collapse
Quality Hunts for over 30 Years Be a more successful hunter!

Author Topic: Resources for Central WA Mulies  (Read 994 times)

Offline acnewman55

  • HWY 2 Hermit
  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Scout
  • ****
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Posts: 381
  • Location: Seattle and Lake Wenatchee, WA
Resources for Central WA Mulies
« on: September 25, 2017, 05:07:13 PM »
I've been hunting mule deer for four years now and I'm struggling to figure it out.

I hunt in the Cascades, almost exclusively in Glacier Peak and Henry Jackson wilderness areas.


I'm self taught; and have had some success...

But I feel like I'm getting lucky, and need to learn more to increase my chances and also get at bigger bucks.

Problem is I can't find any resources that reveal how best to hunt mule deer in this terrain.  There are no rolling hills and sagebrush where I'm at - but that's where all the books and articles assume I'm hunting.

I'm hunting deep drainages with thick timber, and very steep rocky ridges.  When I see images in the books the hills and mountains are much less wooded than what I'm staring at through my binos.

Should I be reading up on blacktail tactics to increase my knowledge or are there resources out there for targeting mule deer in this and similar regions?

Any reading recommendations or tactics suggestions would be appreciated!

Thanks!



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Online Eric M

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Sourdough
  • *****
  • Join Date: Sep 2015
  • Posts: 1059
  • Location: somewhere in time
Re: Resources for Central WA Mulies
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2017, 05:12:18 PM »
I've picked up a few things from podcasts. The Rich Outdoors has Muley Mondays. The Hunt Backcountry podcast is pretty good too if you can stay awake. (His voice puts me to sleep). Also, have you read Robbie Denning's book? He's from Idaho but his book is pretty good.

Offline bigmacc

  • Virtual Campfire
  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Longhunter
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Posts: 714
  • Location: the woods
Re: Resources for Central WA Mulies
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2017, 05:22:55 PM »
I've been hunting mule deer for four years now and I'm struggling to figure it out.

I hunt in the Cascades, almost exclusively in Glacier Peak and Henry Jackson wilderness areas.


I'm self taught; and have had some success...

But I feel like I'm getting lucky, and need to learn more to increase my chances and also get at bigger bucks.

Problem is I can't find any resources that reveal how best to hunt mule deer in this terrain.  There are no rolling hills and sagebrush where I'm at - but that's where all the books and articles assume I'm hunting.

I'm hunting deep drainages with thick timber, and very steep rocky ridges.  When I see images in the books the hills and mountains are much less wooded than what I'm staring at through my binos.

Should I be reading up on blacktail tactics to increase my knowledge or are there resources out there for targeting mule deer in this and similar regions?

Any reading recommendations or tactics suggestions would be appreciated!

Thanks!



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Ist Mulies can be found in all different kind of terrains, from 10 to 12 thousand foot mountain basins to the sweltering deserts of Mexico,farmlands and Agricultural lands. Keep doing what your doing, those deep, dark heavy timbered holes your hunting will hold big Mulies, so will "the wide open spaces". Good optics and lots of glassing are a must for more open country and learning escape routes, bedding areas and trails in and out of those thick, timbered drainages will help you out while hunting the thick stuff :tup:

Offline grade-creek-rd

  • Virtual Campfire
  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Scout
  • *
  • Join Date: Apr 2007
  • Posts: 309
  • Location: somewhere between here and there
Re: Resources for Central WA Mulies
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2017, 09:04:44 AM »
Sounds like your hunting the High Country...maybe pick up a copy of High Country Mule Deer by Mike Eastman...

Grade
There's more to life than hunting...there's fishing too!

Online boneaddict

  • Site Sponsor
  • Administrator
  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Legend
  • *****
  • Join Date: Mar 2007
  • Posts: 41254
  • Location: Selah, Washington
Re: Resources for Central WA Mulies
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2017, 09:14:17 AM »
It takes time and patience.   I absorbed everything I read, but honestly I came on to most of the important stuff on my own.   It's tough right now because of the current herd status in many places.  Absorb what you see.  Tracks, behavior etc. and be open for change.   Take note of the unspoken stuff. 
My website.....DDK Photography
http://ddkphotography.pixels.com

Offline yakimanoob

  • Virtual Campfire
  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Scout
  • *
  • Join Date: Jun 2016
  • Posts: 417
  • Location: Naches
Re: Resources for Central WA Mulies
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2017, 09:23:04 AM »
There are a few YouTube channels that I've enjoyed and learned a lot from. 

