Mule Deer Season of 2017
Our 2017 mule deer season was the most difficult season that we have had to date. Our snowfall of 170-200% of normal with extreme cold spells took its toll on our mule deer during the 2016-17 winter season. We lost most of the fawns and many adult deer throughout all age classes. Western Wyoming’s mule deer is at a serious crossroads.
During our spring and summer scouting for the 2017 mule deer season, we covered a lot of country, doing our best to find animals for our booked clients. I can assure you that no one dedicates more effort to preparing for their clients than NTO. That can be seen in the scouting pictures provided to our clientele. We would argue that over the years no one has spent more time in the field, summer, fall, and winter, looking at this herd than NTO. Even with the poor conditions we were able to locate some world class bucks. One buck was over 240 inches, several others were over 200 inches. Please understand that we should not and do not judge the value of a buck solely on inches. There were many more trophy animals that we found that were quite impressive, just without the score. We have too much respect for our deer to judge them by just a measuring tape.
During these scouting efforts it became painfully obvious that this herd is in serious trouble. Although we had many pre-scouted bucks to start hunting this mule deer season, the numbers of mature bucks were considerably lower compared to other years. Thank God that the Wyoming Game & Fish commission decreased the non-resident tags by an additional 200 and added a three-point or better regulation. It has become painfully obvious to us that it is time for limited quota for residents as well as non-residents in Western Wyoming. The day has come to reduce the hunting pressure by a minimum of 50%.
The weather throughout the entire 2017 mule deer season was extremely challenging. We were able to successfully hunt about half of the available days due to fog, rain and/or snow. The high country had deep snow the entire season, making horse trails difficult and dangerous. The amount of hunting pressure was also extreme. With all the internet sharing of information and selling of big buck coordinates, our herd has hit a tipping point. This season we saw more hunters congregated around the pre-scouted bucks we found than ever before. Our herd cannot survive without serious changes to management. This is the best high country mule deer herd left in the west. It’s time we start managing it appropriately!
We were very clear to our clients before the season about the challenges we were going to face. We provided them with as much up to date information as we could. Most of them came wanting to give it their all, leaving it all on the mountain trying to maximize their opportunity. Huge efforts were made by guides and clients. This mule deer season we made new friendships and cultivated existing ones. Our guide staff gave an extreme effort for our clients’ success. We had some hunts that were life altering and worthy of sharing. We will be sharing many of these amazing hunting stories with everyone via this website and our blog. Throughout the entire season we gave God the credit for our successes and turned to Him for strength in the challenging times.
Western Wyoming’s mule deer hunting experience is still one of the greatest privileges in hunting. No other place has such huge rewards that can be gained from personal sacrifice like the high alpine mountains of Wyoming. But, I caution you, if you do not like rugged hunting, or challenging shooting set-ups, if you do not like sacrificing physically and mentally, if you do not like earning one of the greatest trophies on the planet, do not come on this hunt! You will be tested here. You cannot just buy a giant buck with cheaters, in-lines, blades, mass or width. You must enjoy the challenge of earning it! You will need a love for rough terrain and the challenges that go along with ruggedness. You will need to be ready to join forces with a guide staff who has sacrificed their own hunting and time with family for your success. Our staff sacrifices these things only because they passionately love chasing giant Wyoming bucks. You may come on the best week, have the best guide staff in Wyoming, you may leave it all on the mountain and still not be guaranteed a giant. The only guarantee is that we will give you our best! We can say with ease, “We want our clients to be successful more than they want it.”