Tips for Scouting Mule Deer With BaseMap

BaseMap, Hunting

From the high desert of the Arizona strip, to the high alpine of the Rockies and Cascades, there’s no other game animal more emblematic of the American West than the mule deer. Chasing the grey ghosts of the West, and their massive deep-forked tines, is a treat every hunter should experience, but not one to be taken lightly either. 

Mule deer inhabit a wide variety of terrain and will change said terrain and habitat as the seasons progress. Preseason scouting for bucks is paramount to success, but between work, family and life, time is precious and fleeting. 

To help make your scouting time as efficient as possible, BaseMap has the perfect app functions to help you locate mule deer in the early season. Below are the best app functions for locating preseason bucks and their uses to make this hunting season your best yet.

Mule Deer State Specific Layers

Mule deer numbers are up and down, but mainly down, across the West. Many states that used to offer over the counter mule deer tags have now gone to a draw system. Some of these areas can change year by year, so keeping up with regulations may be a challenge. 

Because of the regulations, before you can even start scouting an area you have to know if you can hunt there. BaseMap luckily takes the homework out of the equation for you. 

With BaseMap’s state specific layers, you can select the Western state you’re planning on hunting, then select the species you will be chasing, in this case mule deer. 

The mule deer specific data will tell you everything you need to know. You will be able to browse through unit boundaries, check season dates, regulations and drawing odds when available. The state specific layers will also show you traditional mule deer range. 

The data can go even further by showing number of hunters who hunted the area, number of days hunted and harvest data. This is the perfect jumping off point for your scouting.

Waypoints Elevation and Offline Maps

Mule deer scouting in the early season should have you headed to the high country. When looking for a stud buck, monitor an area’s elevation on your BaseMap App. In early season when a buck’s antlers are still growing, the velvet may make them extra sensitive and cause the buck to avoid heading into the dense brush they will call home during hunting season. 

Using BaseMap you can look for high alpine meadows with aerial imagery at high elevations. These meadows will provide nutritious grasses to help with antler growth and a cool, open area that won’t bother sensitive antlers. You can even change your BaseMap Baselayer to topographic to get proper senses of basins, flats and steep avalanche chutes that bucks may also be hanging out in.

After you’ve found good looking alpine meadows in your hunting unit, start dropping waypoints on specific areas. These waypoints will tell you the exact elevation and stay on your app when it’s time for boots on the ground scouting, leading you directly to all those promising looking areas. 

When you’re fully satisfied with the amount of waypoints you’ve set, make sure and save your map. Let’s face it, a lot of mule deer don’t care to live within the bounds of cell service. By saving your map, you can access them and all your waypoints when you leave the boundaries of cellular service, making your app as functional as can be, wherever your mule deer scouting takes you.

Feel the Burn

 
Well seasoned hunters swear by hunting old burnt sections of forest. Often times these seasoned hunters can’t be bothered to hunt in any other kind of terrain. Old burns will produce healthy, nutrient rich foods mule deer love to feed on. Scouting the edges of burns can be a great place to begin your scouting mission and BaseMaps database of historic wildfires provides you with every wildfire that has affected your neck of the woods over the last 10 years plus. Each fire will be featured by a red perimeter indicating the extent of the fire’s boundaries, the name of the complex and what year it took place. All these clues can help you search for smaller burns and older burns which will have significant new, nutritious growth. When you get to the spot in person, be reminded that while there may not be much wildlife in the spot at the time, as we get closer to general hunting seasons, more and more mature animals should move into the area. During your scouting trip pay more attention to old tracks, scat and rub trees, instead of actual animals.

Four by Fours, Horses and Bikes…..Oh My

Every scouting trip, just like every hunt, has to have a starting point. You may bail off the trail early and opt for bushwhacking to your waypoints, but having a national database of trails at your fingertips can certainly help expedite your trip into mule deer country. BaseMap trails aren’t the only feature that can help you get to your scouting grounds either. BaseMap’s database of roads features forest service roads and breaks them down based on which sort of transportation is allowed on them. Whether you’re traveling via a low clearance vehicle, 50 inch clearance outfitted four by four, an atv or dirt bike, BaseMap can help you find a suitable road to travel on. BaseMap also features horse approved trails and roads, as well as bicycle approved trails.

Mule deer can be the species of a lifetime to hunt and merely seeing a mature buck can be a life changing experience. Mulies embody the spirit of the West and because of that, hunting them is no walk in the park. Make sure you do your homework this year and start scouting with BaseMap at your side, helping you every step of the way. It may be summer now, but before we know it crisp air will move in, the leaves will be changing and our favorite time of the year will be upon us once again.

If you’re passionate about mule deer like we are, learn more about our Save 10, Give 10 partnership with Mule Deer Foundation and their conservation efforts. Now you can take 10% off a BaseMap Pro membership and in return BaseMap will donate 10% to Mule Deer Foundation to help support their conservation efforts and keep the mule deer flourishing.

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