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.



Checking Trail Cameras with Landen

Hiking buddy Landen

Landen giving me a crazy look while we were out checking trail cameras.


Cottontail rabbit

One of the Cottontail Rabbits we saw on our trip up the mountian.


Selfie of Landen and me while checking trail cameras

Here's a selfie of Landen and me during our hike to check the trail cameras.


Four leaf clovers

Who says it's hard to find four leaf clovers?


Back out in August to check the trail cameras. This time with my son Landen.

At our first camera we found the handy work of a black bear. The homemade NiMh external battery pack was destroyed with batteries on the ground and the camera was ripped from the tree. I'm going to get more of Browning's full metal security boxes to place the cameras in where I have problems with bears.

Upon checking the cameras there was once again far more bears on cameras than elk. Where have the elk gone? :(

Landen and I had a nice hike. It was great to get some one on one time with him. He's a fun kid. He liked to make funny faces every time I'd pull out the camera. He was a trooper and hiked all over the place with me looking for different possible locations for placing trail cameras.

We were hoping to find a bunch of elk on the cameras but alas they just are still a little far and few this year. There is a lot of feed on the mountain this summer so apparently the elk just haven't felt the need to frequent this area very much.

Unfortunately from a hunting perspective I can't just move and hunt where the elk are as most of the mountain is locked up in a CWMU so I have to try and catch the "scraps" that might fall from the table, so to speak. This spot requires that the elk come to me because it is backed in so close to the CWMU. I really don't have much of an option other than to hope they come out of the iron curtain.

We have been seeing a lot more cottontail rabbits this year and this trip out was no exception. We were able to get one to pause long enough to snap a few pics of the critter.

Landen driving montero


I let Landen take the wheel of my old Montero for the trip back down the mountain. He did a wonderful job especially for his first time driving and only being eleven years old, although he is 5'10" and 175 lbs. Good job Landen!





Bears and More Bears on Trail Camera

Browning Strike Force BTC-5HD trail camera bear attack

Here is how I found my Strike Force BTC-5HD trail camera. The bears had ripped my 12 Volt AA NiMh external battery pack off the tree and twisted the BTC-5HD camera around the tree. The latch door was open and luckily the bears didn't rip the door off. I might need to lock the latch to prevent the door from coming open.


KB checking trail cameras

My hiking buddy KB helping me check my trail cameras.


Selfie of KB and me while checking trail cameras

Here's a selfie of KB and me during our hike to check the trail cameras.


Rock squirrel

This rock squirrel was checking me out during the hike up the mountain.


Back out checking the trail cameras in July has turned up a great deal of black bears. Unfortunately I have only one elk on the cameras while compared to last year during this same time period in 2014 when there was a lot of elk traffic in the area. I'm starting to question archery hunting the area this year. Maybe I'll hunt elk with my muzzleloader this year. Hmm...

As you can see from the videos on this page the bears are back to working on trying to rip my trail cameras off the trees. So far they haven't been successful in doing so with my BTC-7FHD and BTC-5HD cameras. The reinforced mounting brackets on the newer Browning trail cameras have been great, especially the metal bracket on the Recon Force BTC-7FHD cameras.

Bears and elk have the best noses and if you have watched many of my trail camera video clips you can see how quickly they can find my cameras with their noses. I might need to try spraying them down with a scent killer when I set them up and see if that helps keep them from messing with them.

Another thing I have noticed this year is that I am getting Mountain Lions on the cameras from time to time. Maybe the lions have been scaring off the elk? I doubt it.

Checking Trail Cameras - Using a Motorized Pack Wheel

Pack Wheel 20 inch wheel with Electric Motor

This is my XL 26 inch wheeled Pack Wheel frame with a 20 inch wheel and e-bike motor kit installed.


Motorized Hiking Cart loaded with roswheel panniers

Roswheel panniers loaded up with 45 pounds in each side.


Single stitched seem ripped out

I really like these panniers however when the large buckle snapped open upon hitting a bump it caused the single stitched sidewall to rip. I have since replaced the buckles and used my leather awl to stitch around the sidewalls to reinforce the poorly sewn single stitching.


Browning trail camera lock box.

After getting a couple trail cameras stolen this past winter I decided to try out the Browning lock boxes watching a trail that is most likely to have other people traveling.

To lock up the box and cable it to the tree I used a Master Lock 1317DSPT Cable Lock. I did have to trim off about a quarter inch of rubber on the lock arm to get it to thread through the lock box enough to lock the pad lock.


Redbreated Nuthatch

I found some Redbreasted Nuthatches bringing in bugs to feed their young. Looks like they like to catch spiders for food.


Redbreated Nuthatch

Redbreated Nuthatch at the entrance of it's nest cavity.


