The DIY Hunter

Dallen with his 2014 mule deer

Dallen hunting with neoprene rifle jacket

Dallen hunting with my X-Bolt, 270 WSM nicely protected in a Browning neoprene gun jacket.


Dallen sneaking past a 3 point buck

Dallen found it quite entertaining to be sneaking past this 3 point buck without it knowing we where there.


4x2 mule deer bedded

This large 2 point buck actually has two small forks on one side. Guess it's a 4x2 buck then. We watched him for a few hours hoping a larger buck was with him.


4 point mule deer dead on cliff

View from where Dallen shot his buck with the zoom cranked up on the camera.


Dallen with 4 point mule deer and Alps Pathfinder pack

Dallen with his 2014 mule deer and Alps Outdoorz Pathfinder pack.


Browning Escalade Knife Model 662 with mule deer

I love my Browning Escalade knife. It is the best knife I have ever used asside from my custom knife Russ Kommer made for me which is just a little larger than this knife. I love small bladed, deep bellied, fixed blade skinners. This is a small knife that you can bone out a deer really fast with.


Vortex Razor HD 11-33x50 Spotting Scope on Alps Outdoorz Pathfinder

Hauling around my lightweight spotting scope, a Vortex Razor HD 11-33x50 on a Ultrec Carbon Fiber Tripod with my Alps Outdoorz Pathfinder pack.

After eating tag soup during the muzzleloader season and Dallen's rifle elk hunt not ending the way we would have liked, we were itching to find a good buck for Dallen.

Dallen really wanted to try and find the large Large 3x4 Buck that outsmarted me during the muzzleloader season. I couldn't blame him. It was a nice buck and I would really like to have Dallen get him.

The day before the opener we got dropped of by my brother and started our five and a half mile trek in to where we needed to be to hunt for this buck.

Where I found the large 3x4 buck during the muzzleloader season was about 6 miles in, in an area that we knew we would be competing with horse hunters. There was a horse camp a couple hundred yards from where we camped Friday evening so as daylight approached on the opener we weren't sure how much competition there with be. As it worked out we had the canyon to ourselves. This was nice. We spotted 14 deer in the canyon and 6 bucks but not the large 3x4 we were after. There was one four point but he wasn't very large so Dallen wasn't interested in him.

After watching the canyon until around midday I dropped my Alps Pathfinder pack and looped way around the backside of the canyon and down then I brushed up the canyon hoping to bump deer back towards Dallen. Something was wrong with this picture when I was a kid I was a brusher for my dad as he sat on the ridge and  now I'm brushing for my own kids. Hmm... something's not right with this picture. Anyhow, it took me a good two hours to brush the canyon and I only got out a fawn that came within 20 yards of Dallen. We had watched six deer down in the canyon earlier so I must have somehow walked right past most of them.

For the afternoon we slipped into another canyon we hoped no one had been in yet. Jackpot! Just as we were entering the canyon I am watching to the right where the deer like to bed and unbeknownst to me Dallen was watching a small 3x4 out feeding right below us. Luckily Dallen pointed out the deer before I spooked it. We watched this buck and also found a large two point (4x2 with small forks on one side) bedded in the canyon. We sat on them for a couple hours hoping that a larger buck was bedded with them that would get up to feed come evening. Well evening came and a big one never showed up. Darn it!

Being good boys we packed it up and hiked off the mountain in the dark so that we could attend church on Sunday.

Back to school and work on Monday. Dallen however was really itching to get a deer so we both played hooky on Friday. Instead of going all the way back in where we were for the opener we decided to go to a closer but rougher area to hunt. It is a really steep climb in and out of this area. I killed a good buck in 2003 in the area, a bull elk in 2010 and Dallen killed a bull in 2012 in this area.

In the dark Friday morning we were working our way down the canyon. As we approached the first finger draw we paused to let it get light enough before proceeding so as not to spook any deer out before we could see to shoot. As it got light enough to shoot we peaked around the ridge and sure enough right below us was a three point feeding.

We watched the three point for a few minutes and then re-charted our course sneaking past him so that he wouldn't bust down the canyon scaring everything out before we could get there. Dallen thought it was pretty funny to be so close to the deer without the buck knowing it.

