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MI-address-ROCKYMTN-heart
03-30-2011, 12:26 AM
I'm from MI and have only hunted whitetails. Over the years my standards for an acceptable whitetail buck has increased. I don't judge any person's opinion of an acceptable harvest. If someone made an ethical harvest of an animal then it's fine with me. This year I'll be doing a DIY solo archery CO Unit 11 hunt for mulies and elk for the first time. I haven't shot many deer in the range of most whitetail hunting shows. Similarly, I don't expect to shoot a western trophy that would make the edited TV shows. The odds would simply dictate that it's not likely. However, I don't have any idea of what is considered as a baseline in determining whether or not to let an arrow fly. I am aware of elk antler restrictions.

There's been a lot of education, awareness and opinions on aging whitetail bucks on TV and in publications. But I don't think I've ever seen anything on aging mulies and elk. Educate me please.

Jerry
03-30-2011, 12:46 AM
Being an old time meat hunter, I may be at odds with the majority of the people on this forum, but you can't eat horns! Don't get me wrong, I still try for the largest buck I can locate, but if the only thing that presents itself is a legal forked horn he is going home with me. I am a firm believer in the old adage never pass up on the first day what you would shoot on the last. I say as long as it meets the legal requirements for the area you are hunting, take it!

dito
03-30-2011, 07:41 AM
I agree with Jerry! I am fairly new to hunting and I shot my first deer a couple years ago. I've gotten really close to taking elk with my bow but haven't sealed the deal yet. This year I will try and get a little bit bigger deer than last year. As far as elk the first legal bull that comes into bow range I am going to take. Once I get more experienced and learn the animals better I'll maybe try for bigger ones.

So IMO if it's your first time hunting them I say take whatever is legal that you get close enough to.

BOHNTR
03-30-2011, 07:42 AM
Shoot what will make you happy and forget about what others think. With that said, if you're wanting a mature bull and/or buck, you'll generally look for a bull that is a 6x6, good mass, with some decent tine length. CO is known for producing quantity and not quality (exception for a few tough draw units) in their bulls. However, I've seen several 300-330" bulls in the wilderness areas I deer hunt. A mature bull for your respective unit may be a 250" bull.

Mature mule deer will be easier to recognize for you since you normally hunt whitetails. They will simply "look" much bigger than the whitetail, as far as antler development. Most mature bucks will be a 4x4 (not counting eye-guards), in the 23-26" range, with good mass and decent tine length. Now, in some areas of CO (good genetics), a 3.5 year old buck will meet this criteria. This is where it comes down to you.......if you're happy with the buck then draw your bow back. Obviously, anything in the 27-30+" range is something you'll probably be shooting at, as I don't see many 2.5-3.5 year old bucks in that range there. Good luck and have fun.

RUTTIN
03-30-2011, 08:20 AM
I agree with BOHNTR the trophy is in the eye of the bowholder. When you see what you want to shoot you will know it. Sometimes for me it depends on how far back I am in and if I want to pack out a smaller animal. I have only shot 1 whitetail, he wasn't very big, but to me he was a trophy. Good luck and let us know how you did.

Doe Nob
03-30-2011, 08:51 AM
It depends on trophy quality for the unit and what you think is acceptable. I have a few P&Y mulies and consider anything over 150 fair game where I hunt with archery tackle. If I had a gun I'd bump that up to 170. For elk any decent looking 6x6 I would be happy with.

People always say "if you'd shoot it on the last day you should shoot it on the first day" but I think that's a bunch of crapola. Start out with high standards and drop them a notch each day you are out in the field. You may end up shooting a dink on the last day after having passed on some mediocre bucks or bulls early, but hey that's hunting and it all adds to the experience. Go out there, hunt hard and if you get a chance a big one, shoot him, if you don't shoot a smaller one. Not having taken any mulies or elk, just important to get some on the ground at this point.

JeremyBatey
03-30-2011, 09:15 AM
I think BOHNTR (my old license plate) and Doe Nob make some excellent points. If going home the first day with a mediocre bull makes you happy, then be happy. What's wrong with that? Everyone I know here at home have been going as often as they can draw, and I don't know any of them that have killed a bull yet, and in some cases, they haven't even seen anything to shoot. In a way, that would incline me to take the first legal bull I had an opportunity on.

But in the same instance, those guys all LOVE the hunt up there! So there's much to be said for the experience. I wrote about passing a PnY 8 point last year in Kansas on my second day. It was a tough decision, but in my heart, I had my sights set on something else. As a result, I experienced one of the greatest weeks of my hunting life, wound up seeing that buck twice more, and put an almost successful stalk on him on the next-to-last day in which I declined taking a quarter toward shot. Just this last Saturday, I found one of his sheds. It was a great moment. The point is that I went home and enjoyed some tag soup, but the experience itself was the greatest joy. And it continues to give back to me!

miller1
03-30-2011, 11:11 AM
I'm from MI and have only hunted whitetails. Over the years my standards for an acceptable whitetail buck has increased. I don't judge any person's opinion of an acceptable harvest. If someone made an ethical harvest of an animal then it's fine with me. This year I'll be doing a DIY solo archery CO Unit 11 hunt for mulies and elk for the first time. I haven't shot many deer in the range of most whitetail hunting shows. Similarly, I don't expect to shoot a western trophy that would make the edited TV shows. The odds would simply dictate that it's not likely. However, I don't have any idea of what is considered as a baseline in determining whether or not to let an arrow fly. I am aware of elk antler restrictions.

There's been a lot of education, awareness and opinions on aging whitetail bucks on TV and in publications. But I don't think I've ever seen anything on aging mulies and elk. Educate me please.

