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If you joined Rokslide last year, you may have followed my Colorado muzzleloader hunt on our Live Hunt Forum .  It was an emotional high/low ride and I still think about those bucks that got away.  As it usually is, though, it’s in the face of defeat that you learn your weaknesses and can come back stronger next time.  I know I need to be more patient and let those bucks get out of their beds rather than push them.

I hunted it on a cheap landowner tag last year and was hoping to go back this year on the same deal, so I only applied for a point in the public draw. This tag only goes for zero to one preference point, so I was sure I could find one for under $500.  When the landowner tags came out in early June, I couldn’t find one that I could afford.  I have a family and have to be very careful what I spend.  Colorado landowner tags can be priced wildly different than their actual value.  Long story short, I finally found one in early August I could afford along with a little help from my business partners at Rokslide, Aron Snyder and Ryan Avery (thanks guys, very generous).  On the last day of the 2012 hunt, I’d bedded the buck I’d missed earlier in the week.  One of our Rokslide members, Hardstalk, posted “Redemption!”  Although the buck gave me the pink slip, I thought Redemption would be a good name for this 2013 hunt.

Here’s a video from last year’s hunt.  At about 40 seconds, you’ll see the bucks I was hunting.

I’d expect to see bucks like this at some point on the hunt.  I know the area well.

So here I am- back in Western Colorado-  sitting in the pickup typing away.

I left Thursday night (after the Day 10 Hunt for Jalapeno (see Live Hunt: Idaho Archery Buck Hunt, I will, Lord-willin’ be back after him, too) and made a whirlwind trip down to my friend’s house in Crawford, Colorado for a quick visit and layover.   My friend is none other than Kirt Darner.  If you know him, you know he’s had some trouble of his own.  I’m not here to justify any of that, so keep your negative comments to yourself.  Kirt is paying his debt to society and I know it has been very painful for him.  However, he is my friend and always will be.  He’s been very good to me over the last 20 years.

If you don’t know him, you should.  As the old saying goes, “some guys forget more than most of us will ever know”.  That describes Kirt perfectly. Most of what I’ve learned about hunting big mule deer has come from him.  If you’ve learned anything from me, then you, too, learned it from him.  So be merciful if his name comes up- you never know when you might want a little mercy yourself.

After our visit, I hit the road the next morning.  I had camp set up by dark.  Colorado has had record rains and it shows.  The roads are hammered, the washes are full of thick mud, and more rain is coming.  That is hard on muzzleloaders.

I got up this morning at 5:00 am, exhausted as usual, and made my way into the same country as last year.  To say the least, it went pretty good for a rainy opening day.  Saw a shooter buck about an hour into the hunt.  Haven’t got a great look at him yet, but he looked 27-30″ wide.  He made the oakbrush before I could confirm much beyond that, but I’ll be back out in a few hours looking for him.

I’ll be shooting the Kahnke muzzleloader again this year and brought the Thompson Center 209×50 for a back up.  Review last year’s thread for more information on the guns here.

I’ll again be shooting Precision Rifle’s Ultimate One Conical.


It is a full conical (sabots not legal in Colorado) made of pure lead and has devastating effects on big game.  My gun likes the 450 grain version and will shoot groups of less than 2″ at 100 yards (peep sight) with them.  I did some more tuning on the load this year and got 120 grains of Triple 7 (only shot 90 last year), so they’re cooking right along.  If my sore shoulder is any indication, they are packing way more punch than last year.  The great thing was my accuracy stayed the same even with 30 more grains of powder.  That is why I shoot the Precision Rifle bullets- they are a great product.

I’m also reviewing the First Lite Kanab pant on this hunt.


Just got them out of the box last night and really like them.  They are a Merino/Rip-stop combination and are plenty quiet for close-in hunting with a muzzleloader.  I’ll be combining them with First Lite’s Allegheny full length bottom or Red Desert Boxer depending on the weather.

Now that the weather has cooled, I’ll also be wearing my Uncompahgre Puffy Jacket.  It’s my favorite piece of clothing for sure.


So here goes, another Colorado muzzleloader hunt.  Subscribe to the Rok Blog at the top under Fitness/Other and also “Subscribe to this entry” just under the title of this blog post.  That way, you’ll receive any updates I post or see comments other members are posting.  Hunting early season mule deer can be boring at times, but you never know when this Live Hunt will come alive, so subscribe!



9/15 b2ap3_thumbnail_GetAttachment.jpgI’ve seen six bucks this morn scattered in the oak.  I think I see the good buck from yesterday.  Looks about 27″ and 180 gross.  Tempting, but it’s only second day.  Just watching him bed now.

