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First Western Mule Deer Hunt #7488240 04/15/19 11:44 PM
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remingtonTX Offline OP
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Well, that happened fast... Was talking with a friend about my new bow purchase and all of a sudden I've been invited to an OTC Mule Deer hunt in Arizona. We're still months out but I'm looking to put together a list of needed items. I've only been hunting for a few years and I've not done any spot and stalk hunting yet. What are the must have items for being out west? I'm having the same discussion with my friend but I just want to make sure all my bases are covered.

Thanks in advance!

Re: First Western Mule Deer Hunt [Re: remingtonTX] #7488253 04/16/19 12:05 AM
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Jan Iím guessing.

Glassing is your life. Highly suggest a good Tripod and head with 10-15x binoís.

Bring extra socks, donít try to get to close with boots on. Infact if you are hunting from a truck donít be scared to hunt out of tennis shoes that way you can stick them in your pack, bring an bright orange beanie or something to leave highly visible when you do drop pack or boots. Having to come back next day for boots is embarrassing and miserable.

Patience is a virtue, get good with hand signals so a buddy can guide you in.

Gear wise layer with fleece etc. bring a pair of leather work gloves and pair of mittens. Mittens for glassing, leather for everything else that like to poke you.

I hunt Jan mule deer season in NM and AZ pretty much every year, my excuse of getting out of New Years junk. Most of all Enjoy the views and country


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Re: First Western Mule Deer Hunt [Re: remingtonTX] #7488302 04/16/19 01:14 AM
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Hunted AZ last September for archery mule deer.

Buy a bear tag they have quite a few of them.

Sept. 1st it snowed on us at high elevation but majority of the time weather was pleasant. It did rain every day though

A lot of folks hunt by driving down the road, spotting deer, pulling over and pulling off a stalk. There isnít a lot of areas where you can go more than a mile and hit a road in the unit we were at.

A lot of areas have coues deer in them as well as a lot of turkey


My advise....mule deer arnt the smartest thing ever, but you need to get comfortable with longer shots. You can expect 60-80 yarders regularly.

Killing just a deer shouldnít be hard but to get a decent buck will require luck and work


For it is not the quarry that we truly seek, but the adventure.
Re: First Western Mule Deer Hunt [Re: remingtonTX] #7488382 04/16/19 02:06 AM
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Thanks for the info guys.

Yea it'll be in January so I've gotta get some cold weather stuff.

For boots, anything in particular to look for? I've got a pair of lacrosse snake boots but I'm not sure they'd be good for walking around in AZ for extended periods.

I'll definitely pick up a bear tag. That would be a great add to the trip!

Re: First Western Mule Deer Hunt [Re: remingtonTX] #7488694 04/16/19 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by remingtonTX
Thanks for the info guys.

Yea it'll be in January so I've gotta get some cold weather stuff.

For boots, anything in particular to look for? I've got a pair of lacrosse snake boots but I'm not sure they'd be good for walking around in AZ for extended periods.

I'll definitely pick up a bear tag. That would be a great add to the trip!


You donít wanna bring snake boots. Go get a pair of danners, schnas, redwing or something similar. I use Irish setter ( red wing) vapor tracks and have had good luck with them for the last few years

At that time you want to hunt the lower elevations as the deer will have migrated down off the mountain ranges. Learn to shoot long range and get you a good pair of glass. Walking & Glassing is 90% of that style of hunting.

And forgo the bear tag, in January they will be hibernating


For it is not the quarry that we truly seek, but the adventure.
Re: First Western Mule Deer Hunt [Re: txtrophy85] #7488748 04/16/19 02:21 PM
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You wonít see bears in Jan. If you do it will be a major exception.

