Photo gallery

Hunting Mule Deer
Around the Greater Yellowstone Region
of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana

Trophy Mule Deer Buck, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Hunting
Trophy Mule Deer buck in the woods of Jackson Hole Wyoming


Trophy Mule Deer Buck Greater Yellowstone
Wyoming nontypical mule deer buck

Mule Deer are one the most exciting and beautiful big game animals in the world. Large mule deer bucks are very crafty and are a challenging hunt. Sport hunters kill about 1 million mule deer annually and hunting generates hundreds of millions of dollars and maybe billions in revenue for the economy of the west and is a valuable asset for hunting communities. Mule deer are also an asset to the thousands of people in cities that manufacture hunting and camping products.

The mountains and plains of Eastern Idaho, western Wyoming and southwestern Montana are all famous for producing big mule deer bucks. Most early hunting expeditions were by pack train to the fabulous backcountry and today’s hunts remain quite the same. For many this remains part of the attraction, to saddle up the horses and load up the packhorses and mules and setting out for hunting camp high in the mountains. Many outfitters in the Greater Yellowstone region hunt this old time style, with packhorses and tent frame camps because this is still the most efficient way to get to the remote areas where the hunting is best. Many bighorn sheep and elk outfitters provide hunting camps like this as well.

Trophy nontypical mule deer buck Montana
Trophy nontypical buck mule deer with drop tine

Mule deer hunting is considered by some to be easier than hunting whitetails. While the bucks of the West generally inhabit more open landscape than whitetails do, they're far from easy, especially because they live in a variety of environments and our Yellowstone region trophies tend to want to be at the mountaintops in mountain goat terrain.

One of the hardest things to do in a new area is to know where to start hunting. Since hunts, for most of us, have a limited time frame, time becomes an important element. Hunters must minimize search time and figure out in a hurry where the deer are. In territory you are unfamiliar with it is helpful to hire a guide you first time to the area.

In the Greater Yellowstone region, there are five zones: desert, pinyon-juniper forests, brushy, aspen, and conifer forests. Each zone has characteristics that hold advantages and obstacles for both the mule deer and the hunters who pursue them. The south sides of mountains and ridges will generally have the most feed on them and early morning and evening it’s a good place to be. It is unwise to hunt in areas where you can’t see you are wasting your time. You can’t shoot what you can’t see. Your best hunting will probably be in the higher elevations where rugged country limits access to all but the most hardcore hunters and outfitters in the know.

Trophy Mule Deer Buck in the Sage
A nice Wyoming buck peaking through the sage

Most big bucks are nocturnal and only come out in the open at night. By the time the sun is up, they are bedded down. About an hour before daylight, most bucks are within a few minutes of where they want to snooze. They watch, smell, and listen for predators, once spotted; they are long gone like the wind. To beat them at their own game, try to position yourself so you catch them slipping into bedding areas at first light.

Hunt smart, use the lay of the land to your advantage, and keep on high ground, especially if you are hunting alone. Nothing can beat being in the right place at the right time, serendipity can be your best friend. If successful mule deer hunting is one of your goals, learn about the different environments that they inhabit and the techniques that work best within them. Your results will improve dramatically as you apply your new knowledge and skills in your mule deer hunting adventures.

Idaho is one of the better options for elk and deer due to their over-the-counter tags and abundant public lands. A large swath of Southern Idaho is desert or prairie, but the eastern and southeastern edges also have significant Forest Service lands. This area has long been known for its excellent deer habitat and herd genetics. Controlled hunts in the Upper Snake region are coveted for the opportunity to hunt mule deer during the rut in late November. The Caribou/Targhee National Forest hosts plenty of hunting opportunities.

trophy mule deer buck, Jackson Hole Wyoming
Gros Ventre River Valley Trophy mule deer buck, Jackson Hole Wyoming

Wyoming is an easy state to get deer tags for first time nonresident hunters. Northwest Wyoming has large Forest Service holdings. Most of the designated Wilderness areas are in the northwest, near Yellowstone National Park, so be careful when selecting a unit to stay out of those areas if you don't plan to hire a guide as a guide is required by law in wilderness areas. Nearly all of Wyoming's state trust lands are open to hunting if they can be accessed by public road. Wyoming’s Shoshone National Forest and Bridger/Teton National Forests have thousands of square miles of government land to hunt.

