IF HE DOESN’T LOOK BIG, HE ISN’T – A four-point (western count) buck with a 24 inch spread is an often quoted standard for a trophy mule deer. However, even seasoned hunters often drop a “trophy” only to find that when blood ceases to circulate in an odocoileus hemonius brain, the antlers sometimes shrink by 50%. Big mule deer look big…immediately. But be careful. Lots of bucks that initially look big aren’t. Those running straight away with their ears back fit this category. Viewed head on, a buck whose rack spans two feet exhibits a couple of inches of antler on the outside of his namesake ears.
However, there is one exception to this rule. The rack on a lone mule deer buck with a gargantuan body may actually appear smaller than it is. My older brother, Leroy, nearly passed on a monster muley this past hunting season with a 31-inch spread. The reason? The buck’s body was so massive its rack seemed undersized. If there are other deer around, a brutish buck’s body and antlers will appear disproportionately large in relation to its fellows.