With the hunt wrapped up, I wanted to give you all some horse & camp tips (filmed during this hunt) that I’ve picked up over the years.  Some of these are intuitive, some of them you won’t think of until it’s too late.  Living and hunting well in the backcountry takes years of experience but, as my daddy taught me, is half the fun.  


I also give a final report on my clothing from First Lite.

I had to create two videos for today’s blog post as my editing software couldn’t handle it all.  

Thanks for following this project to it’s completion.  I hope you learned something that will help you bag the buck of your dreams.  If any of the information helped, but sure to drop us all a line in the comments section.  Feel free to add your own tips that have helped you, even if they don’t agree with mine.  I’m the first to admit I’ve got a lot of learning to go.  

Lord-willin’ I’ll be one of those old deer hunters I’ve met and read about over the years who would never take 12 days in the backcountry to kill a buck. Oh no, they get it done in like five days and usually within a mile of a good road.  Trust me, they are out there and don’t keep blogs for everyone to follow.  If you get lucky enough to meet one, listen closely to what he has to say.  I do.

God bless Rokslide.

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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. Great stuff Robby I get a kick out of how you talk to and describe your horses, I find myself doing a lot of the same thing! Lost a horses on an elk hunt in ’08 for an entire day and had to stop the hunt and look for him. He’d broken a hobble while grazing and worked himself into a huge drainage and got lost. He eventually found his way back to camp right before dark and you could tell he was not excited to spend a night out there by himself! 🙂

    I enjoyed the hunt immensely and want to thank you for taking the time to put it all up on here for us! Not easy stuff but I can tell you enjoy the possibility of helping other hunters learn new tricks of the big buck trade! Glad to hear that you’re bigger on a bucks width than I am, it’ll make it that much easier if we ever end up on the same mountain together! 🙂


  2. Thanks for taking the time and effort to take us along on your hunt robby. Sorry that you didn’t get to close the deal on a buck but it looked like you had a good time..hope that you,your wife and the ninjas haave a good rest of the year and a prosperous new year.I always look forward to your blog I always learn something from it.

  3. Robby, I lost my mule on a ID moose hunt a few years ago. I was walking my mule around a corner on a closed logging rode when a large bull moose responded to my call at about 60 yards away. It was day 8 and the largest bull I had seen. There wasn’t a tree close enough to tie off. So, I pulled the gun from the scabbard and took the close range shot. I had the lead rope through my belt, thinking I could grab the tail of the lead rope before my mule got free. Nope. It took me 3 days to find my mule/get him back, and I lost $6k worth of gear (saddle, optics, clothing, etc. that I had on the mule). Fortunately insurance covered the lose. But, regardless, not a pleasant memory! I’ve since considered training my mule to the shot, hoping to not get so much pull back to the shot. Having the lead rope through my belt should do the trick if the pull back is from an animal that has some experience around shooting. I’m also now carrying a hobble on the saddle. If I have the time to throw on the hobble, that seems to be a great option. Have you shot much with a ‘horse in hand’? I’d enjoy to hear some of the resulting stories! 🙂

  4. Thanks for taking us along! I’m sure its not really convenient to take time out of your hunt to build these videos and posts, but we sure appreciate it. Your tips really have made me a better deer hunter. I read and implemented your Short Game article earlier this year before heading on my hunt and ended up taking my best buck to date at 20 yards as he busted from his bed! You’re right, close range is an adrenaline rush! I’m working on the story and will post it in the mule deer forum in a few days. Thanks again!

  5. Hey everyone, thanks for the comments.
    Rich, of course I remember you from this summer. Thanks for sharing your experience at close range- 20 yards! That is intense. If you’re a better deer hunter for following these blog posts, then it was worth all the time and effort for me. Thanks for mentioning it.

    James, my heart fell through the hole in my cowboy boots when I read your post. That’s a lot of gear to lose. Lucky you got the mule back- some guys never do. I don’t have any stories that dramatic but I have come close to losing a horse spooked by gunfire and is why I’m careful. I imagine you could train them- I hear the cowboy action shooters do- but being that it borders on dangerous if you lose your mount (life threatening to the animal and possibly to you if you’re miles in the backcountry), I’d play it safe and hold on when you shoot. If you’re leading an animal, I’d still use the reins tied together as shown in the video. If it’s a pack animal, tie a loop in the end of the lead rope that you can slip on your arm if you need to shoot. This has risks, though, as it’s a lot harder to stop an animal with a lead rope than with reins as the bit in their mouth hurts when they yank and gives you some leverage to stop them. With a only a lead rope, the horse usually wins the tug-of-war. No matter what, never tie a loop in a lead for daily use, you can get dragged to death.

    Mike, I can always count on you to follow along and offer some great insight and comparisons. Hope we do end up on the same mountain together, someday.

  6. Robbie,
    I look for your entries and always enjoy them. Thanks for taking the time to let the rest of us in on your hunts. I’ve never spent the first day mule deer hunting, but it’ll happen soon enough. It’s refreshing to watch your faith play out in the hunts as well. I know I’ve prayed many times for elk, ducks, whitetails, and turkeys over the years, both for myself and my kids. The ninjas will be in the woods with you soon!

  7. Thanks for your comments Matt. Let us know when you have your first mule deer hunt scheduled, either here in the comments or on the Rokslide Forums, and we’ll help you any way we can. I hope the hunt is as fulfilling to you as it is for me and the thousands who dedicate at least some of their fall to hunting mule deer.
    Faith to me extends into every part of my life, including hunting, as it seems for you, too. If God truly loves us as He says He does, then He cares about what is important to us. Some people have a hard time grasping that concept, but it’s true.

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