Blisters and Backstraps

By Drew Howerton
Washington, 2010, DIY, Public Land

Drew Howerton - Blisters and BackstrapsNovember/December 2011 EBJ (Issue 68) - Sighing with relief, I rested my pack against a rock and sat down. I had just hauled 125 pounds almost a thousand vertical feet up to the pass. I had blisters on my heels the size of Texas and if I wouldn’t have had a set of horns lashed to my pack, I don’t know if I would’ve made it. As I looked back toward the basin that I had called home for the past six days, I couldn’t believe how lucky I had been. My mind drifted back to the hunt as I struggled to my feet and began the descent.

It all started with a 3,500 ft. climb to a mountain pass and then down the other side to camp. I wasted little time getting my pack on and setting off down the trail. Part way in, my heels were getting hot and I realized I had made a huge mistake. In a rush to hit the trail, I had forgotten to put on my wool socks and was hiking in just my liners. Disgusted with myself, I sat down to assess the damage – as expected, blisters on both heels. I put my wool socks on, but I knew the damage was done. By the time I reached camp, they were bleeding bad and that night, I cringed in pain every time my heels touched the inside of my sleeping bag.

Daylight brought spectacular views of the ridges and basin below. My heels had dried overnight, but torn open on way to my glassing point. Chapstick was all I had to treat them with. Not the cure by any means, but it was better than nothing. A cold front rolled in that evening and with it came two days’ worth of fog and snow - yep, snow. That’s one of my favorite things about the high country - snow is a very real possibility even in August. The fog however, now that was a different story. To say I was socked in is an understatement.

Opening day found me slipping through the timber well before sunrise in order to reach the basin as first light hit the treetops. Looping around the bowl, I glassed openings and searched for bucks moving out of their bedding areas. I found several does and fawns and one small buck, but no shooters. My feet were killing me, so I headed back to camp to give them a break.

That afternoon I decided to check out the side of the mountain directly behind camp. It was steep and held many openings in which the deer liked to feed. About a mile in, I had this feeling of going back to camp. I pushed on, but was overcome by this notion that I really needed to go back. Finally, I gave in and turned around.

Drew Howerton - Blisters and Backstraps

For a full account of Drew's adventure, go to page 24 in the November/December 2011 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.