General UT Muzzleloader Deer

Browninglover1

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2015
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250
Location
Northern Utah
If you've been following along with @Travis Bertrand thread on Arrowhead muzzleloaders then you know just how awesome they are. Here's the story of my hunt with my muzzleloader that I built using Arrowhead components.

Pack in
Josh, Mikk and I all gave our backpacks a final adjustment and waved the truck goodbye as the sun began to creep behind the mountains. It was 7:03 PM as we hit the trail head and began our long climb towards camp. As darkness began to take hold, we arrived at our last known water source and each filled up enough water to last us a few days. The extra 20+ pounds of water in my pack was immediately noticed as the trail got steeper and rockier as we continued our climb. Around 9:30 we arrived at the location where we would break off the trail and began bushwhacking up the mountain. We each took our packs off and rested for a few minutes before the final hellacious climb to the top. The final climb would take us 2.5 hours of brush busting and dealing with loose dirt; to say we were exhausted when we arrived at camp at 12:30 AM would be an understatement. We ate a little bite of dinner and Mikk and I went to sleep in the Kifaru Sawtooth while Josh preferred a canopy of stars.
Trail.jpg

Opening Morning
The alarm went off around 6:15 AM and we all wiped the sleep from our eyes, got dressed, and headed a short way up the ridge to begin glassing. It didn’t take long before Josh had found some deer in his 15x Vortex Kaibabs. Mikk and I both found them in our 15x binos as well and watched two bucks start to push each other around. Josh broke out his Vortex Razor spotter and zeroed in on the group to get a better look at their antlers. It was still so dark it was hard to make out much detail, but it was apparent that one of the deer had a nice sized frame. Continued glassing turned up additional deer with at least 9 bucks within a few hundred yards of each other.

We discussed our options and decided that at least two of the deer appeared to be good enough to shoot and that we should make a move to get into shooting position. We had left our trekking poles in camp so I ran back to get them as well as to drop off some unneeded clothing layers.

Once I was back to Mikk and Josh we snuck up the ridge another couple hundred yards and glassed the deer again. The closer view combined with the better lighting confirmed the presence of a shooter buck and the final plan was hatched. We would work our way across the steep side hill and drop down into the bottom of the little basin the deer were in. We hoped to pop out of the timber on the basin floor and be able to find the deer a few hundred yards away as they worked their way to the heavy pines they would bed in for the day. About a half an hour later we were on the basin floor and had spotted one of the bucks feeding on the steep side hill in a small avalanche chute.

Final Setup
There was a small rock bench near our location that looked like it would allow for the perfect shooting platform so I grabbed my muzzleloader, ramrod, rear bag and my AGC bino pack and got setup on the rock shelf. I ranged the deer at over 450 yards and knew I needed to get an accurate wind reading to make the shot. I threw some wind indicator into the air and determined I had a 3mph wind coming from my 2 o’clock. I plugged the wind into the Kilo2400, ranged him again, and dialed in the correction on my turrets.
Muzzleloader.jpg
Meanwhile, Josh had setup his muzzleloader just a few feet away and got a camera running in the spotting scope. Mikk had taken a position behind us to watch the events unfold in his 15x binos and we were all ready for the magic to happen. I got down behind my musket and to my astonishment I could not find the deer in my scope. I asked the other two where he was at and they said he was still in the chute. I frantically pulled out my 8x Swaro EL’s and immediately spotted his butt just inside the tree line. The few feet separating me from the other two was preventing me from seeing the deer.

We all had a feeling he’d feed through the narrow timber patch and out the other side, so I made a slight adjustment to my positioning and just a few seconds later the deer appeared. I grabbed a new range, made the slight adjustment on the turret and watched in dismay as he never slowed down in the opening and walked into the next group of trees. A smaller buck behind him also skipped through the opening and then a third deer appeared. This deer also appeared to be a shooter and Mikk and Josh both confirmed it was worth shooting. I took a quick range to confirm the distance, settled in behind the weapon and yelled twice to get him to stop. Josh also let out a loud “yip” and the buck stopped perfectly broadside and looked at our location just mere feet from the safety of the trees. The cross hair of the MOAR reticle was steady in the vitals as I pressed the last few ounces of the Trigger Tech trigger.

KA-BOOM! 115 grains of BH209 was ignited and the 325 Grain XLD bullet launched out of the barrel at a brisk 2550 fps. Through a haze of smoke, I could see the deer hunch up and Josh confirmed a direct hit in the lungs. I watched as the deer slowly stepped into the trees and we never saw him exit. “That looked like a good shot right?” I asked.

Mikk and Josh both confirmed a perfect shot and Josh even captured it on his cell phone through the spotter. We replayed the video and watched the bullet impact right in the crease. Upon seeing the perfect shot placement my adrenaline started to surge and I got a little shaky. I had just killed my biggest deer to date and had done it with a perfect muzzleloader shot at 440 yards.

The Hard Work
We packed up our stuff and worked our way over to the deer. The incredibly steep terrain made the ¼ mile walk take longer than anticipated but soon we were standing in the chute where he had been. As I began to walk towards the trees, I saw his antlers sticking up perfectly above the rolling ridgeline. He hadn’t even made it 20 yards before piling up perfectly against a pine tree.
As He Lay.jpg

As we approached him we were all pleasantly surprised. While we knew he wasn’t a trophy deer, he had a better frame than we realized and quite a bit of mass. I sat down and just stared at him for quite a while as an immense sense of satisfaction overcame me from having finally harvested a mature mule deer.

We spent a few minutes getting some pictures that will help me relive the memory forever and then the hard work started. We broke him down and loaded half of the meat into my pack, half into Mikk’s pack, and Josh took the skinned-out head. We hauled him down the chute, across the basin and up across the steep sidehill back to camp. We then took a much-needed break and enjoyed some lunch.

2020 Mule Deer.jpg
That night and the following morning we glassed for more deer but didn’t find any bucks worth going after. With the day warming up we decided to break down camp and pack out. The steep terrain that required so many stops on the way up, was much easier to go down and 2 hours later we were back at the truck. Once back at the truck a huge sense of gratitude fell over me as I knew this hunt wouldn’t have been possible without the help of two great friends and I’ll forever be indebted to them for helping make one of my dreams come to fruition.

Here's the video of the shot if that interests you:
 
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