Full HD Trail Camera - Browning's New Recon Force (BTC-7FHD)

Browning Recon Force BTC-7FHD Trail Camera Mounting plate

The Browning Recon Force BTC-7FHD trail camera has a solid metal mounting plate on the back. Good luck ripping this camera off the tree Mr. Black Bear.


Browning Recon Force BTC-7FHD Trail Camera Door Latch

The door and latch system to access the control panel and SDHC memory card on the BTC-7FHD trail camera.


Browning Recon Force BTC-7FHD Trail Camera with 12V NiMh battery pack

A rechargeable NiMh 12 Volt external battery pack attached to the external 12v power port on the Browning Recon Force trail camera.


In February of 2015 I was able to get my first Recon Force (BTC-7FHD) trail camera, the newest trail camera from Browning. After a couple weeks of testing the camera I am just amazed with the video quality this camera produces.

The camera takes full HD 1920x1080 video. The quality of the audio is also top notch. The video is saved in H264 MP4 format on a SDHC card.

I have just really been blown away by the videos this camera produces. I thought the HD videos the older Browning Trail cameras produce where awesome, now they just don't quite compare.

The camera uses the single buckle latch on the lower half of the camera. Browning used this latch on the sub micro Strike Force trail camera last year. I like this system over the double snapping buckles from the older Recon Force cameras.

I have noticed that the camera does an awesome job with getting triggered by even small critters like robins and cats and raccoons that are 20 yards away from the camera.

Another feature I really like is that the plastic mounting brackets have been replaced with a solid steel plate that covers much of the back of the camera. This will greatly help the camera from being broken off a tree by a bear or an operator trying to wedge a shim in between the camera and the tree while the camera is cinched on tight. Not that that hasn't ever happened to me. ;)

One thing that I have found with this camera is that it does chew through batteries a little faster than the past models. Taking video uses a lot more battery than just taking images. More battery consumption was expected given that it writes more to the SDHC card and captures so much more detail.  To help with making sure the camera has plenty of juice between checking it I have made a 12 volt NiMh rechargeable battery pack.

I also found that set to capture 30 second video clips the camera took 386 videos before the 32 GB SDHC SD card filled up. Many of the videos it captured were 10 second LED infrared lighted ten second videos at night of raccoons. The ten second black and white videos don't take as much space on the SD card. A little math on the file size on the 100,000 KB file size of a 30 second clip gives me 320 videos to fill a 32 GB card.

I picked up some 64 GB cards to try but the camera shows an error. Darn it! There have been many times that my favorite springs to watch for elk have filled up my 32 GB SD cards with the smaller HD videos from my old cameras in less that two weeks. It sure would be nice to be able to use 64 or 128 GB cards. Looks like I'll have to check this camera a little more frequently. I guess the camera isn't quite perfect but it's getting close.

Included on this post are some sample videos from the first few weeks of using the camera. Wow! Just awesome quality for a trail camera.

Thanks to this camera I will now be trying to upgrade my cameras to the new Recon Force Full HD cameras. I may also try the new Strike Force BTC- 5HD camera as it also has better video... although probably now quite as good as this Recon Force.

DIY 12V NiMh Rechargeable Trail Camera Battery Pack

12v AA battery setup for trail cameras

Some of the supplies to start using NiMh AA rechargeable batteries with my Browning trail cameras.


Berger bullet case for 12v battery pack

A Berger VLD bullet box works great for making a case to enclose the ten NiMh AA 12V battery pack.


Berger bullet case painted for 12v aa battery pack

MY DIY rechargeable 12 Volt external battery pack ready for use. I placed the batteries inside of a plastic baggie and then use the foam that comes with the bullets to pad the extra space inside of the box.


Black Decker For Tool Box

The Berger bullet boxes work good but I have since found that Black & Decker ForTools boxes work even better. These boxes have a metal clip on the back that makes it a breeze to just clip the battery pack to the strap that is holding the trail camera.


Trail Camera Battery boxes for 12v NiMh batteries

A few Black & Decker ForTools cases painted up green. The cases are ready to put in my Alps Crossfire X Pack to take to the woods to put on my trail cameras.


Browning trail camera with DIY 12v AA battery pack

I just drill a hole on the rim of the door closure for the cord to thread out, a little spray paint and the Black & Decker ForTools boxes work great for holding the 12v NiMh battery pack.

