Today’s blog comes from one of our country’s most recognized wildlife biologists/outdoor writers/television show host of Trailing the Hunter’s Moon , Larry Weishuhn. Although universally known as “Mr. Whitetail”, Larry trails the “Hunter’s Moon” throughout the world in search of big game hunting adventures. Tune in for this weeks episode of Trailing the Hunter’s Moon Monday at 3:00 PM ET, Tuesday at 6:30 PM ET, Fridays at 6:30 PM ET and Saturdays at 9:30 AM ET.
Many of you may have occasionally heard me described as “Mr. Whitetail”, a moniker that was placed upon me by J. Wayne Fears back in the early 1980’s when I was deeply involved in various whitetail research dealing with deer nutrition, antler development and helping develop many of techniques used today in “modern quality whitetail deer management”.
And while whitetails have long been my vocation, and frequently my avocation as well, to be frank, I dearly love hunting most anything with antlers, horns, claws and big teeth. And I certainly include desert mule deer in that group of things I dearly love to pursue!
I started hunting and shot my first desert mule deer in western Texas back in 1970, a long time ago. I’ve hunted mule deer either desert or Rocky Mountain mule deer just about every year since then.
To me the premier antlered game in North America are mature, big antlered mule deer. Without a doubt if you have time and money you can take big almost any big game animal in North America. But mule deer, totally different story! And even though long enamored with whitetail deer, to me the most beautiful antlered big game is a…big mature large antlered mule deer. A truly wide, tall and massive mule deer when he turns his head, it appears as if the world beneath him rotates!
I dearly love hunting mule deer, if you have not already guessed as much!
For the past three years I have been hunting the High Desert Mule Deer in central New Mexico. While I’ve truly enjoyed hunting there with Brian Cline the ranch’s manager, I’ve also hunted this high fenced property (the only one I hunt) because of the research being done on the property involving known aged buck, mule deer nutrition and antler development, natural mortality, population recruitment, and developing various mule deer management techniques which can later be applied to “free range” mule deer.
Mule deer, both desert and Rocky Mountain, are totally different from whitetails. And, if you manage mule deer populations like you would whitetails, you can literally destroy a mule deer herd. While in some ways they may be similar in other ways, particularly in maturing and reproduction, they are totally different! So frankly the High Desert Mule Deer Ranch is not only a fun place to hunt, it is a huge research facility! During the past I have “assisted” ranch in some of their research, which has included taking selected bucks.
My most recent hunt which you’ll see on TRAILING THE HUNTER’S MOON, was quite challenging. Bucks which had a week or so previous to my arrival been quite visual, frequenting the same waterhole every day, suddenly and simply disappeared!
Brian, Blake and I walked many miles looking for deer, we sat on waterholes. We put out Buck Natural, the best deer “bait” I’ve ever seen (which is legal inside the high fence of a New Mexico Class A Game Park). With Buck Natural we were able to toll numerous deer out of the brush during daylight hours. As a result I was able to take and extremely ancient 3 x 3, one Brian and his hunters had been trying to take out of the herd for the past 3 years. I was able to shoot him with my Ruger Super Blackhawk Hunter .44 Mag revolver, topped with a proto-type Zeiss long eye relief scope, shooting Hornady 240 grain XTP ammo.
We continued hunting hard from before daylight till dark and as the hunt was going to an end, with mere moments of legal shooting light left……..