My Top Ten Backcountry Tips by Nancy Rodriguez

After spending numerous hunting seasons living out of a backpack in the backcountry, I have found a few tips and items that can make life a whole lot easier during your next backcountry adventure. Here are my top ten must haves for the backcountry.

Top 3

  1. SPOT Satellite Tracker- The SPOT is an emergency locating beacon and satellite GPS messenger. Not only can you send out an emergency SOS transmission to emergency responders if need be, but you can also send a message to your loved ones that everything is okay in the backcountry. This is the most important 5 ounces I carry in my pack.Top 5
  2. Water Filtration Systems- Weighing only 2 ounces, the Sawyer Mini water filter is a backpackers dream. It is so small and compact that you can use the straw to drink right out of the tiniest seep of water. Pump filters use a lot of energy, so for big volumes of water I prefer the Sawyer gravity feed purifier. Just pour in the water and let gravity do the work.Top 1-2
  3. Hiking at Night – Hiking during the heat of the day can quickly cause heat exposure, energy depletion, and dehydration. Hiking at night will minimize the stressors of the heat and you will lessen your water consumption.
  4. Cozy Camp- Depending on your hunt, you may spend numerous nights sleeping on the dirt. Of course you will want to remove rocks, sticks, and brush away from your tent location, but making your tent pad level is just as important. No matter what the slope is, we will clear dirt to make our pad level. We try to do this on a scouting trip. This way our camp spot will be ready to go for the hunt and we can quickly set up (even in the dark).Top 4
  5. Flagging Tape- A small piece of flagging tape wrapped around a strap on your backpack will help you locate your pack more easily when you drop it for a stalk. It also makes it easier to keep tabs on your hunting partner if you separate. Top 9
  6. Luci Solar Lantern- This is an inflatable solar powered lantern that weighs less than 4 ounces. It’s extremely bright and doesn’t require batteries. During the day just set it out in the sun to recharge, so when you get back to camp it will be ready to go. It’s perfect for the backcountry or at any camp.
  7. Cushioned Toe Tape- This may seem minor, but your feet are everything in hunting. Personally, I get hotspots on my toes (no matter what boots I have on). Nexcare waterproof tape is cushioned medical tape that helps to alleviate hotspots. Wrap a small amount around a straw (cut the straw to size), so you don’t have to carry the entire roll in your backpack. Top 8
  8. Wax Paper and Cotton Ball Fire Starters- Fire starters should always be in your backpack. Two lightweight fire starters that I have had great success with are cotton balls dipped in Vaseline and folded up Wax paper. They are both extremely flammable, super light weight and take up hardly any space in your pack.
  9. Emergency SOL Bivvy- The SOL emergency bivvy is a perfect survival bag. Whether your sleeping bag gets wet or you’re caught away from camp at night, the SOL bag will do the trick. They are waterproof, windproof, and reflect up to 90% of your body’s heat back to you. They weigh less than 4 ounces and pack down to the size of a small apple.
  10. Clip On Light- It’s always a good idea to carry a secondary emergency light source. Clip on lights are about the size of a quarter, weigh next to nothing and easily clip on the outside of your pack. In the event a headlamp goes out, you will always have a back up light source.Top 6

 

After years spent in the backcountry, I still learn new techniques and find new gear to help us have enjoyable experiences. Remember, if you have an idea or find a product that you can’t live without, share them with others. You never know if you can help someone have a better experience or it could even save someone’s life. I wish everyone a safe, enjoyable and successful hunting season.

Top 10

ELK HUNTING WITH A TWIST! A BLOG BY TRACY BARNES

It’s so quiet that all I can hear is the sound of my heavy breathing as I make my way deep into elk country. No wait, I think to myself, I hear a noise. It’s a low grumbling. It gets a little louder, and a little louder still. Then, all of a sudden I hear a squishy, explosion sound followed by a pungent smell. I look down and see the top of my 6 month old’s head. She’s dangling from a front pack and yep, full diaper. The grumbling noises are followed by a happy squeal and then some random babbling. For a minute there I almost felt as if I was sneaking through the woods.

