I have had the blessing of taking four big mule deer over 200″ in my hunting carrier and believe me, lots of luck was involved. Some of my best hunts, where I had everything aligned; scouting, accuracy, and experience I fell flat and shot smaller bucks. The key, was being on the right ground, year after year that held bucks of that caliber. To accomplish this I often hired a outfitter, it was less about having someone hold my hand and more about the right tag, in the right area, with the scouting already done. 190+ bucks only exist consistently on a very small part of the western US. These bucks are a needle in a haystack.
As a consultant at Outdoors International, I have clients calling all the time wanting to kill a big buck (I consider anything over 185 to be a true trophy, archery or rifle). I spend a lot of time counseling that deer of this caliber need to have advanced planning and you need to be ready to right a good sized check. Outfitters who can consistently produce bucks 170+ have a market average price in today’s hunting world of around $6000-$7000. Most of them are pushing into the $8,500 mark for 180+. If you want to get into the next level of 190+ I’m seeing those hunts with a line of guys willing to pay $10,000-$15,000. These prices are based on guaranteed tags, because that is where the cost is. Some of these tags are being bought from landowners directly or through a lease, and are often 75% of the total cost to you.
So if your goal is to harvest a big muley and have a guaranteed tag and rely on more than luck you better be ready to write a big check. It is what it is. The outfitting world is a supply and demand business and big muleys are in high demand and by my experience less than 5% of the outfitters out there consistently kill 185+ deer. The key states where I place my clients on these guaranteed tag hunts are Utah, Idaho, and New Mexico. Secondary states where landowner tags are available or have high draw odds due to private land are Colorado and Wyoming. You will have no choice but to participate in the long draw odds in states like Arizona, and a very few units in Montana. If you would like help taking that buck of your dreams you can reach me at (208) 991-HUNT.