2015 Utah Muzzleloader Deer Hunt

Alps Extreme Commander Pack and Pack Wheel

Using my Alps Commander Extreme frame pack to carry my spotting scope, CVA Accura V2 muzzleloader and Double Crossed Shooting Sticks. The rest of my gear is loaded on the Pack Wheel.


Muzzlelaoder hunting with CVA Accura V2

Selfie of me with my CVA accura V2 muzzleloader.


Glassing for mule deer with Vortex Razor HD spotting scope

Glassing for mule deer with my Vortex Razor HD 11-33x50 spotting scope. I love this little spotting scope.


Alps Chaos 3 Tent

Sleeping in "luzury" in my Alp Chaos 3 tent.


CVA Accura V2muzzleloader with Vortex 1x24 scope

My CVA Accura V2 muzzleloader with Vortex 1x24 scope.


Pack Wheel hiking cart loaded going along the trail.

Pack Wheel hiking cart loaded with my gear going along the trail. I have my Alps Crossfire X day pack strapped on top.

After Dallen's successfully getting a nice buck on the opening day of the muzzleloader deer hunt I was itching to get back out on the mountain and find a nice buck for myself. I was packing my new CVA Accura V2 with Vortex 1x24 scope that Dallen used on his muzzleloader hunt to take his buck at 192 yards.

Even with only a one power scope shooting milk jugs out to 200 yards was not a problem for the Accura V2 muzzleloader when I was setting up the muzzleloader.

I planned on hunting the last four days of the hunt. I had my dad drop me off at the trail-head and I started the six mile hike across the mountain with the assistance of my 29er Pack Wheel hiking cart.

The spot I wanted to hunt generally is only hunted by a few guys who hunt from horses and that is only during the rifle season. Of those that hunt in this area I am not aware of anyone hiking down into some of the area I like to hunt. So as always I had really high hopes that I would be able to find a nice buck or two in the area.

As I was hiking in I glassed occasionally and found a few small bucks but nothing of any size.

This trip a took a luxury with me, my Alps Choas 3 tent. On many of my trips I only take a tarp and a military poncho to save on weight. With my 29er Pack Wheel I wasn't as concerned about the extra weight of carrying a tent. This tent is quite lightweight, very breathable, with lots of room inside and it sure was nice to crawl into in the evenings.

For the next three days I spent hour after hour glassing. The weather was a little warm for this time of the year and the deer weren't very active during daylight hours. What I found successful in finding deer was to glass for a half hour then move 50 yards around a canyon rim and glass the same areas again and again and again from the different angles to see if I could spot any bedded deer. Where I wouldn't see a deer from one angle I would from slightly different angle.

Although I was able to find a lot of bedded deer I was unable to find bucks of any size. I did one evening find a pretty looking 4 point buck buck but after examining it with my Vortex Razor HD spotting scope I found it to be a might on the small size. Having the spotting scope with me saved me a long hike going after this buck.

One evening I could hear a elk bugling off and on while I was in my tent. The next morning I found a 3x5 and two spike elk. I made a few cow calls with a cow call I always carry with me and the two spikes came on a string all the way across a large canyon right into my lap. I was able to get some nice photos and video of the three bulls.

On another day while I was glassing a canyon I heard something to my left and a cougar was coming over the ridge and going to pass right in front of me. I was able to reach back and grab my camera just in time to snap three quick photos of him. Upon a close look at the photos I noticed that the cougar had been hooked with what I would guess to be a deer antler in the side of his face making a nasty rip in is face. This cougar passed by at 21 yards in front of me.

On the last day I hunted I only found a single deer, a three point that was bedded. So much for getting a deer this year. At some point in my life I'll get rewarded for my hard work with a nice buck but apparently it wasn't to happen for me again this year. It was pretty disheartening to work as hard as I did, to hunt such a remote area, and not see any decent bucks to go after. It still was a lot of fun and I will always remember the cougar and those three bull elk playing around.

I think I really need to find a way financially to be able to hunt out of the state of Utah. I hear lots of stories of large bucks in the surrounding states on general public ground.

Mountain Lion with cut face

Mountain Lion with cut face

Mountain Lion with rip in his face that I would guess happened with an antler hooking this kitties face.


At this spot the Mountain Lion is 21 yards from where I am sitting.


Bull elk at wallow

Spike Elk up close

These young bull elk played around a lot at this wallow. I have some shaky hand held video footage of these three bulls on this page.


