There are some things that you don’t learn by sitting in an armchair. That being said, the pro hunters among us have learned a few things the hard way and have shared their experience so we can avoid making those same mistakes.
We spoke to some of the time-served professional hunters we know and collated some of the best advice they had to give. If you want to know how to score a mule deer with minimum mistakes made, then read on. Learn the lessons of those who came before. It’s just easier for everyone.
Mistakes to Avoid when Hunting Mule Deer
There are a few crackers. Here are our favourites…
Parking in the Deer’s Range of Sight
One of our favourite pieces of advice is about using different spots from the person that was there before you. If you don’t, the animals get used to you. The story goes that this hunter found a den overlooking the car parking spot everyone used. Don’t get caught in that trap and leave your vehicle elsewhere. The same goes for hunting dens… You never know how loud the last hunting group were.
Taking Smelly Supplies
Everything has a smell, right down to your comb. Anything that you use on a day-to-day will stink to a mule deer. Keep away from things like garlic or kippers – anything that’s going to make you smell stronger. This goes for lotions, soaps, bug sprays… all of it is going to amplify the sense of a foreign object in the deer’s habitat. Bug spray is a necessity, yes, but it shouldn’t make you stand out from your environment.
Spreading your Scent Out
You might think that moving to a new spot will increase your chances of catching your mule deer, but it’s not always the case. Every time we move, we spread our scents around. Try to think of it as a spider web of smells. The deer will avoid anywhere this smell is because it is naturally terrified of predators and you are an unknown factor. Stay upwind if you can, move only if you have to once you pick your spot, and be prepared for your smell to dissipate before a deer emerges.
Cutting through Heavy Undergrowth
You will be both seen and heard when you cut through the forest. The denser the undergrowth, the more the chances of being seen, heard, and eventually smelled. If the animals of the forest are calling out a warning that you are on the move, the deer will run. This is why it is best to pick a spot and lay low in wait.
You need good hunting clothing that can keep you warm, dry, and protected while you are out in the wilds. Forgetting parts of kit, not matching their camo, or not wearing enough layers are all mistakes that a rookie hunter makes… and all of them could potentially get you into trouble. Be safe, be prepared, and always tell someone when you will be home. That way they know if they need to send out the search party.