The next morning, I was in the big saddle by first light and again sat until close to noon without spotting the big buck.  My phone said there was important business waiting on my email, so I hiked out to the truck and fired up my laptop to put out the fires.  By the time I was done, it was after 3:00 PM and time to head back to the saddle.


I sneaked in from the usual direction with the wind in my favor.  The weather was even warmer and I didn’t need a coat–strange for early November.  I sat glassing the saddle from about 800 yards away with my big 15x SLCs over my CT Travel Tripod. Only a few does and fawns were scattered about.

It was about 4:30 PM and the shadows were getting long.  Scanning the familiar hillsides, I noticed a new deer standing in the heavy brush.  I trained the big 15xs on the deer and stared.  It was him. I got my best look yet and could see he was even heavier than I’d thought.

He was slowly walking in chest-high brush and was very alert.  Occasionally he’d drop his head and sniff the ground, indicating he was looking for does.  I realized sitting in the low-sage of the open hillside, I was totally exposed.  I crept down the hill about 30 yards to get in some cover.  When I put the binoculars back on him, he was staring my way!

If he went back in the deep cover, I’d lose him so I dumped my big binos, slung the tripod over my left shoulder and my rifle over my right and took off for him. I had about 400 yards of brush to hide my movements and should be under 400 yards of his last known locale when I emerged–if he didn’t disappear in the meantime.

A few minutes later, I crept from the cover and quietly sneaked up to a rise in front of me, barely poking my head over the sagebrush to glass.  I nervously scanned the cover with my 8×42 EL Swaro’s praying to God I hadn’t spooked him.  After several minutes, I spotted a white face barely visible in the edge the quakies below.  It was him.  The ELs said 265 yards.

I pressed myself to the ground, eased the tripod off my shoulder and set it up in front of me.  I slowly rose to one knee and slid my rifle over the tripod, securing it with my left hand.  The buck was broadside but looking my way. I put the crosshairs center shoulder and took in a breath, but something was wrong…I couldn’t get steady!  I melted back into the ground and tried to calm myself.  I knew I was running out of time so I slid back into position and tried to settle again, but he was gone!

I slowly crept down the hill about 15 yards and poked my head back up.  I could see him again, but he had me pegged now and was getting ansty.  I had to shoot this buck right now or he’d likely be gone forever.

Easing back on the tripod, I found his shoulder in the tangle and took in a quick breath.  The crosshairs traced an erratic circle on his shoulder and I slowly pressed the trigger…

Home Run, 2016.

Next post, we’re heading to Utah for a muzzleloader rut hunt.

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Robby Denning
Robby Denning started hunting mule deer in the late 1970’s, only missing one season in 35 years. At 25, he gave up the pursuit of all other big-game to focus on taking the best bucks possible. He began hunting the West on a DIY budget hunting an average of 30 days a year for mule deer. Robby loves the hunt as much as the kill and the entire process from research to scouting to hunting. He’s killed four bucks over 200 inches in the last 15 seasons, mostly on easily-obtained tags. He owns a public-land scouting service and runs a private-land outfitting business helping other hunters in their pursuit of deer and elk. Robby has scouted and hunted literally thousands of square miles of mule deer country and brings a wealth of knowledge about these experiences with him. To him, the weapon of choice is just a means-to-an-end and will hunt with bow, rifle, or muzzleloader – whatever it takes to create an opportunity to take a great mule deer. He is also the author of "Hunting Big Mule Deer" available on Amazon. Robby believes all of creation is from God for man to manage, respect, and through which to know its Creator


  1. That is awesome! I also like that you point out the real life fact that sometimes you still have to take care of business at home and the office by staying in touch. I feel, that makes me more successful as a hunter as I am not worrying about things back at home or at the office as I stay in touch, and if the need arises, I can take care of things from the field. It makes my boss and my wife very happy, and that makes me able to focus. Not to mention, both my boss and my wife allow me to hunt a lot more than if I just turned off my phone and did not take my laptop with me. I know a lot of people, and I can understand somewhat, that just disconnect from life for a full week or so. I understand that is good, however, for a guy like me who wants to spend 60+ days a year out hunting, that would not fly without some compromise!

    You rock Robby! Keep up the good work!


  2. Josh, you’re right. I’d love to completely unplug but it’s not always possible or even fair to my crew. I learned a long time ago to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done so I can do what I want to do when I want to do it.

  3. Awesome buck Robby!

    I’m having a hard time getting a gauge on his score because of all the mass…..have you scored him yet?

    I really like how heavy that buck is!

  4. Hi Gibson. I have not put a tape on him yet but I’d guess he’d score in the 180s gross. He’s not a scoring buck but all things considered, is still one of the best I’ve taken. He has several places where his mass is 7+ inches. Like I wrote in HBMD, there are some really big bucks out there that don’t score well that virtually no one would pass on. I think he’s one of them. If I get around to measuring him, I’ll post it up. Thanks

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