The demise of the mule deer has been greatly exaggerated. For evidence, go to Wyoming-biologist Harry Harju says the state has half a million.

“All regions have older bucks these days,” says Harju, “and lots of them.” For some of the biggest, head to west-central Wyoming, where massive bucks with deep forks are available to hunters who are willing to climb or ride high into the backcountry. “Populations are at their objectives in both the Sublette and Wyoming Range herds.” Three counties dominate the record books–Lincoln, Sublette, and Teton. Typical heads are most common, such as Randy Mixon’s 195, taken in Lincoln County in 2001.

Most of the prime territory lies in public areas such as the Bridger-Teton National Forest and BLM lands. Try the Salt River and Wind River ranges. (In designated wilderness areas, you’ll need a guide.) The farther in you go, the rougher the country, with steep canyons and cover-infested coulees, and the more likely you’ll find that elusive trophy.

Nonresident license: $220 or $320