After the SHTF, let's assume you picked out a hideout spot far enough off the grid to avoid other hunters and in a region well populated with deer and other wild game. If you don't have any experience hunting but plan to harvest game that you'll ration throughout the year, consider these steps you to ensure a successful harvest season after season and year after year.
Location, Location, Location
Every region is different, and finding wild game can be difficult if you don't know where to look. One of the best ways to locate top hunting spots is to break down these areas by elevation, including low, middle and high. Once you locate the mule deer based on elevation, you'll be able to hunt across different terrain using the altitude as your reference.
Lay of the Land
Familiarize yourself with the area in which you plan to hunt. You'll need to lay out a grid of the landscape and understand how to navigate the entire area. Memorize wind patterns and locate watering holes and well-traveled game trails, so you know where these animals might move if spooked. In other words, use the terrain to your advantage.
Additionally, stick to southern-facing slopes and areas with preferred vegetation for hunting mule deer. Plan out your hunting movea, as many mule deer will bed down on hillsides or against breaks. This activity protects them from attack above and allows them to scan for predators below. Pay attention to the weather as you get ready for your hunt. Something as simple as rain can move mule deer out of an area altogether.
Familiarize yourself with the movements and behaviors of the deer you hunt. Mule deer tend to reside within a few miles of each other until it's time to move feeding grounds. Pattern your game so you know their summer, fall and winter feeding grounds and when they make their move. Take note of the herd's size and when they go into rut so you'll know if more deer are in the area.
The hour before and after daylight is when deer move most, so plan your hunts at dawn and dusk. You won't see much movement during the hottest portions of the day, so glassing hillsides or posting up by a watering hole is a great way to extend your hunt.
Your Weapon and Gear
Optics can help you spot mule deer from up to four miles away. When glassing, train your eye to look for the flick of an ear or the sun shining off the tip of an antler. Once you find your weapon of choice, learn everything about it and acknowledge your limitations. For example, you'll want to be able to answer these questions:
- From what distance are you most accurate?
- Are you comfortable hunting with your weapon in all weather conditions?
Ethical Hunting Practices
The quickest way to hunt a species to extinction is to make that animal the only source of sustenance for a large population of hungry, desperate and panicked people. If you are far enough off the grid, then you won't need to worry as much about hunting your local herd to extinction. Still, it's important to consider the benefits of ethical hunting and where to draw the line.
Learning how to properly harvest your animal is critical so that you waste little to no meat. If you're hunting in hot climates, make a kill and quickly retrieve it before the meat spoils. You'll then want to cool it down as quickly as possible. Be prepared with the right gear so you and your vehicle can navigate in even the most difficult off-road conditions. That means ensuring your vehicle has quality off-road tires, which will make your life easier if you find yourself in a difficult spot.
Casea Peterson: Creative copywriter and content marketing specialist living in the PNW.