Colorado mule deer is one of the most fun big game animals to hunt! We have had a great deal of success hunting these animals; however, when compared to elk hunting, this animal is much easier to pursue! We have hunted mule deer in just about every environment/location within the state of Colorado. We have successfully harvested many big mature bucks from the mountains to the eastern plains. Our success and strategies differ slightly when you compare the two environments (Mountains vs. Plains).
When we hunt mule deer in the mountains, we like to get as high as we can to provide us a vantage point to glass multiple drainages and clear cuts; this part of the hunt can be very tedious and time consuming. Sometimes we have to keep moving along mountain ridges until we find what we are looking for. Sometimes this can take days of hiking into new locations and getting up very high in elevation. Deer, like most big game only like to move in the early morning and evening hours. You have to consider this as many deer do not always feed during the middle of the day, especially if the weather is unseasonable warm. Colder hunting seasons and Rut actions provide for better times to hunt deer as they tend to be more active.
Once we have been able to find a buck we like, then wind, terrain, distance and our current location all are taken inon quick consideration before we make a plan and move. Most deer stick to the same areas, even when spoked; however, you never want to push a bad position to still risk losing a good buck. Time of day also plays its part; sometimes you find your target animal with minimal light left in the day, using a good GPS program like BaseMap or OnXmaps to mark your location and the animal, aids in planning for the next day to put yourself in a great position.
The best part of hunting mule deer is the stalk! This is the final approach/plan we use to put our selves in the best position to take an ethical shot at a dream animal. When we do this right, we have high success recovering and harvesting a once in a lifetime trophy.
Eastern Plains deer hunting can be similar to Mountain hunting if there are large ridges and hills accessible to you. When these are not available, we tend to focus our attention on areas of vegetation, (Trees, Shrubs, water holes, etc…). Most of Colorado’s Eastern Plains are private property. All Plains areas hold large mature mule and whitetail deer. Sometimes the difference between having success in these areas of Colorado simply comes down to permission. We use a book called, Western Cartographers (The Red Book). This book is updated every few years and provides individuals with land ownership names, phone numbers and addresses. They organize it by Colorado County and it costs anywhere from $25 to $35 dollars. Sometimes local banks and stores carry a copy for sale; however, we just order updated books every 3 to 5 years. It is a detail book that aids hunters in finding out who owns what property and gives them a better chance to seek permission to hunt.
We have used this book in two ways:
- to contact a number of property owners or the largest areas owned by 1-3 people to gain permissions before a season begins which provides us a starting point for hunting.
- as an “on the fly” resource, if we see a desired buck on property we use the “Red Book” to attempt permission. Overall, this resource has been one for the most valuable tools to us when hunting Eastern Colorado.