Montana is a great state for nonresident hunters Western Montana has large Forest Service holdings, some large, rugged wilderness areas, with the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness area being the largest and most famous. Deer hunting can be had throughout the state the prairies, badlands and southern mountains are mule deer country. Southern Montana’s Gallatin National Forest is h a hunters paradise, it wraps around the north end of Yellowstone National Park.

Mule Deer hunting Guide Clark Wheeldon scoping out the high peaks of the Gros Ventre Range. Big buck country Bridger Teton Forest
Mule Deer hunting Guide Clark Wheeldon scoping out the high peaks of the Gros Ventre Range.

Wildlife management agencies and hunters recognize the need to maintain mule deer ranges and keep them habitable and productive so most western states have purchased critical game areas, especially winter ranges, to help maintain healthy populations of this valuable resource. All federal, state, and provincial land and wildlife management agencies recognize the need to maintain mule deer range. To counter the trend of development of critical habitat areas, especially winter ranges, these agencies have purchased various mule deer habitats. The problem is mule deer habitat programs involve coordination between government bureaucracies that often have missions that do not share the same goal. Since mule deer production is not a primary goal on most private or public lands in west, habitat protection projects often suffer. Due to a scarcity of funds and political opposition to government buying privately owned lands, the government has acquired only a small fraction of mule deer range. However hunting and conservation organizations like the Mule Deer Foundation, Ducks Unlimited and The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation pick up some of the governments lack of ability. Although mule deer were not the targets of all these private conservation /hunting groups they are still beneficiaries of these elk/duck habitat acquisitions.

Big Mule Deer Buck
Forty two inch Mule Deer Buck south of Jackson Hole Wyoming.

Your best hunting will probably be in the higher elevations Grand Tetons, Absaroka Range, Gros Ventre Mountains or the Wyoming Range where rugged country limits access to all but the most hardcore hunters and outfitters in the know. This area has long been known for its excellent deer habitat and herd genetics. Controlled hunts in the Upper Snake region are coveted for the opportunity to hunt mule deer during the rut in late November.

Hunters firing rifle at game
Deer Hunters, Gros Ventre Range, Jackson Hole Wyoming

Why do some areas produce giant bucks, while others do not? The answer is genetics. If you were to check the Boone and Crockett record book, you'd find that some areas have produced many giant bucks. You can also find area's that have never produced a record buck. Genetics are clearly better in some areas. Big buck hunters are looking for bucks with 30-inch spreads of better. If you' hunt an area like the Greys River Range of Wyoming the Big holes in Idaho that are known for wide bucks, you'll have a better chance of getting a shot at one. Stalking is the most popular tactic for hunting mule deer but tree stands and still-hunting are fruitful as well. Stalking involves spotting deer from a distance using binoculars or spotting scope, then stalking to within shooting range. Upon spotting your deer, scout for other deer and other wildlife between you and your target; they can end a stalk prematurely. If everything looks good plan your route, consider the wind, terrain, and available cover, Sneak quietly like an Indian and you can meet success stalking your prey by judging the speed and direction of travel, circling around and setting up an ambush. If you aren't going to hire a guide the key to the success of a mule deer hunt is preseason scouting. It’s best to do your scouting a couple of weeks before your hunt. Glassing with binoculars or spotting scope in the mornings and evenings can pay off well during your hunt. Because mule deer hunters tend to do a lot of walking in rough, steep terrain it is helpful to go into hunting season in good physical condition and be familiar with your weapon because muleys often require shooting from several hundred yards after a long hard grunt up a mountain.

Featured Hunting Outfitters
elk hunting guide, jackson hole wyoming
Mill Iron Ranch • (Jackson Hole) Mill Iron Ranch has been a Wheeldon family tradition for three generations. We carry on the old cowboy traditions around here, showing the Jackson visitors how to ride, fish, hunt and camp.
Hidden Basin Outfitters (Jackson Hole) Jackson Hole is home to some of the finest big game hunting on earth, where hunters have the opportunity to pursue animals in their natural habitat. Our experienced and fully-licensed guides will lead you and your party in search of cow elk, bull elk, moose, sheep, mule deer, antelope, and bear. For Big Game Hunters Looking for a True Wyoming Experience!
elk hunters, jackson hole wyoming

 

Trophy Mule Deer Buck nontypical, drop tine, Idaho
Trophy Mule Deer Buck in Velvet

B&C WORLD'S RECORDS MULE DEER WORLD'S RECORDS TYPICAL MULE DEER SCORE: 226 4/8

LOCATION: Dolores County, CO

HUNTER: Doug Burris, Jr.

