Solving The Disappearing Mulie Mystery
Q: I scouted my mule deer hunting area before the season and saw numerous bucks. When I returned to hunt after the season opened, there were no deer anywhere. The area I hunt is sandy desert ridges.
Any suggestions why this happened or where to look for the deer?
-Tony Gravitt, Clovis, New Mexico
A: The desert mule deer in your area can sometimes be extremely big. I suspect the bucks did move, but not completely out of the area. They could have turned nocturnal because of weather, the moon phase or hunting pressure.
To relocate them, try cruising pasture roads and two-tracks looking for tracks where deer have crossed. You can also spend time observing waterholes and, if possible, climb up any windmills and use them as observation towers. If you will be hunting in January, start scouting a few weeks before.
If you still have trouble finding a large herd or numbers of deer, try locating a big set of tracks and follow them. I have had good luck doing this. I picked up a large set of tracks at daylight once and followed it for five hours. When I noted that the tracks were headed for a waterhole, I made a half circle and got ahead of the buck. I bagged him at 75 yards as he approached the waterhole.
Mule deer are highly mobile, so when you are hunting late in the year you could find them moving or already in their wintering area. My best advice is to hunt hard and smart, and use the wind and sun to your advantage.
Searching For Travel Tips
Q: I will be traveling to Wyoming via airline and wonder about carrying ammo in my baggage. Airlines do not allow explosives so what do I do? Also what about bringing home meat?
-Andrew Schwarz, Howard, Ohio
A: I have never had a problem packing ammo into my check-in luggage. You cannot carry it on board. I use one of the small plastic handgun hard cases to put two boxes of ammo in, then I usually wrap it up in a heavy shirt or coat. Beware, you also cannot pack your ammo in the same case with a gun. It has to be separate.
Carrying meat home on the airline can be tricky. Under the best of circumstances, you tag your game a couple days in advance of departure and the processor has time to cut, wrap and hard freeze it, and then pack it into shipping boxes that are usually wax lined. This whole process is not cheap. No airline will allow meat that is packed in dry ice.
Next, you pay for each box of meat as extra checked baggage, which could be as much as $50 a box or more. This happened to our crew in Colorado last year. The real hassle starts if the airplane flying out of your destination cannot handle all the extra baggage.
Then your option becomes taking the perishable meat with you and sending all your baggage on a later flight including your gun. You could find it cheaper to ship your hunting gear to yourself with a commercial carrier and only take the meat with you.
Some outfitters help in this regard, but most just send you with a guide that drops you off on the curb. I also checked into overnight shipping with a commercial service and found it extremely expensive with no guarantees. If there is a downside to flying out for a hunt, this is it.