Bowhunting Big Game: The Wait Is Finally Over

Big game bowhunting seasons are finally rolling across America. Here’s to hoping your fall is filled with many good hunting memories, and perhaps a punched tag or two.

Bowhunting Big Game: The Wait Is Finally Over

In preparation for a fall bowhunt for Colorado muleys, the author snapped this summer scouting pic of a bedded buck.

The months from February through August seemed like an eternity, but September — and more importantly, Hunting Season — is finally upon us. I did my best to utilize my free time wisely over the past several months, but life always seems to get in the way. That said, I was able to continue researching Colorado mule deer hunting opportunities, draw a tag and begin the scouting process in preparation for a backcountry bowhunt this month.

Although I have resided in Arizona for the majority of my life, I was born in Colorado and it’s a place I visit annually, albeit usually on vacation, not while hunting. I have hunted there a couple times, once for pronghorn and once for elk, but never for mule deer. Lately, the allure of chasing velvet bucks above timberline has been a predominant daydream of mine. As the saying goes, “The mountains are calling, and I must go!”

Early this year, I put the servers of both and to the test, searching for the best draw odds for the best mule deer location possible. My objective was to find a unit with the potential for 180-class bucks — potential, not expected — with odds above 50 percent. With a preference point in my pocket and a little luck, the draw results came out in my favor. Then, the real work began.

Like I said, having spent a lot of time in the mountains of Colorado, as well as the ability to lean on several resident and nonresident friends who bowhunt there, I was able to narrow down the unit to find a couple potential mule deer honey-holes. After that, a few hours — in reality, more than I care to admit to — spent online using the onX Map application narrowed the unit even more. I identified three or four likely areas that included specific feeding, watering and bedding areas of mule deer, as well as potential glassing vantages for me.

A quick trip, while on summer vacation, followed by an overnight scouting trip in August, allowed me to put my boots on the ground. Knowing it’s Colorado, I understood that mule deer sightings were most likely a given, but the ability to see firsthand the country you have seen only online is eye-opening. I was amazed by the difference of the topography as read on a map compared to an in-person experience. After the legwork, I had narrowed the unit to one location with several huntable areas, knowing full well the winds-of-change will likely blow between my last visit and my return for the hunt.

Upon my return to Arizona, I fine-tuned the waypoints on my map and my game plan. I cannot say that I am ready for any and all challenges that arise, but I am more prepared to make a few last-minute adjustments to overcome any of several factors including seasonal deer/buck movement, hunting pressure and/or encroachment of other hunters into the area I plan on hunting. At this point, only time will tell. If it all works out, and the arrow flies true, I hope to share my mule deer adventure with you in more detail, hopefully in the pages of Bowhunting World. I hope all of your fall plans come together, too. If so, please feel free to share your story with me.

Until then and as always, if there is a topic you would like to see highlighted or expanded upon in the pages of Bowhunting World, or you would just like to send me a note, please do not hesitate to send an email ( with your thoughts. Best to you!


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