OWNER: Cabela's, Inc.

DATE: 1972

KEY MEASUREMENTS: Length of main beam: Right 30 1/8 - Left 28 6/8 Inside spread: 30 7/8 Circ. of smallest place between burr and first point: Right 5 2/8 - Left 5 3/8 Number of points: Right 6 - Left 5

WORLD'S RECORDS NON-TYPICAL MULE DEER SCORE: 355 2/8

LOCATION: Chip Lake, AB

HUNTER: Ed Broder

OWNER: Ed Broder

DATE: 1926

dueling mule deer bucks, Montana
Dueling mule deer bucks, Jackson Hole Wyoming

KEY MEASUREMENTS: Length of main beam: Right 26 2/8 - Left 26 1/8 Inside spread: 22 1/8 Circ. of smallest place between burr and first point: Right 5 - Left 4 7/8 Number of points: Right 22 - Left 21

WORLD'S RECORDS COLUMBIA BLACKTAIL DEER SCORE: 182 2/8

LOCATION: Lewis County, WA

HUNTER: Lester H. Miller

DATE: 1953

KEY MEASUREMENTS: Length of main beam: Right 24 2/8 - Left 24 5/8 Inside spread: 20 2/8 Circ. of smallest place between burr and first point: Right 5 2/8 - Left 5 2/8 Number of points: Right 5 - Left 5

WORLD'S RECORDS NON-TYPICAL COLUMBIA BLACKTAIL DEER SCORE: 208 1/8

LOCATION: Polk County, OR

HUNTER: Frank S. Foldi

OWNER: Bass Pro Shops

DATE: 1962

Nice Idaho Buck
Nice Buck

KEY MEASUREMENTS: Length of main beam: Right 21 7/8 - Left 20 4/8 Inside spread: 17 5/8 Circ. of smallest place between burr and first point: Right 4 2/8 - Left 4 3/8 Number of points: Right 9 - Left 9

WORLD'S RECORDS TYPICAL SITKA BLACKTAIL DEER SCORE: 133

LOCATION: Juskatla, BC

HUNTER: Peter Bond

OWNER: D.J. Hollinger & B. Howard

DATE: 1970

KEY MEASUREMENTS: Length of main beam: Right 20 4/8 - Left 19 4/8 Inside spread: 19 6/8 Circ. of smallest place between burr and first point: Right 3 6/8 - Left 3 6/8 Number of points: Right 5 - Left 5

WORLD'S RECORDS NON-TYPICAL SITKA BLACKTAIL DEER SCORE: 134

LOCATION: Control Lake, AK

HUNTER: William B. Steele, Jr.

OWNER: William B. Steele, Jr.

DATE: 1987

KEY MEASUREMENTS: Length of main beam: Right 19 6/8 - Left 20 3/8 Inside spread: 16 3/8 Circ. of smallest place between burr and first point: Right 4 5/8 - Left 4 4/8 Number of points: Right 5 - Left 6

backlit Mule Deer Buck in Velvet
Nice muley buck
Mule deer buck Montana Two big buck mule deer, grand teton mountains
Trophy Mule deer buck, deep snow, Jackson Hole Wyoming
Two big buck mule deer, grand teton mountains, Jackson Hole Wyoming

