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Desert Mule Deer Questions #archery

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I have spent my entire life hunting black-tail deer in western Oregon and going to attempt to learn and hunt SW desert mule deer. I have several questions if anyone is willing to help me out. PM’s are welcome. The unit and general locations or at least mountains and flats are picked out so not looking for that type of information. I’m sure a lot of my blacktail deer and Roosevelt elk knowledge will transfer over plus I have bought and read a few mule deer books. I have created a few blacktail deer hunting podcasts if people are interested in my tips and tactics. Thank you for any help.

1. Is it still worth to sit and glass through the day waiting for a buck to get up and move bedding location as the sun moves causing the buck to lose his shade? Will a buck get up for a quick bite to eat and re-bed mid-morning or day?

2. Would you only focus on dry washes or is going up on the ridges and mountains work as well? I have found spots that have shade on north facing sides of very large boulders or ridge tops that have game trails and didn’t know if they are worth glassing from a distance.

3. Not sure where any guzzlers or water holes are but is it worth glassing one from a distance hoping to catch a buck during daylight hours and follow or wait for him to bed before putting on a sneak?

4. I heard the monsoons only rain in sporadic small areas that green-up each year and that changes with each storm. The deer then follow these small green-up areas after the monsoon. Is that true and should a hunter be putting on the miles by vehicle, hiking and glassing to find and watch over these green-up areas?

5. How easy would it be to use tcams out in the desert and is it even worth it? Should a hunter wait for after rifle season is over before putting out tcams so people don’t find them and possibly steal or break them? Do desert mule deer use specific trails to place a tcam or is water holes/guzzlers the best option? There is not a lot of tall enough ridge peaks or large enough boulders to make a north facing shade all day long for wildlife in this unit. Would those potential shaded daytime bedding spots be good for tcams?

6. It seems almost too hot to spend a lot of time scouting before archery season starts in October and rifle in November in the desert unit I’m going to hunt. What would be the best months to scout if June-Sept can be 100+? I’m assuming Oct-May but is it worth it? Do these deer really move during different times of the year or can a specific buck be found in the same general location year-round? Would scouting anytime outside of Oct and Nov really be about scouting the terrain and habitat; not about scouting a specific buck?

7. Is there any different plant diversity in the white sand/soil locations and if so have you noticed if the deer use them any more than other locations?

8. I know the entire unit has very few deer compared to its size but how do you tell if you’re in a good spot based on the sign? Is any deer sign mean you’re in a good area? It is probably going to take me a little bit to figure this out since I’m sure it is going to be different compared to blacktail deer sign in the temperate rainforest of western Oregon.

9. My plan was to have specific spots to glass from and sit at that one spot for a complete morning or evening hunt. Would this be your suggestion, or do you pick several spots to move and glass from?

10. Do desert mule deer bucks bed in the same location multiple days? Say I glass a buck but can’t get to him before dark. Could I hunt to same spot the next day and expect him to bed in the same or fairly close spot?

11. Do the older larger antler bucks tend to be down in the dry washes or mountains and ridges? I have noticed the larger Cascade blacktail/mule deer like the tops or just below the top of mountains and ridges.

12. Is it worth still hunting an area where other hunters may come through or people drive any type of vehicle legally or illegally? Seems like blacktails will hunker down and wait for people to go by but stay in the area. Will desert mule deer do the same or will they leave the area completely forcing you to change your hunting plans and spot?

13. How do the desert bucks typically feed and then work towards bedding area in the morning? Are they feeding in dry washes then heading up onto ridges and mountains? Staying in the dry washes all day but under a tree with shade?

14. Do the bucks usually look for steep rocky bedding areas, a single tree with shade in a dry wash, a group of trees….?

15. What kind of change do you see with bucks once the rifle season begins?


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