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Joshaaron91685
12-11-2012, 09:04 PM
3 of my buddies and I are planning a hunt for 2015 in either Montana or Wyoming. This will be our first hunt like this AND we are in FL so we have alot or research and planning ahead as well as all the specialized gear to collect. This is my first post of many I am sure. I've got a subsciption to Eastmans for christmas and a DIY public land muley hunting book.


First let me get this out of the way, one individual in our group thinks we need to pack all kinds of pistols and/or rifles like 45/70 guide gun for grizzly protection. I've convinced myself(right or wrong) that its nothing to worry about. I mean lets be aware but I dont see a need for all that extra firepower. What do you backcountry regulars say?

Now, is it just me or is Montanas fish and game website about like trying to decipher code? Would i be better to ask questions here or contant montana and wyomings fish and game departments ? Thanks!

NDHunter
12-12-2012, 12:17 AM
What type of weapon? What type of terrain? Will you be equipped and able to pack in a few miles? Lots of questions.

MT takes a while to learn as far as regs go. Basically, you get a combo tag. Then you have to look at all the different units and see if it has a general season or limited quota season. Then look at the dates that the season is open.

As far as grizzlies go, if you hunt in northwest Wyoming or southwest Montana, there will be grizzlies. Bugle magazine just had an EXCELLENT article about defending against a grizzly. Basically, looking back at past grizzly encounters, it said that bear spray is the most effective thing to have. If you have a gun, you probably have to hit it on the brain to stop it if it was charging. That would be a helluva touch shot, even at close range.

Joshaaron91685
12-12-2012, 03:21 AM
What type of weapon? Rifle What type of terrain? I guess backcountry isnt a terrain lol Will you be equipped and able to pack in a few miles? Definitely plan to, giving ourselves plenty of time to get the right gear and physically preped Lots of questions.

MT takes a while to learn as far as regs go. Basically, you get a combo tag. Then you have to look at all the different units and see if it has a general season or limited quota season. Then look at the dates that the season is open.

As far as grizzlies go, if you hunt in northwest Wyoming or southwest Montana, there will be grizzlies. Bugle magazine just had an EXCELLENT article about defending against a grizzly. Basically, looking back at past grizzly encounters, it said that bear spray is the most effective thing to have. If you have a gun, you probably have to hit it on the brain to stop it if it was charging. That would be a helluva touch shot, even at close range.

Honestly man I dont think we could handle high country due to the steep terrain and the altitude. We just wouldnt have time to acclimate correctly. Our goal is to spend 9-10 days in the backcountry chasing muledeer. We are willing to put in the hard work to get past most the other hunters. Just trying to fulfill the eastern boys dream of chasing western game under your amazing beautiful skies and landscape. We want the whole experience, hiking miles into the woods with heavy packs, camping, freezedried food ( I know, silly but every single little detail just excites the crap out of me), getting miles from camp every morning before light and getting back in the dark, hours behind a spotting scope...We dont want to hunt over Ag, we have that here. I want to get up on a hill/mountainsidewhatever you guys call them and look at surrounding slopes/valleys/drains for bucks to make a move on.

I've read over and over the end of Nov is the best time due to the rut but I have a huge concern and that is the amount of snowfall. I'd hate to plan 3 years and drive 2500miles just to find snow to deep to get into the woods or worse get back in there and get snowed in. How bad are the first 2 weeks of November generally? I know every year is different. Has the snow kept you guys out of your backcountry spots during this time period in the past 10 yrs? On top of all that, we will only have 2 points so where ever we finally decide on has to be a dang good chance of drawing on 2 points.

Ridgerunner
12-12-2012, 09:21 AM
I would go to Montana, hunt first part of November so you get a little rutting action.

Bitterroot Bulls
12-12-2012, 10:47 AM
Sounds like some big plans for a great adventure!

Where is your elevation maximum? There are great backcountry areas on the West side of the state in general areas, but most of them are going to be 5000 feet plus over sea level. Some of the best Western areas are 8000 to 10000 feet. Grizzly bears are also mostly in high-elevation areas. Bear spray and a clean camp following USFS food storage guidelines are good bets in griz country.

There is some backcountry in the Missouri River Breaks and other areas of Eastern MT, and they seem like they may fit your wants pretty well.

Hunting the rut is great, but there are some areas that close early. There is always a chance of snow, and it can be a challenge, but also can really improve the hunting. In Eastern MT wet and snowy weather can make driving the gumbo roads impossible.

Your first trip may be a real learning experience, but if your trophy expectations are reasonable, there should be some success!