Hunting Stories and Information

Trophy Mule Deer Buck

The Modern Hunter-Gatherer •Walking with a loaded rifle in an unfamiliar forest bristling with the signs of your prey is thrilling. It embarrasses me to write that, but it is true. I am not by nature much of a noticer, yet here, now, my attention to everything around me, and deafness to everything else, is complete. Nothing in my experience has prepared me for the quality of this attention. I notice how the day's first breezes comb the needles in the pines, producing a sotto voce whistle and an undulation in the pattern of light and shadow tattooing the tree trunks and the ground. I notice the specific density of the air. But this is not a passive or aesthetic attention; it is a hungry attention, reaching out into its surroundings like fingers, or nerves. My eyes venture deep into thickets my body could never penetrate, picking their way among the tangled branches, sliding over rocks and around stumps to bring back the slenderest hint of movement. In the places too deeply shadowed to admit my eyes, my ears roam at will, returning with the report of a branch cracking at the bottom of a ravine, or the snuffling of a. . .wait: what was that? Just a bird. Everything is amplified. Even my skin is alert, so that when the shadow launched by the sudden ascent of a turkey vulture passes overhead I swear I can feel the temperature momentarily fall. I am the alert man....................... rest of article

Yellowstone Region Hunters Need To Remember That They're in Grizzly Country • When a person hunts they are the one who is in control of the situation. They choose the time, place, animal and the shot. In the past, it was even a rite of passage for young native tribesmen in Canada and Alaska to kill a grizzly bear with a spear! The key was that they practiced and planned on how to control the situation. Today’s hunters are infinitely better equipped when it comes to hunting, but how prepared they are for a surprise encounter with a formidable wild creature such as a grizzly bear may be another story, unless they too prepare and plan ahead........More

Greater Yellowstone Region Hunting Outfitters

 

A nice Greater Yellowstone Bull Elk

Swan Valley Outfitters • (Swan Valley ID) Swan Valley Outfitters is a family owned and operated business. We offer the best scenic trail rides and hunting in the are . We offer many different hunts from mountain lion to trophy elk. Our experienced team of guides and mounts will take you on the experience of a lifetime.

Hidden Basin Outfitters (Jackson Hole WY) Jackson Hole is home to some of the finest big game hunting on earth, where hunters have the opportunity to pursue animals in their natural habitat. Our experienced and fully-licensed guides will lead you and your party in search of cow elk, bull elk, moose, sheep, mule deer, antelope, and bear. For Big Game Hunters Looking for a True Wyoming Experience!

Non-Typical Outfitters • (Star Valley WY) Robb and Dr. Brenda Wiley make their home in one of the most beautiful places that God ever created, the mountains of western Wyoming. Brenda practices veterinary medicine and Robb lives his passion, providing your hunting and fishing opportunities in the Wyoming back country..........We feel that Non-Typical Outfitters has the ability to provide an unmatched opportunity for trophy hunting in Wyoming. The amount of time that we spend in the field before your hunt starts is one of the things that separates us from the rest. We spend extensive days in the preseason locating our trophy animals. For us trophy hunting is a year around job.............We are the most diversified permitted outfitter in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Our hunting area encompasses over 900 square miles of National Forest and close to double that in BLM lands. This gives us the ability to hunt the top trophies in the area without over pressuring any part of it. We can hunt out of a forest camp or a lodge and have the ability to tailor a hunt to almost anyone's needs.

There are several places to hunt Mountain Goats in the Yellowstone Region

Jake's Horses • (Island Park WY) All day or by the hour trail rides, alpine lake fishing, hunting, pack trips & guide service. We are located in Island Park, Idaho.

Mill Iron Ranch • (Jackson Hole WY) Mill Iron Ranch has been a Wheeldon family tradition for three generations. We carry on the old cowboy traditions around here, showing the Jackson visitors how to ride, fish, hunt and camp.

Wind River Trophy Hunts • (Pinedale WY) We provide hunters with the unique experience of hunting in the remote backcountry that contains one of the healthiest elk populations in the state of Wyoming. For hunters looking for the ultimate hunting experience - whether it be elk, moose, sheep, antelope, or mountain lions - Wind River Trophy Hunts is your best bet!

Jenkin's Hunting Camp • (Star Valley WY) Larry Jenkins' Hunting Camp has provided Big Game Hunting since the 1970s. His hunting camp is a family run operation where Larry, his wife Shirley, and their two sons and daughter are all part of your hunting experience. Larry and his family have owned and operated their camp for over 30 years. By specializing in pleasing the individual, Larry can gear the hunt to your own abilities and desires. The saddle horses are all mountain trained and gentle enough to carry you all day in safety. However, Larry prefers to ride as little as possible and still get your game. Your not in the saddle all day long. You can expect an average of 80% success rate on buck mule deer. Larry's hunter success on bull elk ranges from 80 to 100% average each year.Many of these bulls are trophys.

