Rogue 36 Pack Wheel — Cow Elk Hunting


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For several months I have been working on building a Pack Wheel with the largest wheel possible, that being a wheel that is 36 inches in diameter. Thirty six inch wheels on specialty bikes are showing up more and more, especially for really tall people. Being a tall guy myself I have been really intrigued with the larger wheel. The larger the wheel the smoother the ride, as the angle with which the tire contacts an obstacle is lowered making going over obstacles easier.

There are a few challenges to designing a thirty six inch wheel to work with the Pack Wheel. Challenges in designing and building things my brain just loves to tackle, so bring it on. The two most significant challenges to designing this giant wheel to work with the Pack Wheel were first, redesigning the handle so that it would offer strength and stability in a lower-to-frame design. Something I refer to as leverage. The greater the distance between the handle and the center of gravity the better. The second major obsticle was designing the frame to handle the added braking force of the extra leverage from the huge diameter wheel. A few tweaks to the design of the handle and the frame accomplished both of these major obsticles with flying colors!

After working on the design for a few months I had parts cut and welded up just in time for our families late season cow elk hunts. Dallen, Landen and myself all had cow elk tags for an area that has some public land we like to hunt. The last couple of years I have hunted this area I have had to hike in over three miles to find what few elk have been in the area. This year we had a little more snow than the past few years so I was hopeful that we wouldn't have to hike three plus miles in for cow elk especially with my eleven and thirteen year old boys.

Not wanting to have three elk on the ground all at once I decided to have Dallen and I make an initial trip up and see if we could locate some and if possible bring a couple cow elk back with us.

We picked a good day of the week as there were no other vehicles in the parking lot as we showed up a little after daylight. We set out up the canyon with me pushing an empty Rogue 36 and Dallen pushing a 27.5+ Pack Wheel. The 27.5+ is a three inch fat tire that has an outside diameter of 29 inches, just a little smaller than the 29er tires that are on the Pack Wheel.

In years past we have hunted up the mountain for cow elk with Pack Wheels collapsed on our backs. Something that has worked really well for us. My personal Pack Wheels I have setup tubeless making them about nine ounces lighter. This makes my 29er right at twelve pounds of carry weight. Add the two pound meat panniers and I have everything I need to haul a completely boned out elk off the mountain by myself with just the fourteen pounds of extra carry weight with me.

This year we chose to just push the Pack Wheels empty up the mountain. This first prototype Rogue 36 Pack Wheel weighs in just over seventeen and a half pounds and the meat panniers are the same two pounds. In fact Dallen and I were taking the first set I ever sewed up and another very early set. Both sets have carried many elk and a few deer off the mountain and are still holding up strong. These two sets of meat panniers were most recently used to carry out Dallen and Landen's mule deer from the 2016 Utah rifle deer season.

Pushing the Pack Wheel along empty worked great. I wondered if it would annoy me but it didn't at all even going up some really steep inclines. I actually enjoyed having it to lean on and help keep my balance similar to a walking stick.

After hiking for a half mile or so we climbed up the North side of the canyon hoping to glass and find some elk in the area. Nope, nope and nope. After an hour or so we finally found three cows an a calf about a mile further up the canyon and on the thick brushy north facing side. We made a note of them and continued up the south facing slope that we were on. After another half hour we noticed that the three cows and calf had moved one ridge line closer. With not seeing anything on the side we were on we decided to drop back down, cross the canyon, and hope that we might be able to get within range be able to see the elk on the oak brushy side that they were on.