NDHunter
12-12-2012, 11:16 AM
If you want a true backcountry type of hunt, I'd say go in September either in Montana on the general tag or in Wyoming and a region h or g tag. If you go in November, I think it would be too cold to pack in anywhere and you'd freeze your ass off. Not to say you couldn't, but it could very well be 0 degrees at night, and that is in the lower country. You could very well be dealing with a lot of snow in the higher country too. If you go in September though, you will probably have to hunt high and the elevation could be your issue. Well that and grizzlies too. Honestly though I think if you gave yourself a little time to acclimate and didn't push extremely hard right away, you would be OK.

As far as points go, if you go to Montana, I think you would be fine with just a general tag. They don't have a whole lot of limited quota units. Bitterroot would be a better source in that area though. For Wyoming, with 2 points you could draw region H.

Hope that helps!

Joshaaron91685
12-12-2012, 12:39 PM
Sounds like some big plans for a great adventure!

Where is your elevation maximum?I've heard altitude sickness kicks in around 8000' but I'm sure it could be very different depending on the individual. I'll go as high as I can. No way of knowing what that will be until I get there, the highest spot here is the top of a tall pinetree lol. There are great backcountry areas on the West side of the state in general areas, but most of them are going to be 5000 feet plus over sea level. I'm really hoping we can get to at least 8000' without issue. We are going to try to get on Diamox beforehand also, so hopefully that will help. Some of the best Western areas are 8000 to 10000 feet. Grizzly bears are also mostly in high-elevation areas. Bear spray and a clean camp following USFS food storage guidelines are good bets in griz country.

There is some backcountry in the Missouri River Breaks and other areas of Eastern MT, and they seem like they may fit your wants pretty well.

Hunting the rut is great, but there are some areas that close early. There is always a chance of snow, and it can be a challenge, but also can really improve the hunting.We would prefer some snow since this is also foreign to us, just not so much that we cant get in or out. In Eastern MT wet and snowy weather can make driving the gumbo roads impossible.

Your first trip may be a real learning experience, but if your trophy expectations are reasonable, there should be some success!I'm really hoping through hard work and smart patient hunting we can fill 4 tags in 9 days or less.

Thats it! I wont say the deer dont matter, but I'm going for a great adventure. When I first started talking to one of my buddies about going after some mule deer he was thinking outfitter/motel room comfy cozy lol I had to straighten that out real quick. I said look man this isnt just going to be a hunting trip, its an adventure. 9-10 days in the backcountry, miles on our boots with loads on our backs. I said its not a vacation, dont expect it to be. When we get home you will be exhausted.

I'm not even sure what reasonable expectations are. All the magazines are full of 36" wide bucks which I'd love to see but dont expect. I'd like to think a 24" wide 4x4 is reasonable but maybe it isnt at all. I dont mind passing on small bucks as long as I know there are good ones there if I'm willing to work and wait.

Joshaaron91685
12-12-2012, 12:48 PM
If you want a true backcountry type of hunt, I'd say go in September either in Montana on the general tag or in Wyoming and a region h or g tag. If you go in November, I think it would be too cold to pack in anywhere and you'd freeze your ass off. Part of the reason we are planning for 2015 is to give time to get all the right premium gear. merino underlayers, sitka type gear. I know our bulky stand hunting coldweather gear wont cut it. Layers of clothes, good sleeping bags... I want to feel the cold man lol Not to say you couldn't, but it could very well be 0 degrees at night, and that is in the lower country. You could very well be dealing with a lot of snow in the higher country too. If you go in September though, you will probably have to hunt high and the elevation could be your issue. Well that and grizzlies too. Honestly though I think if you gave yourself a little time to acclimate and didn't push extremely hard right away, you would be OK.

As far as points go, if you go to Montana, I think you would be fine with just a general tag. Is this still a drawing or an OTC thing? I couldnt find any draw odds on the backcountry units which led me to believe the are OTC. Is this the case? They don't have a whole lot of limited quota units. Bitterroot would be a better source in that area though. For Wyoming, with 2 points you could draw region H.

Hope that helps!

A local guy who has hunted montana for muledeer suggested the block management areas but I'm not sure if any of those areas would allow us to hike in miles and camp 9 10 days without hunting the same small area over and over and over and like I said we arent looking to hunt over Ag. I'd rather shoot a smaller deer in the backcountry than a monster in an alfalfa field.

Bitterroot Bulls
12-12-2012, 01:03 PM
There are some HUGE block management areas (Think over 10,000 acres) that ONLY allow walk-in traffic. There are also some great bucks taken in those areas.

Don't get hung up on spread. Look for a deer with good forks.

A deep backcountry hunt is a real challenge, mentally. It is easy to get tired, sore, and depressed. Many 10 day backpack hunts turn into 4 day hunts and an early, unsuccessful drive home. Hiking at even 4k or 5k is a real challenge for the sea-level crowd, even if they are in great shape. With medication, altitude sickness shouldn't be a big concern at 8k and down, but still won't let your legs work any better.

