Western Hunter Magazine July/August 2019 #70 - Page 65

Case Study Hunters tend to gravitate toward obvious ac- cess points like the end of a road penetrating deep into national forest, up a drainage, or a trailhead with good parking and access. A trailhead near my house has many vehicles parked at it for the open- ers of all hunting seasons available. Hunters park, walk up the trails for usually one or two miles, and spread out from there. Meanwhile, a mile down the road is national forest land that touches the highway and has no parking or trailhead access. I killed a 30" Boone & Crockett mule deer less than a mile from the high- way because I hunted a spot that was overlooked, inconvenient to hunt, and it required a 400-yard climb up a really steep hill right off the road. The buck was there because it had good habitat and was a place that had very little human activity other than the rare hunter who wandered in there on the way back from hunting somewhere else. Refining how and where we want to hunt is part art, part science in that we need to not only consider the natural tendencies of hunters and how we move about and access places, but also how animals react. This narrowing down of a unit es- sentially creates an element of efficiency in hunt- ing and can save valuable days. This is especially important on very short season dates, like a 4th season Colorado mule deer tag that is five days long. Mule deer have a level of tolerance for a certain amount of human disturbance. The older a buck gets, the less tolerant he becomes to human scent, sounds, and activities. In Colorado, the population has skyrocketed in the last two decades and summer recreationalists are literally all over the mountains in the months leading up to hunting season. Most alpine basins that have destination lakes have very few deer in them, because for years, deer have been displaced and have just learned to avoid these places. I chose that spot because I had seen deer from the road and also figured it was the right combina- tion of a few situations that could lead to a hidden gem. It came to me in a more instinctual than ana- lytical way, but to break it down, there was a com- bination of factors that led to a successful outcome. 1) No official designated access like a trailhead or access road. 2) Obvious accesses within a mile in each di- rection that hunters naturally gravitate to. 3) An immediate physical barrier or difficult land feature was encountered in a very steep hillside with broken timber. 4) Deer were present there because they were relatively undisturbed by hunters. 5) It was early November and deer were mov- ing through transition ranges and being bumped by hunters from more accessible locations. 6) A light snowfall in early November increased buck movements and activity as they pre- pared for the rut. Gravitating toward such a spot comes naturally to me now, but it was the result of many, many lumps on the head from the school of hard knocks. For me, failure has always been more of a learning tool than success, and when I reflect on why I have had those long winter off-seasons thinking about the one that got away, it usually has to do with not trying hard enough. THE EDGE The Complete Approach to Hunting Mountain Mule Deer BY DAVID LONG & MIKE DUPLAN 29.95 $ Barring extreme luck, bucks like these are not taken in areas that are easy to access or in funnels where people commonly access. Focus on inconvenient, overlooked areas instead. info@westernhunter.net order your copy today at www.westernhunter.net WESTERN HUNTER 65