For the past couple years I have been keeping six or more trail cameras out year round. I love watching the critters the cameras are able to catch in images and video.

Recently I picked up a new Browning Recon Force (BTC-7FHD) that takes full HD video and a 2015 version of the Strike Force camera I really like. In the first couple of days of testing the cameras I realized that the batteries were getting drained a little faster than my older Browning trail cameras. It's makes sense that recording larger files of higher quality video would drain the batteries a little quicker.

Combine the fact that I have been feeding multiple cameras hundreds of batteries through the years and the higher battery consuming newer models, I setout to find a solution that would not only provide rechargeable batteries but also provide greater longevity of the batteries before they stopped operating the camera in the field.

I have found that when you have cattle coming into the same spring that the elk and deer love, several hundred videos can easily be recorded in a week. With 32 GB SDHD cards I can get hundreds of videos but sometimes the alkaline AA batteries in the camera get drained out before the SD card is full.

The Browning trail cameras themselves are designed to run with 1.5 Volt AA batteries. The problem with just putting rechargeable NiMh batteries into the camera is that NiMh batteries are only 1.2 Volts. With an eight battery trail camera and this would create only 9.6 Volts instead of 12 Volts. I have heard of people running their cameras with only 9.6 volts put this makes me a little weary that it wouldn't have the juice to operate the LED flash at night and just not perform very well.

A nice feature to all Browning trail cameras is the ability to plug in an external 12V power source. I have used the Browning external battery packs that run on eight 1.5V AA batteries to make 12 Volts of juice. With this in mind the gears have been a churning in my head. What if I had a external battery pack that had ten 1.2V NIMH batteries for a 12V total pack? Hmm...

Here's what I came up with: Because each battery pack will have ten batteries I found a charger that holds ten batteries so I can recharge the AA batteries in groups of ten to match the battery packs. I purchased some "2.1 x 5.5mm DC Power Pigtail Male" plugs, and tracked down some hard to find battery cases that hold ten AA batteries.

For protective case to place the battery packs inside I am trying out reusing empty Berger bullet cases. I just drilled a hole for the power cord to go through and two holes in the back/bottom of the case to thread parachute cord through to use to attach the pack to a tree.

I used some sand paper to roughen the outside surface of the plastic bullet box and then spray painted the box earthy green. Because the box isn't water tight I am placing the battery pack inside of a zip lock bag then placing this inside of the bullet box. I also use the cut foam that comes in the bullet box to cushion the bullets to fill in and cushion the battery pack.

I have been testing this DIY 12V rechargeable battery pack and to looks like it is going to work great. I'm thinking this will eventually really save me in the battery expenses and I believe these packs should really out perform using alkaline batteries as there will be two additional batteries with the NiMh AAs and NIMH batteries maintain a very strong voltage over the life of the charge. On the other hand alkaline batteries start loosing voltage the minute you start using them. I am also thinking this battery pack will work really well in cold temperatures.

One downside to NiMh batteries is that I have heard somewhere that they loose their charge in hot temperatures, I think above 90 degrees or so. I will have to see if I can find more info on this.

I think I am really going to like this NiMh battery system! Now I just need some more Berger Bullet cases to make several more battery packs... I might have to find some other cases to use until I burn through some more Berger bullets.

Since I first tried the Berger Bullet cases I have found a better case to use for the battery packs. The cases are Black & Decker ForTools cases that are designed to clip to your belt and hold screws and other small parts and tools. I found some of these cases at Ace Hardware. With a little paint and a hole drilled through the edge of where the door closes these cases work great.

Here's some of the first video I have got from the new full HD Browning Recon Force BTC-7FHD trail camera. This camera takes a little more juice to operate and my DIY battery packs should work great at making sure the camera has plenty of power before I return to check it again.

Extreme Cow Elk Hunt - Hunting with a Model 1885 High Wall 300 Win Mag

Dallen cow elk hunting with Pack Wheel game cart

Dallen hiking with an Alps Commander frame pack carrying a 26XL Pack Wheel. All ready to haul an elk off the mountain.


270 WSM Winchester Model 1885 cow elk hunting

Someone looks a little tired. Maybe you should stop being a teenager who thinks he doesn't need to go to bed at night and get to bed before midnight Mr. Dallen. ;)

Dallen was also carrying a Model 1885, my 270 WSM setup with 150 Gr Berger VLDs.