Just be sure of what you want, and have a back-up plan. Have fun and good luck!

jay
12-12-2012, 01:15 PM
If this is your first time doing this kind of hunt, you may want to be open to a smaller buck. There are soo many variables in this hunt like what season, temps, moisture, drought, your physical condition, experience, equipment, are you planning on packing out the animals or will you have horses, so on, so forth...not to mention being out in the woods for that many days on foot is TOUGH! Not trying to discourage you but be prepared, if you get into the right area with conditions in your favor, you could very well get a buck as you stated above, afterall, being out there is half the battle! I can't offer advice per area specifically as I'm in NM but good luck and keep us posted. There are many seasoned hunters on here that will point you in the right direction.

NDHunter
12-12-2012, 04:33 PM
I admire your ambition but feel like you might be trying to do too much on your first trip. I'll be the first to admit I don't have a lot of backpacking experience but if you honestly want to hike in somewhere for 9-10 days, that is going to be tough. Probably more so mentally than physically. If I were you, I'd find a spot to hike in a mile or so and plan on staying there 2-3 days and see how it goes. Then plan on going back go the truck, regroup and resupply and then go from there.

Also, you said your one buddy expected to stay in a hotel. ALL of you will need to be 100% on board with what you want to do. If he isnt fully into the backpacking thing, you will be having issues by day 2.

Joshaaron91685
12-12-2012, 05:48 PM
I admire your ambition but feel like you might be trying to do too much on your first trip. I'll be the first to admit I don't have a lot of backpacking experience but if you honestly want to hike in somewhere for 9-10 days, that is going to be tough. Probably more so mentally than physically. If I were you, I'd find a spot to hike in a mile or so and plan on staying there 2-3 days and see how it goes. Then plan on going back go the truck, regroup and resupply and then go from there.

Also, you said your one buddy expected to stay in a hotel. ALL of you will need to be 100% on board with what you want to do. If he isnt fully into the backpacking thing, you will be having issues by day 2.

Just kick my dream in the nuts why dont ya! Lol jk i hear ya man I'm just hoping with 4 of us goin it wont be as hard mentally. We shall see. Wont know till we get there and try. I really appreciate yalls input. Ive been doing a ton of reading on old threads and stuff too.

Bitterroot Bulls
12-12-2012, 05:59 PM
Just kick my dream in the nuts why dont ya! Lol jk i hear ya man I'm just hoping with 4 of us goin it wont be as hard mentally. We shall see. Wont know till we get there and try. I really appreciate yalls input. Ive been doing a ton of reading on old threads and stuff too.

Actually,

The more partners you have going, the harder it is going to be to keep everyone motivated. If you have a single similarly-minded partner, you will have your best chance of sticking with the hunt.

I actually like the idea of a not-so-deep trip to test the waters, and remaining flexible.

I don't mean to discourage you, I just want you to have the best introduction to mule deer hunting you can. You don't have to be 10 miles deep to have a great hunt. In fact just getting a mile off a public road can put you right in the action.

Researching online is great, but flying around Google Earth is a hell of a lot easier than post-hole-ing through 14 inches of snow to get into a glassing spot that is a total whiteout!

Joshaaron91685
12-12-2012, 08:59 PM
I love using google earth for scouting. I've found some awesome spots here using it. Not sure what to look for though. Here the winds out of the N/NE 90% of the time so I look for good areas that can be approached from the south...what do you look for? Steep slopes, slopes facing a certain direction, just not sure where to start.

NDHunter
12-12-2012, 10:21 PM
I love using google earth for scouting. I've found some awesome spots here using it. Not sure what to look for though. Here the winds out of the N/NE 90% of the time so I look for good areas that can be approached from the south...what do you look for? Steep slopes, slopes facing a certain direction, just not sure where to start.

Buy Mike Eastman's and also David Longs mule deer books and highlight the crap out of them. You will learn tons and tons from those 2 books. Also Cameron Hanes back country book would be really good for you too.

Joshaaron91685
12-12-2012, 10:27 PM
Buy Mike Eastman's and also David Longs mule deer books and highlight the crap out of them. You will learn tons and tons from those 2 books. Also Cameron Hanes back country book would be really good for you too.

Im actually waiting on david longs book to arrive. When I finish it I will order mikes. Good idea highlighting important stuff. Ive actually been jotting down notes as I read this forum too.

Backcountry Stalker
12-12-2012, 11:28 PM
Buy Mike Eastman's and also David Longs mule deer books and highlight the crap out of them. You will learn tons and tons from those 2 books. Also Cameron Hanes back country book would be really good for you too.