Boot wise just a good overall decent boot, you donít need a real stiff shank. Biggest advantage to a all leather hiking boot is cactus resistance. Something like the Zamberlan track master or Crispi Valdres would be a good option

My biggest and most cherish investment for my Jan mule deer hunts is Tripod and head for my binoís. Itís big country, use your binoís. Iíve hunted Jan mule deer at 10.6k, most of AZ as well as NM is desert high country. Snow comes snow goes. Find the does find the bucks. They will always be where you find them



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Re: First Western Mule Deer Hunt [Re: remingtonTX] #7488907 04/16/19 04:30 PM
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I have not hunted out west but have hunted MD in Texas, Kansas and Alberta(all with a rifle). There were a few of things that came in handy for me on my hunts...A good pair of binos was key to spotting deer, a good spotter/tripod combo to see better detail and a rangefinder for an archery hunt would be very important.....Don't ask me how I know this but some clown should have thought of this before hand... whistle Like posted above good boots and clothing are very important on any style hunt. Good glass is very important for saving you eye fatigue after a long day of glassing. A good spotter will save you lots of steps every day.


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Re: First Western Mule Deer Hunt [Re: stxranchman] #7489077 04/16/19 07:42 PM
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Originally Posted by stxranchman
I have not hunted out west but have hunted MD in Texas, Kansas and Alberta(all with a rifle). There were a few of things that came in handy for me on my hunts...A good pair of binos was key to spotting deer, a good spotter/tripod combo to see better detail and a rangefinder for an archery hunt would be very important.....Don't ask me how I know this but some clown should have thought of this before hand... whistle Like posted above good boots and clothing are very important on any style hunt. Good glass is very important for saving you eye fatigue after a long day of glassing. A good spotter will save you lots of steps every day.


The proper advice is range the animal not the tree, animals may appear closer then what they actually are.... duhhhhhhhh.
roflmao


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Re: First Western Mule Deer Hunt [Re: remingtonTX] #7489098 04/16/19 08:05 PM
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Been hooked on mule deer since 1971, the first time my dad too me at age 11. Bobo and Stx are on the money with their glassing advice. Take the best binos you can afford, a good tripod, sit down and let your eyes do the majority of the work. Good glass in money well spent.

Txtrlophy85 stated a very popular misconception that I cannot let pass, the comment that mule deer are "not the smartest thing ever". Granted just killing an immature mule deer buck isn't a great trick, big mature bucks are a whole 'nother matter. They are extremely smart and elusive, and VERY difficult to kill. Obviously hunting the rut would increase a hunter's chances, but they are still very, very hard to find.

Re: First Western Mule Deer Hunt [Re: Jgraider] #7489113 04/16/19 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Jgraider
Txtrlophy85 stated a very popular misconception that I cannot let pass, the comment that mule deer are "not the smartest thing ever". Granted just killing an immature mule deer buck isn't a great trick, big mature bucks are a whole 'nother matter. They are extremely smart and elusive, and VERY difficult to kill. Obviously hunting the rut would increase a hunter's chances, but they are still very, very hard to find.



Let me clarify this....

I've been around mule deer in 6 states. They are no where near the level of wary that a whitetail is. I've rode 4 wheelers past some nice bucks most hunters would have shot 30 yards off the trail in a heavily hunted national forest and they just stop and stare at me. I have run into some mule deer bucks and does that have been around the block and will knock you off quick and head for the hills, but as a whole, you can get away with stuff while hunting them that you never would with a whitetail.

That being said, a big, mature mule deer, especially in Western states, has spent his lifetime dodging Bullets, Bears, Arrows, Mountain lions, Cars and Trucks and whatever else, so they are scarce and they do live in areas that make for harder hunting.


They are my favorite deer but I'm not gonna sit here and say they are the most intelligent or cagy of the deer species. Just calling a spade a spade.



That being said, I would ask you, hunter to hunter, to resist the temptation to shoot that forkhorn buck that you spot walking 30 yards off the trail as you drive by. Those fork horn and 3x3 bucks make up a large percentage of the harvest and if people would refrain from doing that, no telling what the hunting could become.




For it is not the quarry that we truly seek, but the adventure.
Re: First Western Mule Deer Hunt [Re: remingtonTX] #7489151 04/16/19 08:54 PM
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So what are the biggest muleys you've killed? We'll likely wind up agreeing to disagree on this subject anyway.

Here's my reasoning, besides my own experience hunting them for 46 years.