I agree, whatever you will be happy packing out is what you should shoot, that being said, i live 45 min south of you in Sturgis, good luck and keep us posted on your hunt, i plan on going out next year for mulies with my bow, are you using bow or gun?

Jerry
03-30-2011, 12:07 PM
People always say "if you'd shoot it on the last day you should shoot it on the first day" but I think that's a bunch of crapola. Start out with high standards and drop them a notch each day you are out in the field. You may end up shooting a dink on the last day after having passed on some mediocre bucks or bulls early, but hey that's hunting and it all adds to the experience. Go out there, hunt hard and if you get a chance a big one, shoot him, if you don't shoot a smaller one. Not having taken any mulies or elk, just important to get some on the ground at this point.

Over the last 50 years of hunting especially the early years of hunting where I grew up hunting Oregon Coastal Blacktails, some years you were lucky to see one buck. Knowing how frustrating it can be to go multiple years eating tag soup when trying to feed a young family has shaped my hunting mentality into what it is now. Sure I have passed up smaller bucks looking for something bigger, sometimes it payed off sometimes not. I suppose today, hunting is used more as a sport than as an actual way of feeding a family, but with the cost associated with hunting, I still would rather have a small buck/bull in my freezer than nothing at all!

woodtick
03-30-2011, 12:11 PM
Depends on the tag! If I can draw it every year and it's pretty cheap, Like a Utah general tag then I'd shoot just about anything, Now if it was a Colorado 4th season 44 tag then it better have some headgear before I squeeze the trigger.

BADbuckfever
03-30-2011, 12:24 PM
Here's some BASIC info:

1. Antlers counted per side.

A "typical" mature mule deer buck has four points per side. Two front forks and two back forks. Unlike a whitetail who has one main beam that the points all come off from. Look at lots of photos of mulies until you can see what is a mature buck. Generally speaking the deeper the forks are the better.

A mule deer will generally start out a spike buck, then next year spilt to a "forked horn" then next year possibly a three point (in the west we count only one side at a time) so thats three points per side or variations i.e. "three by two," four by three, four by four etc...

2. Whats a mature mule deer.

A mature mule deer has four points per side (8 point eastern count). Western states vary on counting the "eye guards." Most dont. So if you see a mule deer with four points per side its a good one. Good luck.

MI-address-ROCKYMTN-heart
03-30-2011, 01:32 PM
Thanks BOHNTR, Doe Nob and BADbuckfever. That's the kind of info I am looking for. After seeing the results from letting young whitetails walk, I see no reason to alter my attitude while I'm out west. It's just as satisfying to let an animal walk by as it is to harvest a trophy. Well, almost as satisfying. :-)

I like RUTTIN's statement, "When you see what you want to shoot you will know it." For us MI hunters, many are amazed at what I've harvested in the last five years (and none of them are P&Y). But those are the guys who shoot whatever comes by first, don't have any restraint and swear they don't have big deer where they hunt. I tell them if they are patient and can put the time in they'll start to see them. Most of us are out there for the hunt and don't have to have the meat. So what's the rush? When you see what you want to shoot you will know it. In fact, they (we) do.

Jerry, I can't disagree with your approach at all, but I am as GEEKED about the trip itself as I am in filling my tag. It is a life-long dream. It's very insightful to read everyone's perspectives. To bring meat and headgear home will be a bonus. I don't have to have the meat, but it will make for some nice BBQs this summer with family and friends. If I'm fortunate enough to harvest, the meat will pass. But the experience will last forever.

I am learning how different things will be out there for me compared to home hunting. Hands-on will be the true teacher I'm sure. I have passed up 19 and 23 different bucks within bow range each of the last two seasons. It doesn't sound like the opportunities in the west are quite as prevalent. Who knows, I'll probably have to adjust my minimums once I've been out there for a few days.

Keep posting, this is very insightful for me.

Sharpstick
03-30-2011, 03:07 PM
Great post and great comments for everyone. You know, it's really a personal choice and since we live in the good ole US of A, we have the privilege of hunting game. I have just as good of memories taking a spike elk as I do when I get a 6x6. I've hunted many years and now days I'm more selective on the animals I take. In my younger years, I hunted for the meat mostly and enjoyed every minute. I also respect and admire a small forkie just as much as a mature animal when I wrap my tag around the antlers. The animals I pass on and could have taken are considered successes because I got within range of taking them. Good luck to everyone and keep hunting.

Doe Nob
03-31-2011, 09:56 AM
For me also, I think elk is great eating and deer is not as good. So I will sooner fill the freezer on an elk hunt than a deer hunt.

Pronghorn73
03-31-2011, 11:05 AM
It all depends on the area I am hunting. A few years back I drew really good mule deer area in ID, I Passed on some really good bucks that I would have taken any day in a general area, and ended up taking my tag home......thats hunting. Same goes when I hunt elk, most years I end up hunting here in S.E. ID during the general season, I shoot the first bull I have a chance at. I like to eat elk and if I don't pull the trigger on the first bull in my cross hairs, then more times than not it's my only chance of the season. When hunting buck antelope I always look for something that will go B.C., but I also go to Wy every year to hunt for doe antelope because I like to eat them too.

Elkoholic307
04-03-2011, 03:10 PM
Being an old time meat hunter, I may be at odds with the majority of the people on this forum, but you can't eat horns!

I highly doubt that he is travelling that far for meat. For me, it's all about the rack and experience. Don't get me wrong, I eat the meat too. But, if I only wanted meat I would buy four doe tags and shoot them out of my fields. I've never understood why meat hunters harvest dink bucks. If the horns don't matter, then just kill a doe or two and let the young bucks grow!