Some time later we were hiking on the other side along the edge of some oak bush when we spotted them at three hundred and fifteen yards. Well within range of my X-Bolt in 270 WSM shooting a 150 Gr SST and Dallen's new 300 WSM shooting 200 Gr ELD-X bullets. However, there was a one major problem, that being we were behind a line of oak brush and getting two of the cows to be in a window to shoot through at the same time highly difficult. Given they were feeding their way towards a ridge line and could disappear from our view, when the largest cow came into an opening I told Dallen to take her. Dallen made a very well placed heart shot and she quickly did a death run mixed with death slide into the brush. The remaining cow and calf ran and paused not far from cresting the ridge line. I had to quickly maneuver into a shooting position that wasn't the most steady but I had a narrow window to the elk through the brush directly in front of me. As I touched off the shot I was right on her back and that was exactly where I hit her. There went a good five pounds of back strap. :( Oops.

By the time we hiked up to them, had them both boned out, and loaded on the Pack Wheels it was after 10pm. As I get older I'm noticing that I can't bone an elk out as fast as I used to. 

Once we had them loaded, off the mountain we cruised. The giant 36" wheel was amazing in the snow. If I could change one thing I would like a really knobby tread like the Hans Dampf or Knobby Nic tires that are on our 26, 27.5+ and 29er Pack Wheels. There just aren't many tire options to choose from that are 36 inches in size. The tires that are on the 36" Pack Wheel are knobby just not super knobby. The reason I would prefer the super knobby tires is for holding your position going around a steep loose side hill. 

There was a hundred yards or so of going around a side hill and the 36 inch tire worked well it just didn't grab and hold it's line quite as well as the knobbier tires I am used to using. I dont' see the tire being a problem I just noticed they slipped a little where the Hans Dampf tires would have held their ground better.

One of the things we knew was going to happen from other snow experiences is the extra resistance of a fatter tire that was on the 27.5+ Pack Wheel Dallen was using. Wider tired have more resistance in un-groomed, wet and deeper snow. I prefer the 2.35" wide Hans Dampf tire over the wider Fat tires in the snow. The reason being is unless you have perfect hard pack snow conditions the fatter tires still sink into the snow. It's a lot easier to have a narrower tire cut through the snow than a fat tire. There just is more resistance along the front edge of the tire. I knew this but still wanted more experience with a fat tire so the Pack Wheel Dallen was primarily using was the fat tire Pack Wheel and I was using the Rogue 36. 

Both Pack Wheels worked great however there was a two hundred yard stretch of sage brush flat that had a layer of a foot of powder on top of a crusted layer of around another eight inches of snow. The 36 inch wheel went through all eighteen inches of snow with ease. The fat tire took some energy to move in this section and a few small rest stops to make it through this two hundred yard stretch. The fat wheel would sink just as far into the snow but it had considerable more resistance to push through the snow just like we have found in other experiences we had last fall while hunting mule deer in heavy wet snow. I knew this but wanted to get a little more experience with the fat tire in the snow. It still worked in the snow but I definitely prefer the standard 2.35" wide tires in the snow. 

We did take turns using each size of the Pack Wheel so that we could better get a side by side comparison.

One thing was for sure and that is the giant 36" tire is now my hands down favorite in the snow and I'm betting it is going to be my all around favorite for all of my outdoor adventures. I'll bet I'm using it on all of my trips this year. :)

Other than a slight slow down for the fat tire on the 200 yard flat, we cruised off the mountain in the dark. 

Did I mention how much I loved the giant wheel? Dang it rolled really nice!

Next up getting Landen's cow elk tag filled.


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2016 Utah Muzzleloader Elk Season — Pack Wheeling Into The Backcountry


Just crawling into my sleeping bag. Dallen and I put some miles and vertical feet in tonight. We are in a great spot right now to hopefully find some elk the last two days of the Utah #muzzleloader elk hunt. I'm taking a stroll back through memory lane. I am hunting the area I first used the Pack Wheel back in 2008. I did #solohunt archery elk hunts in this canyon in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In 2007 I stuck a little 5 point around 6 miles in. Thankfully my good friend @ferryboater saved me with spending a whole day coming in with his horses to haul the meat off the mountain. Prior to this I had already been sketching ideas for a wheel to be ultra-light, collapsible, and have a good braking system to haul boned out meat off the mountain. This was the final straw for me to start working on building just a system. By the next year in 2008 I had my first prototype @packwheel with me in the canyon I'm in right now. Will be dreaming of big bulls tonight. #memorylane #packwheel #diyhunting #elkhunting #utahhunting #outdoorlife #outdoors #hunting #getoutdoors #getoutside #kneesaver #hikinggear #hiking #mountainlife #huntutah