We've been hunting the same sandhills ranch for 16 years. Prior to the MLD enrollment, most of you know the regular season was the week of Thanksgiving, 9 days. During a good week of hunting if you could manage to see a buck per day, 4-5 does per day, you were doing good. This was a very typical week's worth of hunting. When enrolling the ranch in MLD a couple of years ago, the first census was done via helicopter since this is a 65,000 acre place. The biologist gridded the ranch and flew 1/3 of the place in February, and counted 36 bucks, 35 does, and 33 yearlings, great numbers and distribution obviously. 5 of those bucks (he had pics) were real bombers, 195-215" bruisers, huge bucks anywhere/any time. I was astounded at the numbers, given our talleys during the hunting seasons. We never killed any of those huge deer, even during the rut.

Re: First Western Mule Deer Hunt [Re: Jgraider] #7489184 04/16/19 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Jgraider
So what are the biggest muleys you've killed? We'll likely wind up agreeing to disagree on this subject anyway.

Here's my reasoning, besides my own experience hunting them for 46 years.

We've been hunting the same sandhills ranch for 16 years. Prior to the MLD enrollment, most of you know the regular season was the week of Thanksgiving, 9 days. During a good week of hunting if you could manage to see a buck per day, 4-5 does per day, you were doing good. This was a very typical week's worth of hunting. When enrolling the ranch in MLD a couple of years ago, the first census was done via helicopter since this is a 65,000 acre place. The biologist gridded the ranch and flew 1/3 of the place in February, and counted 36 bucks, 35 does, and 33 yearlings, great numbers and distribution obviously. 5 of those bucks (he had pics) were real bombers, 195-215" bruisers, huge bucks anywhere/any time. I was astounded at the numbers, given our talleys during the hunting seasons. We never killed any of those huge deer, even during the rut.


never killed a real big one, but most of that has to do with being able to draw a tag. Last year I had a 190" buck at 292 yards for almost 45 min....but no tag. The year before that I saw a solid 180" buck. last year we spotted a deer and it was my turn to shoot, but I gave my turn to my friend who had missed a buck the day before and it ended up scoring 165"


Your experience rings true of most people I know who hunt the general season. being on MLD greatly improves the hunters odds. I know in West Texas where I hunt It can vary greatly from the first week to the last. Several days went by this past season where I didn't see a deer one. Another hunter comes in a few days after I leave and the weather changes and he sees 20-30 deer in a day. If the deer are not up and moving, then you won't see them, no matter what. In Arizona last September, we saw more game sign than I've ever seen, but they did not move until right at last light. You wouldn't see jack then right after sunset boom, you would start seeing deer move, but you were real short on light at that point.


That's my experience at least, other hunters in other areas may have different experiences. I will stand by my statement that Mule deer as a species are not wound up nearly as tight as a whitetail, but that doesn't mean they wont disappear on you or if you spot one its gonna be a lay up getting within range.






For it is not the quarry that we truly seek, but the adventure.
Re: First Western Mule Deer Hunt [Re: remingtonTX] #7489193 04/16/19 09:30 PM
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So you want to tell us how mule deer aren't very smart, but you've never killed a big one. OK.

Sorry OP, I did not mean to hijack the thread. My apologies.

Re: First Western Mule Deer Hunt [Re: Jgraider] #7489195 04/16/19 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Jgraider
So you want to tell us how mule deer aren't very smart, but you've never killed a big one. OK.

Sorry OP, I did not mean to hijack the thread. My apologies.


You said big one. I never said I hadn't killed a mature one. Size of the antlers has nothing to do with intellegence


For it is not the quarry that we truly seek, but the adventure.
Re: First Western Mule Deer Hunt [Re: remingtonTX] #7489307 04/16/19 11:37 PM
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Glass, Tripod/head, Boots seems to be the consensus on the most important. While I can't drop the cash on a whole new First Light setup I'll be looking at some pieces to add to my kit. I've already felt the difference in good merino socks so I'll start picking up more of that.

As for glass, I've got my eye on some mid-tier items. I'd love to drop more on it but budget dictates otherwise. Do you guys recommend buying used when it comes to glass? Obviously I'd have to check them out and make sure they're in decent working order first.

OH also, what about a pack? The price range on these can be all over the place.

Finally, while it would be cool to nail a 200" muley I'm just there to get as much experience as possible and hopefully come home with a mature buck. I'll definitely avoid the forks and younger bucks. I appreciate both of y'alls comments, but no need to argue the point. You both have experience and both brought good points to the table.