All 3 of those books are worth their respective weight in gold...NO KIDDING at all! Make them a constant read as you'll find info. in them that you might have missed the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd time you read over them. At least that's my experience. Try to actualize and picture their mistakes so you'll know them as if you committed them yourself. That way the mistakes YOU WILL make will be mistakes you made out of gaining experience. Nothing hurts more than having a nice buck for the taking all jacked up over a mistake that you were aware of prior to you making the mistake...TRUST ME this hurts! Don't go "all out" right away...imo this is the cause of most people throwing in the towel early. Patience plays apart in EVERY aspect of the hunt. And, going all out right of the gate is pretty much a lack of said patience aspect. Also, as someone said earlier. You all MUST be on the same page. It's hard hunting mulies solo...adding 3 more bodies to the scenerio is "whew" lol! Do your homework "before" you step into the classroom (backcountry) for the test. I'm sure this has never been an issue before....right lol :p? Lastly, have a blast cause no matter what...believe me at the end of it you'll have earned it.

Backcountry Stalker
12-12-2012, 11:37 PM
Im actually waiting on david longs book to arrive. When I finish it I will order mikes. Good idea highlighting important stuff. Ive actually been jotting down notes as I read this forum too.


Buy Mike Eastman's and also David Longs mule deer books and highlight the crap out of them. You will learn tons and tons from those 2 books. Also Cameron Hanes back country book would be really good for you too.

All 3 of those books are worth their respective weight in gold...NO KIDDING at all! Make them a constant read as you'll find info. in them that you might have missed the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd time you read over them. At least that's my experience. Try to actualize and picture their mistakes so you'll know them as if you committed them yourself. That way the mistakes YOU WILL make will be mistakes you made out of gaining experience. Nothing hurts more than having a nice buck for the taking all jacked up over a mistake that you were aware of prior to you making the mistake...TRUST ME this hurts! Don't go "all out" right away...imo this is the cause of most people throwing in the towel early. Patience plays apart in EVERY aspect of the hunt. And, going all out right of the gate is pretty much a lack of said patience aspect. Also, as someone said earlier. You all MUST be on the same page. It's hard hunting mulies solo...adding 3 more bodies to the scenerio is "whew" lol! Do your homework "before" you step into the classroom (backcountry) for the test. I'm sure this has never been an issue before....right lol :p? Lastly, have a blast cause no matter what...believe me at the end of it you'll have earned it.

Whisky
12-13-2012, 11:35 AM
I admire your ambition but feel like you might be trying to do too much on your first trip. I'll be the first to admit I don't have a lot of backpacking experience but if you honestly want to hike in somewhere for 9-10 days, that is going to be tough. Probably more so mentally than physically. If I were you, I'd find a spot to hike in a mile or so and plan on staying there 2-3 days and see how it goes. Then plan on going back go the truck, regroup and resupply and then go from there.

Also, you said your one buddy expected to stay in a hotel. ALL of you will need to be 100% on board with what you want to do. If he isnt fully into the backpacking thing, you will be having issues by day 2.

I would heed this advice!!!!

I too don't have a lot of backcountry experience. I'm working on changing that... But I outfitted my self with gear this summer and tested the waters this Fall a few times. Just the things I learned on a couple quick trips, both about me and my gear, was very surprising. A little experience goes a long ways. I'm already planning for next year and looking at where I can make improvements and whatnot.

You guys are planning a very demanding hunt. 10 days in the backcountry, with no experience, with 4 people. You have the time (2 years), I really think you guys should get to a state where you can test your selves and gear and gain some experience on some shorter hunts, prior to tackling something like that. You will learn so much and when the time comes to do the big trip, you'll be much more prepared and confident. I'm building preference points for a hunt such as you described. But I intend to have many nights in the backcountry logged under my belt before I make that journey.

Now, if you don't want to listen to me or NDHunter, listen to Bitterroot Bulls. He has the experience.

llp
12-13-2012, 12:17 PM
You need to stop romanticizing this trip. Plan a bit more realistically.

There was good advice by NDHunter. I hunt in the backcountry for more than 30 days each year, some years much closer to 60 days. It is very rare that I do a 10 day hunt. Plan for no more than 4-5 days on a single trip, then plan to come out and resupply and go back in if necessary. You can't carry enough food and clothes for a 10 day hunt, especially in the late season with snow on the ground. Even more so as rookies.
At the very least, count on some members of your party being successful and packing out their deer to the truck early. They can always come back in carrying some resupply, but don't be too surprised when they decide to go home after they have killed their bucks. Somehow the fun of sleeping on the ground and eating freeze dried meals diminishes quickly when you don't have a tag anymore. Add a little snow and below zero temps in November, and the trip will take on more of the characteristics of a survival mission than a hunt.
You can hunt just as effectively, probably more so, by doing 2 or three separate trip in a 10 day period. You get the chance to resupply, add the items you forgot the first trip, and leave behind the useless stuff on the next trip in, and also packout any deer that were harvested. You can also eat a good meal at the road, get into clean and dry clothes, and overall just improve your attitude for the next part of the trip.
There is absolutely no need for handguns if you are already packing a rifle, even in the heart of grizzly country. Anybody who pictures themselves unholstering a handgun during a grizzly attack while they have a rifle on their shoulder is an idiot. Best case, if somebody takes a deer early, and wants to leave their rifle at the truck for the rest of the trip, then they might carry a handgun.

