Contributors to this thread:
Attracting mule deer
Are there things you can do to attract mule deer to your land? What are they? I only have experience attracting whitetail to a property.
Food, water, cover, and sanctuary just like whitetails.
Year round food is important. Winter wheat or "dirty" corn fields are great. Especially winter wheat.
Around my place, alfalfa fields are a big draw for mule deer until the first freeze. Winter wheat is also good, and stays later into the season, but we don't have much of that around here. The native grasses are probably the best year around food source for deer in my area.
On my property, providing the deer an area of sanctuary, where they don't get disturbed, has probably been the single largest factor in keeping them around, for me.
I see you’re in South Dakota? Muleys love standing milo.
How do you make muley cover? No trees to hinge. No trees really. I couple nice draws with sign in them. Winter Wheat and standing milo. I can do and the water. Do they like round bales on fence rows for cover? Certain grasses? Thanks guys
Get you a big stand of kochia next to some standing milo. Your neighbors might not like you but you’ll have deer, haha!
Can’t say this is a certainty but the best pockets of plains muleys I’ve been around have very little whitetail intrusion. They overlap pretty much everywhere these days. But it seems like the muleys prefer the country where whitetail traffic is lowest. Thin out the whitetails maybe?
Sap, I think it really depends on the location. Around here, we have roughly 30% ponderosa pine covered timbered bluffs, and 70% native grasses lower in the basins, with sparse ag fields in the creek bottoms. The mule deer use all of it, traveling to and from the food in the lower lands to the cover in the higher lands. My property is mostly timbered, so I provide water, cover, and sanctuary, then hunt their travel corridors to the food sources. Your situation is likely different in SD.
Yes this land is 100% prairie. Some treed hills about 2 miles away.
Z, and some people claim baiting is fair chase. LOL! I hope that lady isn't in Colorado, or else she'd get a visit from a game warden. We had a lady doing the same thing in my neighborhood. It didn't go well for her.
In that case a windbreak probably isn’t a bad idea. I’ve been on some of the national grasslands in SD and there are sparse/sporadic stands of alfalfa in places. Seemed like they flew it on to add some diversity to the system. Not sure if burning is a great idea in that part of the world normally, but might bring some different plants they’re interested in? Just some random ideas. Have you talked to a biologist?
Z That's exactly what I need 20-50 deer sprinting to me! And a big one at 3 yards!
I Have not talked to biologist. I figure the knowledge here is probably as good. Apple trees?
I seen that video years ago and this thread made me think of it... I believe it was taken in Wyoming somewhere between Cody and Yellowstone...
Trees are a big deal in SD Grasslands out there... I hunted pronghorns out of Wall years ago and listen to some of them cowboys talk about how there yard trees were growing... Seems it was a big deal to be able to get a tree or trees to grow there...8^)
If you have feed, then you need cover and water. Mule deer on the Canadian prairies do quite well with just low brush for cover. One of the good things you can do for winter survival is to provide thermal protection from bitter cold and wind. Drag a few large logs or stack a few perpendicular to the winter winds and put alfalfa hay next to it about a foot deep. When it gets to fifteen below zero here, I get lots of cam pics of heads sticking up just above the hay. It's for winter survival but the more that survive the winter the more there are to hunt the next season.
Where I've hunted, fruit trees and alfalfa seem to work well. Some apples stay on the limb well into late fall. I have some pear trees that still have fruit. Alfalfa will always bring in deer.
Any trees you plant will need a fence around them for several years. I took the fence down on some cottonwoods that were a good 6" in diameter and when I got home a few weeks ago, one had been shredded. They also destroyed 4 of the 6 3D targets in my pasture. Even a stinking black bear target. Dirty dogs!
Don't overlook a water source. If you can put in a stock tank and find a way to keep it from freezing up, you will have deer use it constantly.
I can pretty much guarantee if your neighbors have cheatgrass and you get rid of it on your property that your property will be like food plots for whitetails....the mule deer will come running. This is especially true if you have remnant native species with a few shrubs and forbs present. The same may be true if there is no other water sources around and your property is the only place within miles with decent water.