If I could only hunt one animal in Montana it would be mule deer. Especially on the prairies and breaks of the eastern half of the state. After chasing them from the Sweet Grass Hills on the Candian border, northeast to Malta and Glasgow, the Missouri River Breaks, and south east to Ekalaka, Broadus, and Ashland I have to agree with those that say a big, mature mule deer is the toughest big game animal to harvest. Montana is not known as a “trophy” mule deer destination. The state manages primarily for opportunity versus quality. A buck scoring over 180″ in Montana is a rarity on public land. Fortunately we are seeing populations rebound after the horrible winter of 2010/2011. This year it was not unusual to see 100-200 deer in a day of hunting. Most were does, fawns and small bucks. But if you were willing to hike back in a couple of miles from the nearest road you could find some mature animals. We hunt hard, enjoy modest success, celebrate every buck and give thanks for the vast amounts of public land that allow a hunter to get off the beaten path.
Here are a few notes and pictures from the last few years. All of these bucks were taken on public land, and far from any roads!
2017 – What a year for mulies! We are continuing to see an increase in mature bucks. Late precipitation in the fall of 2016 combined with a mild winter helped improve the herd. We also noted many does with twins, and even a few with triplets. I took my friends Dick Adams and Larry Higginbotham hunting and we all took nice bucks. A week later, Tami showed us all up with her huge mulie !
2016 – This was another great year for good bucks. I took my best public land buck to date and Tami shot a wide 4×4, her best as well. I took my nephew Conner Cross out on the last weekend and we found him a shooter as well.