Planning for an Eastern Montana mule deer hunt

Jpopejoy1980

New member
Joined
Feb 9, 2022
Messages
15
For starters, I am new to the forum. So if this isn’t the best place to post this, please redirect me to where would be.

In 2020 I got to go on my first elk hunt with a lifelong friend. This had always been my dream hunt. We didn’t even see an elk, but made some incredible memories. Now we are looking to take my father on his dream hunt which is mule deer.

I have been purchasing points for him for a couple of years now for Montana. We chose to focus on Eastern Montana because we had heard their were decent numbers of deer and the terrain was typically easier to navigate than further west. That last part is particularly of concern for my father who is in his 60's with some knee issues. He can get around ok, just doesn't want to do any big mountain climbing. I am currently looking at unit 705. It looks like there is decent public access and a decent bet with the points he has. We aren't looking for a record book buck, just looking to see some deer and have a chance at a decent buck. Being whitetail hunters from Southern Illinois, any mule deer is going to look like a trophy to us I am sure.

Can anyone confirm or dispute my reasoning for looking at this area? Any tips or resources that you suggest I check out? I would appreciate anything from application strategy to actual hunting advise. I've hunted whitetails from a tree stand my whole life, but never mule deer. Thanks in advance!
 

BlakeA

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 13, 2012
Messages
2,066
Location
North Dakota
I think you will find plenty of access there as well as most of eastern Montana. I would highly suggest going there with real expectations. Put 99.9% of your thoughts and efforts into enjoying the experience and time spent with your dad hiking and hunting a beautiful landscape. Put 0.01% into thinking you will be notching your tag on anything more than a 2.5 year old 120 inch deer. Understand that whatever your lower expectations on deer quality will be going into it, the outcome will probably be even lower. Maybe not, but more than likely.

Randy just released MT Mule Deer hunts from this past fall on YouTube. Watch those if you get a chance.
 

Jpopejoy1980

New member
Joined
Feb 9, 2022
Messages
15
I think you will find plenty of access there as well as most of eastern Montana. I would highly suggest going there with real expectations. Put 99.9% of your thoughts and efforts into enjoying the experience and time spent with your dad hiking and hunting a beautiful landscape. Put 0.01% into thinking you will be notching your tag on anything more than a 2.5 year old 120 inch deer. Understand that whatever your lower expectations on deer quality will be going into it, the outcome will probably be even lower. Maybe not, but more than likely.

Randy just released MT Mule Deer hunts from this past fall on YouTube. Watch those if you get a chance.
Thanks. Deer size is the least of our priorities. It is definitely about the experience.
 

chilidog61

New member
Joined
Jan 19, 2022
Messages
14
Location
Brighton, CO
I think you will have a lot of fun. From what I have read and buddies that live up there, the Mule Deer numbers in Eastern MT have been pretty good but slowly decreasing. Even though the terrain may be easier then the mountains still prepare to put on miles. It is open country and to get into them you will have to put the boots to the ground. Make sure and take the time to soak it all in. The plains, plateaus, canyons, and bottoms of eastern MT are absolutely beautiful. Don't be afraid to bring along a shotgun for some sharptail/pheasant hunting. Lots of them just north of where you will be.
 

Shangobango

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 5, 2019
Messages
1,617
Location
Louisiana
For starters, I am new to the forum. So if this isn’t the best place to post this, please redirect me to where would be.

In 2020 I got to go on my first elk hunt with a lifelong friend. This had always been my dream hunt. We didn’t even see an elk, but made some incredible memories. Now we are looking to take my father on his dream hunt which is mule deer.

I have been purchasing points for him for a couple of years now for Montana. We chose to focus on Eastern Montana because we had heard their were decent numbers of deer and the terrain was typically easier to navigate than further west. That last part is particularly of concern for my father who is in his 60's with some knee issues. He can get around ok, just doesn't want to do any big mountain climbing. I am currently looking at unit 705. It looks like there is decent public access and a decent bet with the points he has. We aren't looking for a record book buck, just looking to see some deer and have a chance at a decent buck. Being whitetail hunters from Southern Illinois, any mule deer is going to look like a trophy to us I am sure.

Can anyone confirm or dispute my reasoning for looking at this area? Any tips or resources that you suggest I check out? I would appreciate anything from application strategy to actual hunting advise. I've hunted whitetails from a tree stand my whole life, but never mule deer. Thanks in advance!

Just use the search feature and enter any of the following: SE Montana deer'' ,"Southeast Montana deer'', "East Montana deer", "Custer National Forest deer", etc. You will have a ton of reading material.

I was in that general area season before last. The country is magnificent. I absolutely fell in love with the area. However, I never saw a buck older than 2.5 years on public and I hunted hard for 12 days and put on a pretty good bit of boot miles in the most isolated places that I could find. The road hunting traffic is heavy but once you get out of sight of the road the pressure isn't so bad.

As long as your expectations are in line with the reality on the ground up there you all should have a blast in some great country.
 

brownbear932008

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 15, 2011
Messages
2,523
Location
SWVA
Thanks. Deer size is the least of

I can’t imagine going on a mule deer “dream hunt” in Eastern Montana. I’m not trying to sound negative, but if this is his one and only time mule deer hunting, there are several states that would be much better.
I couldn't agree more there are much better places OP. Not being a Debbie downer but SE MT has been shot out many moons ago. Your late to that ballgame. If you are satisfied with a small 3 or 4 point that is 2.5 or 3.5 your on the right track. It's an awfully expensive tag for that imo.
 

nrpate05

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 5, 2015
Messages
1,364
I just watched Marcus and the crew hunt eastern MT for mule deer and it looked like a pretty cool hunt. I've never hunted them in terrain like that but would love to. Seemed like pretty good numbers of deer and decent bucks if you look for them. Given my track record of shooting 1 and 2 year old bucks, I think it would be a dream hunt!
 