Spike elk up really close. It's amazing what a cow call can do to a bull elk. Two of these spikes came all the way across the canyon and right into my lap for a nice photo shoot.


Sunset on Salt Lake

Filtering water from spring

Sunset one evening.

I made a little dam under this rock to filtering water from this spring.


Mule Deer buck on CWMU

Doe and fawn bedded in a favorite deer bed

This was the largest buck I saw on the hunt and he wasn't big at all, not to mention he was across the canyon on a CWMU.


Doe and fawn bedded in a favorite deer bed.


small mule deer buck bedded

small mule deer buck bedded

Small buck bedded in the scrubby pines...


and another small buck bedded.


small mule deer buck bedded

small mule deer buck bedded

and another...


and another.


small mule deer buck bedded

small mule deer bucks

How about one more small buck bedded.


And some more small bucks.


small 4 point mule deer

Pack Wheel hiking cart

The largest buck I could find on public ground. A beautiful 18 inch wide four point.


My Pack Wheel hiking cart.


Dusky Grouse

Goal Zero charging phone

This Dusky Grouse was keeping an eye on me one morning.


Charging my phone with a Goal Zero solar panel.



Dallen's 2015 Muzzleloader Deer Hunt

Dallen at Sunrise

Dallen hiking down the mountain at sunrise.


Mule Deer does feeding at sun rise

Mule Deer does out feeding.


Spotting 3x4 mule deer

Dallen spotted this nice 3x4 mule deer buck first thing in the morning.


Accura V2 with Vortex 1x24 scope

Dallen setup with my CVA Accura V2 muzzleloader in the place where we watched a two point buck in the cliffs.


Bull moose

This bull moose was chasing a cow moose around the canyon.


two point mule deer in cliffs

Dallen spotted this two point buck that was up in the cliffs close to us.


mule deer buck bedded in chaparral

Relocating the 3x4 buck bedded in the chaparral at near 700 yards from us.


Mule deer in chaparral at 269 yards

Closing the distance, the 3x4 buck is now at 269 yards.


Mule deer in chaparral at 192 yards

This is all we could see of the buck where we setup at 192 yards from him.


Dallen 2015 muzzleloader 3x4 mule deer

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.

Dallen smiling after shooting 3x4 buck

Dallen hiking over to downed buck

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 finding 3x4 buck

together with 3x4 buck

Dallen checking out the buck just after finding it.


Dallen and I with his 3x4 mule deer.


Alps extreme Commander pack with mule deer

Dallen with the buck all caped out

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.


Hanging fat in the trees for the birds

Alps eXtreme commander pack with boned out mule deer

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.


Packing out mule deer with Alps packs

Packing out mule deer with Alps packs

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.


Doe on ridgeline at dusk

Packing out mule deer with Alps Pathfinder pack in dark

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.



Setting Up My New CVA Accura V2 With Nitride Rust Proof Finish


CVA Accura V2 Nitride Barrel Vortex 1x24

My CVA Accura V2 with Nitride finished barrel - a pretty nice looking modern muzzleloader.


Weight of CVA Accura V2 with Vortec 1x24 Scope

With a Vortex 1x24 scope on this CVA Accura V2 the overall weight comes in at 8 pounds 11 ounces.


Bore sighting CVA Accura V2

With the breach plug removed I am bore sighting by looking down the center of the bore and aligning this by adjusting the scope to match where the bore is pointing.


View of muzzleloader target through Vortex 1x24 scope

Here is a view of my muzzleloader targets at 100 yards through the 1x24 Vortex muzzleloader scope. Given the lack of any magnification in the scope these targets have a large dark circle with a one inch fine grid in the center to help with scope adjustment.


CVA Accura V2 Nitride Powerbelt velocity

100 grains of Triple 7 FFG power behind a 300 Gr PowerBelt was showing right at 1900 FPS on the Chrony.


CVA Accura V2 PowerBelt 100 yard 3 shot group

300 Gr PowerBelt three shot group at 100 yards with a 1x scope. Not too bad of a group at just under 2 1/2 inches. I also like groups that hold tight vertically and vertically this group is under a half inch. Horizontal variance can be effected by the wind which is out of my control and there was a little wind when I was shooting but not really strong.


Hammer Spur CVA Accura V2

The hammer spur on the CVA Accura V2.


Access to 209 primer on CVA breach plug

The 209 primer protrudes out of the breach plug with plenty of room to easily remove a spent primer with your fingers.