Model 1885 300 Win Mag Cow elk hunting

My 300 Win Mag Model 1885 High Wall with Vortex Viper PST 6-24x50.


Browning Neoprene Rifle Jacket in Snow

Browning's Neoprene Rifle Jacket protecting my Model 1885. This rifle jacket is awesome for keeping snow and other debris out of the barrel and off the scope lenses. I love being able to just lay my rifle down on most anything and it doesn't get scratched.

Goofy antler bull elk

Too bad this wasn't a cow. Dallen could have easily taken this goofy antlered bull had it been a cow.


Alaska Guide Creations Bino Pack Model 1885 300 Win Mag hunting cow elk

Trying out a Alaska Guide Creations bino pack for the first time that a good friend of mine sent me a for Christmas this year. It's a nice bino pack. The pack just lacked a pouch to fit my large range finder. I sewed a fleece pouch that hangs on the side of the bino pack to hold my large Bushnell Elite 1500 range finder.


Model 1885 300 Win Mag shooting from Cliff

This is where I shot the cow elk from with my 300 Win Mag Model 1885.


300 Win Mag empty shell on cliff

The empty 300 Win Mag case from the first 645 yard shot across the canyon.


Dead cow elk across canyon

One cow down and the two others didn't move. I wanted to shoot the cow on the right but she was blocked by way to many limbs.


Cow elk bedded

As it would be I was able to get within 200 yards of the cow and calf in a spot where I could have taken a shot. If I knew I could have made it this close without them taking off and known that I could have seen them I would have opted to move in closer.


Hiking with 26 XL Pack Wheel

To hike back off the mountain we assemble our Pack Wheel carts and put all of our gear except our rifles on the Pack Wheel to wheel back off the mountain.


26 XL Pack Wheel with Cow Elk

26 inch wheel X-Large handle Pack Wheel with my cow elk in January of 2015.

Pack Wheel Panniers on Cow Elk

Getting ready to start boning out the elk. All of the meat will go in these two rolled up canvas Pack Wheel panniers.


Frosted Beard elk hunting

I think it was a little cold this morning. My short beard was fully frosted like a flocked Christmas tree.


This year Dallen and I each drew late season cow elk tags. For this hunt I was looking forward to trying out a new load in a new rifle. Most especially in a "Big Bore" cartridge for me, a 300 Win Mag. I have always been a fan of low recoiling smaller bored calibers. Back in the day my first high powered rifle was chambered in 25-06 Rem. I have since really taken a liking to the 243 WSSM and the 270 WSM cartridges.

My new 1885 in 300 Win Mag delivered in December and I have worked as fast as I could to get it scoped with 20 MOA of scope adjustment built into the bases and rings. When I saw that Winchester was doing a small run of 300 Win Mags in the Model 1885 I jumped on the opportunity to get one. I really like 1885 rifles and this rifle would jump me into the 30 caliber bullets for the first time.

The past couple of years I have been really taking a liking to the technical aspects of stretching the distance of my shooting. I have been shooting at Spirit Ridge rifle golf range at steel targets out to 1200 yards with my 243 WSSM and 270 WSM rifles and have really enjoyed it.

Until the last four or so years I have always liked a cartridge and bullet that provided a long max point blank range. In other words I like a really fast flat shooting bullet where I could sight it in 2.5 inches high at 100 yards and be near dead on at 300 yards. This being accomplished with traditional duplex rifle scopes. Setup this way I could hold dead on a 7 inch target and hit it from zero to around 350 yards. I also didn't have to worry about having a range finder. I could judge that the distance was within 350 yards and just pull up and shoot.

I have of lately been changing my philosophy on my bullet choice and scopes. On most of my rifles I have been getting adjustable target turret style of scopes. I have been switching to heavier, high ballistic coefficient bullets and using Strelok Pro ballistic calculator on my phone to calculate the shot. I now no longer worry about the bullet drop or velocity that much. I work to get an accurate load and then let Strelok Pro tell me what to dial for the shot.

With all this said about higher BC bullets and target turrets I was ready to jump into the 30 caliber realm with my own flare... a Model 1885. Model 1885s aren't your typical long range rifle that long range shooter shoot today. Bolt actions rule in this category however I find some features of the 1885 more to my personal liking.

A couple for trips to the range and the reloading bench and I was able to get a 208 Gr Hornady A-Max shooting sub MOA within a couple weeks in December. Not shooting as perfectly as I would like but good enough to take to the field after a cow elk.

