The DIY Hunter

Mule Deer Hunting X-Bolt Rifle with Vortex Viper HSLR Scope

Dallen watching for mule deer from some cliffs opening day. Setup using my X-Bolt 270 WSM on his favorite shooting sticks, Stoney Point Magnum Steady Stix... except they are now Primos Magnum Pole Cat Steady Stix Magnum.


Deer Hunter on snow covered cliffs

Waking up on the cliffs we slept on deer hunting.


Dead coyote taken with a 150 Gr. Accubond LR bullet at 300 yards

Dallen smacked this coyote at just over 300 yards on the opening day of the rifle deer hunt.


Vortex Razor HD Spotting Scope deer hunting

Glassing for deer with a Vortex Razor HD spotting scope. This scope is ultra-crisp and clear for spotting deer way down the canyon.


The two deer hunters on opening day.

Dallen and me on opening day of the deer hunt.


Small mule deer buck hiding in the brush.

Using the Vortex Razor HD spotting scope to find deer hiding in the brush. Holding my camera up to the scope is a little of a trick. I need to get a camera adapter.


Glassing for mule deer Vortex Razor HD Spotting scope

Weston glassing for mule deer with the Vortex Razor HD spotting scope.


First sighting of Whitey the Four Point buck Dallen later takes.

This photo was taken of the buck Dallen named Whitey on Tuesday morning.


Vortex Razor Digiscope four point buck

This is a small four point buck Weston and I found that some other hunters found and later took on Thursday morning.

This year I decided to hunt mule deer in Utah with a rifle. I have generally been getting a muzzleloader tag because I like wearing camo and seeing far fewer hunters. This year I wanted to test out my new Vortex Viper HSLR scope and I wanted to hunt and scout along with my oldest son Dallen.

Over the last several months I have worked up a handload for my 270 WSM X-Bolt and Model 1885 with the new 150 Gr. Accubond Long Range bullet. That along with getting new Vortex rifles scopes on my rifles had me pretty excited to test them out this fall.

The night before the opener Dallen and I packed in a couple of miles to spend the night. We decided to sleep right on the edge of the cliff we wanted to hunt and glass from. It's a good 200-foot drop just two feet away from the small spot to sleep on. We placed a row of rocks along the side of our sleeping bags to prevent us from rolling off the cliff in the middle of the night. We decided to sleep on the cliff because the year before we slept just over the ridge from the cliff and two hunters went right past us just before light and got on the cliff before us. That wasn't going to happen this year.

That evening we glassed a couple of small bucks and several does below us for an hour or so before dark. Nothing big but it still got us excited for what we might see in the morning. Just before light we rolled out of our sleeping bags and were waiting on the cliff watching the canyon waiting for it to get light. Just as it got light two hunters popped up behind us wanting to hunt from the cliff we were on and one hunter spent the morning sitting 30 yards to our left and the other 200 yards across a saddle from us. Public land during the rifle hunt in Northern Utah is very crowded.

We spent the entire day watching the canyon. We watched five or six small bucks off and on all day below us but nothing to get us excited or even tempt us to shoot. Although, while we were watching a group of deer late in the afternoon we noticed that they were looking at something to the left. Glassing around a little more and I found a coyote working it's way up the canyon. As the coyote approached the 300-yard mark Dallen sent a 150 Gr. Accubond LR from my X-Bolt 270 WSM down to greet him. This sent the coyote into a typical death spiral they like to do when shot a little too far back.

Using a quick MOA reference card I made for the rifle it is really nice to dial in the exact range on the Vortex Viper HSLR scope and hold dead-on as Dallen did to take the shot on this coyote.

With Dallen needing to get back in school and church we headed off the mountain Saturday. I would watch for him a buck during the week that we might be able to get him in on come the following Friday and Saturday.

Early Tuesday I was headed back up the mountain with my brother Weston. From first light until around midday we slowly hiked along the mountain stopping frequently to glass for deer. We found quite a few deer along the way and two four-point bucks that we took a second look at. We decided that we could find better and that I would try and get Dallen in on one of those bucks on the upcoming weekend. I texted Dallen a photo of the larger of the two four-point bucks and Dallen wanted him. He also named the buck "Whitey."

Weston and I hunted through the next two canyons through Wednesday and Thursday. It was pretty cool to get into areas that very few foot hunters go. We were in horse hunter range from the truck.

We found ample supply of first-year bucks and a couple of second-year bucks sporting the 16 inch three-point variety of antlers. We just could never find any of the big boys that we knew were on the mountain. The weather was fairly nice all week with a bright moon and this wasn't helping to bring the big bucks out. In fact, we even noticed that small two-point bucks were bedded before daylight in one canyon.

Thursday night we hiked our way back off the mountain and back to a soft bed for one night.

