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Old December 10, 2005, 12:11 AM   #1
Join Date: September 14, 2005
Posts: 46
Mule Deer Trophy Question

Finished up my first mule deer season. Little disappointed after having some high expectations but not harvesting. My dad and I hunted a 3600 acre ranch right on the edge of the cap in the Texas panhandle on a place that hadn't been hunted in years. The people that owned it talk of trophy mule deer all over the place. Sure enough, while drivin through the neighbors ranch on the first morning, a HUGE mulie walked within 30 yrds of the truck (too bad it was the neighbors place). At first my dad thought it was an elk. This boy was BIG, at least 6 inches our past each ear and at least 14 points. From what i hear, that is a trophy and he was the biggest deer i've ever seen. But besides him we saw a real wide 8 and a tall 10 but never another big one like the first morning. I was just curious on what constituted a trophy mule deer buck. How wide? How tall? How many Points? etc etc I hear that 30 wide is the magic number, but how can u tell that when out in the field? I prolly shoulda shot that 10, but it was the 1st day of the season and an hr into a 7 day hunt and we didn't have 4 wheel drive that day if he went off the cap. I'll see if i can get one of our crappy pics up for ya'll to see of the 10, tell me what ya'll think. Thanx fellas.
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Old December 10, 2005, 10:30 AM   #2
Art Eatman
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Join Date: November 13, 1998
Location: Terlingua, TX; Thomasville, GA
Posts: 24,159
When a mule deer is full-grown, he spreads about 19" to 20" from ear tip to ear tip. You can sorta proportion the inches that antlers extend past the ear tips.

The next judging, I guess, would be the mix of points and thickness of the antlers. Darker and thicker beams on older deer. The number of points and the width will vary with food supply in late winter, spring and early summer.

When deer get older, a really big buck will get pot-bellied and swaybacked. IIRC, that's on up around 7-1/2 years. Most deer don't make it past 8-1/2 years. Their teeth wear out, for one thing. All that nibbling herbs and forbs right on the ground means they're chewing a bit of dirt or sand when they eat.

In the late fall, before the rut, bucks go on what I call a feeding frenzy, building up weight. During the rut they'll hardly eat, and drink even less frequently than usual. They build up a layer of tallow over the rump that can be over an inch thick. Unless the weather turns really cold, they won't move around much. Anything above freezing and it's like wearing a down jacket in summer.

In general, the Texas mule deer season is ahead of the rut. The timing affects the majority of bucks, not all bucks, of course. That means that most of the bucks, and particularly the larger ones, are still lying around not doing much moving about in doe-chase mode. This is particularly true down in the Texas Big Bend country.

I've not hunted the Panhandle country; the behavior might be somewhat different there.

Anyhow, when you see a big-bodied buck with heavy beams and anywhere above ten points, he's getting toward bragging size.

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Old December 12, 2005, 12:11 PM   #3
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Hard to tell, but that buck looks at least 20" wide on the inside. Looks like he's got nice mass too. If it was symetrical, that buck will score 140-150 B&C by my guesses, based on a couple bucks I've shot. That's a pretty nice deer in my book.
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Old December 15, 2005, 08:03 AM   #4
Jack O'Conner
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Join Date: July 11, 2005
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This is one of my better bucks. But certainly not B & C trophy. Note the typical 4X4 antlers with long tines, but they're smaller diameter. A common feature of bucks from the Dakotas taken in non-farm country.

Height is good but width is narrow for most genuine trophy hunters. Eye guards are small and short, another common feature with bucks from this particular region.

In summary, a truely great buck should have it all:
1) large diameter antlers
2) width well past ears
3) long tines

It takes long lifetime, exceptional genetics, and access to good feed to produce a great buck. Best place to look for such a trophy in my opinion is Utah.

30-30 is a keeper!
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