What Makes A Big Mule Deer?????

ScottR

Eastmans' Staff / Moderator
Staff member
Feb 3, 2014
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Can you guys tell that I have deer on the brain???

In your opinion, what makes a deer big? In years past the holy grail was a 30 inch wide buck as spread was what guys looked religiously for. The modern day mule deer guy wants bucks that break 200 inches as the holy grail. Personally a 180 class buck is one piece of big for me, but I really think that the wow factor is what does it for me now. If a buck makes me say WOOOOWWWW then he is big.

What say you?
 

Colorado Cowboy

Veteran member
Jun 8, 2011
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What do you prefer & why....Ford Chevy or Ram truck? You'll get about as many answers as the amount of the US debt!

Myself...I like wide stance and lots of mass. A narrow rack (no matter how high) just doesn't do it for me. I've been hunting mulies for 65 years and have shot over 100 bucks. I have seen literally 1000's. If I waited for a 200" or 30" wide buck, I'd be down to around 5 bucks. I also like non typical stuff too.
 

JimP

Veteran member
Mar 28, 2016
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Gypsum, Co
I like heavy square heavy antlers that are at least 28 inches wide the height takes care of itself. In 50 years of hunting them I have seen a dozen or so of them that meet that standard and have only been able to think about shooting a couple of them. One was over a mile away and another one was around a thousand yards. I was able to close the distance on the one that was a thousand yards but he was gone when I got there leaving behind a 24inch buck. I know that because that one was shot 15 minutes later.

Both of those bucks had a spread of at least 36inches with a lot of mass. But they don't get that big by standing around.
 
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mcseal2

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Mar 1, 2011
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midwest
It depends on where I am. My best 2 bucks are 200" and 163". I'm very thankful for both, but I'm more proud of the 163" buck in a way because I managed to get him in a very high pressure unit late in a hunt I put a lot of effort into.

I don't really see myself passing a mature 170 class buck or any big framed buck with less points on most tags. A real special tag I might try to go big or go home empty-handed on. I'm ok with not filling a tag for that chance at this point in my hunting. What I try to avoid is shooting the young buck that hasn't hit maturity yet but has the genetics to be special. I'd rather take an older, lower scoring buck than one that will be someone's dream deer in another year. I just wouldn't appreciate that deer as much personally so there is no reason for me to take him.

Robby Denning talks about the few hunters who kill big deer on purpose and that kinda stuck with me. I've taken several great whitetail and feel like I'm doing that on purpose at this point. I feel like there was a ton of luck involved in my first big muley, I'd like to get another one of that class someday that I feel like I truly outwitted. That said I'll take one from sheer luck too, bucks like that are to rare to be picky rather than practical!
 
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Alabama

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Feb 18, 2013
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Sweet Home Alabama
Mass, Mass, Mass! I love non-typicals with stickers but mass trumps all others. I'd rather kill a massive old 3x3 than a skinny rack 5x5 any day of the week. Score doesn't matter to me as much as the wow factor. When I see the deer I want I usually know it immediately. Wide or narrow doesn't matter much to me, I like them all. I hope to wrap my hands around one this fall, I have the best tag I've ever had in my hand.
 

mcseal2

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Mar 1, 2011
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Usually deer with mass surprise you too on score. It makes tines look shorter and all dimensions harder to judge. I shot a 9pt whitetail that was old and on his way down. His tines were all shorter than the year before, he looked narrower. He was super heavy though. When I shot him and we put a tape on him he had 46" of mass and scored 161", a lot better than I had guessed him at.

I'm with you on mass though, I'd take the 3x3 described over the 5x5 any day.
 
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gonhunting247

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Jan 21, 2014
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24" + buck with lots of mass and narly bases with all the extras I can get! That's Ideal, but truth be known I like them all!
 
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mallardsx2

Veteran member
Jul 8, 2015
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AGE and NUTRITION

To answer your question, thats what it takes.

With people being able to kill deer "consistently" at 600+ yards its very hard for a deer to get one of those two items.

30 years ago and beyond we didn't have rangefinders. There was more guess work and skill involved and people did a lot of missing.

Today there is 989890890 YouTube videos of "hunters" killing deer at 600 + yards.

That didn't happen 40 years ago.

Those 30"+ deer on public land are becoming very rare I would say.

If everyone passed on those 140" deer we would have big bucks. But the reality is, with the pressure that you encounter on public lands its pretty hard to pass up on those caliber of bucks.
 

Ikeepitcold

Administrator
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Feb 22, 2011
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Reno Nv
I’m also a wow factor guy. I of corse want a 200” and a 30” wide buck but if I see one that trips my trigger for his own unique way I won’t pass him up.
 

alaska2go

Active Member
Oct 20, 2012
233
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Palmer, AK
AGE and NUTRITION

To answer your question, thats what it takes.

With people being able to kill deer "consistently" at 600+ yards its very hard for a deer to get one of those two items.

30 years ago and beyond we didn't have rangefinders. There was more guess work and skill involved and people did a lot of missing.

Today there is 989890890 YouTube videos of "hunters" killing deer at 600 + yards.

That didn't happen 40 years ago.

Those 30"+ deer on public land are becoming very rare I would say.

If everyone passed on those 140" deer we would have big bucks. But the reality is, with the pressure that you encounter on public lands its pretty hard to pass up on those caliber of bucks.
very true !!!