2:20pm  Let that buck go and scouted some access to another bucky spot.  Taking a nap.  Exhausted.

Recap of Day 2.

Today was pretty much boring if you’re new to big deer hunting but looking back over the last 20+ years, it was a pretty typical day.  Get in the deer country while trying not to spook ’em, find a place you can see the most amount of country, then try to stay warm while you hope to pick out a buck.  However, it’s these boring days that I know can add up to the moment when I see the “one”.

Turned out that the buck I’d seen today wasn’t the “one”, at least this early in the hunt.  I made note of his location and the best way I can think to hunt him, then headed to some new country.  Big deer hunting is all about logistics, so I spent a few hour figuring out how to best hunt some country a friend saw some good bucks in about a month ago.  I think I got it, just have to see if those bucks are still around.  It’ll take a day or two or three…

I’m extremely tired from hunting pretty much the last 13 out of the last 17 days.  I took a nap much like I did when I was three: went to bed grouchy, then woke up and fell out of bed- no kidding- and my hair looks like a beehive.  Felt better but stayed in camp and listened to the rain hit the tent and the wash turn into a torrent.   Tomorrow might be the day, as we all say.

If you’re not into big buck hunting, then don’t bother with this video.  If you’d like to kill a big buck on purpose some day, then take 10 minutes to watch it.  It took me pretty much 20 years to produce.


9/16– 7:30am I see a few nice bucks this morning.  Very foggy.  Hard to get a good look.

8:35am Low clouds and fog.  Bucks bedded but never got a really good look.  Two of the six looked pretty good.

12:00 Back at the pickup.  I scouted out a way to get to those bucks.  Such thick cover, looks like I’ll have to wait until dark for them to get up and head for feed.  Way too thick to see where they bedded exactly.  Might have it nailed down to a 100 yard circle.  Have lunch, take a snooze, then head back out.  I updated day 2 above with some video/text.

3:30 PM Video recap of this morning.  Just heading out for evening hunt.

5pm b2ap3_thumbnail_GetAttachment-1.jpg Just settled in under a big Cedar.  Waiting for them to get up.  I’m ready for action.

6pm  Sneaking in here I cut several good tracks-old and new.  These bucks have been here for awhile.

 7:45pm  Bucks came out at just after sunset.  130 yards.  Ryan Avery will laugh, but too far for a good shot in the fading light..  Two of the bucks looked great.  Back in here tomorrow.


9/17 7am  Drifting back in at first lite.  “like smoke”  Walt Prothero in his book “Mule Deer Quest”.

12pm  Only saw one 4-point but the bucks are still in here as I can see fresh tracks since I left last night. Rest up a few hours4pm

4pm  Headed out for the evening.  Same plan as last night.  Sit and let them move.

6pm  Little windstorm blowing through.  Haven’t heard or seen any deer.  Can only see about 100 yards.  Thick.

6:15pm  I see deer moving.

6:50pm Deer ahead.  I have to move some

6:58pm  Boom!

7:07pm  120 yards.  Couldn’t tell if I hit.

7:15pm  Got blood.

7:50pm  Tracked him and got another shot.  Seems hit hard but it’s too dark to risk pushing him.  Good buck!

9om Hiked out under a full moon.  Gonna be a short night.  Load some speed loads, make some lunch.  Back out before first light.  I marked his last track.  Only a little blood, but seems hit hard.  AAArrrgggg!


9/18 715am  I’m just a few hundred yards above where I left his track.  Some rain overnight.  Moving slow in case he’s still up. Thick cover.

7:50am  Not seen him or any deer.  Some other deer movement here overnight by the tracks.  Hope to be on his track soon but I don’t want to rush in if he’s still up.  Prefer short track job over long.

9:30am Here is a picture of his track.  rain blurred some, but under the canopy they are pretty clear.b2ap3_thumbnail_GetAttachment-2.jpg

Still  picking up light blood. b2ap3_thumbnail_0917130834.jpgb2ap3_thumbnail_GetAttachment-3.jpg

10:20 am  sorting through other tracks. Not much blood.  Hasn’t bedded again.

10:32 am  Got him!  Good buck. Recap later.  Thanks Jodi and Praise the LORD.  pix later


Recap, Got him packed out today.  Here’s how it all went down, starting with last night after I got back to camp.  More pics and video to come.


9/19 Recap


Here he is Roksliders.  Got him quartered up, and packed out last night on the Nimrod Frame Pack.  Only about a mile to the truck, so not too bad. Made two trips.


