Editor’s Note: Karl Badger of Utah, has been bowhunting for several decades. Badger likes to bowhunt with his PSE Bow (https://psearchery.com/) high in Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and Idaho. Many people consider Badger a mixture of a naturalist, a mountain climber and a bowhunter. He enjoys climbing mountains and testing his hiking and climbing skills. When he reaches the summit, he enjoys seeing the world below and is thankful for his ability to climb and see the world from a different perspective than most of us and for his opportunity to hunt in the high country. Badger has turned what has been a negative for most bowhunters (carrying the meat out on a backpack) into a positive experience, because he enjoys the hike, the strength that’s required and the ability to go up and down tough terrain. He likes to test his woodsmanship and derives satisfaction from just being able to get close enough to take the shot with his bow. Many bowhunters who hunt high like to tell the tale of how hard making one or two trips in to the mountains, loading up their packs with meat and then carrying the meat out has been. But Badger enjoys that part of the trip as much as he does finding and taking the animals.
Expect most of a wilderness muley hunt to be hunting and shooting from the ground, instead of a tree stand. More than likely, you’ll be making longer shots than you will in the East. When you set-up your practice sessions, you really need to become accurate at distances of 40 to 60 yards. One of the best ways to really get tuned-up is to shoot over distance. Build your confidence up shooting at 80 and 100 yards. Then shooting 40 to 60 yards is much easier.
Pay attention to your camouflage. I like Mossy Oak camouflage because it’s a really-open pattern. You can blend-in if you’re hunting mountain tops, black timber or even rocks and small shrubs with that pattern. Remember, you’ll be hunting through a lot of open ground, especially if you’re hunting above the timber line. If you’ve never ridden a horse, try to take two or three horseback riding trips before your hunt. Get in the best physical condition possible. You want to be able to enjoy the trip, not just be worn out every day. A good pair of binoculars is also a critical hunting aid. When you spot the animal you want to take, you’ll also need to study the terrain and determine the path to intercept that animal.
A western big-game hunt is often the trip of a lifetime for many eastern bowhunters. I strongly recommend bringing a quality camera and/or a small compact video camera, so you can capture the memories and return home with more than just a cooler full of meat and a set of antlers. I feel very fortunate that I live here in the West and can hunt like this every year. I strongly advise you to plan a high-mountain bowhunting trip sometime in the near future. There’s plenty of game to hunt. And, when you go where other hunters don’t go, you can take the mule deer most hunters won’t see.
To learn more about mule-deer hunting, check out John E. Phillips’ book, “Mule Deer Hunter’s Bible,” available in Kindle, print and Audible at https://amzn.to/2Kg62w5. You may have to copy and paste this click into your browser. (When you click on this book, notice on the left where Amazon allows you to read and hear 10% of the book for free). On the right side of the page and below the offer for a free Audible trial, you can click on Buy the Audible with one click. Also check out “Bowhunting Deer: The Secrets of the PSE Pros,” available in Kindle and print at http://amzn.to/VBr1qW.