by April Mack
Just a thought in my mind;
Bird season has come to a close. No hunting for the next 3 months. Now what? After hunting for almost 9 months straight I am almost at a loss! Ah yes… I begin thinking about the upcoming fall elk and deer archery season. So many things to do! Where will I hunt? Will I draw a tag this year? If not, where will my focus for general season be? I need to practice daily and hone in on my archery skills. I must make sure all my gear is still in good condition. Do I have enough supplies? Do I have extra’s of the important things (headlamps, release, arrows)? What do I need to purchase that I don’t already have? Oh yeah, and then there is the physical aspect. You must be in good, strong physical condition to hunt – packing in or just a day trip. Luckily that is a habit I have developed over the years and don’t have to focus too hard on (it seems I have enough to think about!). Yes, I think I will be busy enough prepping for this fall!
I can vaguely see it in the distance;
No controlled hunt tags… general season will be my focus now. This will be the year that I am finally able to hike in and spike camp. Something I have been dreaming of doing for years, not just my local day hunting trips. Our location is narrowed down, time off has been requested. Time to pull out my packing list and review it. Time to increase my practicing. Time to fine tune my calling. I am starting to become distracted at work, thinking about the possibilities of this fall’s hunt. Yes, I even downloaded an app to count the exact seconds until I can get out there and play ball. I attend elk calling seminars and learned some very valuable information. For instance; an elk rubbing a soft, young tree in a sense is him flirting with the “ladies” vs. a hard, solid dead tree; that my friends is his way of asking for a fight. Or learning just exactly what he is saying; when to determine he is beckoning for a little love and knowing when he is yelling to get out of his house. Good stuff! I attend more seminars on packing in, tips and tricks on food as well as a complete over haul of gear; packs, clothes, boots, bino’s etc. It seems that this year I am more ready for elk season then I have ever been. With my new found information along with developing the skill to call and bugle I feel pretty good about what I am about to embark on.
What is everyone else doing?
So let me back up for just a minute… while attending all these seminars and watching videos and reading articles, a lot of this information can be overwhelming as well as a bit confusing. One suggests (this is the rule I’ve always followed) once you hit the animal, depending on the shot placement (lung, heart, liver, gut etc), you give it time. 30-minutes to six hours let it lie and expire without getting pushed. Seems to make sense. The flip side to that is no matter what the shot placement is, go after the animal immediately. Here is the reason behind this theory; we all know deer and elk are hardy animals. We have all heard of an animal getting shot, we follow the blood trail only to find less and less blood to end up losing a blood trail altogether. With the idea of pushing the animal right away you keep the wound fresh and the parts that are injured constantly moving and bleeding out while they are trying to get away. This does not allow the blood to thicken up and seal the cut. Eventually they are down for the count. That also seems to make sense. That is just the tip of the iceberg. Face concealment vs. none. Aggressive approach vs. soft and subtle. Sitting vs. stalking. Sneaking into the “bedroom” vs. letting them come out. Good grief, the list goes on. Don’t get me get started on manufactures brands! Basically what it really boils down to it is either someone’s opinion or someone’s personal experience; as with anything else I need to research where I am getting my advice from, what kind of success rate they have had, how long they have been hunting and if possible a little one on one to know if they truly do walk the walk.
I have decided that with all this new found information that it is up to me to see what each scenario and situation holds and move on my gut feeling The last thing I want to do is to second guess myself and lack confidence in any area of my hunt.
It’s just around the corner;
I have all my gear and pack items spread out across the floor, somewhat resembling a small sporting goods store. By the looks of things I may need to lighten the load a bit.
Or get a pack-horse. I have amped up my shooting practice, shooting at least an hour every day and hitting 3-D courses at least once a week. I continue to hit the gym regularly as well as add in some hikes with my pack, throwing in some dumbbells- you know, just for fun. I am even experimenting with making my own version of pre-made dried foods. That is turning out to be a whole different story. And of course, continuing to practice my calls. It can be quite entertaining the looks you get sitting at a stop light on the way to work!
I do a final check of all gear and supplies, go down the list, checking it twice. (Yes, this does resemble Christmas time). Almost with a nervous feeling… I think I am ready!
It is time!
One last work week to go. Last minute honey-do’s around the house. Last minute packing, organizing, repacking and re-organizing. This final week seems to fly by as last minute details continually creep up. We are already into the elk season so I have had the pleasure of seeing other hunter’s post on social media the things they have seen and the animals they have harvested. This only increases my excitement and knowing that time spent out hunting or any animals seen will be a success.
We load up a few days prior to when we leave, double checking and reorganizing yet again. Finally, the day has arrived! Leaving first thing in the morning, only to have it feel like we should have left even hours earlier, my hunting partner and best friend, (who happens to also be my husband) and I…
To be continued???
I am secretly hoping to leave you hanging to maybe follow up with the story of our actual hunt!
I have included a general list of items we pack in:
- Sleeping bags
- Sol Escape Bivy®
- Light weight pillow
- Light weight inflatable pad
- Sawyer Squeeze® water purification system/ extra bladders
- Pack bladder
- Mess kit
- Rocket Pocket® cook stove with MSR® fuel canisters
- Extra batteries (flashlight, range finder etc.)
- Sewing kit
- Wipes and Body Glide Anti Chafe®
- Walking sticks
- Painters plastic (light weight and helps to keep the animal clean; animal hide only goes so far)
- Dry bags (to hold ropes, electrical tape, matches, fire starters, emergency First-aid kit)
- Fire starter – Vaseline® & cotton balls
- First aid – Super glue, blister & regular band aids, gauze, lip balm, Neosporin®, Ibuprofen®, emergency blanket, tape
- All meals are individually bagged and prepped
- All base layers and liners have merino wool in the material
Not included in the list are things we have readily accessible on our persons as we hike in. (Range finder, knife, wind indicator powder, binoculars, etc).
Hunt proud and God bless.