We've all been there, sitting on a ridge in some "Muley Country" we're looking, glassing, hiking and glassing some more. But why can't we ever find that legend? Well, what are your tactics when it comes to scouting Mule Deer?
It was 2012 when I was in work-up for deployment to a third world shit hole, Afghanistan. I remember sitting through CIED or Counter Improvised Explosive Device training, recognition, awareness etc. I very vividly remember daydreaming about hunting some of the mountains in that Nevada desert for Mule deer. (super safe, right!) The instructor got to a portion of the training for mounted operations and helping spot IEDs on the roadway outside of traditional means. He posed a question, how do you read a book? Left to right up and down. I can't remember the study, but he showed a study showing that our brain doesn't actually see and read every word written because we have conditioned our brains to form sentences with the context clues around.
He suggested to us. "When driving these shitty roads, stop reading and start looking!" - Well, what does that mean. He explained that we need to go down, up right-left—the exact opposite of reading, which in a weird way it made sense.
So out to the lane, we go, and we start working as a dismounted element and start using the knowledge we have just received. For some of us, this wasn't our first rodeo. For 99% of my guys, this was their first pump, and they were wide-eyed and full of piss and vinegar. After a while looking instead of reading began to make sense. It was difficult at first since we are so used to "reading", but after a while, I noticed things that were easily missed. This later came in handy on a cold night in November outside of a small village in Afghanistan.
But I digress. Obviously for those who have been deployed knows there isn't much to do during your downtime. I watched every hunting video on earth. Literally read just shy of 30 different books and came out of there looking like I was on steroids because we were in the gym so much.
Once I moved to Arizona, I remember sitting on a ridge one morning on a Peccaries hunt. (Javelina) in some serious Muley country. Looking through my spotting scope I had set up (I had a tripod this time! IYKYK), and I remember, "STOP READING DUMBASS! START LOOKING!"
Down, up, right-left. Boom! Not a Pope and Young Muley but a decent Mule Deer, and it definitely reaffirmed that looking, not reading, works.
As we get closer and closer to season and more and more pre-season scouting is happening all over the west, try this out. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't work for you. But either way, it's just one more tool to the tool belt.
Get out there, put some hours in behind the glass and keep climbing! - Logan