Selfie cow elk hunting
Here's a selfie of us at three plus miles up the mountain.

Dallen and my first trip out was on January 1st. And what a cold morning it was. It was well below zero and the moisture from my breath was freezing on my beard making it look like a flocked Christmas Tree. It was cold. We were prepared with our Browning technical clothing. What a change from the cotton denim jeans of my youth. I like having the better clothing choices we now have.

I knew it was going to be tough to find some elk. The day before we went to glass the ridges way up the canyon from the road with my spotting scope and we were not able to find any sign of elk in the traditional areas they like to winter in along the ridge lines.

We had several vehicles of hiking hunters and some horse hunters in the area when we went in early in the morning on the 1st. With the lack of elk there was also going to be a lot of pressure from hunters. All of the hiking hunters usually only hike in a mile or two and the horse hunters will ride all the way to the back of the property at about 4 miles in. We came each carrying a Pack Wheel collapsed on our packs prepared to haul two elk out from as far in as we decided to hike.

We decided to head to one of my favorite locations about three miles in to watch a finger canyon the elk like to cross. As we approached this canyon we spotted a young bull with a goofy left antler but no cows. Once to the area I wanted to be in we setup and glassed around the main canyon and only could spot other hunters. After glassing for a while Dallen spotted two cows and a bull moving across the canyon above us over a 1000 yards away.

We took off trying to catch up to the two cows but they were headed out of dodge and we never caught up with them. I'm guessing most likely moving out because of other hunters bumping them. So much for our first trip out. We weren't the only ones that didn't get an elk. Other than us practicing on some rocks this was the only shooting we heard in the area all day.

I was able to dial up a 612 yard shot with the assistance of Strelok Pro and my Galaxy S4 phone and drill a rock. It's nice to verify a load will shoot where you are expecting it to.

It was nice on the way out to assemble the Pack Wheel carts and strap all of our gear on them for the 3 1/2 mile hike out. It would have been better to have two cow elk on the carts but maybe next time. The downhill is always the hardest on my knees and I enjoy having a solid disc brake to help hold back the stress on my knees while hiking downhill.

Two days later Dallen and I were out again trying another area. We hiked all around in the area finding no sign at all of any elk other than a really smart lone calf that somehow gave us the slip. With pickens slim this year I was going to have Dallen take the calf if it hadn't of slipped out of the draw without us seeing it.

A week later I was back out looking for elk. This Saturday I was going solo. Dallen had a long week of Basketball games and late night homework so I let him sleep in. A right handed player that loves to go left, at 6'4" and 240 lbs he's got some moves. I just love his footwork. Here's a spin move from a few weeks back.

This time out there were five large horse trailers and nine vehicles in the parking lot. There was going to be a lot of people in the canyon.

On the way in I was passed by a group of horse hunters. I knew that I would hike well past where the hikers would go, especially because it had warmed up during the past week and all the southern facing draws were bare of snow. Hiking hunters usually have sleds and sleds don't work so well on bare ground.

As I made the turn off from the main trail I could see fresh horse tracks going on the trail in front of me. Dang it! It wasn't long before I spotted four cows feeding on a point above me... but how long would they stay there? Do the horse hunters see them? Well it didn't take long before I saw the elk pick their heads up and trot over the ridge. A few minutes later I watched the horses go over the ridge possibly after the elk if they even saw them. Oh well.

Even with the horses pushing the elk out of the area I decided to hang out in the area to see what would happen. I hiked up to a really good vantage point and spent a few hours glassing around the canyon. I did hear two shots in the very top of the main canyon but didn't see any elk.

As it got noon I decided to head back off the mountain. I hiked back around from looking in one draw to the draw I hiked up and there they were, three elk across the canyon at 650 yards. Two were bedded in the maples and one was standing a little ways off. The two bedded was clearly a cow and a calf and the lone elk looked larger than the calf. It looked like a yearling cow from my best judgment.

I studied the location and my options. The large cow was bedded in to heavy of cover to thread a bullet into. The "yearling" eventually bedded out mostly in the open. There was a limb or two blocking it but not a lot. If I tried to get closer they would easily see me coming. If I moved from my current position the heavy trees would block my sight of the elk... based on this and the lack of seeing any elk I decided to take the shot from where I was at 645 yards.

