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When hunting the backcountry, you need great gear and a plan.  With only one day before the pack-in, I thought I’d post my gear list (main items) and my hunt plan:

(click the embedded links for more information)


Having two pair of boots for late season hunting is the gold standard.  Snow and subfreezing (even subzero) temperatures are the norm.  Two pair of boots in camp give you a better chance of having a dry pair every day.  Pac boots allow you to remove the liner to dry each night.  A good hiking boot gives you something to wear while your Pacs are drying, if the weather moderates, or if you have to backpack a heavy load.

I’ll be wearing Schee’s Hunter II Pac Boots (10-inch) and Lathrop & Sons Tech-Lite Hunter.


Your clothing system is life & death if you really think about it.  You can die in 50 degree weather with poor clothing but thrive in subzero with a good system. The choice is yours.  I’ll be wearing First Lite’s gear in a layering system I’ve refined the last few years:


For years I’ve used military surplus extreme cold-weather tents, spending hundreds of nights in them.  They’ve served me very well but like most products of previous generations, they are relatively heavy.  I’ll be taking Seek Outside’s 8-man Ultralight Tipi Tent and XL Titanium Wood Stove on this hunt.  The whole system comes in under 14 pounds.  This saves enough weight and bulk that I can hunt a week plus with only one pack horse and a saddle horse in the worst kind of weather.


Cooper Firearms Excalibur in 7mm Remington Magnum topped with 4.5-14×40 Leupold V-III.  See “Only Accurate Rifles…”


Berger Match Grade Classic Hunter, 168 grain 7mm. I’ve watched these bullets evolve over the years and finally gave them a try.  I’ve shot about 50 rounds through two rifles now and can attest they shoot flatter and more accurately than previous bullets I’ve tried.  All I need now is to put one in the ribcage of a big mule deer. 


A mule deer hunter’s optics will likely determine success or failure.  I’ll be using my Swarovski EL Range 8×42 binoculars and my tried & true Swarovski CTC 30×75 spotting scope.  I’ve used the ATS 25-50×80 all fall and love it, but my CTS is lighter and shorter so it will be going on this hunt where space and weight are at a premium.

See how all this gear and more performs by following this hunt.  As far as a hunt plan, I rarely if ever hunt anywhere I haven’t scouted or hunted before—one key to your success as a big deer hunter:


Finally, First Lite has offered up one of their ever popular Uncompahgre Puffy Jackets in Fusion Camo for one lucky Rok Blog subscriber who follows this hunt. There are three easy steps to enter:

1) If you’re not already a Rok Blog subscriber, click on “Subscribe to blog” top right of page under Fitness/Other

2) If you haven’t already, “Like” First Lite’s FB page here

3) Post in the comments section below on any day of this hunt (use first and last name or Rokslide forum screen name) . Not a Rokslide member? click here

I’ll draw from those lists within about a week of the last post of this hunt (only Ryan Avery and me know how long this hunt goes, so don’t wait too long to enter.)

Thanks and see you at the trailhead tomorrow.


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Next articleBackcountry Mule Deer Hunt: Packin’ in
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. Good Luck and thanks for sharing your trips. The First Lite Puffy is just one of the few items I have left to pick up for my FL layering system.

  2. Good luck! I really appreciate the time you put into taking us on your semi live hunts and giving us all the insight into your gear and tactics.

  3. Good luck guys, im currently packing for my girlfriends elk hunt. Would be awesome to be packing the puffy jacket. First lite gear is awesome

  4. I’d love to get my hands on one of these jackets. Waiting for my old one to wear out before taking the plunge, but winning one would be even better! Plus it would match that Llano well! Just got a Chama Hoody I’m loving!

  5. Good luck on your hunt. I just started hunting with the exact same Berger bullet that you are using out of my 7mm WSM. It worked flawlessly on a Northern California roosevelt elk hunt, as well as a Northern California wilderness blacktail hunt. Both one shot, instant drops!


  6. I love my puffy coat! Wear it all the time up here in MN. Really looking forward to having it in the Rockies next year. Good luck on hunt!!!

  7. Good luck on the hunt. Love the Fusion camo pattern want to dip a bow with the pattern when it becomes available.

  8. Another awesome gesture by rokslide and staff!! Good luck Robby, time to stock up on meat for the winter!!!

  9. Wow Robby, you are well equipped this year! 😉
    You always pass on Bucks that I would fill a wall with, so I can’t wait to see what you pull the trigger on.

  10. Does this count as a day of the hunt? I’m late to the game, Thanksgiving and all, but I’m excited to catch up. Your tent set up surprises me that it’s so light, I’m going to have to look it up now. An 8 man tent AND stove at only 14 lbs, that almost seems too good to be true.

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