Just remember that they're TV shows, with a focus on entertainment.  But that doesn't mean there aren't tips and tactics to be gleaned, and these guys are great hunters.  I've gotten a lot out of re-watching episodes and trying to figure out exactly WHY they're doing what they're doing at given stages (why that basin, why that time of day, why that glassing point, etc).

Randy Newberg - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQOcUD2aFxEjc-_4JJBLYyg

Steven Rinella / MeatEater - https://www.youtube.com/user/MeatEaterTV

SOLO hunter - https://www.youtube.com/user/huntnhouse

I did mention they're TV shows, right?  ;)

Offline JLS

  • Trade Count: (+1)
  • Frontiersman
  • *****
  • Join Date: Nov 2010
  • Posts: 4604
  • Location: In my last tracks.....
  • Groups: Support the LWCF!
Resources for Central WA Mulies
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2017, 09:30:42 AM »
Time spent behind the glass studying mule deer will give you years of reward. As bone said it takes time, and it takes patience. Sometimes the hardest obstacle is knowing how much time to devote to an area that doesn't seem productive versus knowing when to move on to greener pastures. That's a tough call and one that only time and experience will give you.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Matthew 7:13-14

Offline muleracks

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Scout
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jan 2008
  • Posts: 261
Re: Resources for Central WA Mulies
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2017, 10:14:25 AM »
It sounds like you have had some success but want to take a larger buck.  If your goal is a score of 150+ bick you need to keep your finger off the trigger when you see a beautiful 130 or 140 point buck.  Get high, out of the big timber and glass early and late.  Hunt the same spot every year and use what you learn.  Won't be long before you know where the dominant bucks, in your spot,  like to feed and bed.

Offline DOUBLELUNG

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Frontiersman
  • *****
  • Join Date: Mar 2007
  • Posts: 4499
  • Location: Wenatchee
Re: Resources for Central WA Mulies
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2017, 12:08:52 PM »
Due to gestation and lactation demands, migratory public land mule deer does are programmed to seek maximum foraging opportunities.  Migratory public land mule deer bucks in an age class-balanced herd (e.g., Chelan and Okanogan herds, where significant numbers of legal bucks typically survive hunting seasons) have much lower annual nutrition demands than does and have been programmed through predation and hunting pressure to maximize survival over nutrition - a buck under these conditions typically has to survive at least 4.5 years to have a decent probability of breeding success.

With Washington modern firearms seasons typically occurring entirely before the rut (as is true for most general hunting opportunities throughout the west for public land mule deer), hunting mature bucks is primarily on their summer ranges with some opportunity some years on transitional ranges as they begin their fall migration.  During these periods mature bucks are usually still in survival mode, although every several years there is an early onset of rut behavior which results in larger numbers of mature bucks being killed during general seasons - this last happened in 2015, and subsequently pickings were slimmer than usual in 2016 and will be again 2017.  I first experienced this as a young, inexperienced biologist in Wyoming in 1996, and have seen at least three years since when mature bucks got swollen necked and stupid the second half of October.

For those who have the luxury of lots of scouting time, prime scouting occurs late July - early August.  This is because most antler growth is complete but velvet antlers are still growing, and bucks' security is somewhat compromised due to their need to avoid damaging those antlers that are so important for mate selection during the rut.  During this period the hunter has greater opportunities to observe bucks in the open and assess their antler potential as well.  As soon as antler growth is completed mid-late August, bucks will begin to spend more time in security and are less visible.  Generally speaking, bucks located on their summer range hidey holes will be in that same general area, give or take a mile, usually less, until they start to migrate in late October-early November.

