When bowhunters think about hunting out west, they think about going after bugling bulls in the middle of September when the rut is in full swing. The same can be said for mule deer: most bowhunters hunt them when their antlers are hard and they are chasing does. Although that is what most people do, there are advantages to hunting elk or mule deer early before the rut gets started.
One advantage to hunting elk or mule deer early is during the first week of the season, patterning the animals can be fairly easy. A bachelor group of whitetails can often be spotted during the early season on the same food plot daily at the same time. Elk and mule deer often feed and water in the same places every day at about the same. If you see an elk on your scouting camera in the early season drinking in a water hole chances are he does about the same thing every day. Mule deer bucks often have habitual feeding and watering habits as well.
The Author (pictured here) understands the value of early season hunting for mule deer.
You can often set your watch to the habits of an early season mule deer. The last couple years, I have hunted mule deer during the early season in Colorado. Last year, I tagged a mule deer buck in velvet within a few days of the opener. It was 90 plus degrees when I shot the buck and although it didn’t feel like bowhunting weather to me, the buck I shot, along with several others, was feeding in a small apple orchard every day at about the same time. Matt Guedes, a Mathews pro-staffer and I put up a Double Bull blind amongst the apple trees and the rest, as they say, is history.
Over the years, Guedes has killed several monster mule deer and all of them have been arrowed during the early season. “Patterning big bucks can be fairly easy in the early season,” said Guedes. “Sitting in the hot weather for hours at a time can be difficult but patterning the bucks isn’t.” Guedes often scouts for a few days before season in the early evening to determine where bucks are feeding and bedding and when opening day arrives, he is sitting in a blind.
If you are considering going out west on a do-it yourself hunt, consider going during the early season. You will likely have the backcountry to yourself.