Thanks!

Re: First Western Mule Deer Hunt [Re: remingtonTX] #7489322 04/16/19 11:59 PM
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I use vortex diamond back 10x42ís. They run about $280. Good bino for thst price.

Nothing wrong with buying used either. Just make sure you buy quality.

I have a cabelas Alaska pack w/frame. Holds a lot and itís light.

When Iím walking around I carry a small backpack. Imo carrying around a full pack all day looks cool on tv but isnít really practical


For it is not the quarry that we truly seek, but the adventure.
Re: First Western Mule Deer Hunt [Re: remingtonTX] #7489324 04/17/19 12:00 AM
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Pack is a product of how you hunt. If you are truck camping I suggest a smaller internal frame like mystery ranch pop up, Remote backcountry, you need a 5k cubic in pack

Clothing is simple

Base layer
Mid layer (fleece)
Optional soft shell
Puffy
Rain layer.

You donít need expensive, although it does make things a touch more comfortable. Stay away from cotton and more the 10% elastic

I typically wear Prana Zion pants, kuiu zip off base layer pants, merino shirt, grid fleece pullover, mountain hardware stretch puffy.

If Iím hunting out of the truck a lot if times I wear a Cableas Berber fleece hoodie wind blocker pull over (wooltimate is another choice... itís to heavy for backcountry camp hunting.

Good neck gaiter is also a strong suggestion I use kuiu fleece or if real cold the Berber fleece cabelas one.

AZ desert temps can be -5 to 80 in January.



**Most importantly take a shovel and chains for your truck just Incase


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Re: First Western Mule Deer Hunt [Re: remingtonTX] #7489356 04/17/19 12:40 AM
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Athlon Midas
Nikon Monarch 7
Leupold BX4 Pro Guide HD
Meopta Meopro
GPO Passion ED

All of these perform at a level that's way above what they cost.

Re: First Western Mule Deer Hunt [Re: remingtonTX] #7489389 04/17/19 01:10 AM
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Here are some "must haves"
1) Quality binoculars and tripod. You will need to glass 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes past sunrise (pay strict adherence to legal shooting hours in the regs). Glass all day. Contrary to popular belief, deer do regularly move during the day.
2) Lightweight stool to sit on while glassing. Lots of cactus in southern AZ.
3) Bring a comb. Makes removing cactus spines (especially cholla) much easier and less painful. Lots of cactus in southern AZ.
4) Wear boots with tough soles even on the stalk. Nothing worse than having cactus spines break off in them and poke your feet with each step. Lots of cactus in southern AZ.
5) Be prepared for any type of weather, even on the same day. Layering is key.
6) Should not need snake boots or chaps. With that said, I have seen rattlesnakes out in 40 degree weather more than once.
7) Do not underestimate the deer. While it is true that they are only thinking about "love" in January, by the time your hunt comes around the area has been hunted hard for 4-5 months.
8) Use a regular backpack. Once a deer is on the ground and broken down, carry out what you can. Come back with the frame pack to get the rest.

Additional Suggestions
1) Read and re-read the AZ hunting regulations until you completely understand them. What may be legal in TX can very well be illegal in AZ.
2) Know how to break a deer down either to quarters or completely de-boned. Tough to throw a field dressed desert mule deer over your shoulder.
3) Do not leave valuables behind in an unguarded camp or in a locked vehicle.
4) The quote "The Night is Dark and Full of Terrors" is true and also applies to daytime as well. Always maintain high-level situational awareness especially in southern AZ. There is a sizable "importation" business along AZ's southern border contrary what the media says.
5) If planning to bring a firearm for self-defense, learn the laws. Some places you cannot have a firearm, period. Others you can (pistol-only) while hunting.
6) Be courteous to Border Patrol and Game Wardens.
7) Get into shape.
8) Consider grabbing javelina and mountain lion tags. They are OTC and not terribly expensive for non-residents.
9) Keep close tabs on rainfall through 2019 for the area in AZ you are planning to hunt. Rainfall totals should play into your game plan.
10) Consider renting your optics. Not terribly expensive to rent Swaro SLC 15s.

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