Many Bighorn Rams like this one have been harvested from the mountain tops of the Greater Yellowstone Region

Sheep Creek Outfitters • (West Yellowstone MT) is a small family outfitting business located in the West Yellowstone, Montana Area. I am a full-time outfitter with over thirty years experience hunting Elk, Mule Deer, & other Big Game in the Rocky Mountains. We take only a limited number of hunters per season, approximately fourteen to sixteen rifle hunters and eight archery hunters. Each hunt period is an eight day trip (six actual hunt days) and a nine day trip (seven actual hunt days) for archery. The two non-hunting days are pack-in and pack-out days. We take only four hunters per hunt.

Boulder Basin Outfitters • (Cody WY) Generations of Experience Hunting and Fishing Wyoming Carl and Michelle Sauerwein, owners of Boulder Basin Outfitters, bring more than a lifetime's worth of hunting and fishing experience to their Wyoming outfitting business. Born and raised into a family with outfitting experience that spans back generations, Carl has more skill and knowledge of Wyoming big game hunting and fishing than the average Cody Country Outfitter

Elk Ridge Outfitters • ( Bozeman MT) We hunt the Bridger Range northwest of Bozeman, hunting districts 393 and 312. This 28,000 acre private ranch takes in 2 major drainages. The ridges and slopes are covered with scattered timber and numerous basins. Elevations vary from 5,200 ft. to 7,200 ft. The Bridger Mountains of south central Montana offer hunters one of the highest success rates in Montana for elk. Private land and limited access allows us to manage elk numbers and limit bull harvest.

Absaroka Ranch • (Dubois Wyoming) Our hunting area is the most magnificent Dunoir Valley located northwest of Dubois, Wyoming. The Dunoir remains one of the last truly abundant wildlife and virtually hunter - free areas in the state, if not the entire West. We provide nearly everything for your hunt such as saddles, rifle scabbards and saddle bags, and you will enjoy a comfortable, modern cabin and excellent, hearty meals. All you provide is license, rifle, ammunition, and other personal hunting gear. Please don't hesitate to call or write us for additional hunting information. You'll find the hunting excellent, the crew superbly qualified, and the country spectacular. We'd love to have you along for the fun, excitement, and sheer pleasure of a true Rocky Mountain big game hunt!

Hunting News

Tri-state effort bodes well for wolf delisting

threatening Grizzly Bear
Threatening Grizzly Bear

YELLOWSTONE - News that some Wyoming lawmakers have begun meeting with their colleagues from Montana and Idaho to talk about wolf delisting is an encouraging first step toward resolving the long-running controversy over wolf management in the northern Rockies.
The fact that Idaho Gov. Butch Otter is sounding more and more like Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal on the wolf issue is a less consequential development that shouldn't affect the lawmakers' work. The Star-Tribune first reported last week that some key legislators from Wyoming, Idaho and Montana met recently in Salt Lake City with an objective of getting wolves removed from federal protection and put under state control. The group -- unofficially named the Tri-State Wolf Compact Commission -- is scheduled to meet again today, along with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official. The lawmakers' efforts may be the best hope for crafting a wolf delisting plan that can withstand court challenges.
Meanwhile, Otter announced Monday....................rest of article

Hunter kills attacking grizzly

CODY WYOMING - This grizzly bear was photographed near Cub Creek in Yellowstone National Park Oct. 19. There are a record number of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and some are getting into trouble, possibly because the bears are exceeding their carrying capacity in grizzly habitat. Courtesy photo/Neale Blank A deer hunter in the South Fork area killed a grizzly bear sow Oct. 27 when the bear attacked him. The lone hunter was in the Aldrich Creek drainage in the upper South Fork of the Shoshone River when he encountered a 10 to 12-year-old sow, a news release from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department said. The sow had two yearling cubs in tow and thought her offspring were threatened, said Mark Bruscino, Game and Fish bear management program supervisor in Cody. The hunter received at least two serious bites to his thigh in the attack and shot the bear several times, eventually killing it, Bruscino said. ....................rest of article

 

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