2020 Solo Backcountry Idaho Elk Recap

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COOPDUCK

Member
Joined
Apr 4, 2020
Messages
51
Appreciate everyone’s feedback, glad people enjoyed my recap. Had a few people remark on my Danner experience. Maybe I do have the best pair in the country, but I will take it! I will say I sized down a 1/2 size to accommodate for the roomier toe box on these boots, so they really fit my feet snugly. To illustrate that, I had cut my toe nails right before my elk trip, and wore a thin liner with a mid weight merino sock combo and it was perfect. I just did a two day pheasant hunt with pup this weekend, and wore the exact same liner and sock, but had not cut my toenails since before elk trip. My big toenails are almost purple today and hurt like hell today from the pressure on them. I would have been disabled had I not cut my toenails before elk hunt, or I would have been filing them down with a rock or cutting with havalon mid trip.
 

TBHasler

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2018
Messages
558
Location
Texas
Impressive hunt and a great write up of a story! Congratulations on earning a great lifelong memory.
 

Badseed

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2020
Messages
169
Awesome story and congrats on the successful hunt. Having a similar hunt coming up next year really appreciated the comments about how your gear worked.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

frobert22

Newbie
Joined
Dec 5, 2020
Messages
6
Location
Texas
Some final notes on gear. My Mystery Ranch Pintler was great, would definitely make that purchase again, it packed like a mule. Loved having the Kifaru universal gun bearer, absolutely essential to be hands free. Little embarrassed to say it, but this was the first trip I have ever used hiking sticks on, I went with the Cascade Mountain Techs that a lot of people recommend. I might put those hiking sticks up there as the single most important piece of gear on this trip honestly. They prevented probably dozens of falls on some downright treacherous snowy, icy, and muddy terrain. I wore my Smartwool 250 base layers and socks nearly non stop the entire trip, and they were awesome. I have been an Under Armour cold gear guy for many years, but this merino is worlds better. Also wore my Eddie Bauer Lined Guide pants every single day, and they were awesome too, very good ROI for the money. Like most have said, I am having some of the stitching pulling out on a pocket, but I can't see how there is anything better for the money. I'm going to be a bit of a contrarian on the next few items, I know a lot of people are convinced otherwise. My Danner Pronghorns were perfect the entire trip, no blisters or hot spots or cold or wet feet. Tons of steep miles through never ending mud, slush, ice, snow day after day after day. Never drying out, freezing at night, they never skipped a beat. Buy a boot that fits you well, they don't need to be Italian made. This is my 3rd or 4th big trip on these boots, and I have been nothing but pleased.


I went back and forth on my tent choice, and was pretty convinced for awhile I had to have a hot tent and stove with the temps I'd be seeing. I ended up buying a Big Agnes 2P Copper Spur, and it was perfect for me and my gear. I opened the tent vents up at night, and hung one of the small candle lanterns from the top of the tent. I really think it took the edge off like many have said. I also went back and forth on my sleeping system. Some of you may think I went overkill, but I was really happy with what I chose. I have an older North Face 20 degree bag that I bought many years ago, and I don't recall it being top of line back then. I thought hard about replacing it with one of the fancy new bags. In the end, I chose to go a different direction. I bought a thermarest mummy bag fleece liner, and placed it inside the sleeping bag. I laid a space blanket over the floor of my tent. I took an uninsulated klymit static v pad, and sandwiched it in between two thermarest foam pads. Lastly, I purchased a klymit luxe sheet and pillow. The sheet kept all the pads contained and working as a single unit, and my bag from sliding around, and held the pillow in place. Much of my problem with sleep systems while camping has been sliding, either me off the pad, or pillow out from under my head. This system solved all that. I can't think of a way to have a more comfortable sleep experience in the backcountry, short of packing a cot in. I used my jetboil continually throughout the trip, and never had a problem with fuel like some people have mentioned, even the first few days where it was downright COLD. I used SnowPeak GigaPower Fuel. I chose to use tablets for the most part, fearing the temps would spell trouble for my katadyn filter. I also loved having my LifeStraw so I could pack water in at every chance while my tablet was doing its work. Garmin InReach was invaluable for checking in with wife every day, had no issues with reliability or connectivity, and battery lasted forever with the setting I had it on. I used vaseline soaked cotton balls for firestarters, they worked great. The only real loser on the gear front I experienced was in regards to my gloves. I took a recommendation from the forum to go with Kinco leather gloves, treated with SnoSeal or Nikwax. I purchased those, as well as merino liner gloves. The Kinco gloves were so heavy, and had so little dexterity, I could do absolutely nothing with them. The first few days it was bitter cold. I would be wearing the liners, and if a slight breeze kicked up for a few minutes, I'm not kidding my fingers would go from fine to emergency painfully cold in a snap. I would rip the liners off and throw the kinkos on, and while they would at least get my fingers warmed up, they were useless on just about every other front. I really think I would go with a waterproof, windproof shell with some insulation, but great dexterity as well. Then I would make sure I could double them up with the merino liners for even more warmth. The kincos were too tight, I couldn't wear the liners under them. And they also seemed to stiffen up when it was bitter cold, which wasn't great. Anyways I would definitely go a different direction next time. Can't think of much else at the moment, hope this inspires one of you to try your hand at a solo elk trip. It could well be one of the most fun, amazing, challenging, grueling, miserable, and terrifying things you've ever done.
Great story!
 

blackhawkip

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 14, 2020
Messages
22
Really enjoyed reading about your experience. I have spent the last two seasons mostly hunting solo. It can be such a mind game talking yourself into and out of what to do next.

Well done!
 

Jgill19

Junior Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2017
Messages
43
Location
Pendleton, OR
Wow. That's a hell of a hunt and gift for telling a story through text as well. I always appreciate people witht he ability to take you on the hunt and convey it through text. I have tried, I wish I was able. I always love these kinds of stories. Again hell of a hunt and you sir have earned the stripes!
 
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