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After a long drive yesterday, I made camp just after dark.  I’d been up since 4:00 am for the Jalepeno Day 11 hunt, so I just crawled in the back of the truck, rolled out a matress and slept under the moon & stars. I woke to clear skies and 40 degrees.  I made cowboy coffee on the tailgate and jumped in the cab to warm up.

If you just got here, you can see the results of this hunt the last two years at 2012 Live Hunt and by clicking on this pic from 2013’s Live Hunt:


Camp is in on an oakbrush knob where I can access the three or four areas I’ve seen good bucks within an hour each day (last year, I saw a 180 buck 500 yards below camp!)  This is not a backcountry hunt.  I’ve learned you have to hunt big deer where you find them whether that’s an 11,000 foot peak nine miles in, or desert canyon a thousand yards from the road.  Big bucks know where they can survive.  The bucks here inhabit pinyon-pine, oakbrush, and sage around below 9,000 feet.  

I’ll have a good road camp and the ability to spike out if needed. You see the banners up top, so let me cover quickly what I’m using from each sponsor:

Knight Muzzleloader : New this year, a 45 caliber Knight Mountaineer.  You can see the set-up & tuning of that gun at Knight 45 Cal. Muzzleloader and Shoot Him with My Ol’ .45.  I’m an accuracy freak and Knight offers a 200-yard accuracy guarantee!  How many centerfire rifles offer that?  See those links for the great accuracy I’m getting (now that doesn’t mean I can hit a deer, but the rifle can!)

Seek Outside:  This is a big one!  For those of you that have followed my hunts, you know my backcountry and road camp tent is a 60-year old Army tipi tent.  It weighs thirty pounds, smells like moldy canvas, and has a thousand stories to tell.  I’ve used this style of tent for nearly 25 years for two reasons: 1) It performs 2) It fit my budget.  I’ve longed for something lighter and more modern and thanks to Angie Timm at Seek Outside, my dream is a reality. I’ll be using their 8-man tipi tent with wood burning stove (more on that in later posts).  

Seek Outside has been a Rokslide sponsor and I’m very excited to be using their gear as I’ve heard a lot of good things about them.

Precision Rifle Muzzleloader Bullets: Ran by Cecil Epp, Precision Rifle offers some of the best bullets and technical service out there.  I’ve been shooting their bullets since 2001.  Colorado requires a full-bore conical (no sabots) and Precision Rifle has led the way in offering Colorado (and Idaho/Washington/Oregon) legal muzzleloader bullets that perform ballistically and terminally. My bullet is a 45 caliber 360 grain Ultimate 1 Conical. This is a full-lead bullet that delivers great accuracy (if you do your part) and devastating terminal performance (there is a reason the conservative states like Idaho require lead bullets- they bust ’em up!).

Swarovski:  I’ll again be using my EL 8×42 Range binoculars and the big sexy ATS 80 HD 25×50.  I can’t say enough about the quality of Swarovski Optics and is why I’ve owned them in on form or another for over a decade.  I’m also using their CT Carbon Tripod & Head.  This is a big tripod, not designed for backcountry use, but works well on hunts like this when the big glass comes out.

Vortex: I’m still packing the 15×56 Vulture HD binos.  I used these on the Jalepeno hunt and am continually impressed at their brightness in low light. Remember, you can win these by visiting Win the Vortex 15×56 Binocular.  15X binoculars have their place when you’re glassing big country for long periods of time, like I often do on this hunt.

So, there you go.  Tomorrow is opening day.  Make sure you’re subcribed (top right at “Subscribe to blog”) so you don’t miss a thing.  

Praise the Lord and pass the ammo!

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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. Glad to see you made it and nice to know you are setup and ready for the hunt. Hope all goes as planned and I will continue to follow along… I keep forgetting to give a Gordy a heads up – but will get that done tomorrow for sure…

  2. Can’t wait to learn some more tips from Robby the “Muley Master”, hope you turn up another Jalapeño type buck!!!

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