Even though the Pack Wheel with a 250W motorized 29er wheel worked pretty darn well a couple weeks ago I wanted to test other sizes of wheels with the motor to see the difference in torque and speed that the motor would provide. This time out checking my trail cameras I was also testing some a little different style of panniers made by Roswheel on my Pack Wheel.

I acquired some spokes and a 20 inch rim and relaced the motorized hub on this small wheel. I placed the wheel on my Pack Wheel that I normally have a 26 inch wheel on. The 20 inch wheel lowered the overall height of the Pack Wheel by 3 inches which is well within the height window to still be comfortable to operate.

I traveled the same game trails that I did a couple weeks prior with the 29 inch Pack Wheel with motor. This time out I had 45 pounds on each side of the Pack Wheel. I quickly noticed considerably more power from this motor and wheel size combination. As long as I wasn't going over larger obstacles the power the motor provided was great. However it didn't take long for me to realize how much I love my 26 and 29 inch wheels on the Pack Wheel. A 20 inch wheel just doesn't roll over obstacles like the bigger wheels do. Even with the motor the 20 inch wheel just didn't like to go over the dead fall trees that I normally can bump right over with the 26 and 29 inch wheels.

I did find that the 20 wheel still liked to go a little faster that I liked to hike but all in all it wasn't too bad considering that it had more power. With the Pack Wheel loaded down it did slow down the speed and had pretty darn good assisting power to help on the really steep inclines.

I was hoping that there would be enough power to push the wheel up against a large rock or dead fall tree and be able to lower my arms, rocking the weight off the wheel onto my arms and while pushing the wheel against the obstacle use the motor to "rock crawl" over the obstacle. However there just wasn't enough power to do this with the 90 pounds of weight I had in the panniers. If I only had 50 pounds or so in the panniers it may have had the power.

Now in the small wheel's defense I was hauling 90 lbs in the panniers on the Pack Wheel and going up game trails. I wasn't on a well groomed hiking trails. In both test runs the motor on both the 29 and the 20 inch wheel did greatly assist in helping me haul gear up the mountain.

At one point I tried to bump the wheel over a tree like I do with the 26 and 29er wheels and the wheel just stopped hard against it causing one of the buckles on the panniers to snap unloose and the 45 lbs of weight in that side of the panniers caused the single stitched sidewall to rip out the stitching right down the seem. Oops!

After this trip I replaced the two large buckles on the Roswheel panniers with stronger buckles that won't accidentally come unsnapped. I also took my leather awl and stitched down the sides where the weight of the load likes to stress the stitching. I really like these panniers with the reinforcements in place and they should be fine for future trips out. It's too bad Roswheel only single stitches around the sidewalls with a really lightweight thread. The panniers design is really nice and works really well with the Pack Wheel. They just skimped a little on the buckles and stitching.

I think I will try this same motor with a 24 or 26 inch wheel on the Pack Wheel. I also think a more powerful 500W motor that was lower geared might be the best solution. I'll keep playing around. For now the motor does work well and assist a lot in hauling heavy loads up the mountain I just want to keep tinkering with it to find the best motorized solution.

At my forth camera I quickly realized the bears were in the area. The camera and NiMh external battery pack were ripped off the tree. Sure enough the footage shows just a glimpse of the bear just before he rips the camera off the tree. Dang bears!

I just picked up a couple Browning Lock Boxes to secure cameras in areas where I think they might get stolen however I'm also thinking these boxes would be great for keeping bears from busting up my trail cameras. Hmm...

Here's some of the footage from the trail cameras from checking them this time out. There's a few young bull elk in the area however overall there are fewer elk in the area compared to the past two years. In fact I have no sign of the elk on the cameras moving down into the canyon where they would frequent from time to time in the past. Hopefully they start to move in to the area on occasion especially the last of August and first of September so that I have at least a little chance of getting an elk with my bow. These videos were taken on new 2015 Browning Trail Cameras, a Strike Force BTC-5HD and Recon Force BTC-7FHD cameras.

Mountain Lion on BTC-5HD trail Camera

Mountain Lion on BTC-5HD trail Camera

Looks like there's a Mountain Lion hanging around the area.


The Lion was back on the same trail a few days later.


Green Tailed Towhee nest

One horned Mule Deer in velvet

A Green Tailed Towhee nest I found. They must just be starting to lay eggs with only one egg in the nest.


Not sure if I have ever seen a mule deer in velvet with only a single antler.


Roswheel panniers on 29er Pack Wheel

Top view of the Roswheel panniers on the Pack Wheel

The Roswheel panniers look pretty slick on this 29er Pack Wheel.


Top view of the Roswheel panniers on a 29er Pack Wheel.





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