Preparing for a mountain hunting excursion can be a daunting task; especially if you have never been on one yourself. There are many aspects of preparation that work into a successful hunting trip. Let’s have a look into what is needed in order to have an enjoyable and successful backcountry hunting adventure!
Where are You Going?
Do some careful research over the post hunting season winter months of where you would like to venture next. Get together with people that you hunt with, select an area, and begin prep. For myself, I enter into some areas that are limited entry draw, so I may have to wait until end of June that hunting year to find out which area I will ultimately end up in. Nevertheless, once you know where you are going, you can then begin to prep yourself mentally and physically for the trip. The time of year will also affect the types of gear you will need, physical condition to be in, and what weather elements you may encounter. I always say, ‘it’s better to be over prepared’, your life may end up depending on it.
This season I’ll be heading out for stone sheep and mountain goat in a remote area in Northern BC Canada. After some long hours and discussion, it was decided to head back to some old stomping grounds from long ago, to encounter some of the most demanding terrain on the planet in search of these animals. We will also be going a bit later in the year to hopefully increase our odds of finding the ram and billy of a lifetime.
This part is the most important aspect to me. If you’re not in shape to walk, hike, or crawl through the trip, your chances of success and enjoyment go down the drain. There are plenty of great programs or articles that talk about physical fitness for backcountry trips. Being a sports therapist myself, I utilize my background to build myself a program. I’ll lay out some tips in my next upcoming blog, but if you’re interested in a customized program, contact me through my website (pursuethehunt.com) and we can work something out for you! In general, work on your cardio capacity. You will be encountering inclines, declines, swamps, slippery shale, and uneven terrain. Avoiding injury is paramount to success and not cutting your trip short or having to be hauled out of there yourself. Lastly, go easy on your joints in the off season. Doing some intermittent hiking and running is okay, but it will ultimately pound on your joints. In order to save your joints, do some lower impact cardio as well like, swimming, elliptical trainer, and recumbent bike. This will allow you some extra physical conditioning without sacrificing extra wear and tear on your joints. All in all, physical conditioning, or lack thereof, will make or break your trip.
I’ve met a lot of people that talk a big game, but when it comes down to it, they also have a million excuses as to why they came home empty handed. And more often than not, it’s because they didn’t see any game. The mountains are a big place, putting in the scouting preparation can and will save you time and physical effort. Google Earth has become a great initial scouting tool to cover massive amounts of area from the comfort of your home. Talking to people that are willing to share their hun ting stories may also be able to shed some light on where and how to find the game you are looking for. If you’ve hunting the same game before, you may also dwell on past experience to locate a prime environment th at game may be hanging out. All of this knowledge will lead you to a hopefully tagging out and getting that animal of a lifetime!
The last time we were in the old hunting grounds, things like Google Earth had just come up, and technology wasn’t what it is today. Thanks to better maps, enhanced GPS, and programs like Google Earth, we are more prepared than ever heading in to this year’s trip!
Gear You Will Need
Being comfortable, dry, and warm are three key elements when considering gear that you will be bringing on your trip. Merino wool definitely has its place in the climate of the mountains. Merino wool is highly breathable and insulating. It also drys quickly when wet. The price is an easy sacrifice when you’re out in the middle of nowhere. Rain gear is also an absolute must. Keeping dry will keep you warm. I use my “shower test” when buying rain gear. If it leaks while I’m standing in the shower, then I’m returning it. Rain can roll in in a moments notice, so having it fully leak proof and easily accessible is important. I use the Kryptek Poseidon rain shells and they are breathable and fully leak proof. Finally, having a good sleeping bag, solid tent are important for much needed rest and good boots to avoid blisters and sore feet. Carrying a heavy pack, sweating, and hiking can be all worth it for a good night’s rest. Make sure your temperature rating is slightly lower than you may need if you are a cold sleeper. I am a cold sleeper and I typically use a -12 to -15 C bag for all my fall trips. Your boots should be fully water proof and and preferably 8″ high to provide adequate ankle support. And other mandatory gear I bring are good optics, large solid pack, hiking poles, extra water bottles or bladder, survival and first aid kits, extra socks and clothing, gloves, good skinning knives, and GPS spot.
Above all, check and re-check your gear and your list. Make sure you’re organized and gear packed accordingly for accessibility. You will be entering one of nature’s harshest environments. Be prepared.