Mule Deer States

rb695

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jan 13, 2020
Messages
111
Hello everyone, I have been following this site for a while now and finally had the gumption to make my account. Just a bit of background, I am from Southern Illinois but currently reside in Nashville, TN for pharmacy school. I have grown up hunting the Shawnee National Forrest of Southern Illinois for deer, turkey, predators, you name it! At this point in my curriculum, I have been afforded the opportunity to have this upcoming November off from school. I have been fortunate to have what I call above-average success on some mature deer and turkeys on public ground throughout Southern Illinois and Western Tennessee, but it has always been a dream of mine to chase mule-deer.

The state I have narrowed down my focus on is Idaho; Units 17,19,20 specifically. From what research I have done, this is extremely rugged country and can be very fickle with its terrain and weather. I am used to putting in 15+ mile days chasing deer and turkey on foot, so the "get up and go" aspect of my hunting is there. I was just curious if anyone familiar with this area even knows if it is worth someone's time? I am willing to get far away from accessible areas, but there is a big difference between hiking in 15 miles and that being adequate as opposed to 30-40 miles deep only accessible by plane or horse.

If possible I would like to hunt states a bit closer like CO, MT, NE, etc. is that this area of Idaho is a 29-hour drive for me. I do not care to drive that far at all, but it would likely cut into the amount of time I could actually hunt based on my hunting partner's work schedule. OTC tags, accessibility of information, and amount of public land is what lead me to this area of Idaho to being with. That along with cross-referencing various harvest statistics and season dates.

Anyways, I know this a ton of information and do appreciate all of the advice and insight. I promise I am not trying to pry for someone's honey hole or poach someone's best spots. I just need some guidance as I feel I have exhausted all of the internet resources I have. If you have any other gun or gear advice you feel I should consider, please PM me!

Thank you all again!

P.s. If me asking any questions like this or the length of this is frowned upon etiquette wise, please let me know. I am rather new to posting on here and I do not want to irritate anyone. Thanks again!
 

hobbes

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jun 6, 2012
Messages
2,170
Location
Montana
I'm not familiar with Idaho mule deer, but I am very familiar with the Shawnee. I grew up there and lived there until I was 37 and hunted it myself (Massac, Pope, Hardin, Gallatin, Saline), especially for turkeys. I'm not sure how familiar you are with mountains out here (CO, WY, MT, ID, etc.) and don't want to downplay your background, but even the worst of the Shawnee doesn't compare to the actual mountains here. It especially doesn't compare to "rugged" Western mountains. I only say this so that you don't bite off a lot more than you can chew. I'm not quite clear what you mean in your discussion of hiking in 15, 30, or 40 miles. Planning to hike in 15 miles in rugged Western mountains doesn't seem reasonable, especially on a first hunt, and is rarely necessary to find animals. That's horse or mule country in my opinion.
 
OP
rb695

rb695

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jan 13, 2020
Messages
111
@hobbes I appreciate your advice! Massac and Pope are where I primarily hunt and live while not in school. You can relate to the "bluffiness" of the area that I am talking about. I figured it was not a great comparison, that was just the best I could come up with for hunting background. The WMA ground I hunt in West TN is steeper than anything I have seen back home. So, that is about as rugged as I have gotten to actually hunt. I have been able to hike through areas in central Colorado as well as central Washington, but that was not with a large hunting pack on my back while also trying to move in a somewhat stealthy manner. Really no comparison! Anyways, I really appreciate the feedback and advice.
 

Wassid82

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Dec 4, 2018
Messages
462
If you are willing to work a little bit then you'll likely get your chance at a deer. Idaho terrain is probably vastly different than Midwestern/eastern states. Hiking 15 miles here will make most people come close to dying. You don't have to do that. Sometimes for elk we will go 12-15 miles but mostly we plan on 6-12. If you know how to e-scout then I think you could find some really good area to hunt and have success. good luck
 

hobbes

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jun 6, 2012
Messages
2,170
Location
Montana
@hobbes I appreciate your advice! Massac and Pope are where I primarily hunt and live while not in school. You can relate to the "bluffiness" of the area that I am talking about. I figured it was not a great comparison, that was just the best I could come up with for hunting background. The WMA ground I hunt in West TN is steeper than anything I have seen back home. So, that is about as rugged as I have gotten to actually hunt. I have been able to hike through areas in central Colorado as well as central Washington, but that was not with a large hunting pack on my back while also trying to move in a somewhat stealthy manner. Really no comparison! Anyways, I really appreciate the feedback and advice.


