Have you been dreaming of hunting mule deer mile and miles from the nearest road or highway? Many say that it isn’t hunting that’s the greatest part of the trip, its where the bighorn sheep live. The same thing can be said for real wilderness mule deer hunts. Mule deer live in some of the most uninhabited, magnificent places around the world. Just watching these majestic creatures and the country they live is worth the effort to reach them. With that being said, here is some advice to help make your first mule deer hunt a success.
First and foremost, you have got to get in shape! And I’m not just talking about walking to get the paper once a day or playing a pick up game of basketball on weekends. In order to sincerely enjoy your backcountry mule deer hunt, you should be in the best shape of your life. I realize, that depending on age, this may not be possible, so if that’s the case, try for the best shape you have been in the last five years. The main thing here is to do your best. My fitness program is going for a run three to four times during the week. I begin by walking and then jogging about three months before I go, and when the trip arrives, I’d like to be able to jog for at least an hour straight. This is better than trying to give specified distances. If you can establish a jogging pace for an hour, you should be fit to climb the mountains necessary for backcountry mule deer hunting. Together with jogging, I jump rope, bike ride, hike, and go walking with my backpack (around 50 lbs) . Any of these exercises are great to build the strength you’ll need on the mule deer hunt.
Second, practice shooting your hunting rifle. I recommend shooting your rifle on a weekly basis at distances reaching 300 yards. You will need to know where your rifle will shoot at different ranges. Start out at the 100 yard range with a steady mechanical rest. Experiment with different types of ammo until you find what your particular gun likes and stay with it. I personally like to use Winchester 130 grain Ballistic Silvertips in 270, but each gun shoots different and you have to use the load that works. Once you figure out the direction your gun shoots on the bench, experiment with shooting sticks, prone position, over your pack and also other positions that you’ll run across in the field. Remember you won’t be using a bench in the real hunt and even if you’re an excellent bench shooter, that won’t necessarily make you a great shooter in a hunting situation. You should also practice angles versus distances. Mainly shots at mule deer are either up or downhill and hunters tend to shoot over the deer. Go practice some shots both uphill and downhill. You will be amazed at how much difference a steep angle makes. I would also suggest getting a laser rangefinder to use during your practice sessions. It can also be helpful in learning how to judge mule deer out in the field. Hunting videos by Mossback titled Mulies Gone Wild are a good tool for judging bucks. They report the score after you view footage of the bucks on the hoof.
Third, buy the very best hunting equipment you can. There are some good quality products on the market. Search for the lightest, but sturdiest material for your backpacking and clothing items. I don’t want to go into each item, but a few I recommend include: wool socks I use Smartwool, an internal pack I use a North Face pack, but there are several to choose from, durable, stiff, hiking books – I prefer Lowa Sheephunter boots, and light packable rain gear I use Frogg Toggs. If you hunt with an outfitter, ask for a list of gear to bring and be sure to follow it. Buy good quality binoculars! I like Brunton Epochs in 10.5×43 because of their magnification and weight, but there are many high quality optics out there. Once again, pick up the best gear you can.
Lastly, find yourself some mule deer hunting videos. This will get your blood moving and get you excited about getting that big muley. They will get you motivated to get yourself into shape in the off season and find that deer of a lifetime once deer season opens.
By: David Dukat
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David Dukat and his wife Susan created Hunting Videos Online for all you avid hunters. For more great hunting tips and hunting videos visit www.huntingvideosonline.com.