3 Rules to Follow When Glassing for Mule Deer
There’s no doubt that interest in western mule deer hunting has continued to increase over the past 10 years. From the rolling country of the high plains, to oxygen-deprived timberline basins, the majestic figure of the mule deer has captured the imaginations of hunters worldwide. Entire magazines, websites and books have been dedicated to the pursuit of mule deer. Whether stalking them with a bow under the hot September sun, or taking to the field with a rifle during the cold November rut, there is something special about this western icon.
Here at SNS Outfitter & Guides, we have certainly seen an increased interest in hunting big mulies. Wyoming is one of the best and most accessible places in the country to hunt mule deer. From the rugged alpine country of the Greys River to the windswept plains, we love guiding mule deer hunters, and we’ve learned a few lessons along the way.
Over the next several weeks, we will feature a series of articles on mule deer hunting. To kick off the series, we would like to discuss one of the most important elements: glassing. Like many other western species, including antelope, hunting mule deer requires a great deal of time behind the glass.
Here are our top three rules to follow when glassing for mule deer:
- Glass until your eyes bleed… then glass some more.
If you aren’t looking through your binoculars, you’re not seeing enough mule deer. Of course this will feel natural when looking outside 200 yards. But even those hillsides inside 100 yards deserve a thorough combing with the glass. Don’t rely on your naked eye. Mule deer are incredibly hard to see when they aren’t moving. Even at close distances, it’s amazing what you can spot behind a clump of sage. Sometimes, an ear or the tip of an antler is enough to give them away.
- Mule deer can hide anywhere. Don’t give up.
If you glass an area and don’t see any deer, it doesn’t mean there aren’t any. Mule deer hunting takes patience, even if it means looking at the same hillside 100 times. Because on that 101st time, suddenly there will be a deer standing there. They can hide in seemingly impossible places. Keep your binoculars up and keep looking.
- Glass early and late.
Mule deer are habitual travelers. They may move long distances overnight between water, feeding and bedding areas. And unless bumped, they will often follow the same patterns. They generally water at night, so your best chance to catch them moving is in the first few hours and last few hours of daylight. Spend these hours behind the glass and you’ll see deer. That means getting out of camp in the dark, and returning in the dark. Those precious hours are not the time to spend hiking…or sleeping. Be set up behind your glass at that first break of daylight, and you’ll significantly increase your chances for success.