and ND. ND is a draw but odds are pretty decent for archery muleys. If you draw it I can help you in person if our schedules line up or can at least point you in the right direction if they don’t line up.
If you would like to spot and stalk 160 inch and up Mule deer with archery gear go to Alberta with Mikes Outfitting (Bowsite Sponsor). What a great experience. I got a 160 and 180 with Mike and my son got a 170. Expensive but worth it.
That said private land in Colorado can yield some giants as well with zero to a couple points. I’ve done both. Good luck!
I would set the P&Y minimum as a guideline, so a 145" archery buck is a decent aiming point.
Most of the guided hunts price is based on the trophy caliber and area. So most rifle hunts for 180+ bucks are not cheap. If you focus on archery, and DIY, I'd recommend hunting late rifle seasons with archery tackle when the bucks are rutting and much easier to get onto. That has been a game changer once we started getting away from the archery early seasons.
I hunted private land with an outfitter in CO the first week of Nov. Deer were rutting and although it was rifle, if I’d been bow hunting I could have killed three different bucks in three days of hunting with a bow inside 40 yds.
Guide told me they get turned onto does are much easier to get close to in rut.
Blew my mind how many deer I got so close too, being an eastern woodland guy myself.
I am an old man and lived in a time when hunting was a way of life and a right of passage, no one would have ever considered paying to shoot an animal or to pay some land baron to cross his fence, but in the distant past access to uncrowded land was there for the taking. That is no longer the world we live in. Now hunting is a business, for alot of reasons. First many of us are tied to big cities for economic reasons, and have little time to scout and prepare. It becomes much easier to pay for someone elses knowledge and equiptment. The ultimate goal now seems to be the kill as opposed to the experience, why because I may not get another shot, and with preference points taking 20 years in some preferred areas I understand. Please understand this is not an attack on what you like or judging anyone on what method they choose hunting these days, it is simply my view of how our heritage has diminished say over the last 60 years, and I only write this with the hope that some of you will choose to seek the benefit of self accomplishment over instant gratification. I doubt that i will have that choice, and I envy those that can. Good luck
Scott(commanche Wilderness) can take a while depending on who knows where he could be this time of the year. He will respond as long as it didn't go to spam or something like that. Or call him. I bet he is 4 or more years out, BUT ask him to be sure. I killed a 220" with rifle with him a few years back. Thjink I am re booked for 2021
triple H, I applaud you for sharing your morals and experience based incite. I to,agree 100%. The blatant whoring of wildlife is a bigger threat than the anti-hunting groups. But this threat comes from with in. The first step all outdoors men can do to combat this, is to hunt diy , real deal wild game on public land , or free trespass private.
Kidwalker.... of course you are entitled to your opinion, but that’s an archaic view. Actually hypocritical as this very site you are enjoying is available to you due to the sponsorships of outfitters.
How do you suppose a guy from say Ohio or the likes would go about hunting high country mule deer in say Wyoming or Colorado if he was physically unable to pack a camp and necessities to 10,000 feet and get the deer back down to his vehicle..... in a week? Your post is selfish with no consideration to the circumstances of others.
If you prefer to hunt strictly diy, as I do, that’s fine. But to judge others for their preference isn’t very respectable.
Do you want to hunt early velvet deer or late in the rut?
Early hunting is primarily on public land.
Late hunts in the western part of the state are rifle hunts and can be on public or private land. You can bowhunt on these seasons but it can be tough bow hunting with snow and competition from rifle hunters unless you can get private land access.
Late rut hunts in the eastern part of the state are going to be mostly private land. There is some limited public, but for the most part you will need an outfitter or pay for access.
There are a lot of sources of information for western hunting. Eastmans, GoHunt, Epic, Huntin’ Fool. Go on line and check them out to see what makes sense. Some of us are members of multiple hunting information sources to cross reference for various species and states.
Triple H, I liked your post, everything has changed to the kill and not the adventure but then I remember driving 24 hrs and laying down $25 for an elk license and $25 for a deer license. I've been on a lot of adventures that brought home meat and a lot that brought home memories.
To add emphasis on Treeline's comments. (I am not an expert, but my anecdotal experience)
Early season MD hunting is WAY different than late season. Early season hunts are generally identifying a buck using a specific pattern (bedding to feeding or vice versa) and developing a plan. Late season hunting is finding the does. The bucks are trolling. Also take into account late season hunting can include snow. Snow isn't a big deal, unless it is crunchy. It is one thing to get in rifle range with crunchy snow. For archery, spot and stalk is almost impossible. (Them big donkey ears are tough to defeat) You might be limited to ambush. I hunted late Nov/Dec this year. First couple of mornings I had deer staring at my glassing location as sunrise arrived. I know darn well they heard me walking in. And they were a couple hundred yards away. The ability for me to get within 40 or 50 yards quietly was out of the question.