Mule Deer Bow Hunting: Tactics to Overcome One of Hunting’s Greatest Challenges

Mule Deer Bow Hunting: Tactics to Overcome One of Hunting’s Greatest Challenges

Hunting mule deer with a bow is something many hunters dream of, but it rarely comes true. The mule deer inhabits a vast area of ​​the western half of North America that is characterized by arid deserts, rugged mountains, forests, and grasslands. Hunting a mature mule deer with a bow is one of the hardest things a hunter can do.

What is mule deer bow hunting?

Bow mule deer hunting can mean different things to different people. Anyone who has spent much time in mule deer country can tell you just how silly a young mule deer can be. It wouldn’t be much of a challenge to drive down the road until you see a herd of immature mule deer, get out of the vehicle and pull off the road, and shoot an arrow at a 1-2 year old mule deer. These deer don’t know any better and for someone who is truly passionate about bow mule deer hunting, this would not be considered an achievement.

For the serious bow mule deer hunter, a mature mule deer is the stuff dreams are made of. A mature mule deer is on a different playing field than a young mule deer. Although a mule deer can successfully breed at 3 years of age, serious mule deer hunters generally refer to a mature mule deer as 4 years or older. This is the age when you begin to see their potential for antler growth and their ability to evade hunters. While antler size will continue to increase through at least their sixth year, depending on nutrition, most hunters (regardless of weapon) will agree that a four-year-old deer is a marksman and has developed the skills to stay alive even with rifle hunters everywhere. the place.

Unfortunately, not many mule deer live more than three years due to the fact that they are shot when they are young and dumb. In general hunting areas where there is no limit to the number of hunters, especially rifle hunters, for a mule deer to reach maturity is to overcome unrealistic odds. If one is able to get through a few years of hunting seasons then one has a sixth sense to beat hunters and taking one with a bow is one of the most difficult challenges a hunter can experience. In the remainder of this article, we will discuss the tactics that can make a hunter consistent in mule deer bow hunting.

Methods for bow hunting mule deer

There are several methods that can be used to hunt a mature mule deer. The most common are Spot and Stalk and Tree Stand or Ground Blinds.

Tree stand and ground shutters

One of the (dare I say) easiest methods of catching a large mule deer with archery gear is to use a tree base or blind on the ground. While you’re sitting there waiting for a dollar it may not require a lot of energy, it does require a lot of patience. Patience is the easy part. The real job is finding a good spot for a mature mule deer to walk through during the day. This requires a lot of work with preseason scouting, trail cameras, and dollar patterns so you have a good idea of ​​where they’ll be when the season rolls around. It is much more difficult than it seems and it takes a long time to be consistent year after year.

Of course, you can simply place your tree stand or blind in the ground at any water hole, food source, or other high deer traffic area and have success with a mature mule deer, but this will require a lot of luck and possibly patience. Once you find a good area that produces big bucks, it’s reasonable to assume that there will be more in the years to come, so this type of hunting becomes easier once you’ve established a good area.

Point and stem:

Although it requires a little more energy than hunting in a tree or blind spot, stalking and stalking bow hunting is usually a faster way to hunt mule deer. The goal is to spot a large, mature mule deer and then stalk it within bow range undetected.

The first thing to remember when hunting mule deer on the prowl and stalking is to be patient. If conditions are not right, wait for them to improve. This could mean waiting for the deer to lie down in a better spot where it can get closer, or waiting for the wind to pick up or change direction to not only carry your scent away from the deer, but also to cover it up. your noise once you get close.


Most mule deer bow hunters who consistently take large mule deer begin their season well before the bucks finish growing their antlers. It is important to have a good idea of ​​what the area has for the large males so that you can develop a minimum size and order that you will focus on first.

Of course, size is not the only factor in determining whether a deer is a shooter or not. An experienced hunter can often judge a deer’s age by body signs and antler configuration. In my opinion, a 6-year-old male with low scoring horns is more of a trophy than a 4-year-old male with great future potential.

For stalking and stalking, it is important to have several shooters selected and in known general locations before the season begins. This is because several stems are usually needed before one is successful. After several years of stalking and stalking bow hunting, I have found that the average success rate for stalkers is 1/6 or so. Of course, it can happen on the first try or it can take 15 times. An inexperienced hunter can go several seasons without having a successful population of mature mule deer.

