Thanks for the comments.
In response to questions about my gear choices: The bottom line is I went with what I had. I wish I had a lighter rifle, but I don’t (and they are expensive), so I brought my trusted Ruger #1. For the last ten years or so, when I have hunted big game, it has usually been with a long bow. I have not been very successful with it, but I have enjoyed the simplicity and weight savings it offers. With two shoulder injuries this year and limited time, bow hunting was out, so I went with my rifle, which was built when hard wood and steel ruled.
Pad: While the first photo shows me hiking in shirt-sleeves, it wasn’t long after the sun set that the temperatures plummeted well below freezing, making that pad the perfect place to spend the long, cold night. While I didn’t sleep in the snow, it was all around. I have not found anything that weighs as little and offers as much comfort for my large frame when the temperature drops as this pad. Perhaps a Neo Air/closed cell combination, but I don’t have one (yet).
Optics: The Leupold 10 x 28 compacts are all I carry. They aren’t ideal in all conditions, but I have found them good enough for most.
Pack – Heavy, yes, but asking any of my UL packs to carry more than 75 pounds of meat/gear, is unreasonable. This pack does it without complaint. In addition, it also has other advantages like the blaze orange “meat shelf” on the back and rifle holder, which are very handy. I found it to be the right tool for the job, weight penalty and all. I have been encouraged to learn that some of the hunting pack manufactures are incorporating principles from lightweight packs into their product lines for 2010.
Tent: The Oneshot is a great tent, and while I do own tarps, bivys, and Tarptents, the cold wind and potential for snow made this a pretty easy choice for me.
As for what gear would I change, not much. I have been at this a long time, and have things pretty well dialed in to what works for me. I could probably lighten the hunting components of my pack some (knives, saw, rope, etc.), but there is a point of diminishing returns there. I could have benefitted from having my Thermawrap pants and a LS insulated top at about 4:00 am, but neither was a show-stopper and it worked out fine. If I was going to be out longer, I would probably look into caching water in the area we planned to hunt. I packed almost a gallon of water, which was tolerable, but just barely.
Hope that helps!