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Like last year I have been just too busy in August and September to hunt elk with my bow. Things settle down a little for me in November so like last year I was chasing elk with a smoke pole. 

This year was full of lots of unexpected work that caused me to use up most of my vacation. That being the case I only had a couple days that I could spare to take off to hunt. Given the distance and elevation of where I wanted to pack into I like to spend at least a couple days in there. It's over five miles in to where I like to make camp and 2,300 vertical feet up.

With very mild temperatures and weather I felt it best to wait to hunt the very last days of the hunt hoping that I would have a greater chance of elk moving out of the private ground above and into this public ground I would be hunting. 

With three days left in the hunt Dallen and I set off up the mountain with our Pack Wheel's loaded. We each carried in fourteen quarts of Powerade Zero and water, mostly Powerade Zero. I like having a drink that replenishes lost minerals from sweating them out. I am really prone to bad hamstring cramps after a long day of hiking, especially once I crawl into my sleeping bag.  To prevent cramps I either drink Powerade Zero or I take an Endurolyte pill for every couple hours of hiking. Even though we carried in a ton of fluid I still carried my MSR water filter just in case we needed to hike down to a spring to pump water.

It was nice to have Dallen come to help me on this hunt. I was full of stories about archery elk hunting this area back in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In 2007 I shot a little five point bull way at the back of this public ground. This was the last straw to push me into doing something about my ideas for a ultra-light system to haul elk off the mountain. When I packed in to hunt the same area in 2008 I had my first prototype Pack Wheel cart with me. Needless to say I had a lot of stories to share with Dallen about the area and during the course of our hunt I was able to show him a lot of my favorite spots to hunt for elk.

As we hiked in we watched a lot of mule deer but couldn't find any elk. Until the snow flys the elk are usually way at the top and down in the upper canyons so I didn't think we would find any on the hike in but we enjoyed glassing the mule deer.

It was after dark as we crested the ridge I wanted to get past to setup camp. As we got to this ridge we saw a camp fire a little further down the ridge. We weren't going to have the area to ourselves. Darn it. Oh well. We went another half mile around the canyon then setup the Alps Chaos tent and hit the sack dreaming of big bulls in the morning.

Early the next morning we took off with day packs headed out a ridge to glass. It didn't take us long before we glassed up a six point bull around 700 yards away. We needed to head down one draw then pop up on a ridge and hopefully the bull was still there for a 200 or so yard shot. And then there was the horses, yeap, horses, ten of them to be exact. Apparently the camp on the ridge was a camp of a bunch of horse hunters. As we moved down into the canyon going after the elk we could hear steel horse shoes clanking off rocks all over the place around the ridges of the canyon. No, no, no...

When we made it to where we hoped to get a shot the bull was gone. In the process of going down into this canyon we also spotted another six point bull in a different sub draw off this canyon. In both cases the bulls were headed for safety of the private ground fence line. We took off trying to get in front of them but we found that horses had already made it around to that side of the canyon. Oh well. I wished there wasn't all the noise from all the horses surrounding the canyon but this is how public land hunting goes sometimes. I may not agree with the style of hunting but everyone else has a right to be there just like I do. Now if I did have a horse to get me into this area to hunt I would leave my horse at camp and sneak down into the canyon on foot. They just are soooo noisy. You can hear them coming a mile away and I don't have as good of hearing as a elk has. Oh well. This is one of the reasons I like archery hunting. Bow hunters may ride horses to get into the backcountry but they generally don't ride them around hunting from the saddle.