For to be hunting (tree or blind) it is not as important to have multiple buck shooters sighted as only one mature mule deer is needed in the area and can be hunted all season. Of course, your odds will be greatly increased if you can identify multiple shooters in one area. One thing you don’t want to do in preseason is disturb one area too much. You will run the risk of scaring off the males before you have a chance to start hunting them.

archery practice: One thing that cannot be overlooked is shooting your bow. It doesn’t matter how great of a booth location you have or if you’re the stealthiest person on the planet, if you can’t close the deal when it matters, then you might as well stay home. Of course, everyone who has hunted long enough has either missed or taken a bad shot, but shooting year-round can increase your chances of being able to do it when you need to. One good thing you can do is participate in 3D competitions where you will have the opportunity to shoot life-size deer targets at different positions, angles, and ranges.

During the season:

Once the season has started, you will obviously be targeting the mule deer that you like best. One thing to keep in mind is that with bow mule deer hunting you may not always be able to get the number one buck on your list. Sometimes all you get is one shot, and if it doesn’t happen the first time, you may never see that dollar the rest of the season. That’s why it’s important that you know where other shooters hang out.

Stand Bow Hunting Mua Deer:

If you are sitting in a grandstand, you have to be patient. Just because it didn’t produce much on opening day doesn’t mean the big money won’t show up the next day right where you want it to. I have an impatient friend who moved his tree after opening day because the deer took a different route. He then got camera footage of the male’s trail the next day from the tree he was perched on just 12 hours earlier while he was sitting in a tree a few hundred yards away. I should have put up with it!

Spot and Stalk BowMule Deer Hunting

You should have a good idea of ​​where the good money will be on opening morning if you did a lot of preseason scouting. It is best to be in a position to see it from afar when the first ray of light begins to show. Once you’ve found your desired target, you’ll want to assess the situation and determine if conditions are right to put up a stem right away or to watch and wait until conditions have improved. This is where only experience and common sense can help you, as every point and stem situation is different. Knowing when to continue and when not to, as well as how to do so, will vary greatly depending on how things fall into place.

The same factors that are responsible for most mule deer being unable to reach maturity are the same factors that make them so hard to hit with a bow. Many of the areas they inhabit lack cover to escape the rifle bullets that can shoot over 500 yards. This very fact is why it is difficult to get within bow range of a mature mule deer that has managed to slip past rifle hunters. There just isn’t much cover for a bowhunter to hide behind to get a good shot. In this case, he must use the lay of the land to get close enough for an archery.

Bow mule deer hunting equipment:

Bow mule deer hunting can be made easier with the right equipment. In fact, some equipment is needed to give bowhunters an advantage. Below is a list of archery equipment you’ll want to consider purchasing before beginning your mule deer archery hunt. Just remember that you get what you pay for, so choose the best you can afford, and then upgrade what you can.

  • rangefinder: Knowing the exact distance to your target is a huge advantage, especially when shooting long distances or bow hunting. There are certain specs you’ll want in a rangefinder, so be sure to check out the link below to make sure you get the right one.
  • Binoculars: Stealth and stalking deer hunting requires you to find the deer. It’s amazing how many more deer you can find with the use of binoculars that you wouldn’t otherwise see. They are also essential when stalking, as you need to find the deer before it finds you, which means using your binoculars to pick out the tip of an antler or the flick of a tail.
  • terrestrial telescope: Both are used to detect deer and then be able to judge them to make sure they are worth a stalk. Spotting scopes are also important for finding other deer and anything else that might endanger your stalk that is in its intended path. It’s very easy to get caught by an animal you didn’t know existed. The spyglass is a must for Spot and Stalk Hunting.
  • Boots: When stalking deer, it is important to be as quiet as possible. I have successfully removed my boots and put on my sock before, but with cacti and thistles being prevalent where I hunt, this is simply not feasible. Therefore, I wear light boots made for stalking to close the final distance within bow range. They have saved my feet and helped me be much more stealthy.
  • Camouflage: With deer vision it is not so important to be the same color as the background, but rather to break your silhouette. Also, in typical spot-and-stem habitat, foliage may be dry and yellow on grasses, or green on trees and shrubs. Therefore, it is important to have a camouflage pattern that is highly versatile.
  • there is another team that will give you an advantage that you may want to take advantage of and which we will talk about later.

Experience: now go learn for yourself

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