It seems there is an enormus amount of discussion backpack hunting lately. I can see "new" western hunters thinking this the best and possibly the only way to be successful out west. I rarely stay out for days on end, to be honest it is rare for me to stay out at all. For the guys that are new to hunting out west it would be nice for them to know you don't have to be a backpack hunter to have a great hunt. At least I don't think so?
My greatest hunt was a sheep hunt, I was out every morning and evening for 17 day on that hunt. I was never more than 4 hours from camp and slept nice and comfortable in a RV every night. I for one would like to know that I can go out of state and still have a great hunt without having to spend hundreds of dollars on light weight backpack gear to stay out. The preperation that is involved it this style of hunting can be overwhelming, especially for hunters that are new to it.
How many of you guys still have great hunts out west without the pain and suffering of backpack hunting?
I'm right there with ya! You don't HAVE to backpack to have a great hunt or to be successful. It's like everything else... backpack hunts seem to be appealing, mostly to newbies because it seems like the most "extreme" or "hard core". Everybody wants to be like the guy they see in the trophy mags. That's just the way it is. Certain areas call for backpacking but most don't. Don't get me wrong, I love backpacking and have had great memorible times doing it. It IS NOT the only way to hunt though contrary to popular belief!
One problem I have is sleeping. I cannot sleep good in a small tent on a pad which makes it really tough after a few day's. Therefore base camps with more comfortable cots and wood stoves and my favorite... our cabin, is much more enjoyable for me.
Interesting topic. Should be some good opinions out there.
I am in no way a hard core hunter, minimalists, or even a 7day back country hunter. I spend a night or two in the mountains in a bivy with my gear and I do really enjoy that. Hard core I think depends on the hunter. Is there a definition of Hard Core hunting? I'm not sure. I feel that I hunt hard and even hard core in my own terms of what that means. I always have a base camp where hunting camp is living in the hills. Be it my camp trailer, wall tent, or high camp where we can take the quads and have the comforts of camping as most people know it. The mountains where we hunt the 7 day pack in hunt is unnessicary where a night or two is totally common for us.
I don't Break the rules, I Modify them.
I don't think you HAVE to backpack to have a good hunt out west, and in fact for someone who has never backpacked I wouldn't recommend it.
Backpack hunting is a tool, the same as a map, a gun, a bow, call, etc. Backpacking in means your camp is more mobile, so it is easier to check out new areas if you don't find game. It is also more energy efficient. If elk are located 3 miles from the trailhead and you can discretely camp 1/2 mile from them then you just saved up to 6 miles of walking in and out per day, and gave yourself more time for sleep.
Backpacking in general and backpack hunting especially isn't for everyone. There is a physical fitness bar that needs to be chinned, specific gear needed, but most of all it takes knowledge and preferably some experience. It is my fear that someone successfully drops an elk 5 miles deep with 3k+ vert to get out and realizes too late that they've made a mistake.
I had a conversation with Guy that he said in parts of Wy you have to walk for miles to get to the base of mountain just to beignet your ascent to where you would start hunting. In Nv the mountains are close to trail heads and you don't have to walk so far just start hiking up the mountains. I think that is that case you would have to back pack in and stay for multiple days to make the hunt efficient just as Rockchucker has said. Be mobile.
I don't Break the rules, I Modify them.
I think it adds more adventure to my hunts. Do I always pack in? No, but I always have the necessities incase I have to sleep on an animal until morning to kill it. A hunt is a hunt, some enjoy spending 5+ days alone in the hills. Myself included. You find a different element to the hunt when doing so. But alot of the successful and consistent trophy mule deer hunters I know have a pretty cozy camp along a road. The biggest bucks might not be 5 miles in. But on some hunts I prefer seclusion.
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I agree 100% that you don't need to backpack in to have a great time. That being said, I never leave MN without the gear to go in for a couple of days if it is neccesary, to give me a positional advantage on an animal.
I have just got in to backpacking in the last few years and I really do love it when it's either just me or a partner who loves it too. That being said I still do love a traditional camp hunt. Growing up hunting with my Dad brother and uncles (who are definitely not backpackers) the hunt was more than just for the horns, it was sitting around the campfire and eating good food out in the mountains we all loved with the people we most loved. Although I cannot wait to get the pack back on every year, I still love most when my Dad draws and I get to spend the time up there with him. We hunt hard and have taken some really nice animals but coming back to camp after the long day makes the hunt something special.
Thanks for the comments guys! It's nice to hear I'm not the only one who still likes hunting close to camp. Like I mentioned I will stay out if needed, although it is not my prefered way to go at it..I'm in no way equipt to stay out for days on end comfortably. I will hike 1-2 hrs one way in and out before staying more often than not, especially later in the fall when the nights are longer and colder. Here in Oregon it just doen't make a whole lot of sense to stay out in most areas I hunt, we don't have a lot of big wilderness areas here. The bigger ones we do have I don't hunt because there are too many people and not enough game these days. I can see it being the only way in other places though.
I brought this up mostly for the guys new to hunting out west, ones who may be thinking backpacking in is the best or maybe even the only way. It doesn't have to be that way, stay within your ability and comfort zone. Also choose areas that alow you to do so. Don't get caught up in the glory if it's not your thing, it doen't mean your not a devoted hunter if you sleep on a cot, in a RV or even a Motel. The guys above that have commented have confirmed that for me. Good luck on the upcomming draws everyone!
Last edited by Timberstalker; 03-11-2014 at 03:36 PM.
Here at home we don't do any backpack hunting at all. They are all day hunts from the house. When I am out west I personally find it easier to pack in to where I start hunting (a little over 3 miles) and set up camp. I just find it more time and energy efficient to pack in. It doesn't have anything to do with whats been read in a magazine or seen on TV since I have been doing it the same way since the late 80s early 90s. Now if I could drive to where I start hunting that would be a different set of circumstances. Packing in also allows me to move around more freely if I find animals further in. Last year elk hunting I moved camp 4 times never that far but up to higher altitude to where I found the elk. I would have been drained if I had to come down from the 9500ft rugged terain and and then back to the truck or base camp 3-4 miles away at 7500ft and then back up again the next day. In my case I just think it is more about efficiency.
But I do really like the day hunts around home!!