These are the biggest mule deer kills currently entered into the Safari Club International record book.
Mule deer, so called because of their large, "mule like" ears, are a species of deer predominantly found in the western portions of the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Mule deer often have slightly larger bodies and racks than their more numerous whitetail deer cousins.
Safari Club International recognizes two North American sub-species of mule deer: Rocky Mountain Mule Deer and Desert Mule Deer. Both species may be scored as a typical or a non-typical mule deer entry. Below we've listed the biggest mule deer hunting accomplishments in each category.
SCI uses a scoring system similar to the one used by the Boone and Crockett Club. However, SCI does not deduct the score for non-typical points (on a typical deer) or differences in symmetry. Additionally, SCI does not measure the tip to tip spread or the greatest outside spread of a deer's antlers.
For these reasons, the SCI score for the biggest mule deer buck may be significantly different (higher or lower, depending on the animal) from the B&C score for the same animal.
So if you're looking for the specific "world record mule deer," that's actually a debatable topic. We'll go by SCI's book for these purposes.
All photos courtesy Safari Club International
Typical Desert Mule Deer
The Desert Mule Deer is very similar to the Rocky Mountain Mule Deer, but is slightly smaller in the body. Desert Mule Deer usually weigh 150-200 pounds, though they are sometimes heavier.
Desert Mule Deer are found in southern California, southern Arizona, southern New Mexico, southwestern Texas, northern Sonora, northern Chihuahua, and northwestern Coahuila.
The current SCI #1 typical Desert Mule Deer was hunted by Rick Lamb with a rifle in Sonora, Mexico in December of 2005.
This beautiful buck was a 5x5 and had main beams that measured 26 7/8″ & 25 7/8″ respectively. He had an inside spread of 24″ and had a final score of 222 5/8″.
Non-Typical Desert Mule Deer
The current #1 SCI non-typical Desert Mule Deer was hunted by Chad Roberts with a rifle in Yuma County, Arizona back in October of 2014.
His massive buck had 24 points and his main beams measured over 24″ each. He had an inside spread of 25 7/8″ and scored a whopping 294 4/8″ to surpass the previous record killed by Frederic Decker by nearly 30".
To make this feat even more impressive, Mr. Roberts killed this massive buck without the assistance of a hunting outfitter or a guide.
Typical Rocky Mountain Mule Deer
The Rocky Mountain Mule Deer is the most common type of mule deer and is found across virtually all of United States and Canada west of the Missouri River.
Their range includes, but is not limited to Washington, Oregon, California, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.
Rocky Mountain Mule Deer usually weigh 150-200 pounds, though they are sometimes known to weigh upwards of 300 pounds in some cases.
The SCI #1 typical Rocky Mountain Mule Deer was hunted by Max Johnson with a rifle in San Juan County, Utah in October of 1968.
This magnificent buck was a 5x5 and his main beams measured in excess of 27″ & 29″ respectively. He had a massive inside spread of 36 4/8″ and scored 228 5/8″. Like Mr. Roberts above, Mr. Johnson also killed this muley buck without the assistance of an outfitter. That, combined with the fact that this record has stood for over 45 years, makes this buck even more impressive.
Non-Typical Rocky Mountain Mule Deer
The current #1 SCI non-typical Rocky Mountain Mule Deer was hunted by Steven P. Smith with a rifle near Alton, Utah in September of 2001.
This big buck had an astounding 34 points, good for the largest mule deer rack in the SCI books! Additionally, his main beams measured over 25″ & 24″ respectively to go along with his 20 5/8″ inside spread. Mr. Smith's whopper of a buck scored 317 4/8″, a record that will likely stand for a long time.
Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a photo of this gigantic deer anywhere. For that reason, the photo displayed is actually of the current #2 non-typical Rocky Mountain Mule deer in the SCI record book.
Shot by Michael Benson in November 2009 in Oregon, this buck is still quite impressive in its own right even though it's not the overall record. The buck had 32 points and scored 301 7/8″. This buck is also unique because, not only did Mr. Benson take the buck on a self-guided hunt, but he shot it with a muzzleloader instead of a centerfire rifle.
Obviously, these bucks are orders of magnitude larger than what most us will ever encounter over the course of our hunting careers. However, it's always good motivation to see photos of some of the big or more unique bucks that are out there in preparation for hunting season.