The east Cascades are tricky in that mule deer migrate from relatively small winter ranges to relatively large summer ranges.  This means they are naturally dispersed at low densities across a vast range.  This is where topo maps and Google Earth are your friends - you need to predictively locate high security microhabitats that provide bucks what they need to survive - not so much forage and water, both of which are abundant on summer range, but complex topography with multiple escape routes where they are not readily visible to the casual eye, and where they have multiple escape options once targeted and pursued.  Just for fun, because they are not habitat limited on summer range and the Cascades get a LOT of human activity, trophy class bucks located preseason that know they are being observed have an annoying habit of abandoning that area.  I think this is where a lot of hunters make a fatal mistake scouting, being obvious and letting the deer know by sight, smell and hearing that people are in their area.  If you are seriously scouting, you need to act like you are close range hunting - be quiet, be down wind, stick to cover and avoid the nice open grassy ridgelines where the breeze keeps the bugs off.  If you want that buck to still be there when you come back to hunt, you can't let him know you are in his summer habitat.  It's a lot easier to see bucks on the summer range by hitting the ridgelines and sitting where you can glass 180 degrees or more; and a lot more likely you will bump that big buck into a new location.  You need to treat summer scouting like a scout/sniper - it's not enough to get in and see your quarry, you also need to get in and out without being detected yourself.

Start with a good map that has all the hiking trails and start excluding everything that can be seen from them - where the trail goes up a bottom, exclude that entire valley up to the ridgelines; where the trail is on the ridgeline, exclude all the basins that can be looked down into.  Trophy bucks avoid being seen from the trails.  This is not a bad thing, as it helps exclude a lot of terrain from consideration.  Next, switch over to good, detailed topographic maps - you can download them for free from the USGS store, and they have multiple layers showing both aerial photo layers and topographic layers.  Here is where you are going to look for small scale, complex topographies that aren't visible from any trails.  I've attached an example of what one of these might look like (for scale, this is about 1300x1500 yards): very complex topography, lots of small openings near cover, and multiple escape routes from almost anywhere - looks like a real bitch to scout, much less kill a buck in if you do find him.  That's why he is there :)
« Last Edit: September 26, 2017, 12:17:26 PM by DOUBLELUNG »
As long as we have the habitat, we can argue forever about who gets to kill what and when.  No habitat = no game.

Offline Bushcraft

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Scout
  • ****
  • Join Date: Aug 2008
  • Posts: 325
  • Groups: NRA, SCI, NSSF, RMEF, RMGA, MDF, WSF, DU, HHC, WWC, WDAC
Re: Resources for Central WA Mulies
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2017, 12:53:23 PM »
Due to gestation and lactation demands, migratory public land mule deer does are programmed to seek maximum foraging opportunities.  Migratory public land mule deer bucks in an age class-balanced herd (e.g., Chelan and Okanogan herds, where significant numbers of legal bucks typically survive hunting seasons) have much lower annual nutrition demands than does and have been programmed through predation and hunting pressure to maximize survival over nutrition - a buck under these conditions typically has to survive at least 4.5 years to have a decent probability of breeding success.

With Washington modern firearms seasons typically occurring entirely before the rut (as is true for most general hunting opportunities throughout the west for public land mule deer), hunting mature bucks is primarily on their summer ranges with some opportunity some years on transitional ranges as they begin their fall migration.  During these periods mature bucks are usually still in survival mode, although every several years there is an early onset of rut behavior which results in larger numbers of mature bucks being killed during general seasons - this last happened in 2015, and subsequently pickings were slimmer than usual in 2016 and will be again 2017.  I first experienced this as a young, inexperienced biologist in Wyoming in 1996, and have seen at least three years since when mature bucks got swollen necked and stupid the second half of October.

For those who have the luxury of lots of scouting time, prime scouting occurs late July - early August.  This is because most antler growth is complete but velvet antlers are still growing, and bucks' security is somewhat compromised due to their need to avoid damaging those antlers that are so important for mate selection during the rut.  During this period the hunter has greater opportunities to observe bucks in the open and assess their antler potential as well.  As soon as antler growth is completed mid-late August, bucks will begin to spend more time in security and are less visible.  Generally speaking, bucks located on their summer range hidey holes will be in that same general area, give or take a mile, usually less, until they start to migrate in late October-early November.

