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Brady Miller's 2021 October solo backcountry mule deer gear list

Brady Miller solo October backcountry mule deer gear list

My 2020 mule deer I took on a solo October hunt. Photo credit: Brady Miller

It’s been a while since I’ve provided an exact downloadable Excel file of one of my gear lists. The gear list in this article is entirely based on what I'll be taking with me on a solo October mule deer hunt. Click the button below to download an Excel file of my exact gear list. Also, at the bottom of this article, there is also a giant table that also shows what gear I'm taking with me.

So without further ado, click the button below to download my 2021 October solo mule deer hunt gear list in an Excel spreadsheet. You can use this gear list and add your own gear to it and customize it for any sort of hunt you're going on.

Download the Excel gear list here

Note: if anyone prefers, I could also make this gear list available as a Google Sheet. That way if you don't have Excel you can still access it. Let me know if you'd like that in the comment section of the article.

That gear list is “exactly” what I’ll be taking this fall, it might seem like a lot of gear, but I made sure I put every single thing I’m going to carry. If I'm carrying it for this hunt... it will show up on that gear list. I put exactly in quotes because I’m already considering ways I can modify my gear list to better suit me on this solo hunt. My Excel gear spreadsheet breaks down every category of gear, then lists each item's name, breaks down the weight of each piece of gear in ounces/pounds and even shows the price per item. Plus, there's a bunch of graphics that auto-populate as you enter your gear.

If you have downloaded my previous versions of my gear list back in the day, this one is a little different. I’ve sort of reworked some things to make it cleaner to look at, plus added some descriptions to the tables. This makes this gear list more complete in my eyes as you can make sure you don’t leave anything at home when you make the long drive on an out-of-state hunt. 

Gear list graphics

Screenshot of sample of gear list intro

The above screenshot is the top portion of my gear list that showcases some of the summary tables and a graphic showing what percent of weight of each gear category.

One feature that I’ve kept is the graphics that populate as you add gear/weight to the tables. This is a great way to help you see what section/category of your gear weighs the most. This provides you with insights on possible areas you might want to change down the road. Keep in mind, the great thing about gear lists... anything can work. You don't need the best of the best gear and can work your way up to a dream gear list. Also, what works for one person might not work for another person. So these can be very personable.

The beauty of the gear list I’ve created… It can be mainly used for ideas on what works for me on a solo October mule deer hunt, but more importantly, I want this to be something that you can add all your own gear to it that will help you to be more prepared for an upcoming hunt. And just because I have my gear list set up for an October mule deer hunt, doesn’t mean you can’t modify it to make it work for a September elk hunt.

Gear is just one small part of a hunt. But I’d rather ensure my gear is dialed well ahead of time and a purpose is built around what gear I take. You don’t want gear to be a limiting factor on a hunt. I don’t want to be stuck on the mountain thinking or second-guessing if I can weather this storm and hunt with the gear I have. I want all my thoughts to be how am I going to loop around this cliff face and wait out the snowstorm to kill this buck.

Why build a “gear list”

What I love most about a gear list it’s the start to a plan toward success. I know that every piece of gear I’m taking on a hunt will get used. If you go on a hunt and notice that you never used a certain piece of gear, then write that down, and see if you really need to be carrying that item. Learning what to take comes with experience, so don’t think you need to cut everyone out of your backpack right away.

Preparing a gear list way ahead of time means you can see where your holes are in your gear. You can see what items you still need to purchase, what items might be worn out and need replacing, and what areas you possibly could be carrying too much gear.  Remember this will be your gear list, so if you carry it in your backpack, add it to the sheet so you can plan and track your gear.

As for me, if you look at my Excel spreadsheet, you’ll notice that I’m carrying 15 pounds of optics-related gear. That weight includes all tripod plates, carrying cases, tripods, and obviously optics. So maybe for some people, they could see some items in a certain category after checking out the weight that they might want to leave behind. And if you don't want to worry about weight, then don't sweat it. A gear list doesn't have to make you into an ounce counter, but it's there if trying to cut weight from your back is something that might interest you.