So the rest of that day we hiked back to camp then moved camp over to another location. That evening we hunted right along the private land border but never saw any elk. I did snap a pretty nice pic of a Dusky Grouse that evening but that was about all we saw.

We were up early the next morning debating on whether to go back to the same area or hike a mile to the north and hunt that canyon. As it was just getting light we could see and hear the train of horses head up the mountain and to the north. Well that answered that question. No need for us to go to the other canyon with a bunch of horses headed that way. We slipped down into the same canyon we were in the day before and glassed from a few different locations. Nothing. We had the place to ourselves this morning but there were also no elk in the area. At one point that morning a yound bull moose came in thirty yards from us and I snapped a few pics of him.

Again that evening we hiked around to some good vantage points and glassed but not an elk could be found. Oh well. Maybe next year. 

We hiked back up to camp and loaded up our Pack Wheels in the dark then off the mountain we flew. And flew we did, with just a little weight in our day packs and everything else on the Pack Wheels for the near six miles and 2,300 vertical feet down we were off to the races. Well, Dallen was, my knees can't take the pounding of runnning so we cruised at a pace of three miles per hour. Dallen with good knees could have ran off the mountain if he didn't have to wait for me. 

I guess there is always next year. I haven't been doing too well at filling my tags the last few years. I'm a little picky wanting a 150ish or better mule deer so I have passed on a few but when it comes to elk I shoot whatever I can find if I can find one as I love the meat. I'm hoping I can find more time to hunt next year and get a bull in the freezer.

Even though I ate tag soup I had so much fun being on the mountain. I generally like to hunt solo but find it really enjoying to hunt with my kids. Dallen was a great help and I really enjoyed the time we were able to spend together on the mountain. Thank you for the help Dallen!



Dallen took this pic of me headed up 2,300 vertical feet and five miles in on my muzzleloader elk hunt in November. We each carried in 14 quarts of Powerade and water on our @packwheel carts. We found a few bulls and a lot more horse hunters riding the canyons. Even though I didn't get a bull I had a great time with Dallen. It was fun showing him the area and telling him the stories of archery elk hunting the area -- the area I tested my first prototype Pack Wheel back in 2008. #diyhunting #elkhunting #utahhunting #getoutside #getoutdoors #hunting #gearjunkielife #outdoors #outdoorlife #hikinggear #hikeutah #hikingadventures #backpacker #hiking #mountainlife #huntutah #whatgetsyououtdoors #kneesaver #backsaver #huntinglife

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Muzzleloader elk hunting last month with my CVA Accura V2 sporting a Vortex Viper HS-LR 4-16x50 scope. Love these scopes for big game hunting rifles. Might scale it back some for next year and get a smaller scope more in the 3-9x40 range. We'll see, I like to tinker and test new combos. My max effective range I feel comfortable with the 300 Gr Powerbelt AeroLite bullets was just over 300 yards. These bullets shoot sub MOA with this rifle but only have a 0.197 BC and I'm only getting them moving around 1,800 fps.... would like both of those numbers to be higher. I may also try and find some bullets with better BCs. Hmm... #whattotrynext #hunting #vortexoptics #cvamuzzleloader #biggamehunting #elkhunting #utahhunting #getoutside #getoutdoors #whatgetsyououtdoors #vortexviper

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2016 Utah Rifle Deer Season — Landen's First Buck


Way to shoot Landen!!! Awesome #firstbuck !

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Love these boys!

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Midday snack time.

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Some of the bucks we saw today. Nothing we could really go after.

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Big D watching a canyon for muleys.

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Four point down!

