MonsterMuleys.com

Preseason Scouting

Preseason scouting is probably the most important element in hunting trophy mule deer. And, there is no better time to do it than in the middle of the summer, before they get ran all over the mountain.
The most successful mule deer hunters usually spend many days each summer searching for one particular monster buck, or atleast an area that looks promising. They spend countless hours glassing canyon after canyon, checking waterholes and springs, and locating trails between bedding and feeding areas.

The fact is, the more time you spend in the field, whether it be scouting or hunting, of better chance you have locating and ultimately harvesting a trophy buck. Big bucks are so few and far between that only going out for a couple days on opening weekend of the hunt just won't produce year after year. Sure, you might get lucky every 10 or 15 years, but if you want to produce every year, or every couple years, then you'll need to spend plenty of time both scouting and hunting.

Another excellent tool for scouting are the record books. Both the Pope & Young and the Boone & Crockett record books will help lead you in the right direction. Start by looking at animals that have been taken in the last 2-5 years. If there's a particular county that has produced more than a couple record book animals in the past 5 years, then it's definitely an area that diserves additional research.

Topographical maps are must, you have to have them. Big bucks are going to found in remote, hard to get to areas more often than not, and you need to know where these remote areas are. Many topo maps are out-of-date and don't show all the roads and ATV trails on a particular mountian, but they are a good place to start.
Once you've decided on a place you want to research further, sit down with your topo maps and begin getting a feel for elevations, acess roads, and trials. Make a plan as to how you want to go about scouting the area, which trail you'll walk in on, where the nearst road access is from every direction, and which slopes are south facing.

Every mountain range has some remote canyons that just don't get hit as hard as the rest, and these are the places to begin your scouting. When you find an area that looks "Bucky", as Kirt Darner would say, get out your topo maps and start locating possible water sources. Then, find a good vantage-point where you can see plenty of country and begin glassing.
Early morning and late evening is when you'll see the most deer, so make sure your eyes are glued to those binoculars during those times. That first half-hour of daylight is going to be the most valuable half-hour of the entire day. So, make the most of it. Make sure you're already in position before the sun rises.
Those big bucks will often start heading for the timber as soon as the sun begins to peek over the horizon.

The more areas you can scout each summer, the better. Big bucks are tough to find, and the more hillsides you spot, the better chance you have of finding what you're looking for.