As we worked our way down the canyon we spotted a buck about a 1000 yards away. My new Vortex Razor HD 11-33x50 spotting scope made it crystal clear that it was just another three point and not worth going after. We also spotted a lot of other does and fawns in the area and a few moose but no big bucks.

Working our way along a ridgeline we would look off one side then the other. Then at 87 yards two bucks jumped out and stopped on a small cliff. Dallen was behind me, took to steps to get around me and boom. The larger of the two bucks dropped like a sack of tatters. Not a twitch. The 150 Gr Accubond Long Range out of my 270 WSM X-Bolt just crushed him with a high shoulder shot angling down to the lower shoulder on the opposite side.

The bullet stopped against the hide on the opposite shoulder. The lungs where destroyed along with the backbone. The recovered bullet weighed 58.2 grains. I was very pleased with the performance of this bullet. This could be my go to mule deer bullet, it works well on deer at close range, yet has plenty of energy and expansion to cleanly take deer out to 1000 yards. Not that I would shot at a deer at 1000 yards but the bullet has the potential.

What a cool experience to have Dallen just pull up and shot the deer without any coaching. I was actually trying to get my camera ready to take some photos of the bucks right when Dallen dropped the hammer. Dallen has really matured as a hunter and has really impressed me with his marksmanship skills and hunting abilities. I'll take a little credit for spending time at the reloading bench and getting the rifles setup to shoot well. He has the green light from Dad out to 600 yards. Given the right conditions Dallen is great at making the shot. This comes form experience and he is getting pretty darn experienced at a young age.

After a few photos it was time to bone out the deer. I had Dallen do a lot of the work this time. My Browning Escalade knife worked awesome at boning out the deer. I love deep bellied skinning knives with a short blade and this knife is sweet.

We decided to cape out the buck to give to our taxidermist in case he needs a cape for someone else.

After getting it all boned out we put half of the meat into each of our Alps Outdoorz Pathfinder packs. I really like how versatile this pack is. I do think a Alps Outdoorz Traverse EPS pack would be an even better option for this style of hunting. Once home the meat weighed in right at 60 pounds. There probably was a good 5 pounds of meat we lost in the front shoulders from the bullet.

Dallen has now taken three, 4 point bucks and one 3 point in the six years he has hunted deer. That's not too bad. Actually the one year he had swine flu and was only able to get out for a few hours that season so I don't know if that season should count. He has done really good considering all of his deer have been taken on public land in Northern Utah, in a very heavily hunted unit.

Nice job Dallen!

Dallen admiring his 2014 mule deer

Dallen admiring his 2014 mule deer.


Browning neoprene rifle jacket

I purchased this Browning neoprene rifle jacket this past year and have just loved it. It's just like a neoprene scope cover except it is for the whole rifle. The scope and rifle are protected. It snaps off just as fast as a scope cover. I no longer have to tape the end of my barrel or have a scope cover. When it rains or snows the rifle is covered. I really like it when it comes to sitting the rifle down. I can lay the rifle on any surface and not worry about scratching the rifle or scope.


Dallen hunting on skyline

Man that camo looks good. I love RealTree Max-1 camouflage.


3x4 mule deer feeding

Dallen spotted this 3x4 buck feeding 200 yards below us on opening day.


Dallen packing mule deer alps pathfinder pack

Packing mule deer X-Bolt and Alps Pathfinder pack


Dallen packing mule deer with Alps Pathfinder pack

My X-Bolt 270 WSM with Vortex Viper 4-16x50 HS LR rifle scope. Packing out the buck in a Alps Outdoorz Pathfinder pack.


Hiking down to dead mule deer buck

Dallen hiking down to his buck.


Dallen with the caped head and mule deer rack

Dallen's buck caped out in a meat bag ready to haul out.



A female Red Crossbill was hanging around watching us on the pack out.


Dallen's 2014 mule deer buck

Dallen and me with his 2014 mule deer.


Recovered 150 Gr Accubond Long Range 270 WSM

Here's the recovered 150 Gr. Accubond Long Range bullet reduced to 58.2 grains. It was resting against the hide on the opposite shoulder.


Cool sunny grass photo

I thought this made a pretty cool photo of the grass in the sun with a dark shadowed canyon below.


Packing out mule deer buck with Alps Pathfinder pack

Dallen packing out his mule deer buck.