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Two days after coming off the mountain from elk hunting with the boys we were headed back out. This time for mule deer. Opening morning we decided to drive up in the dark and do a day hike down one of my favorite canyons. As it was just getting light, we set out down the canyon. Within minutes we found a bunch of deer and a couple bucks but they were right on the corner of a CWMU so I had to tell the boys to just ignore the deer and lets get down around the corner to see what else we could find. As we were passing by these deer we walked right up on a couple of other hunters setup watching the deer. I tried some small talk with them and they didn't say a word back. Awkward silence.. Ok then. Guess they weren't too happy we were parading past them. I didn't want to hang around so we headed past them and down the canyon.

Surprisingly once we got further down into the canyon we found other hunters had hiked way down into the middle of the canyon in the dark. So much for seeing any deer in that big canyon, with them already in there. We watched the canyon for a few hours and only found one deer. Usually there are a bunch of deer in that canyon but you can't go down into the middle of it in the dark, you just scare everything out while you can't see it. Oh well, the joys of public land hunting in Northern Utah. There are a lot of people crammed into very little public land options. We did find a few more deer way out in the distance but all on the private CWMU. 

Around mid day after watching the guys in the bottom of the canyon hike all around down in there and not kick up a single deer we headed back out. 

With the young boys in school on Monday we decided to make wait till Thursday night and pack into some other public land to hunt through Saturday night. 

Thursday night we loaded up our Pack Wheels and headed up the mountain. We glassed for deer along the way in the sage brush draws but just like the weekend before we could only find deer on the other side of the fences. Public land traffic bumps the deer to where they aren't messed with. That is does.

After dark we made it in a couple miles to where I wanted to make camp we setup our Browning four man Greystone tent for the night.

The next morning we were up early and out glassing for deer. It was nice to actually find more deer than hunters and we were finding plenty of deer. After a while we setup on a point to glass in a spot where the deer were funneling through. By mid morning we had spotted right at sixty two does but no bucks. Dallen decided to walk around the corner a little to be able to look down a canyon better. It was just then that he startled Landen, KB and myself by firing his rifle across the canyon. It didn't sound like he connected on whatever he was shooting at. Dallen was just 30 yards or so from us and I was able to find were he was shooting. It looked like a decent buck and I ranged it at 330 yards and yelled over to him the range while also working with Landen to setup for a shot. Now with the reange Dallen's second shot made a solid hit but it appeared to be a gut shot as the deer was now very sick looking and not wanting to move.

While the buck was still standing Landen was able to get a shot off and I could hear it hit. I later found that Landen hit it in the front leg just below the shoulder. Then Dallen sent another 200 Gr ELD-X through the heart follwed by a fifty yard death run down the hill.

Dallen ended up hitting the buck twice a little far back and his final shot through the boiler room. We teased him about getting excited and not using his range finder before flinging lead. We nicknamed this buck "First Try" with a rough, deep Batman voice. Dallen had a range finder and a diagram of yardages for his Nikon BDC reticle laminated to the side of his rifle scope. He just needed to take a few seconds to get the range. Buck fever will get you excited and excited he sure got. Dallen now had a critter taken with his new X-Bolt 300 WSM. He was really itching to shoot something with it this year.

The buck turned out to be a nice little 4x5. Landen was happy for Dallen but at the same time a little sad he hadn't got a buck or elk yet. Understandable, very understandable.

We boned out the deer and Dallen hauled it on a Pack Wheel back to camp. At camp we refuel for the evening hunt and Dallen headed off the mountain with his buck as it started to rain. 

KB, Landen and myself did setup that evening and glassed that evening spotting a bunch more does. Where are all the bucks? 

Back in the tent that night the little boys and I chowed down on Chicken and Dumpling Mountain House dinners. It was raining quite heavy on the tent and in the dark and rain Dallen made it back to camp and crawled into the tent with us. 

Dallen was a trooper hauling his deer a couple miles off the mountain by himself back to the Montero. He then drove home 20 miles, came back and hiked a couple miles back up the mountain in heavy rain in the dark back up to help his little brother get a buck. It was around 10pm with me and the two young boys snug in our sleeping bags listening to the rain when Dallen made it back. I was a very impressed, proud father that Dallen came back to help his little brother with it being so wet and dark. Thank you Dallen.

