Hunting for deer at Porcupine Hills

Article By: Joe Seaborne 2021-01-01

Porcupine Hills Alberta

I was first introduced to Porcupine Hills by the military reserves. Because of its close proximity to Calgary, it was a great place to carry out training exercises such as map reading, physical endurance, and survival skills. Honestly, I don't remember a whole lot about anything we did. Except for the fact that Porcupine Hills was the most physically exhausting place I had ever been to! It was complete madness! Hiking up and over mountainous terrain that was sure to kill you, then down into thick bush that was almost impossible to walk through. All while carrying an eighty-pound rucksack and whatever equipment we needed. Yes, it was safe to say that Porcupine Hills was no fun!

Fast forward about ten years, and I was ready to go back to Porcupine Hills. I had just got my hunting license and was looking for a place to go. I figured I’d been fortunate enough to have all that experience inside Porcupine Hills, so I might as well stick to what I already know.

For the duration of this article, I will be focusing on my personal experience. I would like to share where I’ve had the most successful hunts and some general information that might be helpful to know. This won’t be a complete guide, but rather a look at how I’ve spent my time hunting at Porcupine Hills.

Porcupine Hills Hunting Map (GPS/Hard copy)

If your looking for really good hunting map that was put together by Backroad Mapbooks, I recomend checking out the Porcupine Hills Hunting Map edition!


Where is Porcupine Hills located?

Starting from Nanton: head east on the 533 until you get to Chain Lakes. Take a left and head south down the 22 until you reach the 520. The 520 will take you through Porcupine Hills. You can also get to Porcupine Hills from Claresholm by taking the 520, which may be a better option depending on where you want to hunt.

rangetop view from porcupine hills

Does Porcupine Hills have any amenities?

There are no amenities other than a park map at the front entrance.

Can you go camping at Porcupine Hills?

The whole area is crown land, which means you can pretty much camp anywhere you like (while following the rules and using common sense). There are little camping areas everywhere that are capable of accomodating large camping trailers and have plenty of room for other things. Below is a link for the regulations for camping on crown land.

Camping on crown land

Does Porcupine Hills have any water sources?

Although there are no big bodies of water, there are many streams throughout Porcupine Hills. Many smaller streams are difficult to see on maps since they are only a few feet across, but you will see them mostly in the valleys.

What WMU is Porcupine Hills under?

Porcupine Hills is listed in the Alberta Hunting Regulations under WMU 304 and WMU 305. Always check the rules before hunting season starts. Below is a link to the hunting regulations.

WMU300 Regulations

Popular game that can be found at Porcupine Hills

white tail taken from porcupine hills white tail taken from porcupine hills

Some Whitetail taken from Porcupine Hills. One was mine and the other was my brother-in-laws.

Does Porcupine Hills have good access?

As long as it has not snowed much, It’s pretty easy to gain access to wherever you want to go. The roads are well maintained and will take you within close proximity to your hunting area. There are also designated areas for off-roading if you plan on using an ATV. Since off-roading is regulated, it's best to double-check the rules before heading out. Below I’ve included a link to the rules for off-road vehicles.

Link to off-road land use for Porcupine Hills

porcupine hills main entrance

Does Porcupine Hills have cell phone reception?

My cell phone gets reception when I’m on a hill and away from large trees. I would say that most of the time, you won’t be able to use your phone, but it’s nice to know that you can just hike to the top of a mountain to make a phone call.

Do 2-way radios have good reception at Porcupine Hills?

Two-way radios are unreliable at Porcupine Hills because of the mountainous landscape. I wouldn’t rely on a two-way radio, but I guess it’s still nice to have.

Is Porcupine Hills overcrowded?

Sometimes I find it almost comical seeing all the trucks pouring in. Usually, by around 6:00 am, it gets pretty busy, but I’ve always found other hunters to be easy-going and respectful. It’s also a big area, so it’s not hard to find an unoccupied spot.

Beware of the cows!

There are cattle all over the place. I’m not sure if it’s good or bad for hunting, but you will see lots of cows. One thing that I did notice, was that deer seem to really enjoy the salt licks that had been put out. Since it’s against the regulations to bait deer, I try to stay away from any salt licks.

Are there bears at Porcupine Hills?

You should definitely be mindful of bears because Porcupine Hills is home to both grizzly and black bears. Although I have not seen alot of bears, I’ve found some pretty big bear prints that look like they were probably from a large bear.

bear foot print from porcupine hills

The two hills beside the front entrance

I decided to focus on getting to know this area mainly because it’s close to the road, and I happened to spot some mule deer while driving by. So far, I’ve spent a lot of time scouting and hunting the two hills and have come to know the area pretty well. I’d say that this is a pretty good hunting spot because you can walk the entire area in a day, there’s a road above and below you, and there are lots of mule deer.

hinting area from porcupine hills

map source: Google Maps

The mule deer trail

While scouting, I found a pretty good trail that’s frequently used by mule deer. It takes you across the top of the first hill from n.e. to s.w., then zigzags to the bottom. At this point, the trail takes you across the valley and follows the ridgeline of the second hill. About halfway up, the trail splits into a Y shape. One route takes you directly to the top of the hill, while the other leads around the hill and upwards.

a mule deer trail from porcupine hills

The valley

I did not see a whole lot of action in the valley. I would spot mule deer crossing the valley while travelling between the two hills, but they did not spend very much time here. On one occasion, I spotted a moose making its way down the valley, but I did not see any since then.

a moose spotted at potcupine hills

A moose that was walking through the valley.

On top of hill 1

There’s a decent amount of mule deer that hang out here. On a few occasions, I spotted a herd of deer that seem to travel between the two hills a lot.

the top of the first hill

Map source:Google Maps

On top of hill 2

The peak of the second hill is a great vantage point. It is perfect for spot-n-stalking or setting up a sniper station. Shortly after sunrise is the best time to spot mule deer from this area. If you are a good shot, this is a great location to set up and wait for some action.

the peek of hill 2

Map source:Google Maps

Southside of hill 2

So far, I have taken most of my deer from the southern side of hill 2. The herd of deer I had been watching would travel between the two hills, but ultimately prefer the south side of hill 2.

the southside of hill 2

Map source:Google Maps

Recovering a deer carcass

Dragging a carcass through porcupine hills is a physically demanding task! I always like to park downhill and hike up to where I’m hunting to make it easier to drag a dead body back to my vehicle. I also recommend buying a game harness to make things easier. I harvested my last deer from the southern side of hill 2, which took me 2 hours to recover. I wore a game harness while dragging the deer around the second hill and down the valley. Had I parked uphill from where I harvested my deer, It would have taken me much longer.
best path to recover deer
This is the path of least resistance.

To Be Continued Next Hunting Season...