Backpack Hunting -0 Backpack experience

BrianB7mm

Newbie
Joined
Aug 21, 2021
Messages
6
it will be an adventure to learn from, you are definitely not stacking the odds in your favor. The elevation is going to be what gets you, because in five days you will just be acclimating to the higher elevations. There are a lot of good things out there on the internet to help out with a trip like this one. I would say get yourself some kind of satellite communication device for an emergency it will be well worth the money if something happens.
 

DanimalW

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Feb 9, 2020
Messages
156
I think too many people are living in fear these days. Big deal if you learn on the fly during your hunt. Don’t go alone your first time and carry an inreach. What’s the worst that’s going to happen? You gain some laughable memories? Maybe you head back to the truck to camp because you got in over your head? Maybe you go get a motel room? Maybe you say screw hunting all together and go troll some bars in the area to close out your vacation?
 

JesseBYOE

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2021
Messages
12
With Western hunting peaking in popularity, as well as the idea of “backcountry” itself ie “backcountry hunting”, the appeal of “backpack hunting” also seems to be peaking in popularity. While I’m certainly of the opinion that most first time Western hunters should be truck camping for the sake of mobility, I wouldn’t rule out an experienced backpacker, especially someone who has backpacked in the West before, planning to backpack hunt for their first Western hunt purely for the aesthetics of it.

Anyway, with the constant questions based around expressing this idea: “Long time Eastern whitetail Hunter, heading West next month for the first time to DIY, OTC archery hunt elk. Plan is to pack in deep until we find elk. What kind of tent and sleeping bag should I buy for archery elk hunting in unit 555 near blue lake at 11,333 feet? Also, should I filter water or plan on packing in with 7 days worth of water for my DIY, OTC, pack-in, archery elk hunt?”

-seemingly expressing total inexperience of all things backpacking related. A poll in one of these backpack hunting FB groups with 10,000+ members revealed that a full 1/3rd of soon to be first time elk hunters were planning to “backpack hunt” with an admitted 0 nights experience backpacking as an adult (Cub Scout trips 25 years ago don’t qualify) and were in fact intending to “cut their teeth backpacking during their inaugural Western hunting trip (yes, we know: “DIY, OTC, archery elk, packing in and keep moving until we find elk” -hit all of the lingo corners.

Anyway, on the scale of reasonable to absurd, how entirely over-their-heads across the board are these people?

IMO, if you are going to be an effective “backpack hunter”, you’re going to have to spend way more time on the front end backpacking than hunting in order to get your backpacking so dialed in that it doesn’t get in the way of hunting. With that in mind, if you haven’t spent *at least* 20-30 nights out backpacking, at least some % of those nights being multi days trips (not just overnighters), and, for the majority, at least 1 Western backpacking trip, then one’s expectations for how that “western Backcountry, DIY, OTC, archery elk, backpack hunt” have pushed into expectations bordering upon the absurd, if not outright insane, due to false expectations of reality rooted in a total inexperience with actual reality: You can’t reasonably expect to use backpacking as an effective vehicle for hunting unless you are already a backpacker.

Thoughts?
If they don’t get out there, how are they going to learn? Find someone experienced to tag along with and get out there. Sure it might be terrible and you may never want to go again. Or it might be rough but you learn some things and want to go back again next year. You don’t know what you don’t know also applies to not knowing what you are capable of until you try.
 

George Hamrick

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
May 1, 2020
Messages
204
Location
OHIO
I definitely see things from both sides. I was in this same boat two years ago. I had never been backpack hunting before, but knew that’s what I wanted to do. I did a ton of research, and had to buy a lot of gear, but I was very happy with it.

I had been on a previous elk hunt in the area though, and had been hunting from a basecamp on that hunt. I learned a lot from that trip. If I had tried backpack hunting without that first trip, I definitely would have been in over my head. Because of this, I do think it’s best for a person to do a basecamp/truck camp hunt first.

With the resources available on here and online, a backpack hunt is definitely doable for a first timer though. It will come with a lot of lessons learned and challenges. I don’t think it’s for everyone, but there’s only one way to find out. I do think if someone is considering it, they should do some test runs during the summer. If a person can’t set their tent up in the dark without it being a major pain, they’ll hate it. Without the right gear, a bad storm could turn into a major problem as well.
 

WESTERN VA HUNTER

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Dec 23, 2019
Messages
196
Location
Fulks Run, VA
A good way to gain backpack experience fairly easily is to fins a spot near you that you can walk in a bit and stay the night. Then pick a day of the week and walk in stay the night that day no matter what....does not have to be a far walk either just far enough to only have what you carry.

Good luck.
Some really good advice here.
 

Drewby

Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2021
Messages
63
The advice of taking a local trip is a good one. It helps you figure out the easy stuff of what worked and what didn't while you're still close to home. You can also figure out what you don't need to bring. Whenever we bring new people on wilderness canoe trips, they go on a handful of car camping/hike in trips first to help them in this process as well to give us an idea of how they'll handle things in the woods.
 

