Hunting Big Mule Deer - a Rokslide.com original film

robby denning

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@robby denning - I watched the video again today...still just as good, challenging terrain to hunt deer in. I have a couple questions: 1) How far was your horse camp from the core hunting area? 2) Out of the 17 days, how many hrs and/or days were spent in the “red zone” (in tight, still hunting where you thought that buck was living). 3) I find it fascinating and hard to believe a buck can avoid being seen in that amount of time being pursued by great hunters. Were you seeing new bucks consistently throughout the hunt or were you often seeing same bucks each day?

@Jordan Budd
Excellent job on the video! I hope you release the uncut scenes and bloopers video in the next few weeks!



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Hey bro’

1) camp was about a mile and 800-1000’ below the deer country, with a big ridge between camp and the deer country.

2) I was there more than 17 days, as I didn’t count arrival days, so all 17 were hunting days. Hunted in the “red zone” (or glassing it from other ridges) all of those days from before first light to anywhere between 1PM and 4 PM. There were a few days I hunted the evenings, too.

3) on the buck staying hidden, go to 4 minutes and look at all that timber. And that was only about 1/2 of it. I filmed that set of tracks near the end of the video in that timber, and there’s another one (that was even bigger) on my IG uploaded 9/11 that I tracked on 9/7, also in broken timber. Both very big tracks indicative of bucks pushing 300lbs, but I never saw those bucks. All the bucks I saw were fairly sleek and not likely leaving tracks like that unless they were just genetic freaks, like the 5’9” guy with a size 12 boot. And yes, I did see new bucks show up on each of the three hunts that I hadn’t seen before (And I saw ones that I’d seen before on each hunt.) They were there the whole time, just enough cover in that area to make them hard to see. All the drainages around us seemed to have more hunting pressure than where I was at, (outfitters on both sides of us) so I believe there was no safer place for him to be than where we were. I could be wrong, but out of the two other 220+ bucks I’ve killed in the high country, I had 14 days in the first one and only saw him once 30 seconds before I killed him 800 yards from where I’d seen him in the previous two summers. The second one took 16 days, and I saw him two other times in those 16 days, and killed him also roughly 800 yards from where I’d first seen him. Both areas had similar amounts of cover. Just think how many times you went back and looked for your buck this year and he wasn’t there. Then bam, you killed him. Same story.

My friend who chased a legit 40” this year documented with trail cameras that deer ranged up to two miles but was seen multiple times in an area much smaller than that and was finally killed in that area by another hunter (that’s how we know he was 40”). The area was choked with timber and brush.

I just don’t believe these really big bucks roam that far, before the migration/rut. I could be wrong about some of them, but I can’t do much about the ones that do cause I don’t know where they go.


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street

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Hey bro’

1) camp was about a mile and 800-1000’ below the deer country, with a big ridge between camp and the deer country.

2) I was there more than 17 days, as I didn’t count arrival days, so all 17 were hunting days. Hunted in the “red zone” (or glassing it from other ridges) all of those days from before first light to anywhere between 1PM and 4 PM. There were a few days I hunted the evenings, too.

3) on the buck staying hidden, go to 4 minutes and look at all that timber. And that was only about 1/2 of it. I filmed that set of tracks near the end of the video in that timber, and there’s another one (that was even bigger) on my IG uploaded 9/11 that I tracked on 9/7, also in broken timber. Both very big tracks indicative of bucks pushing 300lbs, but I never saw those bucks. All the bucks I saw were fairly sleek and not likely leaving tracks like that unless they were just genetic freaks, like the 5’9” guy with a size 12 boot. And yes, I did see new bucks show up on each of the three hunts that I hadn’t seen before (And I saw ones that I’d seen before on each hunt.) They were there the whole time, just enough cover in that area to make them hard to see. All the drainages around us seemed to have more hunting pressure than where I was at, (outfitters on both sides of us) so I believe there was no safer place for him to be than where we were. I could be wrong, but out of the two other 220+ bucks I’ve killed in the high country, I had 14 days in the first one and only saw him once 30 seconds before I killed him 800 yards from where I’d seen him in the previous two summers. The second one took 16 days, and I saw him two other times in those 16 days, and killed him also roughly 800 yards from where I’d first seen him. Both areas had similar amounts of cover. Just think how many times you went back and looked for your buck this year and he wasn’t there. Then bam, you killed him. Same story.

My friend who chased a legit 40” this year documented with trail cameras that deer ranged up to two miles but was seen multiple times in an area much smaller than that and was finally killed in that area by another hunter (that’s how we know he was 40”). The area was choked with timber and brush.

I just don’t believe these really big bucks roam that far, before the migration/rut. I could be wrong about some of them, but I can’t do much about the ones that do cause I don’t know where they go.