Even while putting this gear list together for a hunt that is three months away still, I was able to really think about if I actually want to take that piece of gear with me. Or more so, is there a better piece of gear that I already own that serves two purposes?

My gear list is and always will be a living and breathing document. If I don't trust an item, it will not make this list.

How to use the downloadable gear list

Example of clothing packed section of gear list

The above example is how each gear category looks on my Excel spreadsheet.

When entering your hunting gear into my gear list, I highly recommend you physically go through your gear items and visually inspect your gear. If you don’t have your gear organized, this will be a great time to get all your items located and in a spot where you can ensure it’s still in working order. Do you have holes that need repairing in your rain gear? Do your boots need some cleaning? Are you optics in need of a deep clean? Going through your gear and entering it into your own spreadsheet will allow you to check on the condition of your gear.

You can even use this gear list as a wish list of sorts. You could make one version that is your dream gear list, and see what it weighs, what it costs and what areas you could cut back on to add certain items that you feel you absolutely need.

Gear list weight summary section

You'll notice at the top of the gear list there is a summary table. I tried to take my gear list and figure out the best way to create categories. These categories can be modified to your liking. For me, these categories work great for me as it splits things up enough to groups where I can easily see where my heaviest items are and also what areas of my gear list I'm spending more money. You'll notice that I could probably combine some of those categories, but keeping them separate seemed to make sense for me.

Anything you add to each respectable table below in the Excel sheet, the summary table at the top will adjust and the pie chart will adjust.

The price per item section...

In the Excel spreadsheet, there are sections to add the price per item. Now… this has been a hot item since gear lists can get expensive.

I list the price per item column due to managing my personal hunting budget and what I'm willing to spend. I want to know what areas I could spend money or save more money on in order to shave weight if needed and I want to know what areas I’m spending too much money on. Yes, if you're starting from scratch, a gear list for a backcountry hunt can be very expensive, or relatively cheap. That is the beauty of backpacking. You can get by with any amount of gear, it's up to you as the hunter to figure out what works best for you. Backpack hunting is my favorite style of hunting... so my hunting budget goes toward this.

Expanding on gear-related data

The pie charts in the Excel gear sheet also provide a great visual to see what categories are your heaviest, which is helpful for cutting weight. Everything you enter in the spreadsheet will be automatically added to the summary tables and the pie charts. I highly suggest saving a backup copy just in case you make a mistake and erase some formulas. It's also a great idea to make multiple copies of this gear list; one for the early season, one for October hunts, and one for November hunts. Or maybe even a mule deer gear list and an elk gear list because they are totally different beasts in terms of gear.

You will also notice a section on my gear list under the "Function" column in each gear section. I use the letter "p" to know that I have that item ready to place in my backpack. That is sort of my checklist section. I've also kept the spreadsheet unlocked so you can edit the entire document. I'm very proud of how my gear list charts have evolved over the years. It seems each year I find something else to add to this Excel spreadsheet. I make one of these for every hunt I go on.

Currently, my full backpack weighs 53.77 lbs and my full pack at the trailhead (weapon and water added) weighs 72.77 lbs. That total is for a 6 day hunt where I’ll most likely need to head back to my truck to resupply. This is definitely not an "ultra-light" gear list. But it's everything I feel like I need to survive and be successful for a late-season mule deer hunt.

My food list

The food is the exact items I packed in on my 2020 Idaho mule deer hunt. What I like about writing down all the calorie information is it makes it very easy to see if the items you take are going to meet your nutritional needs. For example, looking at the food list I used last year, I can see that while that bagel, salami and cheese is pretty tasty and something I looked forward to each day... it really doesn't meet a great calorie per ounce range. That range I strive for is at 150 calories per ounce. There are some ways to get that higher and I covered those in my stoveless backcountry food list here. On that food list, I was able to get to 160.22 calories per ounce.

