American Hunter - November 2016 - 45


Whitetail Mind-Set
in the Rocky Mountains
The mini-mountains of South Dakota's
Black Hills were my first introduction
to forest-dwelling muleys. As a young
hunter, running into mountain mule deer
in the ponderosa pines was as common
as seeing white-sock-wearing tourists at
nearby Mt. Rushmore. Whitetails also
called the Black Hills home. Both species
gravitated toward openings for browsing opportunities, but neither shunned
a pine-canopy sanctuary.
Mule deer inhabit the highest peaks,
12,000 feet or more, until snow forces
them lower. They find solace in forested
foothills and they have no aversion to
joining whitetails on cottonwood river

spotted entering or leaving such a highcountry hideout.
On a past Colorado hunt my guide and
I focused on a canyon choked with scrub
oak that abutted endless forest. Small
openings on the canyon floor provided
added nutrition for the local deer herd.
We spotted a possible candidate just after
sunrise, but he didn't stay in the open long
and soon slipped into impenetrable oak
brush. After a long day of peering into side
canyons we returned and took up watch
for his arrival at dusk. At sunset I stood,
stretched and peaked into a bowl above
me. To my surprise the target buck was following a doe and only steps from an escape
into forest. He had used the oak as a veil to
circle around us! I dropped prone and sent

bottoms of the West. Hunting them in
such a diverse timberland environment
squashes some traditional tactics, but
opens up more creative possibilities.
You won't be able to spot-and-stalk
as effectively as in an open environment,
but take along your binocular and spotting scope anyway. Instead of looking
across canyons, you'll scan edges for
feeding activity at dawn and dusk. Focus
on high, alpine bowls, hidden parks and
any water sources coursing downhill.
Also seek out recently logged areas or
old burns. Browse species thrive in these
environments, not in the shaded shelter
of thick pine boughs and needle-covered soil. Two exceptions to this rule are
inside stands of stately aspens and the
interior of Gambel, also known as scrub
oak, where shade and browse intermix.
Give such habitat your undivided attention. More than one giant buck has been

a Hornady SST 300 yards to halt his escape.
If openings don't deliver, take the hunt
into the forest. Be your own judge, but consider forest still-hunting as a midday strategy. Some habitats may be too thick for
this approach, but if you can see 75 yards
or farther you may have a chance. Put the
wind in your face and move through these
environments at the slow pace of Congress.
Glass ahead every few steps for flicking
ears, glistening noses and twitching tails.
This tactic also shines in river corridors, especially if you can hunt the rut like
Montana's November season. Bucks often
drop out of higher elevations to flee snow
and look for does collecting on valley hayfields. Still-hunt through thick-timbered
bottoms looking for buck activity. Growing up in the crossover world of the Great
Plains, I routinely called mule deer into
setups. Today I utilize still-hunting and
calls equally on either species.

Photo: Chuck and Grace Bartlett

I was hiking to an overlook to catch
bucks leaving the thick cover for evening
browsing when the flush occurred. Should
I have tried a snap shot? Why wasn't I
focused on the hunt? Why was the buck
in such an odd hideout?
Regardless, the buck was pointed
toward the boundary where my publicland hunt ended and his private-land
refuge began. From scouting, I knew deer
likely congregated on the private side of
the fence, where hayfields still offered a
buffet. Those fields were off limits, but
with the buck headed in that direction and
cover dissipating like clouds after a thunderstorm, I figured I might just get a lastminute meeting with him. So I cinched
down my pack tight and started jogging
to a likely intercept point.
Most deer hunters understand the
cagey nature of whitetails, how the species can adapt to nearly any environment
in North America. But mule deer don't
seem to possess the same environmental
flexibility. Still, it's important to note that
on their side of the Mississippi River, mule
deer inhabit more than just a Rocky Mountain landscape. There, timber offers them
escape, but they can dwell in the open, too.
Don't overlook either, especially if the two
adjoin. Mule deer can be just as comfortable in the woods as they are in the plains.
Maybe the reason mule deer don't
hold favorite homelands is due to the
fact that whitetails and mule deer are
nearly identical in the DNA department.
Renowned professor Dr. Valerius Geist
explains in the book Mule Deer Country
that mule deer are descendants of whitetailed deer, the oldest deer species in the
Western Hemisphere. Arriving on the
scene nearly 4 million years ago, whitetailed deer spread throughout North
America, Geist notes, finally populating the Northwest coast. In this environment, they evolved into the black-tailed
deer. Approximately 10,000 years ago
major changes spread across the continent
including the defining extinction of many
varieties of herbivores and carnivores.
Geist believes this allowed both whitetailed and black-tailed deer to expand populations and range. The two species spread
toward the center of the continent where
inevitably the species mingled, resulting in
the newest species: mule deer. The newcomer filled niches, open and timbered,
west of the Mississippi.

americanhunter.org ❘

45 ❘ november 2016


http://www.americanhunter.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Hunter - November 2016