There’s one month until the start of archery elk season in Colorado and I’m doing some scouting. I have been hunting these woods now for over 20 years and my dad before me and we know these woods like the back of our hands. We also know that there are elk in here. My scouting this year is more focused because I now have a baby who requires much of my time and I’ll likely be taking her with me for some of the hunts as my husband will be working during season and the grandparents are out of town. Plus, it’s what we do. We’ve always hunted as a family and I see no need to stop now that I have a family of my own.

I do realize that my strategy for this coming archery season needs to change this year. I used to be in incredible shape and put in miles from sun up until sun down and I could run from one canyon to the next after a bugling elk. But this year I’ll be packing a 7 month old and she’s not only heavy, but not exactly sneaky, stalking material. My normal strategy of spot and stalk may have to change.

Today I’m putting up some game cams deep in the woods to check for some patterns that may make hunting with a baby easier. As I’m walking a long I can’t help but picture myself sneaking up on a nice bull while he’s raking his horns on a tree, unaware of my presence…. that is until the baby on my back squeals with joy at the site of a large animal and waves her arms in the air. Yep, that’s how I envision it. And I got a reassuring message from Kirstie Pike, CEO of Prois when I told her I’d be hunting with my daughter. “LMAO! Some of my worst hunting experiences were with my kids!!! Way to land on your feet!”. I’m not quite sure I’ve landed on my feet, but more likely my head.

So, my expectations are a little different than years past, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to give it my best effort. I’m an experienced hunter, so I’ll take what I know and try to make the best plan possible, and when that doesn’t work I’ll improvise the best I can.

tracybaby

My plan:

Scout some good locations for some ground blinds, where my daughter and I can sit and wait for an unsuspecting elk to walk by. The ground blind will be equipped with a camouflaged baby tent where Tiegan (my daughter) can move around and play without being seen. It’ll also double as a diaper changing station. Sit, patiently (or not so patiently), in ground blind while the sounds of baby babbling and the smell of dirty diapers fills the air. J

 

I consider my plan to be flawless. (insert sarcasm) But all it takes is one elk to walk by, right?

Plan B: Spot and Stalk and elk with a babbling, constantly moving baby on my back.

Again, another flawless plan….

 

Or so we’ll see.

tracyscout

Two weeks later….

Today Tiegan and I checked one of our cameras deep in the woods on this ridge next to an avalanche chute. She babbled and chewed on my finger most of the way there. It was a great day, with no clouds in sight and a crisp feel to the air, which made it feel like fall was on the way. We climbed the long logging road up to the top of the ridge, cut back into the deep woods, across two avalanche chutes and up to a high ridge. I set up her tent and she played a bit while I got the card out of the camera and set it back up. Just after noon, we were still on top of the ridge. I was feeding Tiegan a bottle and looked across to the other side of the avalanche chute and out walks 2 bulls and a couple of cows. Great! I think to myself, this ought to be a good test. We had to walk/sneak back past them to get to the truck, so I would be able to see how sneaky we could be. I pack up the tent and all our gear and get her in the pack and cut across the chute several hundred yards below the elk.

We (I) quietly move across the trees. I keep Tiegan distracted with a chew toy. We make it to within a hundred yards below the feeding elk. Not even remotely close to being within bow range, but I’m not interested in spooking them, or at least I hadn’t planned on it. As we get to the edge of the trees along the chute. Tiegan cuts loose with some babbling. I look up to where the elk are and sure enough they’ve zeroed in on our location. Luckily the wind is good and they just stare, trying to make sense of the moving thing on my back. Before they figure it out I slip into the trees and head back towards the truck.

This will definitely be an adventure, a difficult one.

This year I’ve put up some game cameras in my usual hunting spots way back in the backcountry. I’ve never used game cameras for scouting before. I’ve always just used them to check out the deer, skunks, raccoon, mountain lions and bears that roam through our property outside of town. And I’m horrible at placing the game cameras too as these are the type of pictures I get….

cowelkIsn’t she cute…

antlerelk

Yeah…the horns from this guy block the entire head of the bull in the water. Just my luck…

elkgamecam

The only 2 photos I got of these bulls. I never get a look at the far one and the closer one you only see a teasing bit of his nose and brow tines….

I’ve gotten a few other decent pictures too…..

bullfullbody

But mostly it’s just nice seeing elk and it gives me an idea as to their patterns and what time of day they are moving. This is important because I’ll likely be spending a lot of time in a ground blind. I’ve never hunted from a ground blind or a tree stand before. I’ve never able to sit still for long enough. So, this will be new experience on many different levels for me. This ground blind won’t be your typical blind as it will be complete with a baby tent and a diaper changing station. The tent’s purpose is so that she can move around and play and not be seen by large animals with great eye sight. I’ll cover it with a camo netting.

BabyBarnes

I’ve been packing the tent with me on our scouting trips and she loves it. It’s great to keep her out of the rain and bugs and gives my shoulders and back much needed rest every couple of hours. Another thing I’ve been doing is practicing a call around her so that she’s used to the noise. She makes a pretty good cow call/squeal, so there’s an added bonus. I’ve also practiced shooting my bow while she’s in the pack on my back. She get’s super excited at the sound of the arrows hitting the target and squeals with joy every time the arrow flies. Yeah, this is going to be an interesting season for sure.

I’ve also been going through some of the things I’ll be packing this season that I normally wouldn’t. Here’s my list so far…

 

Diapers/Wipes

Air-tight Ziploc bags for dirty diapers (to hopefully keep the smell at bay)

Baby Tent

Bottles of milk & baby food

A small toy or two

Extra clothes/layers for the baby

BabyBarnes2

As far as failures & successes go, there is always an adventure and this one will likely not disappoint. So, here’s to family tradition, and keeping a sense of humor about all things….

-Tracy Barnes

Preparation for Archery Season

CandyYow           Training and preparation for hunting season is a yearlong goal, we all know that and work hard at shooting straight, working out and building our stamina. Many of you post pictures of beautiful ladies in cute workout clothes with big smiles, for some reason I am not able to pull that off! I look like a sweat drenched, lungs screaming, and hair awry mess. But non the less I am out there pushing for the goal which is being able to keep up with my animal of a man husband as he skips over the mountains like a goat in pursuit of the next animal we are hunting. As much as I love the hunt, the spot & stock, and the beauty that God allows us to see in the Backcountry, I can honestly say I am not crazy about working out all year long. I really wish the workout fairy would visit me with some pixie dust and give me energy, agility and strength, (oh yea and a thin waist to boot). Since that is about as apt to happen as a Unicorn carrying me over the mountain I will suck it up and get back to the gym.

So everyday I do my workout, shoot my bow, and dream of that big bull screaming in my sleep. Everyday I dream of the perfect shot, practice and practice again. I work on my cow calls and yes the bugle, well if you could call it that, it sounds more like a spike in heat!!!

But it’s the thought that counts right? At least until I am calling in a monster bull for Randy and the squeaking sound sends the bull in the opposite direction at a high lope.

I know more than one of you understand and practice just as hard for what seems like little progress at times. But remember when you get out there it will all fall in to place, you will be surrounded by God’s beauty and peacefulness, you will witness wildlife and nature at its finest, and yes you will probably get a few weird looks from your husband when you get excited and blow the bugle, but it will all be worth it. So with no more whining I will go back out and practice some more with my Mathews Monster Chill, I will step up my workout, I will grab the bugle and practice again and again. At night I will dream over and over of the perfect shot, the bull screaming in early morning fog, and I will live my dream!

Good luck ladies, shoot straight and can’t wait to hear your success stories because I know we will all succeed as we are Badassery ladies living our dream.

 

God Bless,

Candy Yow

Extreme Desire TV

 

 

How Road Kill Rabbit Stew Led to My Western Elk Hunt Honeymoon…by 2013 Prois Award Finalist Sheri Coker

How Road Kill Rabbit Stew Led to My Western Elk Hunt Honeymoon…

Weddin' Worthy Rabbit Stew

My first, but certainly not my last Western hunting adventure had humble beginnings. I grew up hunting and fishing the hills of Arkansas.  As a child my dad stuck me on deer stands and put fishing rods in my hands until the outdoor passion became engrained in my weird, multifaceted personality.  I was told that every Southern woman worth her salt should be able to accurately shoot any weapon she was handed, skin any animal without a flinch, and back a boat on a dime.  I’m worth my salt. My undergraduate degree was in biology, but my master’s in dance, yes DANCE, so even today, I continue to priss through the woods, daintily leaping over logs and gingerly performing dance steps over the slippery rocks of rushing creeks to commandeer my game.

My 90 year old Grandma Hill would have target practice with a paper plate stuck in the top of an old cedar tree so that “When I want rabbit stew, I can just go out and get one!”  My boyfriend accidentally ran over a swamp rabbit one rainy night.  If you aren’t familiar with swamp rabbits, then let me tell you those rascals are like a cottontail on steroids!  The poor thing was expired but intact, so I suggested he pitch it in the back of his truck.  Once home, I proceeded to make the best road kill stew out of that rabbit that he had ever put in his sweet little mouth! After dating for over two years, THIS was the push over the top for the immediate marriage proposal.  Really?  If I’d known that was all it took, I might have frequented the back roads in search of those hippity hoppity creatures myself, screeching through the darkness, weaving to and fro at speeds not unlike Dale Earnheardt!  At any rate, in two months we were wed and bear hunting and halibut fishing on Prince William Sound, Alaska.  But that is a story for another day!

The second portion of our honeymoon, we decided, would be that elk hunt we had both dreamed of for years.  We planned.  We schemed.  We trained.  We contacted a good friend from Alaska who is wise in the “Elkin Way.”  He flew to Utah, where we drove 22 hours to meet him, continuing on to a section of public land in the backcountry of Idaho.  Folks, Idaho is a long way from Arkansas!  We loaded our supplies and headed up, up, and up to our chosen base camp location, from which we would hike twice daily for eleven days of hard, concentrated hunting.  We climbed about 2000 vertical feet per day, and at 5′ 2″ and about 115, I still lost 12 pounds.  Ladies, I discovered that elk hunting is a great way for a woman to stay in those “skinny jeans!”

On our first hunt, we excitedly hiked down to a canyon that cornered up to a section of private land.  Pointed out to us was the approximate whereabouts of an elusive fence line, beyond which we were not allowed to shoot an elk.  That very first crisp, cold morning, a group of handsome bulls came bounding out of the golden glow of aspens at the bottom of that canyon, and I thought my rifle would shake right out of my hands!  They put on a tremendous show, unlike anything I’d ever witnessed. However, they were at a distance and quite obviously on private land, so I raised up to get a better look.  When I did, I happened to see movement below, catching 13 cows waltzing down a trail right under me.  Not legal!  Oh well.  But what a first hunt!

Later that morning, out from the trees on the ridge across from us, 400 yards away, meandered a little spike bull.  I watched him.  I wondered.  I realized I had forgotten to discuss the efficacy of shooting a spike.  In whitetail hunting, where I come from, you get in trouble back at camp for shooting a spike and I did NOT want to be the one on the hot seat!  I’m a goody two shoes girl who implicitly follows the unspoken rules of the hunt!  So, I crunched on potato chips and crispy apples and made enough racket that I’m surprised it didn’t echo across the canyon and send that little spike into a run for his life.  I decided then and there that I was really gonna like elk hunting if I could consume enormous amounts of loud food while doing so.  I like to eat.  A lot.  At home, I would have sat motionless and starving, for fear the smell, noise or movement would’ve scared away my prey.  In the end, I chose not to take the spike, for fear of retribution back at the base camp.  Turns out I was wrong and they would’ve been thrilled for me to have harvested the meat.  Well, darn the luck.

My husband and I would be the first to leave camp and the last to return each day, but still no elk to haul back.  We continued to see elk, but all cows or bulls on private land.  Or were they?  Exactly where WAS that fence line?  I was looking pretty rough by the 10th day without washing my hair and my fourth day wearing the same ratty tee shirt.  It didn’t help my femininity that our host’s girlfriend was driven up to camp wearing her perfectly matching hi tech outdoor garb with her perfectly styled hair blowing in the wind, flashing her blindingly white teeth, while batting her doe-like false eyelashes and exclaiming, “Oh Baby, isn’t this fun?  It’s like we are really camping or something!”  I thought, “Oooooh, yes, “Baby,” it is SOMETHING alright.”  Grrrr.  It made me even more determined to get my elk!

We were now on the next to last day with my chances of getting an elk slipping away. I was crouched stiffly in my spot, freezing my butt off at the crack of a nippy dawn and finally decided to warm up with a little jig across the ridge to check out that fence line position once and for all.  I eventually figured out that elk are not like whitetails, but are nomadic, and I could investigate the fence line without being too awfully concerned about never seeing an elk there again.  I know.  “Duh!” all you Western hunters are saying.

As I crept down the fence line from the top of the ridge, I heard a cow call, and as I watched in amazement, I saw a magnificent bull step out from behind a tall spruce in the distance.  My heart was POUNDING.  I put my crosshairs on him but I couldn’t pull the trigger.  I didn’t know where he was in relation to that fence line marking private ground.  I frantically scoured the hillside with my binoculars, looking for that tiny strand of barbed wire.  Hurriedly, I would glance back to my elk.  He was just leisurely nibbling at leaves, giving me one broadside shot opportunity after another.  Having this beautiful creature in my crosshairs again and again for 10-15 seconds at a time and not being able to pull the trigger for fear of violating private ground was killing me.  I watched, tears rolling down my face as he disappeared over the next ridge.  I followed that lone barbed wire strand to find he had been on my side of the fence for a long while.  I kneeled down and sobbed.

He was the last elk I saw on my first Western hunt.  Next year, the first day, I’m marking that fence with bright, neon ribbon tied in great big bows that will glow in the light and flap in the wind!  I’m considering battery powered blinking lights.  The first legal elk that is dumb enough to step into my sites will be headed for my freezer.  I will even pack an extra clean hat in case “Baby” comes up from civilization to spend day 10 with us.  Oooooh yes.  I am now addicted to the Western hunt.

Incredible + Socks = Incredisocks

Prois Staffer Teri Lancaster

By Teri Lancaster
“Socks? She’s reviewing socks?”  I know – that’s what you are asking yourself right now – but stay with me.. really… these socks are WORTH reading about.  I’m not usually one to pay more than $10 for a pair of socks and would have never even thought about buying these socks. However, these socks were given to me by fellow Prois gal and original badassery guide, Angie Denny from Table Mountain Outfitters.  I was there in last September  tagging along on my husband’s elk hunt.  The first night out I acquired a huge quarter size blister on top of another blister.  I was definitely in a bad way.  I think I had about 5 bandages on top of one another to try to alleviate additional rubbing on the blister.  By the end of the third day hunting I was miserable.  The fourth morning when we showed up early to hunt and Angie saw me limping I showed her my blister. “OUCH”. She ran upstairs and brought me down some socks. I think I looked at her sort of dumbfounded and even replied “I have socks on”.  She said, “Try these socks from Prois.  They are really good socks, I promise.”  Ok – she’s in her boots 12 hours a day, mostly 6 days a week, so I know she know’s ‘good socks’!   I can truly tell you that these socks are worth EVERY penny!  The reinforced toe and heel are definitely thicker than other socks I’ve tried.  But the best part of the socks are truly that they keep your feet dry and after 3 days of wearing them straight they didn’t stink. Not that I put them up to my nose, but REALLY, do you need to put socks up to your nose after 3 full days of wearing them to know if they smell or not? I’m sure Angie is probably wondering where those socks went to – hmmm, should I tell her they are safe and sound in Florida with me?  Shhh… we’ll just keep that little secret between us.
This sock is made with 200 thread count, patented 3 dimensional weave with an Italian weaving machine so it fits like an Italian suit; perfectly. Incredisocks are antimicrobial, odor absorbing and moisture wicking for supreme long wearing comfort which makes for the perfect travel companion. Backpacking or simply working, repetitive wearing is not an issue, they won’t need laundering. Incredisocks are the ideal choice for travelers, sports enthusiasts, or those just seeking the best comfort available in sockwear.  Made from bamboo charcoal, the sleek designs only confirm Incrediwear’s commitment to perfection. This recipe ensures a perfect match no matter what your desire. Whether you are a competitive athlete, or simply have cold, tired feet, Incredisocks evoke luxury and sophistication that is unavailable in other socks. Keeping you warm when it’s cold and cool when its warm, Incredisocks performance unequivocally lives up to the promise of excellence. How do Incredisocks and Incredibraces help to increase circulation? The natural properties of bamboo release negative anions into your body causing an internal vibration of the cells and resulting in increased blood flow, which means more oxygen to the tissues. Why don’t my socks not stink after I wear incredisocks? The fibers used in Incredisocks contain anti-microbial properties that kill odor causing bacteria. In fact, Incredisocks can be worn for extended periods of time without washing. One test drive in these socks will make you a believer! Join the Incredi-movement today!
http://www.proishunting.com/product_info.php?cPath=25&products_id=87
MSRP $18.90

Prois Posse Member, Shannon Rasmussen Has No Ordinary Sleigh Ride!

I spent Saturday morning doing something truly unforgettable. Picture it, a cold snowy winter morning. A horse-drawn sleigh with hay bales for seats. A group of friends, anxious for what they know they are about to experience. Two majestic draft horses pull the sleigh as it jolts forward down a snowy lane, deeper into the woods, then comes to a stop. There we wait. After several minutes the first silhouette appears in the trees, as if it had been standing there the entire time, yet somehow unseen by this group of spectators. Suddenly more and more bodies appear, making their way through the trees, brush, and deep snow.  Then we hear it… a sound which will remain one of my favorite spine tingling sounds for as long as I live-a bull elk bugling. Then you see him, trotting in with the rest of the herd, as if a dinner bell has been rung, which in fact it has, only in the form of sleigh bells. Filing in one after another, cows, bulls, calves, what seems like an unending procession of elk.

Do I have your attention? Now for the best part!

The hay bales I spoke of earlier are what the sleigh bells have beckoned this massive herd of elk to come running in for. Dinner is served. One by one the elk surround the sleigh and start snacking on the hay bales, yes, right out from under our warmly dressed bums. As an elk hunter and admirer of these creatures I cannot think of a more  surreal situation. Magnificent bulls mere inches away, not caring that we humans are sitting atop their meal. I can’t think of anything else quite like it!!!

Although we could have sat there amongst that herd all day, unfortunately it was time to go. So, once again the horses pulled on their reigns, jolting the sleigh forward, and away we went, knowing we wouldn’t see this herd of elk again until next winter when they are drawn in by the sound of sleigh bells in the cool, crisp winter air, ready to feed.

Shannon and Her New Friends!