Ask Eastmans' Q&A

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WILL PARKS
Guy, I admire your ability to go on 3-4 day trips into the high country. The only public land close to me is the high desert. How can I do these trips when we lack the water? I can’t just bring a filter and be ready to go. I can do thirty pounds of gear, but it seems like I have to carry thirty pounds of water too, in order to cook and everything. How do I get off the beaten path with slim to no water? Any input from you would be greatly appreciated.

Will,
Hunting in the high desert can be one of the most difficult backcountry hunts out there simply Ask Eastmansbecause of the lack of water. Pure and simple, humans need water to survive. If you are hunting where there is no water or a very limited supply of water, your only options are to either carry enough on your back to keep you going or to cache water in specific spots where you intend on stopping to camp. Some guys I know routinely pack water into their sheep hunting areas each fall before the hunt begins. Your body will need about a gallon of water per day in the backcountry. This will obviously vary depending on how active you are, the elevation, the temperature, what you eat, etc. For a five day hunt, you would need approximately five gallons of water, which would weigh in at darn near 42 lbs. (8.3 lb/gallon). Carrying 42 pounds of water in an already loaded pack would not leave any room for anything else. To answer your question, given the scenario you gave me, you are either going to have to cache water prior to the trip or find water in your hunting area, and maybe both. If you are hunting big game, they will need water, too. Once you find their water sources, your problem may be solved.
Guy Eastman

Brian Madden
I drew a limited archery elk tag in Utah this year and I don’t have a lot of extra time for scouting. I am looking for mapping suggestions to help get a game plan from home. I believe you had an article in one of your previous magazines but I can’t seem to find it. Any suggestions would be great.

Brian,
Congratulations on your elk tag. I’m jealous. My first suggestion would be to contact Monte at Off the Beaten Path Maps (monte@otbpmaps.com). He builds custom maps and could design one for you specifically tailored to your elk unit and show any and all layers you ask for, including all property ownerships, 3D relief, etc. This will save you a ton of time and you’ll get a map you can count on. Next, I’d also get USFS and BLM maps of the unit to crossreference potential areas and have the most current information on road/area closures and access. Finally, even though you may not have much time for scouting, I’d do everything I could to commit to at least one scouting trip. Having that advanced knowledge of the general lay and feel of the land will be invaluable to you once the hunt starts, rather than burning precious hunting days trying to feel your way around. It’ll also help to ground truth some potential areas you have penciled in on your map.

Also, Nate Simmons wrote an article on using maps for scouting, which just appeared in the last issue of Eastmans’ Bowhunting Journal (EBJ 54) called “X Marks the Spot.” I’d also give that article a look. Nate, like me, is a map junkie and knows all the tricks to making maps work for you. Best of luck on your elk hunt. Ryan Hatfield

Darren Torr
I have a gear question and could use a recommendation. We are DIY guys who’ve been going out West the past five or six years. Primarily, we’re hunting elk (limited success.) Typically, we’re packing in 4-5 miles and then hunting from our camp.

This year, we’re going to be going high. In analyzing our approach, I’m thinking we should do a little less walking and a little more glassing.

Right now I’ve got a great pair of 10x42 Swarovski ELs. I would appreciate your opinion on how critical a spotting scope is and what would you recommend. At this point, I can live with simply identifying a quality animal vs. determining if it’s a certifiable trophy.

Darren,
I use two different spotting scopes for my backcountry hunts. If I am trying to go ultra-light into some country I know well and won’t need to glass extraordinarily long distances, I take my small compact Nikon ED50 ($700 at www.bhphotovideo.com). It only weighs about 20 oz. and goes up to 30 power. If I’m headed into unfamiliar or huge country, I take my Swarovski STS 65mm ($1,810 at www.cabelas.com). This scope is top of the line with a capability of 60 power but weighs in at just over 45 oz. For elk, you could get away with the lighter, more compact Nikon in my opinion. Elk are big animals and glassing for them is like glassing for horses, making optics quality and definition not as critical as glassing for mule deer or antelope.
Guy Eastman

Bob Teller
What brand of gloves is Guy wearing? I’ve seen both a green and tan. Thanks, and keep up the great show.

Bob, The gloves I wear in early fall are made by Sitka Gear, www.sitkagear.com. They are called the Sitka “Shooter Glove”. They work very well for hunting in warmer conditions. They don’t have much insulating value but they do great for protecting your hands. Guy Eastman