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Hi Robby, A few questions I was curious about. What were the conditions like when you still hunted up on that bedded buck? Were you side hilling? Was the wind in your favor? To his back? Seemed surprising that you almost snuck up behind him.
 

robby denning

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Hi Robby, A few questions I was curious about. What were the conditions like when you still hunted up on that bedded buck? Were you side hilling? Was the wind in your favor? To his back? Seemed surprising that you almost snuck up behind him.
There were two bucks (see the post #69 in TT above for the explanation on why it looked like there was one)). The bigger one that was bedded was actually facing me, but I was in the shadows and moving slow with the wind moving from him to me. It was fairly flat as I was on a little bench. Conditions were quiet with light wind. It had snowed and rained the previous few days, and I’d wait until later afternoon so the ground would soften up.


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VANDAL

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Hey bro’

1) camp was about a mile and 800-1000’ below the deer country, with a big ridge between camp and the deer country.

2) I was there more than 17 days, as I didn’t count arrival days, so all 17 were hunting days. Hunted in the “red zone” (or glassing it from other ridges) all of those days from before first light to anywhere between 1PM and 4 PM. There were a few days I hunted the evenings, too.

3) on the buck staying hidden, go to 4 minutes and look at all that timber. And that was only about 1/2 of it. I filmed that set of tracks near the end of the video in that timber, and there’s another one (that was even bigger) on my IG uploaded 9/11 that I tracked on 9/7, also in broken timber. Both very big tracks indicative of bucks pushing 300lbs, but I never saw those bucks. All the bucks I saw were fairly sleek and not likely leaving tracks like that unless they were just genetic freaks, like the 5’9” guy with a size 12 boot. And yes, I did see new bucks show up on each of the three hunts that I hadn’t seen before (And I saw ones that I’d seen before on each hunt.) They were there the whole time, just enough cover in that area to make them hard to see. All the drainages around us seemed to have more hunting pressure than where I was at, (outfitters on both sides of us) so I believe there was no safer place for him to be than where we were. I could be wrong, but out of the two other 220+ bucks I’ve killed in the high country, I had 14 days in the first one and only saw him once 30 seconds before I killed him 800 yards from where I’d seen him in the previous two summers. The second one took 16 days, and I saw him two other times in those 16 days, and killed him also roughly 800 yards from where I’d first seen him. Both areas had similar amounts of cover. Just think how many times you went back and looked for your buck this year and he wasn’t there. Then bam, you killed him. Same story.

My friend who chased a legit 40” this year documented with trail cameras that deer ranged up to two miles but was seen multiple times in an area much smaller than that and was finally killed in that area by another hunter (that’s how we know he was 40”). The area was choked with timber and brush.

I just don’t believe these really big bucks roam that far, before the migration/rut. I could be wrong about some of them, but I can’t do much about the ones that do cause I don’t know where they go.


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Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it!

Big bucks are smart. But big bucks that manage to survive in high pressured area’s are a different breed.




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JohnB

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Thanks for the great video. Robby where would be the best place to buy your book? I'd do Amazon but Jeff Bezos already has enough of my money.
 

robby denning

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Thanks for the great video. Robby where would be the best place to buy your book? I'd do Amazon but Jeff Bezos already has enough of my money.
Thanks man. I give Bezos too much money too. Books in the Rokslide store, see Ryan’s link above this post.
 

sagebuster

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The tactics are time-honored. The determination, the persistence, the obsession...all there. What separates RD from the pack of ordinary mule deer hunters, and especially the ones that call themselves big buck hunters, is his ability to set a goal and not settle for less. You could see him in the film swallowing deep as he backed off or passed on 'lesser bucks'. Not many hunters can do that. "There's only one sure-fire skill a guy can count on for a chance at a big buck: the ability to pass up the smaller bucks'. Page 52 in my dog-eared copy of "Hunting Big Mule Deer Bucks' by Robby Denning.

Scouting, still hunting, tracking, glassing, stalking...it's all here, as in the book. Good flick. Even a brief clip of Bigfoot washing in the rain and somebody with their zipper down facing into the wind didn't mar the film. A lot to pick up on in this one.

'I spend 35-60 days per year scouting and hunting mule deer. That is my 'secret' strategy if one exists...'. Page 102 in my dog-eared copy of 'Hunting Big Mule Deer' by Robby Denning.
 

Rob5589

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Great stuff. When a guy thinks of hunting the high country for big mule deer, that film is exactly what the mind conjures up. Looking forward to the next one.
 

mxgsfmdpx

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What great takeaways from just a short film! Cinematography/editing and "the story" was really well done and I'm super picky about that kind of stuff. Nice work!

