I have just returned from my first scouting trip for the season. Out here in Wyoming scouting is a bit different than our whitetail hunting brethren do elsewhere—mostly in terms of scale. The area I plan to hunt for mule deer is a large, wide-open piece of public land. In a given section of this ground there are less than a dozen bushes that are as tall as my thigh and virtually no trees. Game trails are clearly visible from several hundred yards. Right now the mule deer are concentrated around the agricultural land that borders these mountains. Once the bell has rung and the hungry hordes start pressuring them, the big bucks will head for the hills.
Though I’m always aware of the deer, it's when I actually start scouting that the thoughts of mule deer with antlers as thick as my wrist really take hold. Then the dreams start. Sometimes at night, more often while I am buried in other chores and work, the possibilities of an outsized buck captures my attention.
Non-hunters look at desert land like this and think it absent of anything of real value. We hunters know different. The desert is a wonderful environment for those who prefer independence. It is a demanding mistress, and its dwellers must play by desert rules. But the rewards, though sparse in numbers, can be very good in quality. The dreams it produces still give me the same electric excitement I experienced when I began participating in this ritual nearly four decades ago.