Jun 14th, 2021
Big Mule Buck Behavior with Dustin Wittwer
It’s one thing to read about stuff in a book or hear about it in a podcast. It’s a real “ah hah” moment when you see it happen in real life. Little details like that, the ones that you only learn from experience, can really make a difference on a hunt.
Mule deer bucks are smart. Dustin had always read about big bucks circling back on their own tracks, but in 2019, he saw it firsthand. He was watching a group of bucks when another hunter arrived to go after the same group, and when the wind gave the other hunter away. As the bucks moved around the side of the peak, the largest buck stopped. The buck did a 180 turn, went back along his own tracks, and bedded down in such a way so that he could watch his back trail. If the hunter had decided to try and follow, that buck would have seen him instantly and bolted.
The trick is not to follow a spooked buck, but to circle around the other way. Dustin’s brother was able to turn this knowledge into success on a past hunt by circling around the peak the other way. He came up behind the buck, who had already bedded down and was focused the opposite way, and took him with a bow.
“Watching those big bucks, and trying to play chess instead of checkers, that’s what I really learned. Thinking about the mountainside, thinking about which way the buck is going to go.”
Firsthand lessons are always the best, and that means getting out there and hunting. And it means sticking with it if you don’t succeed right away. Dustin and his brother learned that on a 7 day hunt. Sometimes, all you need is one more good stalk to walk away with a beautiful buck. Most of my success happens in the last day or two that I have scheduled, so don’t give up early.
Hunting over and over within the same unit is a great way to learn the area. You’ll learn the terrain and the habits of the animals. You can find out the best feeding spots and bedding areas. Even if you kill the animals that use those spots, nature will fill that void back in, and you can return and use that knowledge again and again.
“There’s always something to chase. There’s no way someone can tell you exactly how to do it.” You can study and discuss hunting and deer all day, but there’s always a new experience out there to learn from.
- Dustin shares stories and lessons learned from years of hunting.
- How to circle around a big buck and catch him unaware.
- Stick with it to succeed. Don’t give up early.
- Hunt the same area repeatedly to learn the terrain and behavior of the animals.
- Beware of big cats!
Mentioned in this Episode:
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Learning about bucks is one thing, but experiencing their habits in the wild is another. Dustin talks about tactics for stalking mule deer and shares stories from his years of experience.
Buck hunting, mule deer hunting, stalking bucks, big buck hunting, how to hunt big bucks