My favorite line... “We know that the chance of that buck moving is gonna be at daylight until probably noon. After that he’s not gonna be up in glassable country, he’s just not gonna do it. There’s no way he would have made it to the age he’s at if he was living around in that country to get shot.”

That's honestly game changing advice for so many of todays spot and stalk mule deer hunters. Get in there and get after em! I love it!
 

idahohikker

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@robby denning I keep wondering about why you weren’t hunting evenings according to your comment in the video. I know deer regularly don’t feed as much during daylight in the evenings versus morning but why glass some nearby ridges or at least sit and ambush an avalanche chute?
 

robby denning

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What great takeaways from just a short film! Cinematography/editing and "the story" was really well done and I'm super picky about that kind of stuff. Nice work!

My favorite line... “We know that the chance of that buck moving is gonna be at daylight until probably noon. After that he’s not gonna be up in glassable country, he’s just not gonna do it. There’s no way he would have made it to the age he’s at if he was living around in that country to get shot.”

That's honestly game changing advice for so many of todays spot and stalk mule deer hunters. Get in there and get after em! I love it!
Yeah it’s been my experience that unless you’re in a draw unit with low number of tags, or some undiscovered back country with hardly any hunters, I don’t see many bucks of maturity getting up in the day to feed in the open


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robby denning

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@robby denning I keep wondering about why you weren’t hunting evenings according to your comment in the video. I know deer regularly don’t feed as much during daylight in the evenings versus morning but why glass some nearby ridges or at least sit and ambush an avalanche chute?
Because I’m tired after getting up at 3:30 in the morning for 17 days.

And after 30 years of hunting bucks in the early season, I find the evenings just aren’t very productive unless you already know where a buck is from earlier in the day.

When the sun is up for 13-14 hours a day, you can just wear your self ragged trying to be out chasing bucks all hours. I like to chase them at the most productive times of the day.

By the time I get into any good deer country by evening, I’m getting back to camp later and later. That means you end up sleeping in and missing the best chance you have. I used to think sunrise was early. Now I think it’s late.

I’ve killed a few big bucks mid day in the early season, but I was usually on them from daylight on.

About the only time I hunt all day is if it snows, or it’s the rut and the days are a lot shorter (and bucks are more active then too).

Never confuse me with the he-man hunter hunting daylight to dark day after day.

But to be honest, I meet very few guys that hunt daylight to dark for more than a day or two. Except on the Internet.



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idahohikker

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Because I’m tired after getting up at 3:30 in the morning for 17 days.

And after 30 years of hunting bucks in the early season, I find the evenings just aren’t very productive unless you already know where a buck is from earlier in the day.

When the sun is up for 13-14 hours a day, you can just wear your self ragged trying to be out chasing bucks all hours. I like to chase them at the most productive times of the day.

By the time I get into any good deer country by evening, I’m getting back to camp later and later. That means you end up sleeping in and missing the best chance you have. I used to think sunrise was early. Now I think it’s late.

I’ve killed a few big bucks mid day in the early season, but I was usually on them from daylight on.

About the only time I hunt all day is if it snows, or it’s the rut and the days are a lot shorter (and bucks are more active then too).

Never confuse me with the he-man hunter hunting daylight to dark day after day.

But to be honest, I meet very few guys that hunt daylight to dark for more than a day or two. Except on the Internet.



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Thanks for your thoughts. I hunt the early and late hard and mid day isn’t that productive. I’m interested in adjusting that to do more still hunting.

In some spots if you don’t have to get up so early to make it to the spot it might make things easier for evening hunts. I know you’ve hunted them in certain instances in the past from reading your hunting reports.

Evening ambush hunting seems like it could be $$ if you have a pretty good idea of where the deer are. Glassing I’ve found to be hit or miss and more miss.
 

robby denning

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Thanks for your thoughts. I hunt the early and late hard and mid day isn’t that productive. I’m interested in adjusting that to do more still hunting.

In some spots if you don’t have to get up so early to make it to the spot it might make things easier for evening hunts. I know you’ve hunted them in certain instances in the past from reading your hunting reports.

Evening ambush hunting seems like it could be $$ if you have a pretty good idea of where the deer are. Glassing I’ve found to be hit or miss and more miss.
you know, there's really no formulas because it all depends on a lot of things

If you're a backpack hunter "coyoting out" (Mike Eastman term), then you can hunt all day, but you're likely glassing from your tent door, too, and not moving around a bunch during the day either.

And I don't count walking down a trail to a new area as hunting (unless it's in premo country), so that deducts from my hunting hours too.

I've ambushed bucks in the evenings and at 830 in the morning.