The next morning we were up extra early because it was Saturday and we knew we would have a lot more orange on the mountain and that we did. We initially setup where Dallen took his buck but after a half hour we spotted a small buck way across the canyon and we decided to take off after him.

As we crossed the canyon and popped up over a rise where we could see the deer passing from across the canyon. As we did a 18 inch variety of buck came around and stopped broadside just over 200 yards away. I'm not sure what happened. We had Landen on the shooting sticks, it all looked good but we were rushing to help him get positioned and ready. Whatever the case he missed and the buck moved into some brush. As we were waiting for the buck to clear the brush two hunters walked around the bend right in between us and where we were shooting. Ahh! We had to get up and chase after the buck. The two hunter hadn't seen nor knew we were there but after they saw us they changed course and we were able to chase after the buck without having to worry about them chasing it also.

As we crested some brush the buck got out at around 150 yards away. I tried to get Landen on the buck but he just couldn't find it in the scope. Things that come with experience. One of the reasons I like to take the kids prairie dog hunting to learn to shoot under a little pressure.

So off to the races we went again trying to make it to the next draw on this side of the canyon in hopes that we could see the buck in that draw. Nope, too late so on to the next. We were getting a workout. In the next draw we could see the group of deer a thousand or so yards ahead of us. We slowed it down and started crossing through the bottom of the draw when a couple deer jumped up out of the tall sage brush above us. I glassed them up and the last one was a spike. Landen said he wanted to get him so we setup on the sticks again. The buck was broadside right at 200 yards and miss. Landen put another shell in and as the buck paused now going straight away he quickly fired and bam, down goes the buck. What a shot. Not the most optimal angle but it proved to be very effective. I like how Landen loaded and took the shot all on his own. But we have since talked about waiting for a better broadside shot in the future.

Just after he dropped the little buck a larger two point came around the hill just above the downed buck. Then just after we walked up to the buck I four point comes around and stops in the spot where Landen had shot from. Oh well, Landen and Dad were excited for the buck he was able to harvest. As it turned out the buck had some little forks. We kidded about using the antlers as utensils like a spork and the name of "Sporky" was giving to Landen's first buck.

In the chase for the buck Dallen had been kind enough to push the empty Pack Wheel and help KB along.

After we had the deer boned out and loaded on the Pack Wheel, Landen and KB took turns hauling it a good two miles back to camp. It was a small buck and the meat only weighed 40 pounds and then the head was at least five pounds, but even at 45+ pounds my 12 year old and 10 year old were able to easily haul a whole deer with my extra-large Pack Wheel. That was pretty cool having such young kids be able to easily haul a deer. 

Back at camp we broke down the tent and loaded everything up on our Pack Wheels for the trip off the mountain. The Gear Panniers easily stacked right on top of the Meat Panniers that were holding Landen's deer meat. This made it very easy to haul everything out that night in the dark.

As I look back at this hunt it will be one that was really special to me. Having all three boys with me, both of them getting bucks, Landen getting his first deer, sleeping in the tent in the rain. The whole experience was just awesome. 

I can't wait to take the boys out again next year after deer. They have been talking a lot about packing in the extra couple miles next year to be in a better position to get larger bucks. I can't wait. 






#comeoutheavy in ease, with a smile on your face, thanks to the Pack Wheel.

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Landen notching his first tag last month. What a wonderful memory being there with Landen, KB and Dallen.

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#muleymonday with a #packout in a rain storm.

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A look across the canyon at #deercamp for @diyhntr and his three boys last week.

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  • Big Game Hunting

    Journal entries from hunting mule deer, elk and whitetail deer.  You'll find hunts with 243 WSSM and 270 WSM rifles to muzzleloader and archery hunts.

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