Bob Marshall Combo Hunts - Don’t Overlook the Mule Deer

Most hunter days in the Bob Marshall are spent chasing elk. The rifle rut season is especially popular being one of very few opportunities to combine rifles with the rut in western US. Mule deer junies should however take a closer look at the opportunity to harvest a serious buck in the high country. Although uncommon, prioritizing mule deer over elk could lead to the deer of a lifetime.

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Penetrating the Backcountry

Getting yourself to a good base camp is one of the biggest challenges on these hunts. The Bob Marshall is a massive wilderness area with numerous routes and trails. Horsepacking is the best method of backcountry travel here. Horses will cover miles while you save energy for the high country hunt. 

Lazy J Bar O Outfitters uses a roving hunting style that is perfect for mulies. You can pick up and move camps as needed to check different basins until you cross paths with a great buck. 

Without livestock, you must pack into the wilderness. Show up in great shape and focus on a few high basins if hiking is the only option. Luckily, packing out a deer is much easier than an elk but that doesn’t mean you should shoot one 20 miles into the wilderness without help. 

One good tactic is to hunt steep areas and work the higher points within 6-8 miles of a trailhead or access point. Most pack strings will head up the trail right past these areas, leaving plenty of room to explore while being able to pack an animal out within reason.

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Finding Mule Deer in the Bob Marshall

Elevation is key in the Bob. You will actually cross whitetails in the lower elevations. The deer portion of the combo tag is good for whitetails as well. The mule deer tend to occupy the higher elevations, especially in September and October if the fall is warm. 

Getting above treeline is not always possible on horseback so plan on some steep hiking to top the high basins where some of the biggest mulies like to sit in safety. Guides are a great resources for mule deer locations because they see them in the same areas each year. Unlike elk that are moving in more aggressive routes, the mule deer tend to stick to a pattern. 

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To learn more about Bob Marshall Wilderness hunts with Lazy J Bar O Outfittrers, please check out our Bob Marshall Hunting Page. For specifics and availability, please don’t hesitate to contact us.