I'm from Massac as well. I still be love that bluff country that you are referring to I'll be visiting in February this year. I wish I could have held off until April for turkeys.
Good luck on your plans, I was in your shoes in 99 when planning my first Western trip. The mountains were more than I expected and I didn't really hunt what I now consider rugged.
 
OP
rb695

rb695

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jan 13, 2020
Messages
111
If you are willing to work a little bit then you'll likely get your chance at a deer. Idaho terrain is probably vastly different than Midwestern/eastern states. Hiking 15 miles here will make most people come close to dying. You don't have to do that. Sometimes for elk we will go 12-15 miles but mostly we plan on 6-12. If you know how to e-scout then I think you could find some really good area to hunt and have success. good luck
That is good to hear! I have recently been turned onto some units in CO that have good draw odds for those with 0pts, so that will probably end up being a more viable option. It will take me from a 30-hour Idaho drive to about a 15-hour drive. Obviously, shooting a mature animal is my ultimate goal, but just experiencing a completely different type of hunting and being out of my element is what I am most looking forward to. I have started e-scouting several areas with OnX, but I have not gone too deep yet since I don't know what unit or state I am going to even end up with. I appreciate the feedback!
 

elkstabber

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Oct 15, 2014
Messages
566
Location
Zuni, VA
It was Clint Eastwood who said, "a man has got to know his limitations".

If this will be a cold weather hunt and I think a rifle deer hunt will be a cold weather hunt then your backpack with a week's gear will weigh roughly 50-60#. A broken down mule deer will weigh approximately 80-90#. If successful I would suggest using the above packweights to determine just how far of a packout is practical. Maybe you are a beast of a man.

I would suggest that the first load would be your camp and 1/3 of the deer. Then your second trip will be minimal gear and 2/3 of the deer. This means that you'll be packing out about 80# each for two trips.

You're in the 99.9% of Western hunters if you think you'll be hunting more than 5-7 miles solo.
 

hobbes

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jun 6, 2012
Messages
2,170
Location
Montana
On drive times from Southern IL. Over 5 years we did that drive (central CO to Brookport, IL) there and back 8 times. It's a straight shot on I70 to St. Louis then south to Southern IL. It typically took around 18 hours. That was travelling straight through the night and letting kids sleep. We had it take as much as 20 hours.

We've done the drive from Helena, MT 5 or 6 times. We run I90 to Sioux Falls then south to KC and back onto I70. The best we've done driving straight through has been 27 hours. The worst was 30 due to ice on the roads.

Consider that these were driving with a family and a few of the MT drives were winter.
 

204guy

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Messages
1,267
Location
WY
Mule deer, zero points, public land and November. You're going to have to drive to wherever you can draw a tag, there's not going to be many options.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
 
OP
rb695

rb695

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jan 13, 2020
Messages
111
Mule deer, zero points, public land and November. You're going to have to drive to wherever you can draw a tag, there's not going to be many options.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
That is what I figured. As I said, I do not care to drive wherever since I have the entire month off. Just trying to weigh all my options. I will be happy with whatever!
 
OP
rb695

rb695

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jan 13, 2020
Messages
111
It was Clint Eastwood who said, "a man has got to know his limitations".

If this will be a cold weather hunt and I think a rifle deer hunt will be a cold weather hunt then your backpack with a week's gear will weigh roughly 50-60#. A broken down mule deer will weigh approximately 80-90#. If successful I would suggest using the above packweights to determine just how far of a packout is practical. Maybe you are a beast of a man.

I would suggest that the first load would be your camp and 1/3 of the deer. Then your second trip will be minimal gear and 2/3 of the deer. This means that you'll be packing out about 80# each for two trips.

You're in the 99.9% of Western hunters if you think you'll be hunting more than 5-7 miles solo.
Great points to consider. I forgot to clarify that this will not be a solo hunt. It will be with one other person. I guess I have been spoiled where I am from. Typically, if you can go more than half a mile from the road or main trails you are already deeper than 99.9% of the hunting population. I will keep the weights in mind as much more than that would probably be more than I can handle on one trip. I appreciate the advice and the Dirty Harry quote! haha
 
Joined
Oct 28, 2018
Messages
81
Location
LA
I have had success in Montana region 4. Im a Louisiana guy and have never been hunting for trophies. Just looking for an incredible experience and opportunity to put a respectable mature buck on the ground. I have succeeded 3 out of 4 years. If you are interested in MT I would be more than happy to give you some insight into the areas I have hunted there. Just shoot me a PM
 
Top