2011 Utah Muzzleloader Mule Deer Hunt — Testing My Lightweight Game Cart

Mule deer bucks I watched before the muzzleloader hunt.

Here are a couple bucks I watched a couple times before the muzzleloader hunt. These bucks would require a very hard hike up and over a mountain and other planets to align to be able to get them. I decided the best buck in this group of bucks (4-5 bucks) I watched was not big enough to try and get... this year.

This year for mule deer I was using my muzzleloader. This was going to be my first hunt using my Nikon Buckmaster 1x20 rifle scope. I had been on the range and really like using the scope over open sights and I was looking forward to trying it out on a mule deer.

For this hunt I decide to pack in three to four miles along a single track trail and camp near a spring where I could use my water filter to get clean drinking water.

The trail into the area is ideal for the use of my lightweight collapsible game cart that I was itching to test. Once in the area I would hike out and along ridges and glass for a buck that I would like to go after to put my tag on.

Me with my muzzleloader and Nikon Buckmaster 1x20 scope.

Right after taking the buck Coby, another hunter snapped this photo of me with my CVA Firebolt muzzleloader with Nikon 1x20 scope. Later that day it dawned on me that he had to of  been watching the bucks before I came around the ridge. I hope I didn't mess him up in taking the buck himself... that is if he wanted to take this young buck.

Since I was hiking the trail on the way in I decide to try using the game cart to haul in my gear. The cart is especially designed to "carry while you hunt" and to haul boned out meat that is placed in meat bags. I was curious how the cart would fair with a heavy backpack strapped to it. I used my HideAway frame pack and tied it down on top of the cart. This now gave me a platform to place my internal frame pack and other gear on top of. This worked really well and I was able to cruise right down the trail to wear I wanted to setup camp.

With the cart available for me to use to haul out a mule deer, this gave me great comfort being out hunting by myself. Without the cart I would be hauling roughly 70 pounds of gear and 70 pounds to deer. Even for me as tough as I think I am this would still require taking an extra trip to get everything off the mountain, so having the cart gave my great comfort to be able to make one trip out.

I had a few days off for the hunt and had some heavy demands with work so I was hoping I could get the job over fairly quick so that I could get back to work. I also knew that I would probably shoot a smaller buck than I wanted if the opportunity arose because I wanted to try out the game cart.

My 2011 mule deer buck taken with a CVA Firebolt muzzleloader and a Nikon Buckmaster 1x20 scope.

My young 2011 Mule deer buck. I took the shot at 175 yards away from the cliffs right above the tip of the muzzleloader barrel.

The first evening I glassed some does and a small buck before setting up camp. The next morning I was up early out glassing the mountain for any bucks with decent antlers. At this stage in my life I still love pulling the trigger but like to try to get a buck in the 4+ year old maturity range if possible. After watching a few small bucks feeding their way down one canyon I decided to cross-over the ridge and glass the next canyon. After watching a few does I worked my way around to some cliffs and peaked over... and starring right at me below the cliff was a small two point buck. He could only see my face and hat so I slowly ducked back behind the cliff and slowly started looking around below the cliff and found another buck, a larger two year old two point that was feeding around some cliffs further down the ridge. I figured there might be more bucks around the cliffs that I could not see so I slipped back around the ridge and down to a lower cliff hoping to catch the group of bucks going around below me.

Mule deer meat boned out and hanging in the shade to cool in my homemade canvas meat bags.

After packing the meat in my pack back up to my base camp I hung the meat in the shade to help it cool. Here you can see my homemade canvas meat bags with all the boned out meat in them. I have found that boning out meat and placing it in the breathable canvas meat bags has always bought me enough time to get an animal off the mountain before the meat spoils.

As I got around to the next cliff I realized that it wasn't quite as close as I hoped to get just as bucks started swinging around through a fifty yard opening below me. I pulled up my range finder and ranged 154 yards to where they were coming out then I switched to my binoculars. Two point, two point, larger two point... four point. I took a quick assessment that he wasn't very big but that he had pretty even forks. I didn't have much time before they were going to go around the ridge and out of view so I made note that he was now the second to last buck as they filtered around the slope below and I pulled up my muzzleloader. I laid up against the cliff to get a steady rest with my muzzleloader hanging over the edge. From my time on the range I felt very comfortable out to 200 yards and for this steep downhill shot I held for what I figured a 150 yard shot as the buck had moved further away than where I had first ranged (actual range was 175 yards that I verified after the shot) and he stopped one last time before he crossed around the ridge below. As he came to a stop I squeezed off the trigger and watched him topple over and roll down the mountain for a good forty yards before coming to a stop.

After a few pictures I boned him out and put all the meat into my homemade canvas meat bags placed them in my internal frame pack. The location I was hunting is very, very steep so carrying my lightweight game cart as I hunted was not a option for me while I was out hunting. I packed all the meat straight up a wickedly steep canyon and back around to my base camp.

Once at camp I hung the meat in the shade and rested for a little while. After a drinking plenty of water and eating some snacks I loaded up the cart with the deer and the rest of my gear went on my external HideAway frame pack and off along the trail I headed with all my gear and the boned out mule deer on the cart.

I was really please with the performance I received from both my Nikon 1x20 scope and the Powerbelt 295g bullets. The scope is a pleasure to shot compared to having open sights. The 295g Powerbelt just flat out canned this buck with a high shoulder shot.

The video below show a couple of sample video clips of me using the lightweight game cart on this hunting trip.

January 2012: The lightweight game cart worked great for me on a late season cow elk hunt where I was able to use the cart to haul an entire cow elk out three miles.

Related Product Links:

Pack Wheel Backpack and Game Cart LogoPack Wheel — Lightweight Backpack and game cart

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