Friday afternoon Dallen and I headed back up the mountain looking for Whitey. Whitey was not horribly far from the end of the road so we planned on making day hikes in to try and find him. As we were slipping our way around the ridges we noticed a doe bedded, hiding in the chaparral. This really made us really keep a keen watch for other deer that might be hiding near us.

After we made it down to a small rock outcropping we laid or packs on the cliff and I had Dallen practice quickly getting into position to make a shot in this direction and then in that direction while resting the X-Bolt rifle over a pack. Dallen loves to shoot from Steady Stix and I'm trying to get him to be just as comfortable from other shooting positions.

After sitting in the rocks for a few minutes I told Dallen to watch from 12 o'clock back to 6 o'clock and I would watch from 12 o'clock forward to 6 o'clock. No sooner had I said this and made my first pan looking across my section I quickly noticed a four-point buck's head sticking out over the tall chaparral brush. The buck was looking away from us. I quickly told Dallen to dial the Vortex Viper HSLR scope to zero as the horizontal distance was 125 yards with the actual distance probably near 150 yards with the steep angle of the shot. I also set my Vortex Viper HSLR to zero and had the buck in the scope ready to fire if the need arose.

Dallen then sent a 150 Gr. Accubond LR from my X-Bolt 270 WSM down to take out his spine and that he did. The buck disappeared into the chaparral with a whop. We watched for a few minutes to make sure he didn't get back up then headed down to find him.

We weren't sure if the buck was Whitey or not until we got to him. Sure enough, it was. A very nice mature buck with awesome heavy burly bases. The buck was in a "super bed" dug out under the chaparral for maybe decades. The buck had stood up out of the bed and Dallen dropped him off the front edge of his bed.

Recovered 150 Gr. Accubond LR From Mule Deer

Recovered 150 Gr. Accubond Long Range bullet. With a muzzle velocity of 3034 FPS from my 270 WSM X-Bolt this 150 Gr. Bullet is reduced to 58 grains after the 150 yard shot into the neck of Dallen's mule deer.

The 150 Gr. Accubond LR bullet made a small round hole going in and it penetrated around 8 inches breaking the buck's neck. We spent probably an hour in the middle of the night trying to find what was left of the bullet. It appeared to vaporize within just a few inches. We could only find a few very small lead flakes and a small lead bonded to the copper piece that weighs 4.9 grains... However a couple of days after returning home while cleaning off the skull I found the mushroomed bullet remains in the muscle near the back of the tongue. The lead was bonded to the copper this time unlike it did with Dallen's bull elk from the month previous and the bullet weighs 58 grains. Even though this bullet expands rapidly I was quite surprised that it didn't pass through the deer's neck.

Unfortunately the day I went back with Dallen to hunt I forgot my FujiFilm HS50exr camera. I wish I would have had it to take photos when Dallen shot the buck he calls Whitey. I did at least have my Samsung S3 phone with me and was able to at least get a few pretty decent photos of the hunt and his 2013 Utah mule deer. The camera in the S3 isn't too bad for a phone camera. I do however love the photos I get with the HS50exr.


No mule deer for me this year. It's been a few years for me now. I'll be itching to get one next year.

Dallen has had a pretty darn good year shooting Charlie One Horn and now Whitey. Good job Dallen!

Dallen with 2013 Four Point Mule Deer named Whitey

Dallen with his 2013 mule deer he named "Whitey."


Dallen with Caped Mule deer on frame pack

Dallen hauling his mule deer head caped out on a frame pack. While I packed out the meat.


X-Bolt Rifle and Vortex Viper HSLR scope shooting from rocks.

Location where Dallen shot Whitey from with my X-Bolt 270 WSM and a 150 Gr. Accubond LR bullet.


Model 1885 and Vortex Razor HD spotting scope

When Dallen is hunting with my X-Bolt I fall back to my favorite rifle, a Model 1885. I would hunt with 1885's all the time if they were as light as my X-Bolt.


Caped out mule deer on frame pack

Whitey caped out ready to be tied on the frame pack.


Whitey, mule deer head view from side

View of "Whitey" Dallen's 2013 mule deer buck from the side.


Glassing for mule deer

Dallen glassing for mule deer.


Whitey, mule deer head view from side mounted in living room

Dallen got a surprise for Christmas in 2014 with his deer back from the taxidermist. Alan Cox did the mount for us and did an incredible job.

Alan put a lot of time in to give it life like qualities, like the tension in the throat, the shape of the face, the contour of the brisket area. I love that it also angles out of the wall subtly to the right and is looking left.


Whitey mounted in the living room looking at camera

My father (Dallen's grandfather) summed up the looks of the mount when he stated that "it just looks like it is alive."