The DIY Hunter

Kaden mule deer buck in camera across canyon.

This deer season in Utah rolled around with Dallen having and muzzleloader tag and me and my two younger boys having rifle tags.

For the muzzleloader hunt, I went out with Dallen a couple of times. On two occasions Kaden carried my muzzleloader as youth hunters with a rifle tag can hunt all of the seasons. We had a few good trips hiking up the mountain but didn't find a lot of deer. One trip that Dallen and I went on had us pushing probably 9 miles and didn't see a single deer. After that trip in we switch to a different area of public land and found a few right along the fence with the private land.

Dallen hunting at sunset.

Hunting in the rain with Kaden.

Dallen did have a close encounter with a four-point buck that out-smarted him while he was trying to slip into closer range with his CVA Accura V2. He now wants a CVA Paramount Muzzleloader like mine to extend his range a little more.

After the muzzleloader season, we were back after the elk for the rifle elk season before we switched back to deer hunting again.

The rifle deer season had some really late dates pushing the close of the season on October 31st. This had us excited because the deer really start to move into the public land in November for the rut so the chances of better bucks starting to migrate into the area would be greater.

The day before the opener had me and Kaden packing in to set up camp. We made it in the four miles to the area we like to hunt ready for the opener in the morning.

As the light started to fill the sky we were set up on our shooting sticks watching our favorite canyon. It didn't take long before the canyon erupted with deer going everywhere. The sky was cloudy making the lighting quite dark. As the deer started moving rapidly all over the canyon we spotted two four-point bucks running together. Kaden was ready and on them but they weren't stopping. I was going back and forth from my rifle to my range finder and my 50-year-old eyes were having a hard time adjusting to the different optics and just looking without optics across the canyon in the dim lighting. 

It became quite clear the bucks were not going to stop and were getting further and further away. Without saying a word Kaden took the shot at the buck moving at 320 yards and drilled in through the heart. What a cool moment for me to just give him the range and he knew what to do. He's becoming quite the marksman and hunter. After the shot, he told me he was holding right on the front edge of the buck as it was moving to compensate for the movement and he judged it perfectly.

After Kaden's buck hit the dirt I turned my attention to the other four-point that was now running. I thought about shooting it but it was just too difficult to spot him amongst all the other deer across the canyon with my bare eyes then switch to a rangefinder then over to a rifle with my old eyes. Oh well, the most important thing was making sure Kaden made the shot. Nice work Kaden!

We rushed to get a few photos before it started to rain and then it rained on us the whole time working on boning out the buck. 

Kaden 2021 mule deer buck with X-Bolt 300 WSM.

After we had the buck boned out we headed back to camp to rest and get out of the rain inside of our tent. One thing I have found with boning out deer and elk meat is that if I can get the meat boned out it has always been tasty good even when I get it off the mountain the day after it was harvested. So we were going to spend the night and see if I could find a buck in the evening or the next morning before hauling the meat off the mountain.

As it started getting late into the afternoon the rain started to stop so we set up glassing the canyon for the evening. That evening we saw a few buck smaller bucks and a couple of mountain lions about 400 yards up the canyon from our camp. These are the first mountain lions that Kaden had ever seen. They were hanging around one spot in the brush so I figured they had a kill somewhere right there. (Shaky handheld video of the kitties is below.)

Cooking fresh tenderloin in the tent.

Roasting chunks of tenderloin over our camp stove. Yum! Fresh venison on the mountain is delicious.

Morning rolled around and we were out glassing again for deer. It was a little difficult as fog kept rolling in blocking our ability to see across the canyons. We watched a good number of deer but nothing in the four-point category so after a couple of hours we decided to pack up and get Kaden and his buck off the mountain.

As we walked back to our tent we decided to walk and look off the other side of the point we were camping on. As we approached to edge of the point and neared some maple trees a buck jumped out and took off running. I could see he was a young three-point... the best buck we had seen since opening morning. I quickly decided to try and take him as I ran back to the tent to grab my rifle and shooting sticks. To date, none of my boys have ever seen me shoot a buck or bull. I have always been hunting by myself whenever I have taken bull elk and buck deer. This was running through my head rapidly as I knew this could be a good opportunity to fill a tag with Kaden there to share the memory with.

DIY Hunter 2021 mule deer buck.

As I ran back to the edge of the ridgeline I dropped and ranged the buck now running across the canyon about to go over the ridge. 400 yards. The buck paused as it got to the next ridgeline looking over the ridge and I quickly sent a 147 ELD-M over to meet him. The buck flipped upside down right in his tracks and then a large cloud of fog rolled in blocking any view of where the buck was. 

We grabbed some gear to work on the buck and off we went over to find him. Given the fog rolled in we weren't sure if he may have jumped back up and ran off but that wasn't the case. He was stone-cold right where I shot him at.

What a cool experience to share with Kaden. I kind of wish I would have shot smaller bucks in years past when my boys were with me. We now were each coming out extra heavy packing deer with our gear off the mountain.

The 147 ELD-M performed great in taking this buck. You can learn more below in the video and caption of the bullet.

After taking this buck with my 6.5 PRC I will want to make sure not to hit a shoulder on a bull elk with this bullet/cartridge combo but a shot into the boiler room through the ribs should be deadly on a bull elk. Although I do have better rifles to take elk with I really like how lightweight and comfortable this rifle is to shoot so... I might still carry it on some of my elk hunts.

Our 2021 deer season turned out great. I didn't shoot the largest buck on the mountain but I had an absolute great time sharing this memory with Kaden. 

Here are some technical details of how the 147 ELD-M bullet performed on my 2021 mule deer buck.

Technical ELD-M Bullet Performance Details • 147 Gr ELD-M • 6.5 PRC • MV 3,000 FPS • 400 Yards • 10-15° Downhill Shot • Recovered Bullet Weight - 21 Gr. • The bullet hit just off the top rear edge of the left shoulder blade blowing a fist-sized hole through the rib cage in the top of the chest cavity. The bullet angled down and forward going through the front of the right shoulder bone and almost exited the hide on the front of the shoulder close to the neck. • The buck dropped immediately upon impact. 

Dallen muzzleloader deer hunting looking across canyon.

Nice two point buck we passed on.

DIY Hunter 2021 mule deer with 6.5 PRC.

Paramount muzzleloader mule deer hunting.

Two Utah 2021 mule deer bucks at Browning tent.

Selfie of Kaden and his 2021 mule deer buck.