Dallen hiking down the mountain at sunrise.
Mule Deer does out feeding.
Dallen spotted this nice 3x4 mule deer buck first thing in the morning.
Dallen setup with my CVA Accura V2 muzzleloader in the place where we watched a two point buck in the cliffs.
This bull moose was chasing a cow moose around the canyon.
Dallen spotted this two point buck that was up in the cliffs close to us.
Relocating the 3x4 buck bedded in the chaparral at near 700 yards from us.
Closing the distance, the 3x4 buck is now at 269 yards.
This is all we could see of the buck where we setup at 192 yards from him.
Dallen with his heavy antlered, 2015 muzzleloader mule deer.
In 2015 Dallen and I both drew muzzleloader deer tags in Utah. I had to get a second muzzleloader so that we both could hunt together. I chose a CVA Accura V2 with the new Nitride finish and it has been shooting great while setting it up and sighting it in.
We were both wanting to pack in 5-6 miles for this hunt but as the hunt approached they're we just too many things going on for both of us to be able to pack in for the opener, things that included a pinewood derby for KB.
For the opener Dallen and I chose to hike down into the the steep canyons where he shot his 4 point buck in 2014. This is an area that isn't too far from the road but receives little hunting pressure because of the really steep terrain. And when you shoot something in this area you have to bone it out and haul it back up the really steep incline, through boulder fields and overgrown rock fields etc.
Early in the morning of the opener Dallen and I were headed up the mountain in my old Montero. As it was getting light we were slowly working our way down into the canyons.
It didn't take long for us to start spotting deer. Dallen was doing most of the spotting. Does and fawns were plentiful in the area. Not too surprising as this area usually is full of does, fawns and small bucks.
Within a few minutes of our decent Dallen spotted a nice, heavy looking three or four point around 1,000 yards below us. We watched it for a few seconds before it walked into some cover and out of sight. I was able to snap a photo or two before we lost sight of him.
This buck got Dallen pretty excited and he was chomping to go and find him. Not to be too hasteful and pass by other possible nice bucks we continued to slowing work our way sneaking around and peaking into small finger draws looking for other bucks as we worked our way towards the area we last saw the larger buck.
After a couple of hours of hiking we were sitting over a bowl of patchy thick jack pines. I figured that the buck was probably bedded somewhere in these thick small pines. We took a break on a cliff overlooking this bowl and started glassing. Although I figured it would be difficult to find any buck bedded in the think small pines I thought I should at least try.
The plan was to swing through this bowl and hopefully find the buck and gently bump him out so that he makes a couple bounds then stops and turns to take a look allowing for us to get a shot at him. At least this was the plan we were formulating as we tried to figure out where he might be.
While we were glassing from the cliff I started to glass the think chaparral that covered the far sunny side of the canyon. Bingo! I found him. He was bedded in the chaparral and we happened to be at just the right angle to be able to see into the hole he was laying in, that was in the middle of all the thick chaparral. At our current location he was just shy of 700 yards away.
We made a new plan to work our way through some pines on the opposite side of the canyon and see if we could sneak in close enough to be able to take him with our muzzleloaders.
Off we went going as fast as we could yet as quietly as we could so as not to scare him out before we got to where he was located. My biggest concern was that we would bump some other deer or the two moose that were somewhere in the area, out and they would run and scare off the buck.
Trying to be quiet going down the mountain was jamming our toes into the front of our shoes. I was thinking about how uncomfortable my toes were right when Dallen mentioned the same thing.
As we would go through windows in the pines we continued to glass to find him and make sure he was still in the same spot. As we got closer we also got lower and our window to view him diminished. When we got to 192 yards we could only see the top of his antlers over the chaparral.
We looked over the situation and figured that if we tried to get any closer we would highly risk being able to see him to get a shot. If we went any closer and lower we would be in thick quaking aspens that were twenty feet tall. If he took off while we were in the quakeys we might never see him. If we were able to make it to the other side of the quakeys we would now be right next to the chaparral and we also might not be able to see him very well at this angle.
Given the location we decided to setup at 192 yards. Both of my muzzleloaders were very capable of 200 yards shots. A week or two earlier I was shooting milk jugs out to 200 yards with my CVA Accura V2. I felt that if we waited it out the buck would stand up at some point and Dallen would be ready.
I plugged in 192 yards into Strelok Pro and the current barometric pressure and other weather conditions into my Galaxy S4 phone. Strelok gave me a 4.5 MOA for the shot. We removed the elevation caps on our muzzleloaders and dialed up the 4 1/2 minutes of angle and then waited and waited...
After over an hour of waiting the buck stood up. Dallen was quickly on him. When he stood up he was facing directly away from us offering a shot up the rear. Dallen was patient and after a few seconds he turned broadside looking directly in our direction. I think he could hear us whispering/talking as Dallen prepared to take the shot. Anyhow shortly after he turn broadside Dallen sent him a 300 Gr SST that gave a loud audible whop and the buck dropped like a ton of bricks and out of sight into the chaparral. Time to take a dirt nap Mr. Buck.
Just to be safe I sent Dallen over to find him just in case the buck jumped back up. I was able to guide him to find it as he fought his way through the chaparral.
The buck had dropped right back into the hole he was bedded in. And a hole in the ground it was. Deer have probably been bedding in this spot for who nows how long. There was a near two foot deep whole dug into the side hill.
We decided there just wasn't enough room to work in that location and that all the dusty dirt would get all over the meat if we tried to bone him out in this spot. So we pulled him out of the chaparral and into the quakeys on some grass so that we could work on him.
After we boned out and caped the buck we loaded it up in our Alps Outdoorz eXtreme Commander and Pathfinder packs for the trip back up and out of the canyon.
The trip out was in the dark. With it being a hot day it was nice to hike in the cool of the night. We spooted a few deer checking us out from the skylines on our way out.
The Commander eXtreme pack was so comfortable for the pack out. Although I didn't weigh it I'm pretty sure I was pushing near the 80 pound mark and this pack fit like a glove to my back making the trip out "enjoyable" given the amount of weight I was carrying.
What a fun hunt. Good job Dallen!
Now it's time for me to get a good muley with a muzzleloader.
Look at that smile just after Dallen gives the 3x4 a dirt nap from 192 yards with a CVA Accura V2 with 1x Vortex scope.
Dallen hiking over to find the downed buck.
Dallen checking out the buck just after finding it.
Dallen and I with his 3x4 mule deer.
Testing out the new Alps eXtreme Commander pack for the first time.
All caped out and ready to pack out. If you are needing a cape it's in our freezer just drop me an email.
I like to take chunks of fat and hang it in the trees for Chickadees and other birds to eat.
Finalizing getting the Alps eXtreme Commander pack loaded for the trip out.
This pack was amazing comfortable for hauling this load of meat and other gear. This is now my go to meat hauler pack.
Headed back out of the canyon with our gear and meat on our Alps packs.
Dallen with a lot of the gear, some of the meat, and the caped out head.
This doe was keeping an eye on us as it was getting dark.
Dallen scaling up through a boulder field on our hike out up the mountain.