not just the rifle
If your 9 lb rifle isn't bothering you, you're not carrying it in your hands very far, or....just wait a few years. Heck, I can hump a rifle slung a long way, but put it in your hands and hunt...not so much.
Thing is, nobody still hunts much in the classic sense anyhow...me included. In my twenties, I'd hike to the highest, thickest spots on the SGL in my area, and not think much about it. Spend all day on top, on foot, and hike down at dark. Can't imagine hunting like that now, for a week or so at a clip.
'Round here, its the same deal...most guys walk no more than a 1/4 mile, some a whole lot less, to a ROW or shooting house, where they wait for deer to appear. And the advent of near everybody owning some type of ATV just makes it worse. The lease I'm in, most guys ride within 100 yds of all the established stands and shooting houses. Set ups like that, a big rifle and scope doesn't hinder.
Consider though that not everybody hunts that way. I don't cover ground like I used to, but I still pack a climbing stand, usually in and out, on all of my bow hunts, and not a few of my rifle hunts. The state WMA where I spend most of my hunt time, does not allow off road travel, though it does have a good two track net work. And my shots, for the most part, are all under 100 yds, for that I don't need big caliber, big scope, or wobble fighting weight that a heavy rifle offers.
In fact this year, I did not carry a rifle with a tube longer than 20". I found it lighter and easier to carry with a stand on my back, easy in and out of the Bronco, and if I was in a shoot house, easy out the window.
Lot depends on your age and condition. My Dad's deer rifles tended to get short and light as he aged, and I find mine do to. My knee and hip remind me I do not own an ATV, and I actually am beginning to ponder one. Biggest asset to get game in and out. Bamaboy and I have rolled my last two out together on my deer cart, and I was glad I had the help.