Contents
American Hunter - November 2016 - CW1
American Hunter - November 2016 - CW2
American Hunter - November 2016 - Cover1
American Hunter - November 2016 - CW3
American Hunter - November 2016 - CW4
American Hunter - November 2016 - C2
American Hunter - November 2016 - 1
American Hunter - November 2016 - Contents
American Hunter - November 2016 - 3
American Hunter - November 2016 - 4
American Hunter - November 2016 - 5
American Hunter - November 2016 - 6
American Hunter - November 2016 - 7
American Hunter - November 2016 - 8
American Hunter - November 2016 - 9
American Hunter - November 2016 - 10
American Hunter - November 2016 - 11
American Hunter - November 2016 - 12
American Hunter - November 2016 - 13
American Hunter - November 2016 - 14
American Hunter - November 2016 - 15
American Hunter - November 2016 - 16
American Hunter - November 2016 - 17
American Hunter - November 2016 - 18
American Hunter - November 2016 - 19
American Hunter - November 2016 - 20
American Hunter - November 2016 - 21
American Hunter - November 2016 - 22
American Hunter - November 2016 - 23
American Hunter - November 2016 - 24
American Hunter - November 2016 - 25
American Hunter - November 2016 - 26
American Hunter - November 2016 - 27
American Hunter - November 2016 - 28
American Hunter - November 2016 - 29
American Hunter - November 2016 - 30
American Hunter - November 2016 - 31
American Hunter - November 2016 - 32
American Hunter - November 2016 - 33
American Hunter - November 2016 - 34
American Hunter - November 2016 - 35
American Hunter - November 2016 - 36
American Hunter - November 2016 - 37
American Hunter - November 2016 - 38
American Hunter - November 2016 - 39
American Hunter - November 2016 - 40
American Hunter - November 2016 - 41
American Hunter - November 2016 - 42
American Hunter - November 2016 - 43
American Hunter - November 2016 - 44
American Hunter - November 2016 - 45
American Hunter - November 2016 - 46
American Hunter - November 2016 - 47
American Hunter - November 2016 - 48
American Hunter - November 2016 - 49
American Hunter - November 2016 - 50
American Hunter - November 2016 - 51
American Hunter - November 2016 - 52
American Hunter - November 2016 - 53
American Hunter - November 2016 - 54
American Hunter - November 2016 - 55
American Hunter - November 2016 - 56
American Hunter - November 2016 - 57
American Hunter - November 2016 - 58
American Hunter - November 2016 - 59
American Hunter - November 2016 - 60
American Hunter - November 2016 - 61
American Hunter - November 2016 - 62
American Hunter - November 2016 - 63
American Hunter - November 2016 - 64
American Hunter - November 2016 - 65
American Hunter - November 2016 - 66
American Hunter - November 2016 - 67
American Hunter - November 2016 - 68
American Hunter - November 2016 - 69
American Hunter - November 2016 - 70
American Hunter - November 2016 - 71
American Hunter - November 2016 - 72
American Hunter - November 2016 - 73
American Hunter - November 2016 - 74
American Hunter - November 2016 - 75
American Hunter - November 2016 - 76
American Hunter - November 2016 - 77
American Hunter - November 2016 - 78
American Hunter - November 2016 - 79
American Hunter - November 2016 - 80
American Hunter - November 2016 - 81
American Hunter - November 2016 - 82
American Hunter - November 2016 - 83
American Hunter - November 2016 - 84
American Hunter - November 2016 - 85
American Hunter - November 2016 - 86
American Hunter - November 2016 - 87
American Hunter - November 2016 - 88
American Hunter - November 2016 - 89
American Hunter - November 2016 - 90
American Hunter - November 2016 - 91
American Hunter - November 2016 - 92
American Hunter - November 2016 - 93
American Hunter - November 2016 - 94
American Hunter - November 2016 - 95
American Hunter - November 2016 - 96
American Hunter - November 2016 - 97
American Hunter - November 2016 - 98
American Hunter - November 2016 - 99
American Hunter - November 2016 - 100
American Hunter - November 2016 - 101
American Hunter - November 2016 - C102
American Hunter - November 2016 - C103
American Hunter - November 2016 - E102
American Hunter - November 2016 - E103
American Hunter - November 2016 - MW102
American Hunter - November 2016 - MW103
American Hunter - November 2016 - S102
American Hunter - November 2016 - S103
American Hunter - November 2016 - SW102
American Hunter - November 2016 - SW103
American Hunter - November 2016 - W102
American Hunter - November 2016 - W103
American Hunter - November 2016 - 104
American Hunter - November 2016 - 105
American Hunter - November 2016 - 106
American Hunter - November 2016 - 107
American Hunter - November 2016 - 108
American Hunter - November 2016 - C3
American Hunter - November 2016 - C4
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_202012
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_202011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_202010
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_202009
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_202008
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_20200607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_202005
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_202004
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_202003
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_202002
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_202001
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201912
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201911
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201909
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201908
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201907
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201906
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201905
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201904
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201903
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201902
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201901
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201812
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201811
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201810
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201808
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201807
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201806
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201805
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201804
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201803
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201802
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201801
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201712
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201711
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201710
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201709
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201707
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201706
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201705
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201704
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201703
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201702
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201701
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201612
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201611
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201610
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201609
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201608
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201606
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201605
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201604
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201603
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201602
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201601
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201512
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201511
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201510
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201509
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201508
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201507
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201505
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201504
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201503
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201502
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201501
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201412
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201411
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201410
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201409
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201408
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201407
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201406
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201404
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201403
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201402
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201401
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201312
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201311
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201310
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201309
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201308
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201307
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201306
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201305
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201303
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201302
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201301
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201212
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201211
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201210
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201209
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201208
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201207
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201206
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201205
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201204
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201202
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201111
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201110
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201109
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201108
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201107
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201106
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201105
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201104
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201103
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201101
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201012
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201010
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201009
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201008
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201007
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201006
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201005
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201004
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201003
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201002
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201001
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_200912
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_200911
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_200910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_200909
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_200908
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_200907
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com