So with this information presented... I'm now going to pull that from my food and swap it for something better. I decided to leave some of my "flaws" in this gear list and call them out because as I've stated several times, gear lists are a living and breathing document and they are used as a planning tool. So I'm constantly looking at this list to see what I could do differently to make my trip more successful (and that doesn't always mean spending more money).

Items that I’m thinking about leaving at home

As of July 15 when this article was published, it's now been a few weeks since we recorded the gear list video, I’m already thinking about leaving behind some of the items. One piece of gear I'm already convincing myself to leave behind is one of my knives. After all, do I really need two knives? I can just take more replaceable blades. Also, do I really need to pack in my glassing chair on a grueling hunt when my glassing mat will work just fine? Leaving the chair at home instantly saves me 14 oz. Or what that means is I could take another half day’s worth of food with and stay on the mountain longer looking for deer.

In conclusion

What’s very interesting is looking at my gear lists over the years and seeing the trends in what works for me, and how flirting with weighing items pays off to some degree once I started carrying certain heavier objects. Since I now carry big optics and a heavy rifle, I need to cut weight in other areas to some degree. This system works very well for me, but if anyone has any suggestions on how to make this gear list better. I’m all ears.

It’s funny how there have been people who have made fun of my gear lists back in the day for it being so ultralight on an archery mule deer hunt… and now I have people tell me that the exact opposite; that I shouldn’t be carrying heavy optics and my rifle weighs too much. At the end of the day, just remember if it works for you, that’s all that matters. It's a strange reasoning, but for me it makes sense for why I carry a few things that are considered very heavy. I carry a heavy weapon and heavy optics because my weapon is everything to me and it is meant to do one thing and that is to take a one-shot kill on an animal. I have so much confidence in my setup which is all that matters. I also carry heavy optics because I'm a firm believer in long-distance glassing and you can't hunt what you can't see.

Once again, this is definitely not an "ultra-light" gear list. But it's what works for me on these October timeframe mule deer hunts. And like I've stated multiple times, this is just the beginning and since I've put together this gear list for this upcoming season so early, I'm already thinking of a bunch of ways I can make this gear list better and possibly more efficient for how I hunt.

If you have any questions at all, please let me know. I love talking gear and love talking mule deer hunting. 

Best of luck this season!


Watch the gear list video below where I go over everything I'm taking

 

Clothes/Gear Worn

Item Model Weight
(oz)
Belt SITKA Stealth Belt 2.40
Hat goHUNT Trail Expert - Black 3.10
Top (Wicking) SITKA Core Lightweight Hoody - Subalpine (XL) 7.70
Bottoms (Outer) SITKA Timberline Pant With Knee Pads - Lead (34T) 28.70
Underwear SITKA Core Silk Boxer (L) 2.80
Gloves SITKA Gunner WS Glove (XL) 4.40
Socks Darn Tough Merino Hunter Boot Full Cushion 2012 (L) 3.40
Liner Sock Old Liner Sock (not a cotton sock) 1.70
Footwear Salewa Raven 3 GTX (Size 12) 66.10
Insole Sheep Feet Full Length Custom Orthotic Insole 6.10
Gaiters PEAX Storm Castle Gaiter (L/XL) 11.30
Phone iPhone XS Max 8.50
Digiscope Setup Phone Skope iPhone XS Max Case 2.80
Watch Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar 3.00

