Mule Deer Hunting photo

Photograph by Lon Lauber

Eastern whitetail hunters chasing mule deer for the first time often arrive at this conclusion: Man, these big-eared deer are dumb. Of course, that’s not entirely accurate.

Allow a muley buck to catch a whiff of you on a swirling thermal, and he’ll disappear as fast as an Alabama whitetail. But in general, a mule deer is far more tolerant of seeing you than is a whitetail. And that’s the key to getting off an arrow.

When the buck you’re stalking suddenly sees or hears you and stands up, it’s no time to panic—and certainly no time to stay tucked in behind cover.

“You can absolutely be more aggressive with mule deer than you can with whitetails,” says Colorado guide Miles Fedinec. “That’s a mistake many Eastern hunters make. When a mule deer buck stands up before they’re ready, they try to hide when they should be preparing to shoot.

“On average, a mule deer will stand there for five to 10 seconds regardless of what you’re doing, and if you have a good shot angle, there’s no reason to wait.”