Here are the 5 biggest mistakes made by new mule deer hunters. If you’re new to mule deer hunting and want to be successful, avoid these!
1. Not Keeping the Wind in Your Favor
The number-one mistake new mule deer hunters make is not paying attention to the wind. A deer’s nose is one of its best defenses against predators: unlike a human nose, it can process several different smells at the same time. When you’re out hiking, make sure you’re checking the wind direction regularly and keep it blowing towards you. Never walk with the wind blowing in the direction you’re walking if you want to see deer.
2. Not Being Proficient With Your Weapon
Every hunter eventually misses: it’s just something that happens. But don’t make the mistake of only shooting your rifle once or twice during the week or weekend leading up to deer season. To be proficient when you’re exhausted from hiking for miles, when your adrenaline is pumping, and when you’re shaking with buck fever, you’ll need to rely on muscle memory, and that’s built from lots of practice!
3. Relying on Products for Success
There are a ton of hunting products on the market, and many are cover scents or scent control. No matter what you wash your clothes in, what deodorant you use, or even what cover scent you use, if a deer is down wind of you, it’s going to smell you. After all, with every breath you take, you’re filling the air with human scent.
These products can certainly help in certain situations, but don’t depend on them for your success.
4. Hunting Too Close to Roads
It’s not uncommon for new mule deer hunters to feel comfortable hunting near the road. However, in most western states, deer have the ability to get away from roads because of the huge amount of federal public land. As a result, while there are exceptions, deer do their best to avoid spending much time near roads. Therefore, if you’re spending most of your time within a couple hundred yards of the road, your odds of seeing a nice buck are fairly low.
5. Being Impatient
The west has a large variety of predators, from grizzly bears to wolves, and each has an impact on the population. While overall success remains good in most regions, at some point, you might feel like giving up. Giving up is a big mistake, because you can’t fill your tag from the comfort of your sofa! There are a lot of stories out there of people filling their tags on the last hour of the last day. Keep at it until time has run out.
(Dis)honorable mention: Not Scouting
Whether your planned method of hunting is to glass clearings, hunt from a tree stand or hike ridge lines, your odds are greatly hindered when you don’t do any pre-season scouting. How do you know if the area you’re in holds a trophy-class buck or nothing but does? You don’t, unless you get out there and scout!