B&C buck - better chance early or late?
Over the few years I’ve been on this forum there has been numerous discussions about the best time to draw your limited tag to hunt a trophy mule deer. The general consensus has most often been that the rut is a guy’s best opportunity. I’ve never disagreed. It seems to me along with a lot of you, that the rut is the time we are most likely to find a real wall hanger that shows up out of the high country, backcountry, thick difficult habitat, you name it. So, a while back I decided to look at Boone & Crocket records and see if there was maybe an indication of the best time to try for a trophy.
Since I’ve just hunted mule deer in Colorado last year (2013) and Colorado is such a tremendous producer of B&C bucks, utilizing their online “Trophy Search” application I pulled up a listing of typical mule deer entered in B&C from the beginning of record keeping through 2013. Analyzing the data only for bucks netting 190” up to the world record scoring 226” there were 433 entries. 58 entries didn’t have a good date. By that I mean they would say “prior to 1957” or the year taken with no month given. With no date these records were not going to help so I subtracted the 58 leaving 375 taken in September, October, November and December. There were only 14 taken in September. So, if we set the real early hunts aside and focus on October time frame (which I still consider early) compared to the Combination of November and December (which I consider mostly late): Which timeframe do you think would produce the most record entries?
I would have bet that November/December would have produced far more record trophies even though it could be pointed out there are not as many hunters in the field during late seasons in recent times. Quotas are lower, deer are lower down and often on private property, etc. It seems like the other advantages of late seasons including the rut and snow would still out way the lower quotas and fewer hunters.
Conclusion: October has been the best month! It out weighs November/December timeframe 60% (217) to 40% (144).
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While more were shot in October, I am guessing there were a huge number more hunters hunting during this time. I am guessing the number of trophys taken per hunter would be much higher during the rut. Just pulling numbers out of the air- if 1 million hunters went in October and harvested 217 trophy bucks, and 100,000 hunters hunted the rut and harvested 144- it is easy to see your odds are much higher during the rut. I would also look at season dates from years past. Colorado has changed season dates through the years so during some years people didn't have much or any opportunity to hunt rutting bucks.
Also have to remember that deer have to be scraped to be submitted for early season. But I tend to agree that the numbers are there in Oct bc of more opportunity. Best odds to kill them tend to be while still in velvet & rut-post rut.
October has 2nd rifle season and some early rifle seasons accros the state. 3rd and 4th season are in november there all pre rut but on occasion i have seen them rut in 3rd and 4th depending on the weather. i am a strong beleaver of deep snow cold weather the later you can hunt gets the deer moving. Its harder condissions but you will see many more deer. still hunt high and follow the deer down. hope this helps