Not many deer on scouting trip

mcseal2

Veteran member
Mar 1, 2011
1,068
17
midwest
I just got home from spending 3 days scouting a unit in NW Colorado I drew for 2nd season muleys. Conditions weren't ideal with the heat and full moon, but it was when I could get away to do it. A buddy went along and we saw very few deer, 6 total in 3 days. We were out from before daylight to dark every day and put over 200 miles on the UTV exploring country. We used it to find spots we could glass from and hiked into other spots from the roads or trails marking vantage points. We also put around 150 miles on the truck checking out other places with better roads and getting an overview of the unit. We moved camp to cover more new country each day. We saw a total of 6 deer in the unit.

The unit is a mix of pinion juniper and oak brush. We checked high meadows, burns, all the country at the highest elevations of the unit, around 8500ft, that looked good. When that didn't work we checked a lot of mid elevation brushy country. It would have been easy to miss deer there, but we really didn't see a lot of sign either. We also drive the creek bottoms at daylight twice and looked at the alfalfa fields. One local we spoke too said if we wanted to see deer look at the alfalfa at night. We had enough moonlight to glass somewhat effectively so we tried this our last night, we drove past the close alfalfa fields at 11pm and then started checking bottoms at 4am, looked until about 8am and only saw 2 does. Both does were on fields after daylight.

The lady we spoke to at the closest Parks and Wildlife office told us that the deer in this area were not really migratory, she said we should be seeing deer especially in the creek bottoms. There really isn't any country we could see from the highest points of our unit that looked a whole lot higher anywhere extremely close.

I'm glad we went, saw some new beautiful country and got to mark a lot of good vantage points.
I'm still a little curious where the deer all were? I've got very limited experience hunting muleys in Colorado. Scouting trips to Wyoming for past hunts this time of year we always found deer pretty easily hanging out in open areas with their velvet antlers at different elevations. I'm wondering if these bucks were in the oak brush and just not coming out much?

Thanks for any help you can give.
 
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LCH

Very Active Member
Jun 28, 2015
576
19
Southern Indiana
If they're not moving, they're tough to spot. I hunted similar terrain, maybe even the same unit, last year. Middle of the day, glass for hours and maybe spot one or two bedded deer. Morning and evening, you could spot 20-30 deer from the same spot.
 
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muleyfool

Member
Jun 7, 2018
105
14
Tough time of the year for scouting (especially lower country).
Really noticed a population decrease last season. Local game warden speculated that the herd in my unit had been displaced due to drought and possibly CWD mortality. However on a brighter note I did see plenty of does, trying to scratch up a mature buck was a different story.
Been hunting the same Unit and mountain in NW Colorado for past 20+ years and have never seen it as bad as last season.
Hoping 2018 season was more of an anomaly than a trend.
 
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mcseal2

Veteran member
Mar 1, 2011
1,068
17
midwest
Thanks everyone for the replies. I think it may be a combination of a lot of those things. The moon was super bright while we were there. It was bright enough I was throwing a heck of a shadow standing outside like it was daytime. That gave us the idea to go glassing at night to see of we could see them being nocturnal, but even that didn't work. I'm sure the heat had a lot to do with it.

The lady at the parks office said that they had less than 2% of the deer they tested show up with CWD when we asked.
 

JimP

Veteran member
Mar 28, 2016
3,510
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Gypsum, Co
With the heat they could be back onto the cooler area shortly after sunrise.

I had a muzzle loader tag in the Utah Book Cliffs a few years ago and it was hot. The deer were back in their beds as soon as the sun hit the hillside and they didn't come back out until it was behind the hill in the evening. I saw zero deer between the hours of 9AM and 4
 

257Roberts

New Member
Aug 14, 2017
14
6
My wife and I took a swing thru Wy. last week . We were in the Centennial area over to Saratoga down to Encampment on to Walden,CO. The bucks I saw disappeared by about 6:30 am. There were a couple nice bucks on Hwy 14 outside of Ft. Collins around 10 am but I think they were coming from someone's garden.
I think all the antelope I saw had twins!
 

ScottR

Eastmans' Staff / Moderator
Staff member
Feb 3, 2014
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www.eastmans.com
Full moon makes it very tough. On Ike and I’s scouting trip last year we literally saw 3 bucks and we saw them right at dark, very tough to judge.
 

mcseal2

Veteran member
Mar 1, 2011
1,068
17
midwest
Thanks everyone. Talking to past tag holders the last few days it sounds like the deer are much more migratory there than what I'd heard earlier. I think that plus the moon/weather all added up to not many deer spotted.
 

provoflyfisher

New Member
Mar 10, 2011
33
2
Midway, Utah
I scouted that same unit last year around July 24th for two days and saw 1 buck. During the third season we saw dozens of bucks every day. Learn the roads, glassing points, private/public boundaries and camping areas and you will be ready come hunting season.
 
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go_deep

Veteran member
Nov 30, 2014
1,684
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Wyoming
Your tag is good for one deer, I'd focus on one deer not numbers. You'll get 'er done, have fun, enjoy yourself!
 
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mcseal2

Veteran member
Mar 1, 2011
1,068
17
midwest
Thanks everyone. I've talked to 20 past tag holders since I got back from our trip. Everyone has been awesome, I can't thank them enough for their help. Doing the scouting trip first and being in the unit has made our conversations great, it's easier to have a good discussion about country I've seen. Everyone says the deer will be there by our hunt, they just migrate much more than we were lead to believe by the person we spoke to at game and fish. I was having trouble making all that add up in my head before learning that, even nocturnal deer leave tracks and turds, I couldn't find many of those either when scouting.

I am very excited about our hunt again now. The places we scouted should work out in our favor knowing the country a bit. Now it's just doing more research, getting in better shape, shooting a ton of ammo, and getting stuff at home lined out so I don't have to worry about it while hunting. The hunt will be here before I know it I'm sure.

Thanks again to everyone for the help and encouragement.
 
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DRUSS

Active Member
Jun 22, 2014
328
2
nw oregon
stay positive, remember scouting trips help in so many ways and seeing game makes them better but always learning experiences to help what's coming up next.
 
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