Not trying to rain on your parade, but a dose of reality is needed. I hope you have a great trip, but the odds of that go up considerably if you are a bit more realistic. Most people new to hunting the west base out of a camp at the road, and either day hunt or take short overnight trips into the backcountry. You can have a great hunt this way, and learn a lot about the experience before trying to tackle an extended backcountry trip.

llp

Fink
12-13-2012, 12:41 PM
I absolutely agree with making multiple 3-5 day hunts as opposed to one long 10 day hunt, especially for you first trip. At the end of day 4, you can go back to the truck, dump of 75% of the gear that you packed, that you actually do not need, refuel your supplies that you do need, and run into town to grab the greasiest, most delicious cheeseburger you can find.

I felt like packing for the 10 day trip kind of tied me down a little, as it's just too hard to pack all of your stuff around, all of the time.. You end up leaving your tent and all your other gear in a camp, and have to hunt back to it each night. Packing for 3-5 days, you can easily carry everything, and just camp where you end up at night. To get ready for the trip, I ran, alot. And did lots of weight training for my legs and core. I never really consentrated on my upper body. After I felt like I was starting to progress in my running and weight training, I laced up my boots that I would be wearing on the trip, and loaded my pack up with 50 pounds, and found the tallest hill around and started hiking it. I quickly realized I was NOT in shape.
I slowly started increasing the weight in my pack until I was at 75 pounds a month before my hunt. I toted 75 pounds up and down a 200ft hill (best I could do in Missouri) 4 times a week for 3 weeks. By the time I got to Colorado, my 60 pound pack felt pretty light, and I had no issues.

Get in mountain shape, and you'll have a blast regardless of the outcome. Don't get in shape, and you'll be looking for any excuse to get off the mountain.
You have to make sure you're in shape, or else you will be miserable. We hunted 9 days straight last year, never dropping below 10,500 feet, and I felt like I owned the mountain by the time we were done. To get

NDHunter
12-13-2012, 07:22 PM
Now, if you don't want to listen to me or NDHunter, listen to Bitterroot Bulls. He has the experience.

Very well said!

You guys should try and do a trip up to the Appalachians for a long weekend and hike somewhere and camp. That way you could test out all your gear and see how things go.

Joshaaron91685
12-14-2012, 03:03 AM
You need to stop romanticizing this trip. Ummm, No. I enjoy it.Plan a bit more realistically.I have NO issues with reality. I'm here because I'm not sure what IS realistic for a hunt like this. If you guys who do this all the time say it aint gonna happen, hey I trust ya. All I know is we will have 16 days minus 5 for driving which leaves us 10-11 days for hunting and anything else and we want to make the most of it.

There was good advice by NDHunter. I hunt in the backcountry for more than 30 days each year, some years much closer to 60 days. It is very rare that I do a 10 day hunt. Plan for no more than 4-5 days on a single trip, then plan to come out and resupply and go back in if necessary. You can't carry enough food and clothes for a 10 day hunt, especially in the late season with snow on the ground. Even more so as rookies.
At the very least, count on some members of your party being successful and packing out their deer to the truck early. They can always come back in carrying some resupply, but don't be too surprised when they decide to go home after they have killed their bucks. Its 2500 miles home, if they leave they better plan on getting shot when I find'm lolSomehow the fun of sleeping on the ground and eating freeze dried meals diminishes quickly when you don't have a tag anymore. Add a little snow and below zero temps in November, and the trip will take on more of the characteristics of a survival mission than a hunt.
You can hunt just as effectively, probably more so, by doing 2 or three separate trip in a 10 day period. You get the chance to resupply, add the items you forgot the first trip, and leave behind the useless stuff on the next trip in, and also packout any deer that were harvested. You can also eat a good meal at the road, get into clean and dry clothes, and overall just improve your attitude for the next part of the trip.This is why I'm here. My idea of 10 days in was for efficiency and effectiveness. If thats not the case, I'm fine with that. I'm a big fan of hunting smarter not harder but I am also vry willing to hunt hard. if the SMART thing to do is break up the hunts into 2-3 shorter hunts I'm all about it.
There is absolutely no need for handguns if you are already packing a rifle, even in the heart of grizzly country. Anybody who pictures themselves unholstering a handgun during a grizzly attack while they have a rifle on their shoulder is an idiot.This was my thought. I actually told him I didnt believe where we were going to be even had a population of grizzlies but he is deeply concerned about it. Best case, if somebody takes a deer early, and wants to leave their rifle at the truck for the rest of the trip, then they might carry a handgun.