Best advice is just think on your feet.

for this this hunt we videoed, I knew the evenings were a long shot for the most part, but on the days the ground was frozen in the mornings and I couldn't still hunt, I hunted evenings. Plus by October the days are about 1.5 hours shorter, so there is more time.

also, depends on if you're standards aren't high, then yes, you could kill "a" buck anytime of day. But I guess I just don't think that way. I want "the" buck and I usually know the high-odds areas he's gonna show up, so I'm there when I need to be.

Horses have to be fed, so that's another reason I don't hunt all day every day in the early season,
 

wyo2track

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Agree 100%. Nice video Robby. Those older bucks, once they get over 4 yrs old just become a tough critter to get a look at. I've found that with domestic sheep in the area those bigger deer will give that sheep herd a wide berth. Seen you striking up a short conversation with the herder in the video. We've done the same. One particular area the herder said he seen 'muy grande' on that ridge 2 miles away and when he moved his sheep over to that ridge 'muy grande' moved 2 miles back to where the sheep were. No doubt, it stirs them bucks up and even though those bucks live with those sheep every summer, once they get to a certain age they just don't tolerate them very well. Combine that with the hunting pressure, high pressure weather and them older bucks become nocturnal timber dwellers quick. What I've seen is that it takes a low pressure system to move in and stir them up just a little, but they'll only be out for so long even with bad weather. Two years ago I waited for the last 4 days of season to go into a drainage off the Greys. 8" of snow came....and fog...when it lifted that afternoon and evening deer popped out everywhere, but not the buck I was looking for. I walked down this 10,000 ft ridge looking off both sides for a mile when I finally found one of them big tracks you hope to find diving off into a timbered hell hole. I waited till dark glassing around that area and finally had to bail off. Next morning I got my butt back up there as soon as I could and that damn big track came up out of his hole and followed my tracks from the day before down the same ridge I had walked the day prior. Kick right to my jewels...lol. Temps in the low teens and snow on the ground for early October, but still those old bucks were totally nocturnal. Young bucks 1-3 years old were easy to find and very exposed, What fun!!

Because I’m tired after getting up at 3:30 in the morning for 17 days.

And after 30 years of hunting bucks in the early season, I find the evenings just aren’t very productive unless you already know where a buck is from earlier in the day.

When the sun is up for 13-14 hours a day, you can just wear your self ragged trying to be out chasing bucks all hours. I like to chase them at the most productive times of the day.

By the time I get into any good deer country by evening, I’m getting back to camp later and later. That means you end up sleeping in and missing the best chance you have. I used to think sunrise was early. Now I think it’s late.

I’ve killed a few big bucks mid day in the early season, but I was usually on them from daylight on.

About the only time I hunt all day is if it snows, or it’s the rut and the days are a lot shorter (and bucks are more active then too).

Never confuse me with the he-man hunter hunting daylight to dark day after day.

But to be honest, I meet very few guys that hunt daylight to dark for more than a day or two. Except on the Internet.



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robby denning

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Agree 100%. Nice video Robby. Those older bucks, once they get over 4 yrs old just become a tough critter to get a look at. I've found that with domestic sheep in the area those bigger deer will give that sheep herd a wide berth. Seen you striking up a short conversation with the herder in the video. We've done the same. One particular area the herder said he seen 'muy grande' on that ridge 2 miles away and when he moved his sheep over to that ridge 'muy grande' moved 2 miles back to where the sheep were. No doubt, it stirs them bucks up and even though those bucks live with those sheep every summer, once they get to a certain age they just don't tolerate them very well. Combine that with the hunting pressure, high pressure weather and them older bucks become nocturnal timber dwellers quick. What I've seen is that it takes a low pressure system to move in and stir them up just a little, but they'll only be out for so long even with bad weather. Two years ago I waited for the last 4 days of season to go into a drainage off the Greys. 8" of snow came....and fog...when it lifted that afternoon and evening deer popped out everywhere, but not the buck I was looking for. I walked down this 10,000 ft ridge looking off both sides for a mile when I finally found one of them big tracks you hope to find diving off into a timbered hell hole. I waited till dark glassing around that area and finally had to bail off. Next morning I got my butt back up there as soon as I could and that damn big track came up out of his hole and followed my tracks from the day before down the same ridge I had walked the day prior. Kick right to my jewels...lol. Temps in the low teens and snow on the ground for early October, but still those old bucks were totally nocturnal. Young bucks 1-3 years old were easy to find and very exposed, What fun!!
Hey man, I can tell you've "been there, done that".

I just hate it when I see those mountain maggots in "my" (ahahhaha) deer country. The only equalizer is I've had sheepherders give me some awesome tips, and talking to the habitat bios, sheep actually help mule deer in the long run. But man, I'd much rather see them in your area than mine ahahahahaha.

Hey, thanks for chiming in, I agree on all your points.
 
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