I took my time and setup my rifle to shoot from a cliff. Strelok Pro gave me 12 MOA to dial my Vortex Viper PST scope and I sent a 208 A-Max across the canyon... Whop! Unfortunately the shot hit a little further back than it should have.... did I can't the rifle? Did it deflect off a branch? Who knows. I quickly resolved the situation by sending a perfect follow-up heart shot. Whop! Boy these bullets make a loud whop on impact. No questioning if you hit the critter with these bullets.

With the elk down I worked my way around the canyon in full view of the cow and calf still bedded right where they were. As it would be I was able to get within 200 yards of the cow and calf in a spot where I could have taken a shot. If I knew I could have made it this close without them taking off and known that I could have seen them I would have opted to move in closer. Oh well. I got the elk any way.

A few pics and a boned out elk and off the mountain I zipped with all my gear and the boned out elk on my 26 XL Pack Wheel. I would say that I was just about four miles in. The elk was on the shady side of the canyon in almost 2 feet of snow. It took me an hour to slowly work my way through the heavy deep snow for 400 yards or so. The next 3 1/2 miles only took me 1:15 as I was on bare ground and packed snow on the trail so I was crusing along.

The next couple of weeks Dallen and I never made it back out after his cow. Believe it or not Dallen isn't quite as gung-ho to work so hard to get an antlerless elk. Not quite sure why getting up extra early, hiking in four miles spending all day hunting until after dark to not see a cow elk wouldn't be the most fun way to spend your Saturday?!? I'm going to have to set him straight. ;) I know he'd of been a lot more motivated to do an extreme bull elk hunt but not for a cow elk.

I seems that some years I really have to work to get a cow and this is the furthest I have ever had to go to get a cow. Almost feels like extreme cow elk hunting. Really glad I have a Pack Wheel so that I can get in where the elk are then get them back off the mountain by myself.

Re-Tweeking the 208 A-Max 300 Win Mag Load
After this hunt I went back to the reloading bench and tweeked the 208 A-Max load. I am a lot more confident in the load. It is more accurate and faster than the load I used on this hunt. You can check out the load on my 300 Win Mag hand load page.

2014 Utah General Rifle Deer Hunt - Dallen Gets a Nice Four Point Buck

Dallen with his 2014 mule deer

Hunters with Pack Wheel Hiking Carts

Headed out with our Pack Wheels hiking/game carts the day before the Utah deer season opener.


Dallen hunting with neoprene rifle jacket

Dallen hunting with my X-Bolt, 270 WSM nicely protected in a Browning neoprene gun jacket.


Dallen sneaking past a 3 point buck

Dallen found it quite entertaining to be sneaking past this 3 point buck without it knowing we where there.


4x2 mule deer bedded

This large 2 point buck actually has two small forks on one side. Guess it's a 4x2 buck then. We watched him for a few hours hoping a larger buck was with him.


4 point mule deer dead on cliff

View from where Dallen shot his buck with the zoom cranked up on the camera.


Dallen with 4 point mule deer and Alps Pathfinder pack

Dallen with his 2014 mule deer and Alps Outdoorz Pathfinder pack.


Browning Escalade Knife Model 662 with mule deer

I love my Browning Escalade knife. It is the best knife I have ever used asside from my custom knife Russ Kommer made for me which is just a little larger than this knife. I love small bladed, deep bellied, fixed blade skinners. This is a small knife that you can bone out a deer really fast with.


Vortex Razor HD 11-33x50 Spotting Scope on Alps Outdoorz Pathfinder

Hauling around my lightweight spotting scope, a Vortex Razor HD 11-33x50 on a Ultrec Carbon Fiber Tripod with my Alps Outdoorz Pathfinder pack.

After eating tag soup during the muzzleloader season and Dallen's rifle elk hunt not ending the way we would have liked, we were itching to find a good buck for Dallen.

Dallen really wanted to try and find the large 3x4 buck that out smarted me during the muzzleloader season. I couldn't blame him. It was a nice buck and I would really like to have Dallen get him.

The day before the opener we got dropped of by my brother and started our five and a half mile trek in to where we needed to be to hunt for this buck. As always the Pack Wheel carts made the hike a breeze. After we passed a group of backpack hunters on the way in we both laughed to ourselves at how easy it was for us as we watched them struggling from carrying in all their gear on their backs.

