Eastern Montana Mule Deer

gregt9146

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We've hunted 2 different areas the last 2 years and have had totally different luck with the same results, so I'm looking for some information on other good areas to try for mule deer. The first year we went to Broadus MT and saw like no deer in the public lands, hundreds in the private land, so last year we went to Winnett and saw hundreds of deer on public land but nothing that I would want to wrap my tag on. Anyone have any suggestions for eastern MT where we can find some deer with some size? I'm not looking for anyones secret spot, Just some areas where there is good amount of public land and some decent bucks worth going after. Or should I keep trying these areas?
 

Poke 'Em

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The deer are out there. If you can't find a buck to shoot in Broadus/Winnett, I'm not going to get specific enough with location to help you.
 

8andcounting

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when have you been going ? during rut? winnett area is pretty good. I hunt private about 60 miles west of there . lots of good public stuff around that area within an hours drive
 

MTGomer

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I have had a mixture of your experience. I've seen hundreds of deer on the public around Broadus, but nothing big. And I have not seen very many deer around winnet, while hunting elk in the breaks. For that matter, I haven't seen very many deer in the breaks on either side of the river, yet every year A few toads get taken.
 

BlakeA

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Lots of deer and lots of good country in both areas. I would hang in there and keep hunting hard.
 

8andcounting

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Lots of deer and lots of good country in both areas. I would hang in there and keep hunting hard.

agreed . but make sure you are going at the prime times . like after nov 10 to hit the prime rut . I like hunting during the week from about nov 15 on . less people out an the big bucks are just starting to heat up:D
 

Reeltime

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What do you consider a good buck? Shooter?

Thank you for not just killing a young deer to fill your tag. If I had a dollar for every young 2 or 3 point I've seen laying in a pick up, whole, with the skin on:cool:
 

8andcounting

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What do you consider a good buck? Shooter?

Thank you for not just killing a young deer to fill your tag. If I had a dollar for every young 2 or 3 point I've seen laying in a pick up, whole, with the skin on:cool:

I hate this argument .... In every gen tag deer unit that's legal isn't it ? And not being able to shoot muley doe's on gen tag , atleast in the hd's I've hunted , if u hunt public land and u want meat u better shoot the first 3 point
 

8andcounting

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I shot a fork muley in 2012 , 2014 and a small 17" wide 5x5 muley in 2015 . Hang me . I also paid 600$ for the NR tag . Thanks
 

8andcounting

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And spent $ in the local Montana towns , and bought grocerys , gas and beers. So don't guilt me into it u guess is what I'm saying . If I'm driving 800 miles spending a grand on the trip I'm bringing home a buck , of course legally .
 

MTGomer

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What do you consider a good buck? Shooter?

Thank you for not just killing a young deer to fill your tag. If I had a dollar for every young 2 or 3 point I've seen laying in a pick up, whole, with the skin on:cool:

I love this argument. A 3 pt minimum is long overdue.
 

JLS

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I love this argument. A 3 pt minimum is long overdue.

A 3 point minimum APR is not long overdue. It simply shifts the hunting pressure to the older age class deer while allowing the next crop of 2.5 year olds to survive so they can get shot the next year. You are mistakenly making the assumption that every 2 and 3 point deer will 1) survive through the year and 2) grow up to be a trophy someday. I've seen 18" 3 points on the Custer Forest that were 10+ years old. Not every deer has the genetics to do anything spectacular or even remotely interesting.

Maybe a more logical place to start would be to stop shooting deer in the rut if you truly want to grow older age classes of mule deer. That coupled with limited entry permits would do far more for the age structure of the population. You simply can't have your cake and eat it too.
 

antlerradar

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Big deer in that 180 or better class are few and hard to find on all but the most restricted private land. If you are looking for a deer like that, hunt were the deer numbers are low and there is lots of escape cover making hunting difficult. If deer numbers are high there will be too many hunters and the bucks will not get the age needed. Remember is you fine a place like this but it is too close to a big doe herd on private land many of the bucks that live there will move to the private during the rut. It is likely those bucks will not be coming back.
The best way to get that big deer is scout, scout and scout some more and then if you find him hunt early before the rut. The rut is a fun time to hunt but getting that big deer then is more dependent on luck than on how hard you work.
If you are committed to taking a big deer in Eastern Montana expect to eat a lot of tags or use that tag on a small two or three point. If you want to take a 180 you can't hold out and then shoot a 160 or 170. That 160 or 170 is likely to be the deer you are looking for in one year. The young 2 or 3 point needs to survive hunters,predators and old man winter a minimum of three to four more years.Chances are he isn't going to make it. There is also a much better chance that the young buck doesn't have the genetics to be big.
 
