Rookie Mule Deer Hunter Questions

swoleymammoth

New member
Joined
Apr 24, 2020
Messages
20
Location
Utah
Hey everyone,

Going on my second mule deer hunt ever here in Utah, Fillmore unit and I have a few questions regarding mule deer hunting:

1. Probably a silly question but will Mule Deer drink from cattle watering troughs? It's been really dry here in Utah and I've noticed a lot of the springs I've looked at are bone dry. Noticed a couple of tracks near the water troughs I found but that was all. Should I look for springs that still have water or would the trough work?

2. What type of plants/trees do Mule deer prefer this time of year? I've noticed a ton of scrub oak in one area where I scouted and a bit of mountain mahogany. It's been really dry though so not a lot of leafy plants around.

3. My tag starts this week and I expect a lot of pressure, is it safe to assume deer will be scattered all over the place? Is it worth driving around the main roads or should I try to focus in on some more hard to reach spots?

4. Any general tips or advice you can give?

Thank you all so much in advance and I hope I get my first deer this season!
 

wyoboypt

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Oct 4, 2017
Messages
696
Location
Wyoming
This year is a good one to stay near water. Not sure on the cow trough question, but idk why a deer would care too much.
 

belshawelk

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Aug 27, 2015
Messages
784
Location
Oregon
Deer don't care about cows. Neither do elk or pronghorn. You'll be surprised though where deer and elk can find water. But they will be there.

I dont know about Utah but they were still really high up in E. Oregon last week. But its cooled off a bit and there wasn't a lot of pressure at least where I hunt.
 

chuckchili

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Nov 13, 2019
Messages
290
Location
Colorado
I researched the water trough question last week after not having too much luck finding antelope. I am not sure how it exactly relates to deer vs. antelope but to answer your question, it seems as though they do in fact drink from water troughs intended for cattle. If not the trough itself, they will find little puddles around the trough to drink from. I set up 200-300 yards from a trough at sun-up, making sure I was in what seemed to be the best position for the wind. As soon as the sun came up, there were several groups heading towards the water source.
 

MTHeifer

Member
Joined
Apr 12, 2020
Messages
29
Location
Montana
1. Yes
2. I'm not from Utah, but in Montana in October they tend to hang out in the thick timber where they can stay away from hunting pressure until they come out for the rut. I would assume that they will be in the thickest stuff they can find, preferably close to good feed and water that they can access at night.
3. You're right to expect pressure, but I think that would probably concentrate them into the places where hunters typically wouldn't want to go. I would focus on the hard to reach spots.
4. Let your binoculars do the walking for you, and make sure to be in a good glassing spot at first and last light.

Good luck!
 

Happy Myles

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Sep 11, 2020
Messages
192
Mule deer drank from livestock water troughs and used mineral salt troughs on ranches in Montana, Idaho, Nevada and California.
 

Wildabeast

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Mar 11, 2020
Messages
1,312
Location
NC / UT / WY
My experience is that they also tend to be very nocturnal this time of year. Especially the bucks. I’ll catch them on trail cams, so I know they are there, but you just don’t see them during daylight hours. So finding their beds once you know they are in the area is critical until temps get cooler and rut gets closer.
 

TXJaeger

New member
Joined
Sep 18, 2019
Messages
13
Late to the party on this one. Looks like you got some good advice here. Would love to her how the hunt went.
 

swoleymammoth

New member
Joined
Apr 24, 2020
Messages
20
Location
Utah
Thank you all for the great advice! I ended up seeing a few deer drinking from a cattle trough up one canyon before opening day but never saw any near it afterwards. Ended up getting my first deer, a little 3x2 buck, in an old burn area 3 days into the hunt. Had read somewhere that old (3+yrs) burns can be good areas and that's what I decided to try. Saw this buck right off the road and was able to make a good shot on it despite my buck fever!

Overall had a great time and I'm even more hooked on hunting now! Can't wait for next year. Thanks again everyone for all of your help.
 

mdeerjunkie

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 12, 2019
Messages
1,356
Location
Colorado
Thank you all for the great advice! I ended up seeing a few deer drinking from a cattle trough up one canyon before opening day but never saw any near it afterwards. Ended up getting my first deer, a little 3x2 buck, in an old burn area 3 days into the hunt. Had read somewhere that old (3+yrs) burns can be good areas and that's what I decided to try. Saw this buck right off the road and was able to make a good shot on it despite my buck fever!

Overall had a great time and I'm even more hooked on hunting now! Can't wait for next year. Thanks again everyone for all of your help.
Congrats, that’s awesome!
 

btweedy

Active member
Joined
Feb 14, 2018
Messages
254
Location
South Dakota
Thank you all for the great advice! I ended up seeing a few deer drinking from a cattle trough up one canyon before opening day but never saw any near it afterwards. Ended up getting my first deer, a little 3x2 buck, in an old burn area 3 days into the hunt. Had read somewhere that old (3+yrs) burns can be good areas and that's what I decided to try. Saw this buck right off the road and was able to make a good shot on it despite my buck fever!

Overall had a great time and I'm even more hooked on hunting now! Can't wait for next year. Thanks again everyone for all of your help.
Congratulations. Any pictures?
 

gcn0003

New member
Joined
Dec 29, 2020
Messages
15
Thank you all for the great advice! I ended up seeing a few deer drinking from a cattle trough up one canyon before opening day but never saw any near it afterwards. Ended up getting my first deer, a little 3x2 buck, in an old burn area 3 days into the hunt. Had read somewhere that old (3+yrs) burns can be good areas and that's what I decided to try. Saw this buck right off the road and was able to make a good shot on it despite my buck fever!

Overall had a great time and I'm even more hooked on hunting now! Can't wait for next year. Thanks again everyone for all of your help.
Well done! Do you have any pictures of the hunt or deer, always nice to go along with the story.
 

grizzly63

Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2020
Messages
67
One time out west I was trying to close the distance on some Mulies and the only feature to hide behind was one of the those triangular wood post jobs they place over the water tanks to keep the cattle out. I was just about to the tank when I realized they were making a bee line for it. Now, I didn't want to shoot any of these deer but was hoping to stay close and just watch them in case Mr. big showed up. Well, I ended up laying flat on the ground while they drank form the other side. After 15 or 20 seconds they must have smelled me and they headed out. Only ran a hundred yards or so and stood around wondering what was going on. The buck with them got a pass and I got a good laugh out of the deal. Yes, they drink from those tanks.
 
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