We did have a little issue with the 26 inch tire on Dallen's Pack Wheel. We have both of our Pack Wheel tires setup tubeless and Dallen had a thorn or something go through his tire and it was leaking rather fast. The Stans sealant wasn't sealing it up very quickly. I had a tube and patch kit with us as an emergency but preferred not to use it unless it was a last resort. We were able to pump the tire up every half hour or so on the way in and then hung the tire in a tree with the hole on the bottom. It leaked some fluid and eventually sealed pretty good, well enough to get back off the mountain. I think it was just low on Stans sealant as I hadn't added any in a good three months and have been using this Pack Wheel on a lot of off trail trips. I'll make sure to keep the fluid maintained better on future adventures.

Where I found the large 3x4 buck during the muzzleloader season was about 6 miles in, in an area that we knew we would be competing with horse hunters. There was a horse camp a couple hundred yards from where we camped Friday evening so as daylight approached on the opener we weren't sure how much competition there with be. As it worked out we had the canyon to ourselves. This was nice. We spotted 14 deer in the canyon and 6 bucks but not the large 3x4 we were after. There was one four point but he wasn't very large so Dallen wasn't interested in him.

After watching the canyon until around midday I dropped my Alps Pathfinder pack and looped way around the backside of the canyon and down then I brushed up the canyon hoping to bump deer back towards Dallen. Something was wrong with this picture when I was a kid I was a brusher for my dad as he sat on the ridge and  now I'm brushing for my own kids. Hmm... something's not right with this picture. Anyhow, it took me a good two hours to brush the canyon and I only got out a fawn that came within 20 yards of Dallen. We had watched six deer down in the canyon earlier so I must have somehow walked right past most of them.

For the afternoon we slipped into another canyon we hoped no one had been in yet. Jackpot! Just as we were entering the canyon I am watching to the right where the deer like to bed and unbeknownst to me Dallen was watching a small 3x4 out feeding right below us. Luckily Dallen pointed out the deer before I spooked it. We watched this buck and also found a large two point (4x2 with small forks on one side) bedded in the canyon. We sat on them for a couple hours hoping that a larger buck was bedded with them that would get up to feed come evening. Well evening came and a big one never showed up. Darn it!

Being good boys we packed it up and hiked off the mountain with our Pack Wheels in the dark so that we could attend church on Sunday.

Back to school and work on Monday. Dallen however was really itching to get a deer so we both played hooky on Friday. Instead of going all the way back in where we were for the opener we decided to go to a closer but rougher area to hunt. It is a really steep climb in and out of this area. I killed a good buck in 2003 in the area, a bull elk in 2010 and Dallen killed a bull in 2012 in this area.

In the dark Friday morning we were working our way down the canyon. As we approached the first finger draw we paused to let it get light enough before proceeding so as not to spook any deer out before we could see to shoot. As it got light enough to shoot we peaked around the ridge and sure enough right below us was a three point feeding.

We watched the three point for a few minutes and then re-charted our course sneaking past him so that he wouldn't bust down the canyon scaring everything out before we could get there. Dallen thought it was pretty funny to be so close to the deer without the buck knowing it.

As we worked our way down the canyon we spotted a buck about a 1000 yards away. My new Vortex Razor HD 11-33x50 spotting scope made it crystal clear that it was just another three point and not worth going after. We also spotted a lot of other does and fawns in the area and a few moose but no big bucks.

Working our way along a ridgeline we would look off one side then the other. Then at 87 yards two bucks jumped out and stopped on a small cliff. Dallen was behind me, took to steps to get around me and boom. The larger of the two bucks dropped like a sack of tatters. Not a twitch. The 150 Gr Accubond Long Range out of my 270 WSM X-Bolt just crushed him with a high shoulder shot angling down to the lower shoulder on the opposite side.

The bullet stopped against the hide on the opposite shoulder. The lungs where destroyed along with the backbone. The recovered bullet weighed 58.2 grains. I was very pleased with the performance of this bullet. This could be my go to mule deer bullet, it works well on deer at close range, yet has plenty of energy and expansion to cleanly take deer out to 1000 yards. Not that I would shot at a deer at 1000 yards but the bullet has the potential.

What a cool experience to have Dallen just pull up and shot the deer without any coaching. I was actually trying to get my camera ready to take some photos of the bucks right when Dallen dropped the hammer. Dallen has really matured as a hunter and has really impressed me with his marksmanship skills and hunting abilities. I'll take a little credit for spending time at the reloading bench and getting the rifles setup to shoot well. He has the green light from Dad out to 600 yards. Given the right conditions Dallen is great at making the shot. This comes form experience and he is getting pretty darn experienced at a young age.

