Mule Deer Hunting Washington DC

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Patuxent Research Refuge
(301) 497-5761
10901 Scarlet Tanager Loop
Laurel, MD
Other Activties
Auto Touring; Fishing; Hiking; Hunting; Interpretive Programs; Visitor Center; Wildlife Viewing

Patuxent Research Refuge
(301) 497-5510
10901 Scarlet Tanager Loop Laurel
Laurel, MD
 
Shakespeare Theatre Inc
202547323
450 7Th St Nw
Washington, DC
 
Aaa Police Supply
781326884
940 Providence Hwy
Dedham, MA
 
Sugarmann, Joshua Alan
202822820
1730 Rhode Island Ave Nw #1014
Washington, DC
 
Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge
(703) 490-4979
7603 High Point Rd
Lorton, VA
Other Activties
Hiking; Hunting; Interpretive Programs; Wildlife Viewing

Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge
(703) 490-4979
7603 High Point Rd Lorton
Lorton, VA
 
Arena Stage
202554906
Sixth St & Maine Ave Sw
Washington, DC
 
Greg Derr Precision Arms
781834322
879B Old Main Street Ext
Marshfield, MA
 
Firearms And Explosives Services Division
202648716
99 New York Avenue,Ne,Room 6S144
Washington, DC
 

Mule Deer Hunting Roundup

mule deer huntingMule Deer inhabit the greatest variety of terrain in the West.  Their habitats can range from badlands, river bottoms, prairies, mountains, canyons, farm fields and dang near anything in between. They exist in huntable populations in all 11 western states, plus the 6 neighboring states in the Great Plains. The states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas are frequently overlooked when talking about mule deer hunting, but when examining your opportunities, it helps to keep all of your options in mind.  I’m going to try to lay out what sets each state apart in terms of hunting opportunities with this article, and why I’d choose one over another.

For starters, let’s look at how to get tags. Most of the western states require a drawing of some sort in the spring or early summer. Those same states usually have a few leftovers after the drawing, especially in some of the less desirable units.  Units can be undesirable due to many factors, but most notably difficult public land access.  Sometimes it’s not so much that the unit is unpopular, it’s just that there are a lot of tags issued. Where supply exceeds demand, usually due to a combination of high density populations and low success rates, there will frequently be leftover tags.

If you aren’t willing to get into a draw, or it’s too late, and you don’t want to get a leftover tag due to the feeling that you aren’t getting your choice of the better areas, what’s left for you?  Much of Washington has over the counter tags, even in the east where the mule deer are.  Idaho also operates under a general license for nonresidents.  California and Nebraska have first come-first served quota limited units that don’t draw out very early.  Other options include Oklahoma and Texas that, where you’d really be better off hunting the private lands for mule deer.  Their licenses are unlimited, but the only significant public lands with mule deer on them are by drawing only.

Mule Deer Densities

Deer densities vary widely based mostly on habitat factors.  Good mule deer densities start at around 10 per square mile.  It’s difficult to get good numbers, but it’s probably a fair guess that South Dakota’s Black Hills and Nebraska’s Pine Ridge has about the same mule deer density as Wyoming’s portion of the Black Hills.  If that’s the case, then something on the order of 12-15 mule deer per square mile is a reasonable assumption.  Don’t forget that there are at least as many whitetails as mule deer in those areas and total deer density is closer to 30 deer per square mile.  That’s getting closer to what eastern hunters are used to seeing, and actually better than much of the Northeast.

Few places can do much better than about 15 mule deer per square mile.   Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Oregon have a few units that can reach or exceed 15 mule deer per square mile.  Given the location of some of Wyo...

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Mule Deer: Those Western Deer

It was clearly the peak of the rut and, in the narrow draw below me, a doe pranced coquettishly through the brittle cottonwoods, keeping well out of reach of the husky buck that dogged her trail. Though confident that her magic scent would draw him on, she stopped every 50 meters or so to gaze intently down her back trail, evidently impatient for the buck to catch up.

I'd spotted the pair just minutes after taking my stand behind tangle of wild rose cane along the upper flank of the draw and, for the better part of a half hour, I watched the doe lead her beau up through the cottonwood stand and out into the scattered patches of scrub now bathed in the first warmth of the November sun. They'd materialized like gray ghosts from behind the screen of branches and early morning frost. One moment the draw had been devoid of life and out of nowhere the doe appeared, standing stock-still and gazing intently along her back trail, her grayness blending into the morning half-light.

Her behavior was that of a doe in heat. Seconds later, the buck stepped out into the open, gray, stocky high racked. There was no need to see the white rump patch nor the black-tipped tail to know this was a mule deer buck. Trouble was, to be legal in the area of Alberta I was hunting, a buck needed to have at least four points or better on at least one side, brow points not included, and while the buck below me sported a relatively high and wide rack, it failed to meet that minimum requirement. The best I could do was watch and learn from unfolding tryst.

I've hunted mule deer in high mountain ridges, in the verdant lodgepole pine forests of the foothills and from atop haystacks in the open plains but no matter where they live, these animals are easily recognizable in the soot grey coloration, their stocky appearance, their oversized ears and their characteristic four-legged bouncing gait. In the dim light of early day a mulie buck might sometimes be mistaken for a big whitetail buck at first glance, but out in the open the differences become readily apparent.

As a species, mule deer likely evolved in Eurasia and made their way to North America by way of the land bridge across the Bering Sea some two million years ago, and, judging by fossil remains, exist now largely unchanged. However, their new habitat, it appears, suited them better than their original range since mule deer eventually disappeared in Eurasia. They found a perfect niche in the rumpled spine of North America, thriving in the western plains, the montane meadows of the Rocky Mountains and in the temperate coastal redwood forests of the Pacific Rim, a range they likely had to themselves until the relatively recent westward whitetail expansion.

Today, there is considerable overlap in the range of mulies and whitetails, especially in areas like western Saskatchewan, Alberta and eastern British Columbia. While whitetails favor second growth forest cover and mulies seem to prefer the more open shrub brush, I've...

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