Not trying to rain on your parade, but a dose of reality is needed. I hope you have a great trip, but the odds of that go up considerably if you are a bit more realistic. Most people new to hunting the west base out of a camp at the road, and either day hunt or take short overnight trips into the backcountry. You can have a great hunt this way, and learn a lot about the experience before trying to tackle an extended backcountry trip.

llp


I absolutely agree with making multiple 3-5 day hunts as opposed to one long 10 day hunt, especially for you first trip. At the end of day 4, you can go back to the truck, dump of 75% of the gear that you packed, that you actually do not need, refuel your supplies that you do need, and run into town to grab the greasiest, most delicious cheeseburger you can find.

I felt like packing for the 10 day trip kind of tied me down a little, as it's just too hard to pack all of your stuff around, all of the time.. You end up leaving your tent and all your other gear in a camp, and have to hunt back to it each night. Packing for 3-5 days, you can easily carry everything, and just camp where you end up at night.Good Point. To get ready for the trip, I ran, alot. And did lots of weight training for my legs and core. I never really consentrated on my upper body. After I felt like I was starting to progress in my running and weight training, I laced up my boots that I would be wearing on the trip, and loaded my pack up with 50 pounds, and found the tallest hill around and started hiking it. I quickly realized I was NOT in shape.
I slowly started increasing the weight in my pack until I was at 75 pounds a month before my hunt. I toted 75 pounds up and down a 200ft hill (best I could do in Missouri) 4 times a week for 3 weeks. By the time I got to Colorado, my 60 pound pack felt pretty light, and I had no issues.

Get in mountain shape, and you'll have a blast regardless of the outcome. Don't get in shape, and you'll be looking for any excuse to get off the mountain.
You have to make sure you're in shape, or else you will be miserable. We hunted 9 days straight last year, never dropping below 10,500 feet, and I felt like I owned the mountain by the time we were done. To get


Very well said!

You guys should try and do a trip up to the Appalachians for a long weekend and hike somewhere and camp. That way you could test out all your gear and see how things go.I actually really like this idea. Could be done on a long weekend and a hiking/camping trip would be much cheaper than making it a hunting trip.


Like I said guys, with my lack of experience I dont know what a realistic expectation is and thats why I'm here asking questions. I've done enough snooping around on this forum to know that YOU know what you're talking about and although I may question some of your suggestions (because I want to understand the how and why) I do trust your input. I 100% believe a 5 day in, 1 day out, 4 day in, (or whatever combo of days we end up doing) trip would be much easier than 10 straight days in. I'm just trying to do whatever I can to make it a good trip and my first instinct was the longer we can stay in the better. I like the idea of hitting a motel mid trip for a warm soft bed, a hot shower, and a warm fresh meal but I was willing to skip it if thats what made the difference. Sounds like it'd be a good idea now. This hunt will be a dream come true whether I bring home some horns or not so yea I'm a little excited and amped up but dont confuse my excitement with being unrealistic.

Bitterroot Bulls
12-14-2012, 06:40 AM
I like your attitude.

I think you ARE doing the things you need to in order to get an idea of what to expect. Like llp above, I spend a lot of time in the field, but rarely pull a 10 day hunt. I have, but they aren't too much fun.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Go to Eastern MT. More deer, no bears, lower elevation, milder country.
2. Do short trips from 1 to a max of 3 nights, or hunt harder out of a comfortable vehicle-based camp.
3. Don't push your partners too hard.
4. Split up into pairs with evenly matched levels of enthusiasm.
5. Don't be afraid to change areas or techniques if things aren't going as planned.

Eberle
12-14-2012, 08:52 AM
3 of my buddies and I are planning a hunt for 2015 in either Montana or Wyoming. This will be our first hunt like this AND we are in FL so we have alot or research and planning ahead as well as all the specialized gear to collect. This is my first post of many I am sure. I've got a subsciption to Eastmans for christmas and a DIY public land muley hunting book.


First let me get this out of the way, one individual in our group thinks we need to pack all kinds of pistols and/or rifles like 45/70 guide gun for grizzly protection. I've convinced myself(right or wrong) that its nothing to worry about. I mean lets be aware but I dont see a need for all that extra firepower. What do you backcountry regulars say?

Now, is it just me or is Montanas fish and game website about like trying to decipher code? Would i be better to ask questions here or contant montana and wyomings fish and game departments ? Thanks!

You are getting alot of feedback & different opinions which is good! One resource you might look into that will answer some questions, is the "Elk Hunting University". Go to Colorado Parks & Wildlife home page & read it. It covers backpack hunting. Lots of good info on fitness, what food to pack, how many pounds to carry ect....

Good Luck!