After a few photos it was time to bone out the deer. I had Dallen do a lot of the work this time. My Browning Escalade knife worked awesome at boning out the deer. I love deep bellied skinning knives with a short blade and this knife is sweet.

We decided to cape out the buck to give to our taxidermist in case he needs a cape for someone else.

After getting it all boned out we put half of the meat into each of our Alps Outdoorz Pathfinder packs. I really like how versatile this pack is. I do think a Alps Outdoorz Traverse EPS pack would be an even better option for this style of hunting. Once home the meat weighed in right at 60 pounds. There probably was a good 5 pounds of meat we lost in the front shoulders from the bullet.

Dallen has now taken three, 4 point bucks and one 3 point in the six years he has hunted deer. That's not too bad. Actually the one year he had swine flu and was only able to get out for a few hours that season so I don't know if that season should count. He has done really good considering all of his deer have been taken on public land in Northern Utah, in a very heavily hunted unit.

Nice job Dallen!

Dallen admiring his 2014 mule deer

Browning neoprene rifle jacket

Dallen admiring his 2014 mule deer.


I purchased this Browning neoprene rifle jacket this past year and have just loved it. It's just like a neoprene scope cover except it is for the whole rifle. The scope and rifle are protected. It snaps off just as fast as a scope cover. I no longer have to tape the end of my barrel or have a scope cover. When it rains or snows the rifle is covered. I really like it when it comes to sitting the rifle down. I can lay the rifle on any surface and not worry about scratching the rifle or scope.


Dallen hunting on skyline

3x4 mule deer feeding

Man that camo looks good. I love RealTree Max-1 camouflage.


Dallen spotted this 3x4 buck feeding 200 yards below us on opening day.


Dallen packing mule deer alps pathfinder pack

Dallen packing mule deer with Alps Pathfinder pack

Packing mule deer X-Bolt and Alps Pathfinder pack

Hiking down to dead mule deer buck

My X-Bolt 270 WSM with Vortex Viper 4-16x50 HS LR rifle scope. Packing out the buck in a Alps Outdoorz Pathfinder pack.


Dallen hiking down to his buck.


Dallen with the caped head and mule deer rack


Dallen's buck caped out in a meat bag ready to haul out.


A female Red Crossbill was hanging around watching us on the pack out.


Dallen's 2014 mule deer buck

Recovered 150 Gr Accubond Long Range 270 WSM

Dallen and me with his 2014 mule deer.


Here's the recovered 150 Gr. Accubond Long Range bullet reduced to 58.2 grains. It was resting against the hide on the opposite shoulder.


Cool sunny grass photo

Packing out mule deer buck with Alps Pathfinder pack

I thought this made a pretty cool photo of the grass in the sun with a dark shadowed canyon below.


Dallen packing out his mule deer buck.



2014 Utah General Rifle Elk Hunt - A Bull Gets Away

Dallen sitting on cliff elk hunting with X-Bolt

Dallen on the lookout for elk. The RealTree Max-1 camo works so well in the rocks and many other western terrians.


Dallen sitting on cliff elk hunting with X-Bolt

Dallen hunting with my X-Bolt, 270 WSM with a  Vortex Viper HS LR 4-16x50 rifle scope and EGW 20 MOA picatinny rail.


Me and the boys elk hunting.

Selfie of me and the boys hunting for elk.


Vortex Razor HD 11-33x50 spotting scope

Using a Vortex Razor HD 11-33x50 spotting scope to glass for critters.



Elk hunting with a Pack Wheel game cart

Me hunting with a 26 XL Pack Wheel collapsed on my back.


Townsend's Solitaire

This Townsend's Solitaire landed next to me while hunting.

Rough Grouse Strutting in the Fall

This Rough Grouse was strutting in the fall. I guess they do strut outside of their spring breeding season.

Bull Elk on Trail Camera

This might be the bull we lost. I clearly saw a 5th point in my binos and Dallen thought it was a 4 point. The shape of the antlers could look like either. Anyhow this bull was in the area the day before he shot the bull. We have however had many 5, 4 and 4x5 bulls on trail camera in the area this year so who knows for sure.

This year Dallen had a rifle elk tag we both have cow elk tags so we decided to hunt the area that I have most of my trail cameras in watching for elk and where our cow elk permits were for. I was successful in taking a spike with my bow back in August, a spike in 2013 and Dallen's bull in 2013 from this area.