Skynard

Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
43
Man, there are so many more deer out west than in the whitetail only states. I'm not saying population numbers, but it is just easier to see more deer out west. Open country, mule deer socialize different than whitetails, etc... any place you go in a mule deer populated area of any state is probably going to beat your expectations if you've never mule deer hunted. Of course there are bad places and unlucky days where guys don't see deer the whole hunt. You will always hear from those guys on the forum. Go to MT, try it out. Go to CO, try it out. CO is going to have better quality deer but man just go and figure it out. You'll see deer. If you can go elk hunting and not see an elk, but have the time of your life then you will have a great time mule deer hunting out west.

I went to a western state recently, accessible tags, not good trophy potential, saw likely 500+ deer on public and private lands. Got permission on a private piece next to public and shot at a great mule deer...missed. lol. I just called the landowner and he said go ahead. Go have an adventure and don't be stupid or naive about deer hunting out west and you will not come home regretful.
 

Skynard

Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
43
For starters, I am new to the forum. So if this isn’t the best place to post this, please redirect me to where would be.

In 2020 I got to go on my first elk hunt with a lifelong friend. This had always been my dream hunt. We didn’t even see an elk, but made some incredible memories. Now we are looking to take my father on his dream hunt which is mule deer.

I have been purchasing points for him for a couple of years now for Montana. We chose to focus on Eastern Montana because we had heard their were decent numbers of deer and the terrain was typically easier to navigate than further west. That last part is particularly of concern for my father who is in his 60's with some knee issues. He can get around ok, just doesn't want to do any big mountain climbing. I am currently looking at unit 705. It looks like there is decent public access and a decent bet with the points he has. We aren't looking for a record book buck, just looking to see some deer and have a chance at a decent buck. Being whitetail hunters from Southern Illinois, any mule deer is going to look like a trophy to us I am sure.

Can anyone confirm or dispute my reasoning for looking at this area? Any tips or resources that you suggest I check out? I would appreciate anything from application strategy to actual hunting advise. I've hunted whitetails from a tree stand my whole life, but never mule deer. Thanks in advance!
I would also encourage you to stick around and update us on your hunt this fall. I'm trying not to be an in and out HuntTalk member, it's hard lol.
 

Kiwi

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 12, 2014
Messages
1,672
Location
New Zealand
Man, there are so many more deer out west than in the whitetail only states. I'm not saying population numbers, but it is just easier to see more deer out west. Open country, mule deer socialize different than whitetails, etc... any place you go in a mule deer populated area of any state is probably going to beat your expectations if you've never mule deer hunted. Of course there are bad places and unlucky days where guys don't see deer the whole hunt. You will always hear from those guys on the forum. Go to MT, try it out. Go to CO, try it out. CO is going to have better quality deer but man just go and figure it out. You'll see deer. If you can go elk hunting and not see an elk, but have the time of your life then you will have a great time mule deer hunting out west.

I went to a western state recently, accessible tags, not good trophy potential, saw likely 500+ deer on public and private lands. Got permission on a private piece next to public and shot at a great mule deer...missed. lol. I just called the landowner and he said go ahead. Go have an adventure and don't be stupid or naive about deer hunting out west and you will not come home regretful.
Hope you're able to get back this year!
 

Shangobango

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 5, 2019
Messages
1,617
Location
Louisiana
Man, there are so many more deer out west than in the whitetail only states. I'm not saying population numbers, but it is just easier to see more deer out west. Open country, mule deer socialize different than whitetails, etc... any place you go in a mule deer populated area of any state is probably going to beat your expectations if you've never mule deer hunted. Of course there are bad places and unlucky days where guys don't see deer the whole hunt. You will always hear from those guys on the forum. Go to MT, try it out. Go to CO, try it out. CO is going to have better quality deer but man just go and figure it out. You'll see deer. If you can go elk hunting and not see an elk, but have the time of your life then you will have a great time mule deer hunting out west.

I went to a western state recently, accessible tags, not good trophy potential, saw likely 500+ deer on public and private lands. Got permission on a private piece next to public and shot at a great mule deer...missed. lol. I just called the landowner and he said go ahead. Go have an adventure and don't be stupid or naive about deer hunting out west and you will not come home regretful.
I agree with a lot of this.

Even though the densities are lower out west, I was amazed at how many deer I saw while I was there. I laid eyes on more big game in 12 days out there than I do in a whole 4 month long season here. Not due to a ton of game but due to the fact that here deer can be a couple hundred yards from you and you would have no way to see them. They may as well be in the next state if they stay in those thickets all day.
 

nmassey

Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2019
Messages
66
Location
N Texas
I know that a lot people are saying that the Eastern MT deer have lower age class and from everything I have read on here, that is true. But if your main goal is getting out with your dad on some areas that he can access at this stage of life, see some new country and different deer, and this area fits those goals then absolutely do it. My dad is getting up in age where much hiking is not in the cards so I'm taking every opportunity to go on hunts that we both can enjoy. I realize that I will probably be sacrificing age class and size of animal but I am good with that. He has sacrificed for me my whole life, so the least I can do is give back what I can. Just my two cents

Thanks
 

8andcounting

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 16, 2013
Messages
2,726
Don’t forget to get on the computer early to grab some Mule deer doe tags when they go on sale. Take home some extra meat. Those 11,000 sell out quick
Well 5500 , in 2021 . And will be 0 this year I predict
 

Forum statistics

Threads
101,654
Messages
1,625,457
Members
31,793
Latest member
mtn baldy
Top