Clothes Packed

Item Model Weight
(oz)
Insulation Top SITKA Kelvin Lite Down Jacket - Subalpine (XL) 18.60
Insulation Bottom SITKA Kelvin Lite Down 3/4 Pant - Subalpine (L) 13.60
Leg Layer Icebreaker 200g Merino Wool Leggings 5.80
Extra Insulation SITKA Kelvin Active Jacket - Subalpine (XL) 14.90
Mid Layer SITKA Heavyweight Hoody - Subalpine (XL) 15.40
Rain Jacket SITKA Dewpoint Jacket - Pyrite (LT) 12.10
Rain Pants SITKA Dewpoint Pant - Pyrite (LT) 11.10
Gloves SITKA Blizzard GTX Mitten - Open Country (XL) 8.40
Beanie goHUNT Waffle Knit Beanie - Grey 1.90

Backpack

Item Model Weight
(oz)
Pack Stone Glacier Sky Guide 7900 w/ XCurve frame 96.30
Pack Accessory Stone Glacier Accessory Pocket (R) 2.10
Pack Rain Cover Stone Glacier Pack Rain Cover 3.50
Weapon Holder Stone Glacier Quick Release Sling 1.40
Camera Holder Cotton Carrier Strapshot 3.70

Sleep System

Item Model Weight
(oz)
Shelter Seek Outside Lil' Bug Out And Three Piece Vestibule (w/ Guylines) 34.60
Compression Sack Sea To Summit Ultra Sil Compression Sack (XS) 2.00
Stakes 16 Total 6.70
Stove Seek Outside Titanium Stove (Size Large) 50.60
Trekking Poles Black Diamond Ergo Cork (For Tipi) 20.10
Sleeping Bag SITKA Kelvin Aerolite 30 Degree Sleeping Bag (Long) 47.60
Compression Sack Sea To Summit Ultra-Sil Compression Sack (S) 2.20
Sleeping Pad Thermarest NeoAir UberLite (L) 11.40
Pillow Big Agnes AXL Pillow 1.70
Ground Sheet Tyvek Ground Sheet 5.10

Optics

Item Model Weight
(oz)
Spotting Scope Eyepiece Swarovski BTX Eyepiece 49.60
Spotting Scope Objective Swarovski 115mm Modular Objective 78.20
Tripod Plate Sirui TY-70A Quick Release Plate 1.90
Digiscope Setup BTX Phone Skope Eyepiece Adapter 0.30
Binoculars Vortex Razor UHD 12x50 36.10
Binocular Accessory goHUNT Bino Bandit 0.40
Binocular Harness Marsupial Gear Enclosed Bino Harness (L) 15.10
Bino Adapter Vortex Pro Binocular Adapter w/Arca Swiss Plate 2.80
Rangefinder SIG SAUER KILO2400 ABS w/ Marsupial Gear Rangefinder Tether 8.10
Rangefinder Holder Marsupial Gear Rangefinder Pouch 2.20
Tripod Sirui T-004SK 35.40
Pan Head Sirui VA-5 Ultra-Compact Fluid Head 16.80

Weapon

Item Model Weight
(oz)
Rifle Browning X-Bolt Hell's Canyon Long Range .300 Win Mag With McMillan A-3 Stock 211.90
Brake Area 419 Sidewinder Muzzle Brake
Riflescope Vortex Razor HD AMG 6-24x50
Scope Accessory Short Action Precision SwitchView Throw Level
Cheek Piece Wiebad Gear Stock Pad
Two Round Holder Short Action Precision Two Round Ammo Holder
Ammo 300 Win Mag w/ 215 Berger Hybrids, Norma Brass, Federal Match 215 Primers, H1000 Powder
Bipod MDT Ckye Pod Standard Version
Picatinny Rail Mount Area 419 IBR Picatinny Rail 4.8" Long
Rear Support Rugged Ridge Outdoor Gear Rear Support System 4.37
Sling Quake Original Claw Rifle Sling 6.50
Rifle Cover goHUNT Gunslicker Rifle Protective Cover 4.83

