Camping Advice

JeffS

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Nov 28, 2012
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Hi, I'm looking for a little camping technique advice. My two hunting partners and I are hoping to head back to Region H this coming fall for our second backcountry backpack mulie hunt. On the first hunt we camped at the bottom of the drainage we were hunting. We found this to be great for water availability, but we had to hike up every morning to glass/hunt. We still wonder if this is the right technique. We've heard other guys talk about camping high so you don't have to climb every morning, which sounds great, but it seems like it somewhat limits your glassing opportunities (ie, seems like it would make it tough to glass the down the side you're camped on).

I realize this may seem somewhat elementary for most of you guys, but as relative newbies to backpack mulie hunting we'd love to hear your advice.

Thanks in advance,
Jeff
 

robby denning

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Hi JeffS,
Good question.
Have you read David Long's book yet? He covers this subject extensively.
 
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JeffS

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Hi JeffS,
Good question.
Have you read David Long's book yet? He covers this subject extensively.

Robby,
I have. Granted, it's been a little while and I probably need to re-read it, but I still seem somewhat confused.

What do you guys do?

Thanks,
Jeff
 

Slim Jim

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I always camp up towards the top of the basin so that I'm close to camp to glass the whole basin. I usually like to get close to a ridge separating two basins that way I can glass both basins without exerting a lot of energy.
 

robby denning

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I don't waste time hiking if I don't have to, but I also don't camp where I'll be spooking deer either. In W. Wyoming, that is the biggest problem. Too many hunters living on top.
 

Slim Jim

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Robby, I usually try to find a flat spot about 100yrds below ridge line to keep out of weather. Should I go a little lower?
 

ScottR_EHJ

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I have camped low, high, and just about everywhere in between(a bunch of those places in region H)....

-Don't camp somewhere that will ridgeline you on a regular basis. If you camp on top figure out your best ways to and from your glassing spots. One place we camped this year was right off of the trail in a pass. Within a mile each direction we had more places to glass than we could really get done in 4 days. We camped close to a well used trail which deer were used to seeing people on. Our camp was hidden fairly well from people, but the deer know when you are there. The ridge had plenty of trees, and we were able to get well behind it for hiking purposes to overlook the basins.

-If you plan your meals, and know the exact amount of water that will be necessary for cooking you can leave a container for that in camp. So I will pump at the last available water source for my "camp" water. Then I will top off the 4 liter bladder for my day use, most of the time, if I am conservative this can get me through for a while. In other words, pack in an extra bladder, or one of the bigger dromdary bags.

-When you take trips down to water, get plenty to drink at that spot. Another trick on the same lines is to cook up a mountain house/dehydrated meal while you are there. You save time, and a little energy with less water you have to hike back up to your camp.

- Get your camp hidden well. David covers that in his book.

-If you camp on top, make sure that you use the same exit and entry routes to your glassing points. I try to do this even during scouting trips, because deer will live in the same areas its better to not disturb the deer you plan to hunt. The problem with getting high is that you will bump deer on the way in, but if you glass from the same spots the number of deer that are bumped will be a little more limited. Along the same lines, plan your routes to the next glassing spot, wandering aimlessly in the high country gets you spotted.

These are my strategies, don't know if everybody agrees, uses the same thing but thats what I do.
 

bigeasygator

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This is all great advice from everybody. I went on my first high country mule deer hunt this year and here's what we did and what I learned. We were a bit worn out after hiking in, so we didn't camp quite where I wanted to, but we were up relatively high. We were just off a trail that sees a fair amount of use, tucked away into some trees. We kicked up deer only 100 yards below where we set up camp on the hike in, and ended up glassing just above (50 yards or so) from where we kicked up those deer. We had deer all around us nearly every day, so they either didn't notice us or weren't too bothered by camp being there unless we started to push them. Here's a few things I learned.

- for me, the hardest decision was where to glass from. I wanted to set-up camp close to there so we wouldn't have far to go in the dark of the morning. I learned there's no one perfect glassing spot. We picked a spot that gave us a good view of as much country as possible, but there were still spots we weren't able to see (below us or behind some of the terrain features far away).
- water did become an issue for us, not so much that there wasn't any, just that it was a two hour trip at a minimum to go get it. We ended up planning a lot of our hunting around this requirement.
- my (limited) experience says that mule deer like to bed in the shade of the stunted pines and willows in the high country places. Because of this you really need to move glassing spots during the day. We did very little hardcore glassing during our hunt and instead relied on hunting the mule deer we'd spot in the morning glassing sessions. These high country basins are often huge and it can take hours just to hike to an area that will allow you to glass the majority of the "shady" areas of a basin, but I think you need to do this if you really want to be effective.

So what am I going to do on my next trip? Camp somewhere up high that gives me a good vantage point for those morning glassing sessions, being cautious not to be in an area that's too "bucky", but instead allowing me a view of those areas. I'm going to move locations throughout the day and really try to pick apart that landscape in an effort to find more deer. I'm going to really try and optimize the trips to get water -- I'm going to need it and yeah, nobody likes to drop down to get it, but it's a necessity that I'll just have to plan around and try and minimize trips as much as possible.
 

robby denning

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Good stuff bigeasy and sreekers.
Slim, it's not so much how far from the ridgeline as much as it is how close you are to the bucks and bucky areas. If there are buck tracks where you are camping, you are screwing up your hunt by camping there, especially for the big deer who won't tolerate humans at all.
Same thing if your wind or noise can get to the bucky areas.

Problem with Wyoming, if you don't camp there, someone else will :)
 
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Slim Jim

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Ya Robby, I don't put my bed near their beds. If there is a lot of fresh sign I don't setup camp in that area
 
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JeffS

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Thanks for your replies thus far. What does everyone else do?
 

robby denning

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Selecting camp area is one reason scouting is so important. By scouting, you can better determine where you need to camp to avoid spooking game. Problem with Wyoming, is trying to guess where everyone else will camp. You might do it right, but no guarantee someone else won't goof it up, especially on the opener when everyone is out. After the opener, the bucks seemed to have moved into more secure country and you might be camping in a different place to access them.
 

Foldem

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I like to camp just below the ridgeline in a basin that gets a ton of hiker traffic. The next basin over hardly every has any humans in it, so I'm able to jump up on the ridge on a great vantage point and get a good view of the undisturbed bucks then get a plan together when I find one I want.
 
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