Joshaaron91685
12-14-2012, 02:00 PM
I like your attitude.

I think you ARE doing the things you need to in order to get an idea of what to expect. Like llp above, I spend a lot of time in the field, but rarely pull a 10 day hunt. I have, but they aren't too much fun.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Go to Eastern MT. More deer, no bears, lower elevation, milder country.Sounds like a plan.
2. Do short trips from 1 to a max of 3 nights, or hunt harder out of a comfortable vehicle-based camp.
3. Don't push your partners too hard.2 hunt just as hard as I do, and I think the 3rd will be willing to do whatever it takes even if he aint crazy about the idea.
4. Split up into pairs with evenly matched levels of enthusiasm.
5. Don't be afraid to change areas or techniques if things aren't going as planned.

I think this info is really gonna help and I'm pumped that a solid plan is starting to fall into place.

tdcour
03-04-2013, 08:36 PM
Looks like this thread has been dead a little while, but I really enjoyed reading through it. A back country hunt is something I have on my bucket list, and it looks like I should start preparing now! Everywhere I hunt right now is walk-in only and there is no camping or anything, so walking in and out in one day makes it hard to get miles in away from all the other foot traffic. I'm at about 1200 feet here in SD and have some places I can hike to get into shape, but what is the best way to acclimate yourself to high altitudes without medication? Eventually I would like to get to hunt above the timberline somewhere and I know that will be pretty difficult coming from 1200 feet.

xtreme
03-04-2013, 09:49 PM
I will tell you about my first backcountry pack-in trip. I started at Lost Trail Campground near Creede Colorado. I was going to climb Pole mountian. The first day I couldnt find a way up the mountian. A hunter from Springdale Arkansas told me to go up the open space with rocks, almost like a slide area. I didnot have a tent but climbed to 13500 ft to make camp. I had a five watt radio and a 100 amp alternator and battery in the chevy van. There was a 310 Palamar linear so I had como. We had a pre arrainged sched and while reporting I was about 100yds from my camp. I had my back to the top of the mountian and saw a huge snow flake go by, when I turned to look the top was a white out so I ran to camp got comfortable and called back two hours later. It snowed 18-24 inches. I had a shelter half tied to keep snow from directly landing on me, about two am snow broke one of my cotton ropes broke and dumped snow on my feet. The foot end of my bag was frozen in the morning. This was a snowstorm not a blizzard. The morning was calm and white and it was a little scary being that high and snow that deep. Eight elk came by at about 40 yards with the largest cow I had ever seen. All I could think about was getting off the mountian so I packed and started down not knowing what to expect. It was easy to go down with traction so good.
No one in there right mind would try a trip like that today, but I have had two more storm experiences, both of them blizzards. By not panicking and being somewhat prepared I have survived some very dangerous storms. I enjoyed those experiences. I have successfully hunted both deer and elk in very deep snow. Unless you get altitude sickness I don't try to acclimate. One place I camp is 11675 and I have left Arkansas and go straight to it even two years ago. Not trying to led you into trouble, be in shape and go slow at first. I have read this post and there is some very useful advise posted here.

tdcour
03-06-2013, 07:05 PM
I will tell you about my first backcountry pack-in trip. I started at Lost Trail Campground near Creede Colorado. I was going to climb Pole mountian. The first day I couldnt find a way up the mountian. A hunter from Springdale Arkansas told me to go up the open space with rocks, almost like a slide area. I didnot have a tent but climbed to 13500 ft to make camp. I had a five watt radio and a 100 amp alternator and battery in the chevy van. There was a 310 Palamar linear so I had como. We had a pre arrainged sched and while reporting I was about 100yds from my camp. I had my back to the top of the mountian and saw a huge snow flake go by, when I turned to look the top was a white out so I ran to camp got comfortable and called back two hours later. It snowed 18-24 inches. I had a shelter half tied to keep snow from directly landing on me, about two am snow broke one of my cotton ropes broke and dumped snow on my feet. The foot end of my bag was frozen in the morning. This was a snowstorm not a blizzard. The morning was calm and white and it was a little scary being that high and snow that deep. Eight elk came by at about 40 yards with the largest cow I had ever seen. All I could think about was getting off the mountian so I packed and started down not knowing what to expect. It was easy to go down with traction so good.
No one in there right mind would try a trip like that today, but I have had two more storm experiences, both of them blizzards. By not panicking and being somewhat prepared I have survived some very dangerous storms. I enjoyed those experiences. I have successfully hunted both deer and elk in very deep snow. Unless you get altitude sickness I don't try to acclimate. One place I camp is 11675 and I have left Arkansas and go straight to it even two years ago. Not trying to led you into trouble, be in shape and go slow at first. I have read this post and there is some very useful advise posted here.

