Thank goodness for mule deer. There are many reasons we as hunters are so passionate about what we do, and they are different for everybody. Here is a little insight as to how these wonderful animals enrich my life.
- DRAWING THE TAG. This all starts around January. You anxiously await the results of the past hunting season to compare what units did what with regard to hunter success rate, percentage of 4 point plus deer harvested, draw odds for units for the upcoming hunting year. After sifting through and digesting all of this information, you apply to the areas you think gives you the best chance to draw a tag and harvest a monster. Then comes the anticipation of the draw itself. Will you get your first choice? Second? Fifth? Nothing? You check your bank balances to see if you can get a glimpse of the results before they are actually posted. You have your phone or computer on the results page, constantly refreshing, hoping the website doesn’t crash like it has in years past from every other hunter in the state doing the same thing. Then, when you are about to give up for the day, they are up!!! Success! Outstanding! or Failure! How is this possible? I’ve been in a bar when the results have come out and the place lit up like it was New Years Eve.
- PLANNING THE HUNT. Good news, you drew a tag. Thing is, it was your fourth choice, in an area you have never been. Well, thank goodness for the internet. You start using all of your Google prowess in an attempt to glean any and all information that exists in cyberspace on the unit you are going to become intimately familiar over the next year. You try different wording of search topics. Mule deer unit 13 Nevada, Nevada unit 13 mule deer, Unit 13 mule deer, etc. And it works, kind of. You spend hours doing this and get the tiniest scraps of clues. The name of a basin, a road that leads into a drainage, a creek name. You use all of this information, cross reference it with the state provided information, buy a USGS topo map of the area, and cross reference all of THIS with the eye in the sky. Google Earth. By the time the hunt comes, you are so familiar with the terrain from satellite imagery, you have all of the confidence in the world. But the real area is never quite like you expect when you are boots on the ground…
- SCOUTING. Depending on where your hunt unit is, this can be easily accomplished or near impossible. If you can somehow manage to align all of the work/family obligations to give you a weekend or two away from home before the BIG trip away from home, it is a wonderful thing. Just getting a lay of the land is a huge head start. What roads are really roads and what are quad trails? Is this place that looks like a perfect camp site from satellite really perfect? Is it level? Is it the best you can do? That ridge that looks like deer heaven from the topo map, what is it REALLY like? It is fun just to be outdoors, but to be outdoors with a greater purpose is the best.
- PREPARING FOR THE HUNT. This is different from the planning stage. This is where you get all of your gear out and check it. Test it. Make a list of things yo are taking, so you don’t end up 250 miles from home with your binoculars sitting on the bed. (Done that.) Start the body conditioning that will pay huge dividends when humping up the side of a mountain before dawn. Cardio, weights, Yoga!?!? Do you need a new backpack? This is the part where you research which pack is best suited to you purposes at your specific price point. You read all of the reviews, get as much first hand knowledge as possible, and finally make the decision to pull the trigger and get the one that is a little more than you would like to spend but will be so awesome out there on the mountain. You start taking the rifle or rifles out to the range. 100, 200, 300 yard shooting. If you load you own, are you working up a new load? If you use factory, should you stay with what you know or try something else? BANG BANG BANG. It is fun to shoot, but even more fun to shoot with a purpose! I need to be familiar and comfortable with this firearm, shooting this ammo, from these positions, in these conditions. BANG BANG BANG!
- THE HUNT! Well, that is a story unto itself.
And the biggest reason I love mule deer? THEY ARE NOT ELK!!!