In 2015 both Dallen and I drew muzzleloader deer tags in Utah. With only owning one muzzleloader, that being a TC Encore, we were in need of another one so that both of us could hunt together.

This mule deer hunt will be Dallen's first time hunting with a muzzleloader and he's a little nervous about the idea of not hunting with a rifle for the first time.

I like my TC Encore however for the price I haven't been particularly happy with the really heavy trigger pull of 6 pounds, a trigger pull that is going to require a gunsmithing to correct. Also the issue the Encore has with Winchester 209 primers, that include the Winchester made Triple 7 primers, being a hair too long for TC's tolerances. These primers prevent the hammer from being cocked unless you open and close the action several times to bend the primer.

For my second muzzleloader I've had my eyes on the different varieties of CVA Accura muzzleloaders. CVA has a bunch of varieties to chose from. I thought really hard about the 30 inch barreled Real Tree Max-1 Long Range version but given I am restricted to a one power scope the extra weight of the longer barrel was not going really going to extend my range.

In the end I decided to go with the Nitride rust proof finished, stainless, 27" barrel. At first appearance the Nitride finished muzzleloaders look like they are traditional blued barrels that can rust from the corrosive black powder and substitute powders. However, CVA is using stainless barrels and making them even more rust proof by applying a Nitride chemical finish that chemically alters the barrel inside and out. A process the military has been doing for some time now. These barrels are as rust proof as they get which is perfect for muzzleloaders.

One of the first things I quickly noticed with this muzzleloader is the trigger pull. Wow, it breaks consistently at 2 1/4 pounds. Very nice! And the trigger pull is easily adjustable with a set screw located directly behind the trigger guard. I have no plans of adjusting the trigger as it feels great at 2 1/4 pounds but I probably could easily adjust the trigger even lighter. For now I'm going to leave the trigger right where it's at. This trigger is amazing especially compared to the 6 pound trigger pull that isn't adjustable on my more expensive TC Encore muzzleloader.

The CVA Accura V2 comes with Quake Claw sling. Quake Claw slings are what I place on all of my hunting rifles... well the Browning version of these slings. Browning sells the same slings under the name of Clincher. Claw\Clincher slings are rubber over-molded over a nylon strap. I find these slings to grip on my shoulder the best keeping my rifles from sliding off my shoulder.

CVA Accura V2 muzzleloaders also come with a nice single piece Dead On scope mount. This scope mount, mounts securely to the barrel with three screws.

With a scope mount and sling provided all I needed was a scope. Given Utah's restriction to only 1x scopes it really limits down the list of scopes to chose from. Over the past several years I have been setting up almost all of my rifles with more tactical like scopes that allow for me to use Strelok Pro ballistic app to calculate the needed amount of MOA to dial on the scope for any particular shot. I have come to really like the Vortex line for rifle scopes. Vortex offers great tactical features in many of their scopes, at a price that is very reasonable given the features and they have the best warranty in the industry.

Vortex started offering a 1x24 scope a couple years back so I went with that scope for this muzzleloader. This scope has a much greater field of view than the Nikon 1x20 that I have on my TC Encore and like the Nikon I can remove the elevation cap from both 1x scopes and dial up MOA for a longer shot.

To get the muzzleloader on paper to sight it in I removed the breach plug and looked down the barrel to get it bore sighted. This process takes just a couple of minutes and has always worked great at getting me on paper without any fancy equipment.

I have learned from shooting in the past that loose powder has given me more consistent velocities and accuracy over powder pellets so loose FFG Triple 7 powder was all I tried. To sight in the CVA I brought 300 grain PowerBelt and 300 grain Hornady SST bullets. I have liked the SST bullets accuracy from the past but also wanted to see how the popular PowerBelt bullets would shoot.

Both bullets shot equally well. Given how I have shot in the past I like to run a butter bore cleaning patch through between each shot. This works great for using the plastic sabot Hornady SST bullets however I have learned that PowerBelts shoot better with a dirty or saliva cleaning patch between shots and not a butter bore patch.

After I had the muzzleloader sighted to be dead on at 100 yards I set out my target at 200 yards and placed a couple milk jugs out at various ranges to shot at. I decided to go with the Horandy SST bullets given the higher ballistic coefficient. When I get a chance I will try saliva patches with the PowerBelts and see if I can get better accuracy than the SST and if so I will switch to them. As best as I could find the 300 Gr SST has a BC of 0.25 and the 300 Gr PowerBelt's BC is 0.214.

