For a DIY hunter to kill more than a few big mule deer, he has to be proficient in all three weapon types: archery, muzzleloader, and rifle.  In my opinion, that is the only way to log enough season time to be successful.

Like most bowhunters, I want to know that when an ethical shot presents itself, I can make it.  Before I had a family, I had ample time to practice with and tune my archery equipment pre-season. I even placed well in the local archery tournaments back in the day.  I entered the field each fall with highly tuned equipment and confidence in my shooting abilities.


Jodi and I had our first child when I was 33, then our twins just a few years later.  Suddenly it became very difficult to adequately prepare myself and my equipment.  My dad and uncle Mark were experts at tuning compound bows and were always willing to help, but trying to match our schedules proved difficult. I even missed one archery season because of lack of preparation.  I vowed then to never do that again.

I started by visiting our local archery pro-shop, Archery Idaho

At that time, it was owned by Dee Wilde, a world-class archer.  I found that the expertise of a good pro-shop and the ability to understand the technology could give me back the edge that limited time had taken away.

I purchased a new bow just one month before the Wyoming archery mule deer season.  Within a few days, I was shooting better than I had in years. When the season opened, I killed an excellent Wyoming buck (pictured at the top of this post).  At the time, he was the largest typical velvet mule deer ever arrowed in the Cowboy state.  I was sold on pro-shops to say the least.

Now, 12 years later and with the continued advancement in technology, I’m the first to admit that I really don’t have much skill in setting up and tuning bows. Several of my friends can tune a bow to perfection in their sleep, but not me.  I simply don’t have time to become an expert at this stage of my life.  I only need to be proficient to kill big mule deer.  I’ll spend my limited time practicing, scouting, and hunting while the experts handle the rest.

As I embark on the archery project I posted about last week in It’s Not the Weapon, I’ll be relying heavily on that same pro-shop now owned by Tom Thiel and his son Thomas.

Tom Sr. is truly an expert with over 35 years archery experience and 10 years professional experience.  His son Thomas is following closely behind.  They have shops in both Idaho Falls and Pocatello but can help anyone, anywhere.  (See Archery Idaho on Facebook)

If you don’t have access to a good pro-shop, Archery Idaho can work with you remotely.  They take bows in via shipping and can professionally install  the accessories and pre-tune before shipping it back to you.  Usually with a few phone calls and emails, they can have you shooting just like you’d been in the shop.  Of course they can also sell and set-up any new bow off their shelf and have it to you well ahead of season.

Not all pro-shops are great, so do your homework.  However, if you’d rather focus your time and energy on hunting, give a pro-shop a try. Unless you’re already an expert, I can virtually guarantee that you’ll become a better bowhunter.


Be sure and subscribe to the Rok Blog if you’d like to follow the set-up of my Athen’s Bow, Black Gold Sight, Ripcord Rest, Tight Spot Quiver, and Deer Crossing Archery arrows.

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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