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MTGomer

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A 3 point minimum APR is not long overdue. It simply shifts the hunting pressure to the older age class deer while allowing the next crop of 2.5 year olds to survive so they can get shot the next year. You are mistakenly making the assumption that every 2 and 3 point deer will 1) survive through the year and 2) grow up to be a trophy someday. I've seen 18" 3 points on the Custer Forest that were 10+ years old. Not every deer has the genetics to do anything spectacular or even remotely interesting.

Maybe a more logical place to start would be to stop shooting deer in the rut if you truly want to grow older age classes of mule deer. That coupled with limited entry permits would do far more for the age structure of the population. You simply can't have your cake and eat it too.

So let me get this straight...
My thought is illogical because producing an older age class of deer would not lead to larger deer.

You then follow that statement up with two ideas that would lead to an older age class of deer...
GOT IT.

I do agree, the genetics just aren't there. Plenty of mature bucks that are goofy looking 3 points.
I still believe it would benefit the deer, and the hunter, if swarms of 1.5 year old forkies weren't blasted while following their moms around, next to the road.
 

JLS

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So let me get this straight...
My thought is illogical because producing an older age class of deer would not lead to larger deer.

You then follow that statement up with two ideas that would lead to an older age class of deer...
GOT IT.

I do agree, the genetics just aren't there. Plenty of mature bucks that are goofy looking 3 points.
I still believe it would benefit the deer, and the hunter, if swarms of 1.5 year old forkies weren't blasted while following their moms around, next to the road.

APRs do NOT produce older age classes of deer. There are plenty of studies out there to support that conclusion. All APRs do is create a mechanism to keep younger deer from getting shot right away. Unless you reduce the overall harvest via limited entry permit, you are simply shifting the hunting pressure to the older classes of deer. Lots of folks out there would shoot the first forky they see if it's legal. If it's not, they hold out until they shoot the first 3 point.

I've seen it first hand for a number of years. It simply doesn't do what you think it would.

Let's not throw out the emotional claim of 1.5 year old forkies following their moms to support your argument. Montana tried APRs in the Tobacco Roots for a number of years and found that it did nothing to increase the upper age classes of deer. Why do you think the trophy deer units are limited entry and no restrictions on harvest?
 

JLS

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Back to the OPs question, read antlerradar's post and then read it again. If you want big deer you won't find them in areas that have high deer densities on public land. You will have to find overlooked areas that are difficult to access, don't look all that spectacular, and are hard to glass from the road.

Sometimes less is more. Big blocks of public land draw big numbers of hunters. Sometimes you are better finding smaller, isolated pieces of public land and focusing on those. During the rut the big bucks can move very long distances and you may find them several miles away from where they started their day at.

It takes more patience, but don't overlook some of the God forsaken prairies that look like they couldn't support more than antelope or rattlesnakes. I've seen a couple of huge bucks in areas like that.

You might also need to re-evaluate your hunting tactics if you can't find a buck around Broadus.
 

antlerradar

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Three point or better is not the way to go. JLS is mostly right. I disagree slightly on the shifting hunting pressure to older age class deer. I would replace older age class with 4 point or better deer. The reason is that bucks with good genetics will have 4 points at age 2.5, some will have four points at age 1.5. Three point restrictions will concentrate hunting pressure on the bucks that most likely have the potential to get big when they are young and eliminate hunting on bucks that have little chance of getting big even when they are old.
If bigger deer is your goal you need to reduce the number of hunters or make it more difficult to fill your tag on a nice buck.
 
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MTGomer

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So much for this thread...

That's exactly what I thought, when the gentlemen's request for non specific advice was met with "I'm not going to get specific enough to help you" on the third comment.

JLS and mine's comments are about things we think or don't think should be done to alleviate the issues the OP was experiencing.


But to Greg.. I would recommend looking over your maps real good for access into mostly isolated BLM ground -meaning there might be 6 sections of BLM, but you have to walk several miles through narrow strips of adjoining public lands to get into it. or using BMA's (if they allow it) to access fed land. I've had decent luck with this.

If we are ever allowed to corner cross.... the possibilities are endless.
 
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