^ I know I already commented but I'll second all the "stay dry and warm" ones. Always be prepared for it to rain or you to sweat a lot. Moisture-wicking underclothes and at least some light-weight rain gear are must-haves.
Always carry a backup supply of high protein food, some sort of water filter, a way to start a fire, and a couple of space blankets. You never know when you may be forced to stay the night somewhere you didn't intend, and in adverse weather.
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Where to start.......
Coming from a relatively inexperienced Western hunt guy:
- Cardio and more cardio......10000 feet is going to kick your a$$ when you are used to 1000 ft.
- Learn the proper way to set-up and carry 60-80+ lbs in a pack on your back
- Good boots that fit proper are a must.
- Use a rangefinder. 250 yds across a small valley looks a lot different than 250 yds across a flat field.
That is just a start. I learned so many things my first time out West that I felt like a completely rookie to the outdoors.
I agree with this. Even for a day hunt, do not over pack your day pack. First time ever for me a couple hours in to the hunt I got sick from altitude and packing so much crap in my backpack. I was very fortunate to get a chance at age 15 to go out west with my dads friends, cause he never has hunted, and I learned basically everything on my own, the hard way.
Originally Posted by Fink
Learn how to use a map and compass! Again my first time ever out west borrowed a GPS and thought I was golden. When I got turned around pulled the GPS out and the F'n thing told me it couldn't find signal…
Like I said I learned so much the hard way, but I was always lucky and I wouldn't trade it for any other way.
I have a few that would be at the top of my list "in no particular order" if I were to give advice to a first time western hunter:
1. Learn all you can about the unit your going to be hunting BEFORE you get there.
2. Try to have an area in mind within your unit to start scouting / hunting before you get there, this saves valuable time.
3. The ever popular....be prepared for all kinds of weather. Not just your clothing but remember you got WAY BACK THERE in your pickup and you have got to be able to get back out!!! Tire chains for all four, tow chains / strap are all standard equipment.
4. As far as glassing I have a little different approach, I run and gun and don't spend a lot of time setting on a vantage point behind a spotter. I cover ground, find pockets of animals and then slow down and pick it apart.
5. Practice shooting at longer ranges, for a first time western hunter a LONG shot may be 200 - 250 yrds to them. Well, we know better!! Also sight your particular rifle in for max point blank range. For me that's 3" above and / or below aiming point. You can't kill what you can't hit.
+1 on all of that and I will add always have a backup light source. I spent the night on a mountain in Idaho once not 200 yards from my camp when my headlamp went out and I felt it was too dangerous to try to get out of the place with no light. I got a fire started and sat by it until day light.
Originally Posted by libidilatimmy
Wow!! All of my western hunts have always been from a out of state perspective going back 21years now. I will be honest back then you didnt have the type of internet like everyone has now. All our permit applications were mailed in, there was no such thing as forums like this to do research on gear and which states to hunt.Yo might say we learned the hard way.
There was no merino wool products like you have now. So instead of opting for the heavy wool stuff everything was cotton or fleece. Talk about cold days and nights!! After the first trip I invested in some surplus military wool pants and jacket. Gear was heavy back then you really didn't have the options to go super light like you do today. A good pack would have went a long way if someone would have mentioned it. Just someone saying dude do you know what the elevation is going to be would have given me a heads up as to what I was in for. Or another would have been about boots and socks. There were a few trips where I could barely walk after two weeks. No way I was prepared for my first few hunts out west and how tough it would be. By the way some one saying that thunderstorms in the high country are just a little different than on the flat land would have been kind. As time went on I met up with a good friend while hunting in Montana and he did his best to set me straight and things went so much smoother. We hunted for 19 year together.
Last edited by 25contender; 02-11-2014 at 10:42 AM.
It wasn't until this year I received a valuable lesson. Just because you dont see anything now. Does not mean there is nothing there. I grew patience this season. And every persons def. of patience is different. I have always parked my ass and glassed, but I was doing it wrong. Park your ass on a great vantage point. Learn the characteristics. And spend ALL day studying one bowl, basin, or drainage before ruling it out. Sun up to sun down every angle. I scouted a basin multiple times this season with no luck. (With the same techniques used in the past) I had an extra day and decided to try it again with some advice I was given by a imo a true mile deer genius. Robby denning. I showed up an hour before daylight, sat farther away than previously, and in the morning was able to view more deer than before. After sitting all day with no sign of movement, when the evening came the basin came alive. Just minutes before sundown. Compiling the knowledge I was able to close in on where the deer were. But it took days. And true patience. I had the mentality of learning the deer rather than killing the deer. This allowed me to see some true large mature deer act natural and I learned ALOT! Never sealed the deal but definitely was more successful in seeing and closing the distance on mature bucks more than I ever had.
For me a few critical areas are:
1) Research your area, and research it some more. Topo maps, aerial / satellite maps, gps maps, Eastman MRS, etc.
Phone conversations with biologist / game warden and have your maps out and questions written down prior to calling and take good notes of details. For a first timer, you can not do enough research of your area. There is just no way to get an accurate picture in you mind of the terrain and conditions you will encounter, until you put your feet on the ground and spend some time there. But once there, your research will help the puzzle start to come together.
2) Good optics and know how to use them. Binoculars AND a good spotting scope with good tripod and head. I followed this advise from this forum and my Vortex Razor 65mm spotter was extremely valuable at finding bedded deer. I probably saw 2X as many deer because of my spotter.
3) Best mountain boots you can afford and get them broken in before the hunt. Don't skimp here. They are expensive for a reason.
4) Be in the best physical condition you can be in and get used to carrying some weight in you pack. Just understand, as someone that lives at lower elevation, you will be sucking wind in the mountains the first few days regardless of your conditioning. Just take it slow and let your body acclimate to the elevation.
5) A few pounds here and there add up and feel like a load of bricks in you pack. Try to buy the best and lightest pack / gear you can afford / justify.
6) Merino wool base layers and socks. Don't leave home without it. Understand that good whitetail hunting clothing is not necessarily good clothing for western / mountain hunting. Research what most experienced western hunters recommend for clothing.
7) Have fun and enjoy the experience. You are probably not going to kill a good buck / bull on your first DIY hunt. If you do that is great, but not the norm. Look at your first DIY trip as the beginning of a learning process and just enjoy the whole experience. Western hunting can get into your blood and become a year round process, regardless where you live.
Last edited by LaHunter; 02-13-2014 at 09:27 AM.
Don't wear out a perfectly good pair of boots when it's not necessary.
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