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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Originally Posted by Jerry