Well you can definitely say it was a memorable experience! I have no clue on how to even prep for a back country hunt so I would at least take a buddy with me so we could be miserable together if we got caught in a blizzard!

Hoot
03-16-2013, 12:02 AM
I agree with bitterroot bullls. First trip can easily become a bad experinece. There is a lot of hunting in eastern Montana with terrain that my look flat but once you walk it you soon find that there more elevation change than you thought. That is the best get your feet wet western hunt for some eastern guys. imoa

arrowslinger21
03-19-2013, 12:23 PM
Like I said guys, with my lack of experience I dont know what a realistic expectation is and thats why I'm here asking questions. I've done enough snooping around on this forum to know that YOU know what you're talking about and although I may question some of your suggestions (because I want to understand the how and why) I do trust your input. I 100% believe a 5 day in, 1 day out, 4 day in, (or whatever combo of days we end up doing) trip would be much easier than 10 straight days in. I'm just trying to do whatever I can to make it a good trip and my first instinct was the longer we can stay in the better. I like the idea of hitting a motel mid trip for a warm soft bed, a hot shower, and a warm fresh meal but I was willing to skip it if thats what made the difference. Sounds like it'd be a good idea now. This hunt will be a dream come true whether I bring home some horns or not so yea I'm a little excited and amped up but dont confuse my excitement with being unrealistic.

I have held off on commenting on this for a while, but here are my thoughts on the issue. I grew up backpacking as I was hiking the backcountry with my dad while he hunted by the time I was 5 or 6, and so to me a lot of things are comfortable, that may not be for other people. With that being said, here are my thoughts so take them for what you will.

First off, if you want to go for ten days, and you think you can make it for ten days, GO FOR IT. Almost every hunt I go out on plans to be a 10 day or sometimes 14 day hunt. Sometimes I tag out and it doesn't last that long, sometimes I move areas early, sometimes I stick it out the whole time. However, if you carry 10 days of gear in, then you at least have the option of either coming out halfway or staying if the hunting is good. Nothing is worth than being in good hunting and having to head back for the truck, especially if your hunt isn't even over.

Secondly, you wont need to carry 75+ lbs on your way in. Go in moderately light. For me, 10 days worth of gear and food comes in at around 29 lbs without water. I have fine tuned my gear a bit but there is no reason you couldn't go ten days with a weight of say 45-50 lbs.

As far as elevation sickness goes, I don't know what to tell you per say. It seems like some people get it and some dont. I hunt high every year and I live in Portland Oregon at less than 250 ft of elevation. Breaking into high elevations has never been a problem for me. You can feel the difference for sure, but altitude sickness has never been an issue.

The guy who mentioned taking a trip to test your gear out on a two or three day backpacking trip somewhere closer to you is spot on. That is probably the single best piece of advice on here in terms of preparing for your hunt.

Lastly, if it was me. I would scrap the idea of hiking in one mile and testing the waters by camping there. You can hike a mile in 15-20 minutes on a trail. Unless you want the illusion of a backcountry camp that bad, why would you not just camp at the truck?! one mile each way per day is not enough to make it worth being away from the truck. You would be much better off eating better food, getting better rest, and hiking a little more each day. For me the tradeoff comes in at around 4 miles. IF you camp 4 miles in then the tradeoff of saving 8 miles on your legs per day is worth it over what you lose. Anything before that is hard for me to justify packing to.

Backcountry hunting has been made into a glamorous occasion by many outdoor media outlets, but really, is it any less real to kill a buck on foot 3 miles deep while camping at the truck than it is to kill one two miles further up the trail and be sleeping somewhere else? A hunt is still a hunt, and if you are getting to hunt in the mountains I have a feeling that you will look back and enjoy the experience either way.

MacDonald
05-03-2013, 01:24 PM
Bitterroot Bulls has some of the best advice I've read in years! Don't push too hard, match enthusiasm levels, don't bite off more than you can chew. These are things to really take to heart. And test your stuff beforehand, in real conditions, not just in the back yard. Set realistic goals with progress toward said goals measured by realistic objectives. Using the books in the Eastman library is the absolutely BEST first stage anyone can do, and while you're rereading them, learn as much about your chosen area as you can without putting boots on the ground. Get together and test your food as well. Eating cardboard isn't about to make you want to eat more of it, and you have plenty of time to flesh out some nice backpacking meals. You're working in the right mindset if you take this as an adventure! Some small niceties make it really great! If the country's not tinder-dry, I'll pack in some cigars and a little nice cognac for an after dinner treat. And hike your butt off in your boots before you set foot in the back country. Blisters and foot issues aren't welcome in any camp! With the advice you're getting, the research and early planning you're doing, I'll bet you guys will have the time of your lives!! But remember, the drawback to all this is that you'll find you REALLY want to go back, again & again!! Oops: too late!! You're hooked! Welcome to the high & wild!