Gear

Item Model Weight
(oz)
Wind Check Kestrel 5700 Elite Meter with Applied Ballistics LiNK 6.00
Glassing Pad Z Rest Cut Into Small Section 2.00
Ear Protection Orange Wrap Around Head Ear Protection 0.60
Wind Check Smoke in a Bottle 0.70
Ammo Holder Old Ammo Holder Kept In Top Lid Of Pack W/ 14 Rounds Of Ammo 14.10
Battery Pack goHUNT Dark Energy Poseidon 8.87
Food Hanging Z Packs Z Line Slick Cord 2.00
Saw Silky Saw F180 5.60
Solar Panel Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel 15.00
Wolf Locator Primos Hot Dog Randy Anderson Edition Predator Call 2.33

Safety Gear

Item Model Weight
(oz)
Satellite Messenger Garmin inReach Mini w/ Carabiner 3.90
Headlamp Petzl Reactik+ 3.97
Headlamp (Spare) Petzl Actik 2.80
Tooth Brush Z Packs Ultralight Travel Tooth Brush And Paste 0.29
First Aid Assorted First Aid Kit in aLOKSAK Bag 1.40
Fire Starter Pyro Putty Winter Blend 1.60
Toilet Paper Toilet Paper in Ziploc Bag 0.99
Bear Spray Counter Assault Bear Spray W/ Holster 11.50

Kill Kit

Item Model Weight
(oz)
Gear Bag Stone Glacier Camp Pocket 1.80
Knife Goat Knives Capra Hunter Ti 1.70
Replaceable Blades 60A Replaceable Blades (5) 0.50
Knife Goat Knives Nitro TUR 2.80
Knife Sharpener Work Sharp Pocket Knife Sharpener 1.60
Stuff Sack Mini ZPacks Cuben Fiber W/Rangefinder Battery & Rubber Bands 0.60
Hunting License License 0.20
Lighter Large Bic Lighter W/Lukotape 0.40
Lighter Small Bic Lighter (Backup) 0.40
Tape Small Roll Of Electrical Tape 0.80
Pills Electrolyte, Advil, Salt Pills 1.37
Game Bags Caribou Gear Carnivore III (Four Bags) 9.80

Optics Accessories Bag

Item Model Weight
(oz)
Storage Bag Stone Glacier Swing Out Pocket 1.00
Dust Blower Giottos Rocket-Air Dust Blower (S) 1.60
Lens Wipes Zeiss Lens Wipes 1.20
Lens Pen Vortex Optics Lens Cleaning Pen 0.50
Self Timer Remote Foto&Tech Remote For Sony 0.60
Lens Cloth Random Lens Cloth 0.40
Charge Cord iPhone Charge Cord 0.65
Charge Cord Cord For Headlamp & Sat Messenger 0.20

Water

Item Model Weight
(oz)
Water Platypus 3L Big Zip EVO Hydration Bladder 6.40
Bottle goHUNT Nalgene (Empty) 6.20
Water Purification Aquamira In UL Mini Dropper 1.11
Water Purification Sawyer Micro Squeeze Water Filter 3.00
Water Container MSR DromLite 6L 4.80

Cook Kit

Item Model Weight
(oz)
Cook Pot JetBoil SOL Ti Cup Only 3.80
Stove BRS-3000T 0.88
Stove Accessories Carbon Fiber Lid, Titanium Reflector, Heat Exchanger 0.51
Fuel Snow Peak GigaPower 110 g Fuel 7.20
Spork Sea to Summit Alpha Light Long Spork 0.40

Food

Item Model
Breakfast Greenbelly Meals Dark Chocolate Banana
Breakfast Probar Bolt
Lunch Probar Meal - Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
Lunch FBomb Nut Butter Macadamia w/ Sea Salt
Lunch Fritos
Lunch Everything Bagel, Salami, Colby Jack Cheese
Afternoon Snack Honey Stinger Waffle Caramel Flavored
Afternoon Snack FBomb Nut Butter Salted Chocolate Macadamia
Afternoon Snack FBomb Nut Butter Macadamia w/ Sea Salt
Dinner Peak Refuel Chicken Pesto Pasta
 

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