In the video on this page you can watch me hit milk jugs at 200, 147 and 167 yards. This was a 1, 2, 3 shot hits in succession. I slowed down the video of the 200 yard shot and you can clearly see the bullet traveling on it's path to the milk jug. Strelok Pro gave me 2 MOA for the 147 yard shot, 3 MOA for the 167 and 5 MOA for the 200 yard shot. I'm going to really like this muzzleloader!

I have been really busy during the month of August building Pack Wheel game carts and working with an attorney to get Dallen eligible with the UHSAA to play basketball for his senior year at Layton Christian Academy. Because I have been so busy I just didn't have time to hunt for elk with my bow this year like I like to do but I'm super excited to be using this CVA Accura V2 on a muzzleloader elk hunt come the first of November as well as my mule deer hunt in September.

Next up, muzzleloader Utah deer hunting where Dallen gets a nice buck at 192 yards with this CVA Accura V2.

Dallen's High School Basketball Junior Year Highlights

Dallen's Broken Finger

Dallen's broken finger.


When we are not out hunting and shooting, chasing kids to basketball games tends to be one of our families common practices.

Dallen had a rough year this past year. He broke is finger mid season and dealt with some other things that necessitated us moving him to another school. Dallen is excited to be playing at Layton Christian Academy for his senior year of 2015-16.

In our cow elk hunts this past winter dallen was hunting with a sock over the cast on his left hand.

Dallen loves basketball, is right hand dominant yet drives and shoots with his left hand more than his right. He reminds me of Charles Barkley with his size, strength and ability to shoot from the outside.  Although he doesn't shoot much from the outside his junior year he has a great shot from behind the arch and I except he will be shooting the three ball his senior season.

Dallen is built like a college football tight end, but basketball is what he loves. I know he is really hopeful that he can find a place on a college team. He's working hard to be a really strong power forward that can shoot the three ball, drive and spin to the basket. I'm excited to watch him play his senior year at LCA.

Anyhow here's a few highlights from his junior year. Check out his footwork and the use of his left hand.


Here's a full game of him after he came back from having a broke finger. In this game against Union he played around 8-10 minutes and did quite well. It's the last regular season game of the year and he gets the most minutes in a varsity game all year. Dallen checks into the game at 23:45, 39:24 in the video below. Dallen is number is 33 in the dark uniform.


Here's the highlights from the full game above from my camera.

243 WSSM Horandy Seating Die Alignment Sleeves

Hornady 243 WSSM seating dies

The 6mm seating dies come with an alignment sleeve that has a inside diameter of right around 0.28 inches. This is too small for the diameter of the neck on 243 WSSM brass.

To get the 6mm seating dies to work with the 243 WSSM you will need to order alignment sleeve #398559 from Hornady that has a 0.29 inch inside diameter.


Most of my reloading dies are Hornady. I like the seating dies and how they have alignment sleeves to assist in guiding the bullet to align it better... or at least they look like they should be better.

I had a Hornady two die 243 WSSM set, product number 546225. This die set has been great with a resizing die and a seating die. What I have been doing the past couple years is get multiple seating dies per caliber. I do this because when I get a particular load shooting the way I want I don't want to touch the die any more. Because I don't want to mess with the die I get multiple seating dies with one for each load I work up.

So I though I could just by more 6mm seating dies (product #044103). Well that almost worked. What I found was that when I would seat the bullet the neck of the case would get stuck in the bullet alignment sleeve.

The brass is extra thick on the WSSM cases making the outer diameter of the neck too large to fit in the alignment sleeve of the 6mm seating dies.

After a couple calls and emails to Hornady we found the correct alignment sleeve for the 243 WSSM. The alignment sleeve that comes in the 6mm seating dies needs to be replaced with alignment sleeve #398559 for it to work with the 243 WSSM.


  • 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.

  • General Hunting and Shooting

    Journal entries covering general information related to hunting and shooting. Many of these journal entries are from shooting on the rifle or archery range. There are also entries related to my experiences with the 243 WSSM, rifles, optics and other equipment and products I use.

  • Varmint Hunting

    Journal entries from hunting coyotes, rock chucks, prairie dogs and the like with 243 WSSM and 223 Rem. rifles.

  • Backpacking and Camping

    Backpacking, Pack Wheel camping and other camping adventures.

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