Hunting Mountain Whitetails

Whitetails are most often associated with rolling hills and flat woodlands in Midwest, south and eastern United States. In Montana and other western states however, we find whitetails occupying a variety of different ecosystems, often overlapping with mule deer and elk. You have those who prefer the bottomlands, much like those in the Midwest and those who work up steep slopes and mountaintops. This is a guide to finding and shooting mountain whitetails.


Pole Lines

Power lines are not attractive but they provide feeding lanes and migration corridors for deer. Powerlines also traverse some very steep terrain in the west and they provide clearings in otherwise heavily timbered areas. You are not likely to cross a deer along the lines but they are great for walking and tracking. You can silently cruise along the openings until you cross fresh sign. Then you can jump into the woods or plan a blind/treestand setup.

Young Firs

Find stands of young fir trees around waist to head high. These stands are common in areas where logging was prevalent in the past and re-seeding practices are in effect. Walk through the young fir stands and you are likely to see ample sign. The trees provide cover and deer love feeding and bedding n these zones. If you find young fir trees near an old burn, prepare to cross some deer. 


Steep slopes lined with blowdowns are often associated with elk but they hold whitetails as well. The deer use the blowdowns for protection while bedding and they feed along the lush north slopes. This makes them difficult to locate without a very quiet stalk or strategically located stand. Unlike their lowland cousins, these deer seem to move more and are difficult to pattern. Stalking these areas at a snail-like pace requires incredible patience but can turn up some nice bucks. 


You can almost always find sign and travel corridors in steep, timbered draws. You have water, cover, food and travel lanes to feeding areas. Find the game trails, bring a saw to make shooting lanes and plan a tree stand or blind setup in these zones. Draws are difficult to stalk and playing the waiting game is your best bet. Early season game cameras can show you what’s moving through the draws and very few people will bush whack into these difficult zones. 

Photo by Ryan McSparran

Photo by Ryan McSparran

At Lazy J Bar O Outfitters, we offer remote mountain hunts in some of Montana’s most wild country. Our guided Montana hunts include elk, mule deer, whitetail deer, black bear and bighorn sheep. For more information, explore the rest of our website or contact us for details.