I hanged him in the shade of the oaks overnight.  It cooled down nicely.  I haven’t found any spoiled meat.  The backstrap, garlic, and southwestern corn/pepper mix for dinner was like eating at a 5-star -except for the old, green army tent.

I caped him at camp (got stung by a hornet, hand looks like a softball) and everything on ice in a makeshift cooler made out of a new garbage can, carpet, moving blanket, rope, and a bungee (redneck-style cooler.)


For you number guys, I filled out a score sheet on Boone & Crockett’s website (totally convenient and no math errors) and got 191 7/8 Gross.  He has 5 3/8″ of deduct, so unofficial net of 186 4/8.  He’s a 5×6 with a 27″ spread.  His H measurements (nearly my favorite B&C number) totaled 35 7/8″.

The first shot hit him right in the pocket behind his front left leg, but due to the angle, quartered back through the ponch and exited at the last rib.  The Precision Rifle Ultimate One Conical (full-lead construction) did it’s job with what I gave it to work with Buck went about 300 yards total.

All my other gear performed great.  I love the new First Lite Kanab Pant.  Temps ranged from 35-75 degrees and only had to switch between the Allegheny full length bottom or Red Desert Boxer to stay comfortable.  As much as I like them, I still have to say my First Lite  Uncompahgre Puffy Jacket is my favorite piece of gear.  Light, tough, and I can even wear it to town as it’s just a good looking coat all around.  I think a few of the Colorado granola people even took a second look, not sure if I was a hunter or a greenie 🙂

Thanks for following this Live Hunt.  God bless you and Rokslide.

Here’s a wrap-up video of yesterday.

It’s not too late to subscribe to the Rok Blog so you don’t miss these hunts (see the link under Fitness/Other at top of this page.)  Jalapeno, I’m ready for round three.

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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. Posting for Robby tonight: “Didn’t see that buck tonight but figured out (kinda) how to get to him if I spot him in the morning. He’s just below camp” Robby

  2. These hunts are almost like a call from an ex. You want to join in.. But you know what it could lead too!! 🙂 if I remember right this same hunt last year had you on the verge of throwing your muzzleloader in the campfire. Hope you brought your gunsling this year and stay dry. Good luck!

  3. I love this blog! Hopefully this deployment ends quick and I can chase some this year too. I wake up every morning and check out the action for the day as I am about a day ahead of you. Keep up the awesome work, looking forward to seeing you with one on the ground soon!

  4. Great thread Robby! I’ll be watching closely, I’m really enjoying the info and knowledge you are sharing.

    Those bucks are in trouble!

  5. My email has been down for the last few days so I haven’t gotten any blog updates! Just read/watched the entire recap of this hunt and I hope that there’s good things at the end of that blood trail for you Robby! I swear I get as much enjoyment out of seeing you hunt/notch a tag as I do watching the best hunting shows out there, more so in fact. Good luck and don’t keep us waiting all night! 🙂

  6. You’re being smart backing out. My bet is you will find him quickly in the morning. If he’s hit very hard at all he’ll lay down quick and expire overnight. I hope you can get a little sleep tonight.

  7. can’t wait for the pics and story in the morning. Don’t worry robby, I will sleep a couple extra hours for you tonight 😉 only because i know how much you are going to get. I bet that action has already been through your head a thousand times and it’s only been a couple hours! haha. Just trying to lighten the mood for ya!

  8. Congrats on drawing some blood! I hope for a short recovery tomorrow morning. Your hunts help get me through my long days at school!

  9. Im experiencing the skipped heart beats with ya this morning! Every brown pile gets you excited, nose straight up in the air hoping for a scent of death, Best of luck to ya Robby!!

  10. Congratulations ! How far did he travel ? From your comment about sorting through tracks to you finding him wasn’t long so I’m betting less than 100 yards. Looks good !

  11. Robby, Good work !!! Don’t take too many days off though we need you to get back to Idaho so we can watch you chase jalepeno again. Thanks for capturing your hunt.

  12. Ver very cool!! Good solid buck!! Jalepeno better be hiding. Third time is a charm. Especially when your on a roll!! Good luck brotha!

  13. I got Jalapeno on my mind. Check that blog entry as I’m back in Idaho and ready for tomorrow morning to hunt Jalapeno. It will just be a one day hunt as I gotta buck in the back of the truck and the ice is melting. I’ll see if Jalapeno is out and huntable. If so, it’s game on for him. If not, I’ll have to get back before the archery season closes 9/30

  14. Outstanding Buck Robby!
    I wish you the best in arrowing Jalapeno. I’m also heading up to see if I can close the deal on a 160-170 class 4 point. Your Blogs got me fired up.

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