When asked by friends what formula I’d recommend for successfully hunting mule deer, my usual answer is to match hunting techniques to the type of country you’re hunting in. Here are some tips you may find helpful when hunting muley’s in pinyon-juniper forests.
Pinyon-juniper forests cover millions of acres in the Southwest and harbor unbelievable numbers of mule deer in many places. This forest grows at low elevations and is often accessible to vehicles. Because it grows in thick stands, hunting is extremely difficult.
In many forests, forage isn’t adequate for deer, so they move out into adjacent valleys, clearings, or canyon bottoms to feed. Wary bucks are usually back in the forest at the first hint of daylight, though they might continue to feed in small openings within the forest.
Because foliage from pinyons and junipers usually grows down to the ground, visibility is hampered. Most deer will smell, see, or hear you before you can spot them. A workable strategy is to make a quiet drive with two or three companions.
In this case, an organized effort isn’t necessary because there are few places where standers have a good vantage spot. It’s best to simply walk randomly through the trees in hopes a buck will show himself after being routed by a driver.
There’s an obvious need to be cautious when making a shot because you won’t know exactly where your pals are. Before making the drive, determine the routes you’ll walk and stick to them.
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