For opening weekend we decided to take the little brothers along with us to hunt. This was Dallen's younger brothers first time out big game hunting. They were super excited to go hunting with us. It's always fun to take young kids hunting and see their excitement.

The night before the opener we all headed up the mountain and and slept in a tent. Early the next morning we were hiking up the mounatin in the dark.

We have a spot that we like to sit and watch for elk. There's some cliffs overlooking a draw that has a couple of springs and a couple of my trail cameras. Not a lot of elk frequent the area however if they do the spot provides a great vantage point to get a good shot. This spot proved to be a good spot on Dallen's elk hunt last year.

After making the steep hike up to the cliffs we spent the rest of the day hanging out there watching for elk. We didn't see any elk. We did see a few does and fawn mule deer.

It was a fun day with the boys. I wish we could have seen some elk with the little boys being there. But we all had fun spending time together.

On the way out we pulled the SD cards from the trail cameras. They showed a few elk being in the area but not a lot. Just as I expected based on my experience with watching the area with the cameras the year before. It's cool how you can learn the general patterns of the game in an area with a few trail cameras.

The following weekend Dallen and I headed back up the mountain. Friday evening while hiking in we spotted some cow elk about a 1000 yards below us that headed into some thick cover. With not seeing a bull and the area they were in we decided to hope that something would come out in the draw we like to watch. Well nothing did that evening nor through most of the day on Saturday.

Around midday we decided to switch locations. We headed to the area we seen the elk the day before. As we got within 500 yards or so of this area we spotted a bull moving in and out of the oak brush. There were also several cows with the bull and they were working their way up the canyon.

The trick was that we were on a sidehill that was covered in trees. This presented a challenge to find a window through the limbs to get a clear shot across the canyon. We were able to find a window and setup for the shot. I ranged the bull, had Strelok Pro open on my Galaxy S4 phone. At the range and current weather conditions my X-Bolt 270 WSM with 150 Gr Accubond Long Range bullet needed 8.5 MOA. Dallen dialed the scope. The Bull stopped broadside in the clear and Dallen sent the shot. Whop!

The bull was hit hard. The cows all rapidly cleared the area. The bull very gingerly turned and slowly started walking directly towards us getting deeper and deeper into scrub oak brush. As it was moving in the brush Dallen sent a couple move shots his way. The target size was now much smaller and there was a lot of brush to try and get a bullet to pass through. His third shot hit the bull in a hind leg sending fur flying into the air. Then shortly after this the bull disappeared into the brush.

As sick as the bull looked I figured the bull would be dead within minutes and by the time would get across the canyon we would find him dead.

We slowing approached where we though he would be dead. As we approached the bull was about 30 yards off from where we though he would be and he jumped up and took off into the trees where Dallen couldn't see to get a shot. Dang it!

We started following the bull we ran into two other hunters, friends of my cousin and the bull had just ran into them and they had bumped the elk down a creek bottom. This could have been good if they were prepared to see an elk but may have just pushed the elk harder...

Well, to make a long story short we never found him. We spent the rest of that evening looking into the dark, most of the next day and went back another day searching for him, but no elk.

Dallen is pretty upset about the bull getting away. He made a good shot and sometimes elk just don't go down. I would really like to know exactly where the bullet hit, the amount of penetration and recover the bullet. This bullet should have performed very well at 550 yards. With the weather conditions Strelok Pro shows that the bullet was going 2400 fps and had 1900 ft lbs of energy, still plenty to kill an elk.

Some would argue that we shouldn't be shooting distances this far but Dallen has proven his marksmanship skills time and time again. He can shoot and this bullet should have done the job. Again, I would really like to know exactly where that bullet hit, the penetration and expansion...

As I write this we still plan on going back and looking for birds to help us locate him and at least recover the rack. Hopefully we will still be able to find him.

The boys sitting on a cliff elk hunting

A bull moose he saw elk hunting

The boys on the lookout for elk.


Here's a bull moose Dallen and I got within about 35 yards of.


KB smiling while elk hunting

Landen elk hunting

KB with some of our snacks around his lips.


Landen having fun elk hunting.


Moon on skyline

Beautiful fall colored quaking aspens

The last glimpse of the moon as it passes behind a ridge.


Some beautiful fall colored Quaking Aspens.




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