Best Mule Deer Hunting Spots and Essential Information to Keep in Mind

Best Mule Deer Hunting Spots and Essential Information to Keep in Mind

Mule deer hunting is a popular and enjoyable activity in western areas. These deer are readily visible throughout the year and relatively easy to hunt due to their smaller size. Many beginners start by hunting mule deer with some guidance before moving on to other types of deer. Another advantage of hunting mule deer in western locations is that it can be cost-effective. 

With proper equipment and training, you can increase your chances of success as a mule deer hunter. Some of the best places to hunt for mule deer are in Idaho, Montana, and, most importantly, the deserts, slopes, and woods of Colorado.

Mule Deer

Mule Deer

Appearance and Characteristics

Mule deer are easily identifiable by their large ears, ranging in length from 12 to 20 inches. These ears become erect when sensing danger, assisting with their auditory sensitivity. The name “mule deer” is derived from their ears, which resemble those of a mule. In the summer, their skin is light brown with a white or black tail, while in the winter, their coat is brownish-grey. 

Their forehead skin is blackish, while the rest of the face is light grey. Mule deer stand approximately three and a half feet tall and weigh anywhere from 130 to 280 pounds. They move quickly by pressing their feet into the ground.

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Antlers and Tail

One of the most distinguishing features of mule deer is their antlers. These originate from the pedicle of the head as a single bone and later separate into several branches. Their tail is also small compared to other deer species, and is another way to identify them.

Distribution and Characteristics

Mule deer and blacktail deer are predominantly found in the western United States, including Alaska, California, Northern Mexico, and Colombia. However, their physical characteristics may vary depending on the region they inhabit.


Mule deer have 11 subspecies, including the blacktail deer, which differs from whitetail deer, another type of deer. When threatened, blacktail deer do not raise their tails, unlike whitetail deer.

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License for a Mule Deer Hunt in Colorado

Requirement for Hunting

Requirement for Hunting

To hunt deer in Colorado, it is necessary to obtain a license. However, the good news is that you do not have to wait years to receive a permit to shoot mule deer. Preference points can be used, but obtaining a license is relatively simple.

Application Process


In Colorado, anyone can obtain an elk license at the counter, but you must enter the big annual game draw to hunt mule deer. The big game draw uses one of three systems: the lottery system, bonus points, or preference points. The preference point system is used in Colorado.

Preference Point System

Under the preference point system, all applicants have an equal chance of obtaining a license, and if they do not receive one, they can still accumulate preference points or bonus points. Preference points are given to hunters who have accumulated the most over time and are given preference when licenses are issued. Depending on the demand and supply of deer hunting in a particular year, you can easily determine when you will be eligible for a license.

Mule Deer Hunting Seasons in Colorado

Archery and Muzzleloader Seasons

Archery and Muzzleloader Seasons

Mule deer hunting in Colorado can be done using various weapons, including archery and muzzleloaders. The hunting season starts in September and is an excellent time for bow hunters to enjoy hunting without difficulties due to the pleasant weather. Bow hunters can have great opportunities with just some preference points.

During the muzzleloader season, deer migrate from hills to lower regions before winter, affecting hunting conditions. The weather and other factors of a specific place also significantly impact the success of hunters during the season.

Rifle Seasons

Rifle Seasons

Rifle hunting for mule deer in Colorado is divided into four portions. The first portion, which starts in early October, is only for elk hunting, while the second is for mule deer hunting. The mid and late October is the rut season for deer, making it challenging to hunt during the rifle season. 

However, getting a ticket for hunting is relatively easy because of low competition.

During the third season of the rifle hunt in early November, deer are usually found outside, and getting a tag for the search is difficult but possible. With some preference points, hunters can increase their chances of drawing a tag.

In the fourth season, which starts in mid-November, deer are highly active, making it the best time for hunting. However, getting a tag can be challenging, and hunters may have to wait to draw one.

Public and Private Land Licensing for Mule Deer Hunting

Public and Private Land Licensing for Mule Deer Hunting

Colorado offers an excellent opportunity for hunting mule deer, but it is crucial to understand the location of their habitats. Deer tend to migrate to lower-mountain areas when temperatures drop after spending the summer in high-mountain locations. However, weather conditions don’t always dictate their movement.

The location of their habitat, such as hills, mountains, or other high areas, is an essential factor to consider when looking for hunting opportunities. However, choosing a location to hunt also depends on licensing and the availability of public and private land for hunting. It is important to evaluate these factors to ensure a successful mule deer hunting trip in Colorado.

Planning for Hunting – Transport and Other Resources

Hunting is a demanding activity that requires adequate preparation to ensure success. Besides considering weather conditions and equipment selection, hunters should also plan their transportation and other resources to achieve a fulfilling experience.


To access hunting sites, hunters need reliable transportation that can navigate through hilly areas, rough roads, and other terrains. Vehicles with high clearance, such as trucks and SUVs, are the most suitable for this purpose. They offer better stability, power, and durability, enabling hunters to transport their hunting gear, weapons, and game meat easily.

Other Resources

Besides transportation, hunters must also carry other resources such as hunting binoculars, maps, GPS devices, first aid kits, and survival kits. These resources ensure the hunter’s safety, help them navigate unfamiliar terrains, and aid in the hunting process. Carrying a lightweight bag that contains only necessary items is also important, as it minimizes the burden of carrying heavy loads while hunting.

Final Thoughts 

Planning and acquiring a hunting license is crucial for a successful mule deer hunting experience in Colorado. By being prepared and informed about the area, you can make the most of the hunting season. The fourth rifle season can offer an excellent opportunity for hunters to bring home meat for their table.

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