Rich M

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jun 14, 2017
Messages
3,079
Location
Orlando
I've not done a 10 day backpack hunt and have no desire to do so, but if I did, all those camping trips as a kid might just come in handy and maybe, just maybe there would be no real issues cause, like it or not, I've already done all of that stuff that folks make such a big deal out of - from finding water to lighting wet wood to freezing my butt off in a sleeping bag on a cold night. Likewise, many guys have done this stuff and are much more prepared than they ever considered.

I think the biggest thing is fear and uncertainty. Give it a go - have fun. Worst case, you head in early and from what you read about the various "mental" stuff is most guys aren't ready to be away from momma for that long anyway. Step outta yer comfort zone and have some fun!
 

Gatorgrizz27

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Dec 11, 2016
Messages
685
Location
Tallahassee, FL
I’m not a fan of how popular it’s become, especially within the last 2 years. There was a noticeable change in the number of guys out there EVERYWHERE with absolutely ZERO idea what they were doing. Stuff like just walking through the woods at a normal hiking pace blowing a call, with the wind blowing the wrong way of where you’d expect any elk to be.

We found more < 24 hour old sign than I’d ever seen, but only got into bow range of elk a handful of times. They were just being pushed around all over the place.

I had backpacked quite a bit, including stuff like the Boundary Waters, as well as day hunted a lot where we covered 10-12 miles in a day before I started backpack hunting out west.

You really can’t prepare for the altitude on day 1 even if you’ve trained, and coming to the realization that it’s tough to get under a 45 lb pack including a weapon, binos, game bags, etc doesn’t make it easy either.

However, after doing it and having successful trips, going backpacking in the summer with no real goal is much less satisfying, as is hunting where you have to drive and have your phone ring every day.
 

Peaks&Creeks

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Nov 21, 2016
Messages
266
Location
Butte, MT
Just go for it. I really enjoy seeing all the newbies carrying 80 pound packs for a 3 day outing, sucking wind up a mild slope. The best part is finding their camp setup in prime elk hunting grounds. As this backcountry hunting thing gets more popular, I’m finding myself closer and closer to the truck, and getting into animals more than I do in the backcountry these days.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Dalen88

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Mar 26, 2020
Messages
142
Location
East Kootaneys B.C
i really dont think its that hard to get into no with you tube and this site and the wealth of knowledge on the internet. My first backpack trip was a fly 10 day stone sheep hunt, did i have everything dialed? No. Did i learn alot about what gear i should have and shouldn't have, yes. Packed to much food, eyp! But I most certainly dont think you need 20-30 nights out before you go on a hunt.
 

Wyobohunter

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Dec 23, 2021
Messages
1,585
i really dont think its that hard to get into no with you tube and this site and the wealth of knowledge on the internet. My first backpack trip was a fly 10 day stone sheep hunt, did i have everything dialed? No. Did i learn alot about what gear i should have and shouldn't have, yes. Packed to much food, eyp! But I most certainly dont think you need 20-30 nights out before you go on a hunt.
Fair points. I was thinking of my start in backpacking, rock climbing and mountaineering as a teen in the early 90’s. It’s nearly amazing to me that I was never seriously injured. We started out using hardware store rope and made “harnesses” out of Army Surplus web utility belts. I guarantee most of our layers were cotton. Not that we did any spectacular climbs but the danger was real. There weren’t as many resources, at least no internet. Once we found the book “Mountaineering, the Freedom of the Hills” we started slowly acquiring actual gear. Starting with real climbing equipment. At the time I didn’t really hunt. I’d gone a few times with my dad but he talked about hunting more than actually doing it. He did start me handloading at a young age and I’m grateful for that. Anyway, with the readily available information there is now I suppose you are right. A person can learn a lot without having to risk too much.
 

Michael Rankin

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jan 10, 2016
Messages
284
With Western hunting peaking in popularity, as well as the idea of “backcountry” itself ie “backcountry hunting”, the appeal of “backpack hunting” also seems to be peaking in popularity. While I’m certainly of the opinion that most first time Western hunters should be truck camping for the sake of mobility, I wouldn’t rule out an experienced backpacker, especially someone who has backpacked in the West before, planning to backpack hunt for their first Western hunt purely for the aesthetics of it.

Anyway, with the constant questions based around expressing this idea: “Long time Eastern whitetail Hunter, heading West next month for the first time to DIY, OTC archery hunt elk. Plan is to pack in deep until we find elk. What kind of tent and sleeping bag should I buy for archery elk hunting in unit 555 near blue lake at 11,333 feet? Also, should I filter water or plan on packing in with 7 days worth of water for my DIY, OTC, pack-in, archery elk hunt?”