The east Cascades are tricky in that mule deer migrate from relatively small winter ranges to relatively large summer ranges.  This means they are naturally dispersed at low densities across a vast range.  This is where topo maps and Google Earth are your friends - you need to predictively locate high security microhabitats that provide bucks what they need to survive - not so much forage and water, both of which are abundant on summer range, but complex topography with multiple escape routes where they are not readily visible to the casual eye, and where they have multiple escape options once targeted and pursued.  Just for fun, because they are not habitat limited on summer range and the Cascades get a LOT of human activity, trophy class bucks located preseason that know they are being observed have an annoying habit of abandoning that area.  I think this is where a lot of hunters make a fatal mistake scouting, being obvious and letting the deer know by sight, smell and hearing that people are in their area.  If you are seriously scouting, you need to act like you are close range hunting - be quiet, be down wind, stick to cover and avoid the nice open grassy ridgelines where the breeze keeps the bugs off.  If you want that buck to still be there when you come back to hunt, you can't let him know you are in his summer habitat.  It's a lot easier to see bucks on the summer range by hitting the ridgelines and sitting where you can glass 180 degrees or more; and a lot more likely you will bump that big buck into a new location.  You need to treat summer scouting like a scout/sniper - it's not enough to get in and see your quarry, you also need to get in and out without being detected yourself.

Start with a good map that has all the hiking trails and start excluding everything that can be seen from them - where the trail goes up a bottom, exclude that entire valley up to the ridgelines; where the trail is on the ridgeline, exclude all the basins that can be looked down into.  Trophy bucks avoid being seen from the trails.  This is not a bad thing, as it helps exclude a lot of terrain from consideration.  Next, switch over to good, detailed topographic maps - you can download them for free from the USGS store, and they have multiple layers showing both aerial photo layers and topographic layers.  Here is where you are going to look for small scale, complex topographies that aren't visible from any trails.  I've attached an example of what one of these might look like (for scale, this is about 1300x1500 yards): very complex topography, lots of small openings near cover, and multiple escape routes from almost anywhere - looks like a real bitch to scout, much less kill a buck in if you do find him.  That's why he is there :)

Excellent post!
Liberalism is the philosophy of Western suicide.

*Proud supporter of NRA, NRA-ILA SCI, SCIF, SCI-PAC, NSSF, RMEF, RMGA, MDF, WSF, DU, WWA, HHC, WWC

Offline JLS

  • Trade Count: (+1)
  • Frontiersman
  • *****
  • Join Date: Nov 2010
  • Posts: 4604
  • Location: In my last tracks.....
  • Groups: Support the LWCF!
Re: Resources for Central WA Mulies
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2017, 01:35:50 PM »
Great post Doublelung!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Matthew 7:13-14

Offline DOUBLELUNG

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Frontiersman
  • *****
  • Join Date: Mar 2007
  • Posts: 4499
  • Location: Wenatchee
Re: Resources for Central WA Mulies
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2017, 03:19:40 PM »
Thank you for the kind words.  I've been very fortunate to have had an early career that let me spend a vast amount of time (17 years, year round) with mule deer and other big game, on the ground and in aircraft, all funded by hunter license dollars; and to attend dozens of meetings and workshops with game bios from throughout the west, where the unpublished knowledge shared around pitchers after hours is incredible. 
As long as we have the habitat, we can argue forever about who gets to kill what and when.  No habitat = no game.

Online boneaddict

  • Site Sponsor
  • Administrator
  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Legend
  • *****
  • Join Date: Mar 2007
  • Posts: 41254
  • Location: Selah, Washington
Re: Resources for Central WA Mulies
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2017, 05:38:39 PM »
The later part would have been especially cool.
My website.....DDK Photography
http://ddkphotography.pixels.com

Offline bigmacc

  • Virtual Campfire
  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Longhunter
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Posts: 714
  • Location: the woods
Re: Resources for Central WA Mulies
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2017, 06:06:00 PM »
The later part would have been especially cool.

 :chuckle: :tup: :tup: