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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all,

Any good places / people to go learn from in a structured manner for solo back country hunting? I've moved to the West coast and have the chance to do this now and would like to get the necessary skills to be safe and effective.

I've looked online, of course, and most places seem to be more 'watch me shoot something' rather than detail the planning, prep, etc.

Much obliged
Bijan
 

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I like solohunter and remi Warren on YouTube. Not sure if that is educational enough. But I think they do a good job pointing out some of the joys and difficulties. Gear etc. For solohhunting but of course they are making some advertising dollars too. Wish I had their job!
 

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I point people to the Rokslide forum for backcountry hunting. Lots of info there for many types of western hunting.

A few good books out there like Dwight Schuh’s Hunting Open-Country Mule Deer.

You might want to find some backpacking folks in your area. Backcountry hunting is just backpacking with some extra things.
 

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I have done long DIY backcountry bowhunts for weeks at a time. I had a hunting partner with me. You can learn everything you need to know by reading Backcountry Bowhunting by Cameron Haynes.

Going out for 2 weeks in the rockies isn't a problem. We went in 10 miles, camped up to 11,200' and stayed 2 weeks twice. The there is only two things we found as a problem - lightning and getting a big bull elk out in little pieces. Other than that it is all fun.

Here is a link to a post I wrote about a DIY Colorado Elk hunt.

http://www.tradgang.com/tgsmf/index.php?topic=72461.0

Do yourself a favor and get the book, read it and follow what Cameron says and you will be fine.

Good luck and have fun.
Gil
 

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Watching videos.
Donny vincent is my fav.
Im a wanna be. I bought a house up in the hills to be closer to my elk woods. I have a great pack, gps. Most of the gear to get me out. Always end up just hunting for day hunts. Got a mummy bag, pocket rocket and uv water filter this weekend so as to go after a few farther back back country hunts this season.
For me I let the old lady know where ill be #1 and timeline.
The whole front pocket on my SG pack is first aid. Lots of compression dressing, sugar for a clotting agent. Heavy duty ace for potential splinting along with foot care.
I absolutely love the idea of spike camping and getting farther back in.
Be interested to hear what links are presented.
 

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I have been researching hill people gear of colorado for packs. They have some informational videos on YouTube called the longhouse series. I have only watched one call "resilience" and I thought it was well put together and a timely commentary on covid as well! It is well worth the 26 min.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
This is great! Thanks everyone, keep 'em coming if you've got more to add. Cameron book is getting ordered. I've already ordered the other one and it should be here soon.

Cheers
Bijan
 

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Since about 1992 most of my bowhunting has involved solo backpacking trips into wilderness areas. Although I'm now in my 60s and no longer do backpack elk hunts due to the physical challenge of packing one out, solo day hunts in rugged, remote areas are still my favorite form of bowhunting.

I agree with lumis17 - Dwight Schuh's writing is the ultimate source of good information on back country hunting. Hunting Open Country Mule Deer, Bugling for Elk, and Bowhunter's Encyclopedia are all full of great information. All three books were written during the early days of compound bows, so much of the archery information is dated and of little use to a trad archer, but all the information on hunting techniques, elk and deer biology and behavior, clothing and camping equipment choices, food, how to find good places to hunt, other aspects of planning and preparation, and so forth is really good.

While those three books have all the knowledge you'll ever need, knowledge, personal skill levels, and personal fitness are three different things - and all are necessary for successful trips. Start out with simple, relatively short (2-3 night) trips into areas which aren't challenging to get around in, don't go too far back in (just 2-4 miles to start with), and do your first trips during times of the year when weather is likely to be good. As your personal skill level grows and you get a feel for your physical limits, equipment needs, and so forth, you can make things more challenging. The more time you spend in the wilderness, the greater your skills and fitness will be. Off-season scouting and fishing trips are great ways to develop your skills and fitness too.
 

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An after thought: It's hard to overemphasize the importance of personal fitness for wilderness hunting - particularly solo wilderness hunting. Here's why:

The biggest bull elk I've killed fell at an altitude of 10,900 feet and 6 miles from the trailhead in the mountains north of Taos, NM. I boned him out on the spot, and backpacked the meat back to my truck, which was at 7,900 feet. A big bull will yield about 250 lbs of boned meat, so it took 4 round trips to get the meat out, and the first 2,000 vertical feet down were along a knife-edged ridge so steep that at least one of my hands was in contact with the ground all the time. When all the meat was out, I made a 5th trip to get my camp. Each round trip involved 12 miles of walking and 3,000 vertical feet - all of it above 8,000 feet in altitude, which makes a huge difference due to lack of oxygen. Doing the math, that's 60 miles of walking and 15,000 vertical feet in two days, carrying a pack of at least 60 lbs for 30 of those miles. Not for the overweight, weak of heart, short of breath.... or old men, no matter how tough they might once have been!

Dwight Schuh was a marathon runner. I was captain of the cross country team in a fairly big high school, I raced bicycles all the way through college, and I ran every day until arthritis got to my ankles in my early 50s. While I was living in NM I ran 6 - 10 miles a day at altitudes of greater than 7,500 feet. While running and bicycling are great, just the exercise isn't enough because hunting in rough country exercises many muscles and tendons in your back, feet, ankles, knees, and lower legs that don't see much use on flat ground. To get ready for a big hunt in the NM high country, then, a month beforehand I would start carrying a 60 lb pack for 4 miles every day, culminating in carrying one of my pre-school aged boys + about 20 lbs to the top of Caballo Mountain (10,500 feet, about 12 miles round trip) a couple of times in the week before the hunt. Even at that level of fitness, there were some areas I really wanted to hunt that were just too far back in. At my peak, 6 miles was the limit for elk. If I'd been hunting deer, I might have gone as much as 12 miles in because there's not as much meat to carry out.

So... the best advice I can give is to start out with relatively easy hunts, discover your personal limits, never hunt in a place that might involve packing an elk up hill for more than about 800 vertical feet no matter how good your physical condition might be, and be content with that. My first backpack elk fell only 2 miles and 1,000 vertical feet above my truck (albeit at pretty high altitudes in the mountains north of Chama, NM) - and I was darned tired after packing him out! After discovering that I could do that much, I hunted progressively farther in until I discovered that 6 miles was the farthest I could pack an elk. Dwight Schuh wrote that 5 miles was his personal limit for backpacking elk, unless he had access to pack animals (Dwight used lamas).
 

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Definitely not disagreeing on the fitness end of it, I just view hunting as being tacked on to being in the backcountry here. If you're comfortable wearing a pack all day going up and down mountains you'll be in a much better place and most of the challenge of carrying heavy loads is putting one foot after the other. Having a good sense of your pace and work capacity from backpacking is critical. Also, if you've never done it, have someone show you how to properly fit a pack for heavy loads. Lots of people ride their belts too low/loose and the load lifter straps too slack.
 

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Practice, practice, practice IMO.

Every trip I seem to learn something new.

Start small, for example with short scouting trips, and grow out over time.

IMO, remember distance does not guarantee success, and if you are going deep solo strongly consider lining up a packer to get your game, especially elk, off the hill for you. There are plenty of other obstacles to overcome and your knees will thank you.
 

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Good points, Solitude. If you can line up a packer to come and get any meat at a moment's notice, it provides lots of options that aren't available if you're doing your own packing. Drop camps are another good option - and they're far less expensive than a fully outfitted, guided trip.
 

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When I hired a packer for the second trip to Colorado we brought just a little more than what we would have backpacking. When we got there he had four mules ready to bring in our stuff. He wound up just bringing one for all our stuff. We could have brought our living room furniture if we wanted to.

Another issue DIY is getting you and your stuff there. We drive so we can bring our stuff instead of flying. We drove several times from NJ to Montana and Colorado. The drives are rough.

Gil
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I"m in SoCal now so the driving won't be an issue thankfully. It's about 17hrs total to MT and that's as far as it's going to get unless I decide to go to BC...!

I'm intrigued by the idea of the packer so will look into that. I'll start planning some short excursions locally here in CA to get into the skill set and work on the fitness. I'm fairly strong and flexible thanks to the olympic lifting, but cardio is not shining through let's just say. I used to do a lot of rugby and remember well the circuit training we used to get ourselves match fit. Time to get that bucket handy....
 

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In case you decide to hunt Routt National Forest and jump off from Walden Colorado, I used Red Feather Outfitters. That was back in 2013 so I can't be sure if they are still in business. There are some outfitters in Steamboat Springs I was going to use that also pack into that area. In that area each outfitter has a area they can go into. Therefore you need to find where you will be hunting and contact that outfitter. The areas I am talking about are walk in only, so that is why there is limited access. Some zones in Routt are over the counter, so you can do a last minute hunt if you want to.

Some drop camps are on roads you can drive to yourself so be careful selecting them. An easy hunt is the Missouri Breaks out of Lewiston Montana (Charles Russel Wilderness area). There is an elk refuge inside it and is bow only. When I went they only gave out 100 rifle permits a year for the entire area. There are roads all through it and access is good. You can base camp right at your truck. The Missouri Breaks are easy walking. The only thing you have to be concerned about is gumbo! I went here on several hunts. There were a lot of elk and mule deer in the '90s. I heard that they released wolves and the herd was hit hard. I could be wrong but do your homework if you are thinking about going.

Maybe someone from Montana can chime in on the elk herd situation today. Montana you have to draw a permit so planning a hunt is tough. Plus they are expensive now.

Just some food for thought.
 

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Having help when packing out is crucial. Meat is the deadest weight you will ever experience. The last elk i shot with a rifle was wrapped around a tree on a steep hill. No way to move it an inch by myself. Gutless method only way. had him taken apart by myself in 2 hours. Packed him 1/2 steep mile to where I could get horses. That was an easy one...I was still sore for days. You also need perfect weather to take care of the meat. Cool and dry. The meat is the trophy not the horns. If there are hot nights or rain you are looking for trouble. Get the meat hanging and open up around the bone so the heat can escape. Nevada has some amazing hunting if you can get a deer or elk permit. Montana...Grizzlies! Can add a new dynamic of adventure!
 

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The Missouri breaks...it's definitely not the 90s anymore. If you have a 70k pickup and a 120k camper and a 30k boat you will fit in fine there with the other hunters that are camped at the top of every draw. Lots of elk getting chased back and forth daily.access is good always 1 mile from road or river. That's not good too easy you need to get a couple miles in to get away from other hunters that bugle and cow call too often or from their truck.....seriously! I don't even call anymore. Still hunt stalk and ambush.
 

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How is the Charles Russell? I heard that the elk herd was decimated after they reintroduced wolves. Is that true? Is that gumbo still as bad as ever?
 

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I haven't hunted there for 8 years or so. Plenty of gumbo. Don't get me wrong it's still an amazing place with some big Bulls I just don't like to have so many people around me
 
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