-seemingly expressing total inexperience of all things backpacking related. A poll in one of these backpack hunting FB groups with 10,000+ members revealed that a full 1/3rd of soon to be first time elk hunters were planning to “backpack hunt” with an admitted 0 nights experience backpacking as an adult (Cub Scout trips 25 years ago don’t qualify) and were in fact intending to “cut their teeth backpacking during their inaugural Western hunting trip (yes, we know: “DIY, OTC, archery elk, packing in and keep moving until we find elk” -hit all of the lingo corners.

Anyway, on the scale of reasonable to absurd, how entirely over-their-heads across the board are these people?

IMO, if you are going to be an effective “backpack hunter”, you’re going to have to spend way more time on the front end backpacking than hunting in order to get your backpacking so dialed in that it doesn’t get in the way of hunting. With that in mind, if you haven’t spent *at least* 20-30 nights out backpacking, at least some % of those nights being multi days trips (not just overnighters), and, for the majority, at least 1 Western backpacking trip, then one’s expectations for how that “western Backcountry, DIY, OTC, archery elk, backpack hunt” have pushed into expectations bordering upon the absurd, if not outright insane, due to false expectations of reality rooted in a total inexperience with actual reality: You can’t reasonably expect to use backpacking as an effective vehicle for hunting unless you are already a backpacker.

Thoughts?
In my opinion there are a lot of factors that can make or break a persons first backpack hunt.

Mental tuffness, critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, and having a positive attitude in the face of adversity are some really important things when it comes to successful backpacking trips. I don’t think these are things that will be learned from backpacking, these are traits that some people have, some don’t.

I think people that have these traits/skills are probably the ones that enjoy this type of activity.

With some basic research, and the above mental attributes a person won’t need 20-30 nights of backpacking to do a backpack hunt.

My first overnight trip was with one of my bestriends on Mt. St Helen’s in Washington on an elk hunt in November. We were a couple broke 18 or 19 year olds that were completely unprepared for what we were doing. We hiked 5 miles out the night before open day. I had a cheap white stag sleeping bag that would probably be good for a summer evening with temps in the 40s at night, and a blue tarp. No tent, no sleeping bag. Around 11pm a huge storm rolled in. 20-30 mph wind, pouring rain mixed with snow. My buddy and I each rolled up with our rifles inside each of our tarps and tried to sleep. As the sun started to come up, we dropped of the ridge into a steep drainage, and spotted a bull pretty quick. I laid down and looked through the scope to shoot, scope was completely fogged up!

Our clothes and sleeping bags were soaked, and we hunted our way back to the truck.

That was one of the most miserable things I had ever done, and I have been hooked every since. I’m 42 now, and have done at least one backpack hunt every year since that trip.
 

H2PVon

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jan 3, 2018
Messages
162
Location
Western PA
The only way to become experienced is to start out inexperienced. No matter what 'situation' you encounter, at some point it will be the first time you have encountered that situation. I'd rather encounter it with a tag in my pack.
 

dplumlee12

Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2022
Messages
77
Location
Las Vegas, NV
I'm one of the dummies who is going to attempt a backpacking hunting trip this season. I do plan to do as much training as possible but for me its the challenge and experience that I'm after. I feel I have a good 5-6 years of being capable of this type of hunt and I want to make the most of the opportunity.

I have read a lot, taken a lot of advice from these forums and appreciate all the experiences shared but this is one of those things that I think you just have to go do. I hope I have all the right gear even though I bet I'm one of those who has too much. I plan to test the gear out a few times before this fall but honestly, I haven't been this excited or prepared as much for a hunt in my life. I'm already ahead of the game.
 

ben h

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jun 17, 2012
Messages
231
Location
SLC, UT
Something many people overlook is bringing a hammer with them on backpack hunts. There's nothing more satasfying after a long day than pounding in tent stakes with your own hammer, not just some rock just laying around.
 
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Wyobohunter

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Dec 23, 2021
Messages
1,585
Something many people overlook is bringing a hammer with them on backpak hunts. There's nothing more satasfying after a long day than pounding in tent stakes with your own hammer, not just some rock just laying around.
I prefer an eight pound sledge. Of course, if you weren’t kidding it’s definitely not my place to tell you what you should carry… especially since you didn’t ask 👍
 

Scoot

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Nov 13, 2012
Messages
1,069
I think both sides of this equation are pretty valid. If newbies are out on the mountain and run into extreme circumstances (weather being a biggie, but accidents, bears, etc), they won't know what to do from watching youtube (as zap said above). The flip side is that experienced backpack hunters were newbies once too and learned by doing. Did they jump in and backpack 8 miles back and at 11k+ feet the first time they did it? Probably not. All that being said, I'm of the mind that you only live once. Some people will bite off a big chunk because they are brave and have informed themselves the best they can and others will do it because they're too dumb to know what is beyond their capabilities. Some of the latter group will have problems as a result (and maybe even some of the former group too).
 
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