Cool nights and crisp mornings bring pangs and yearnings for elk season. If you’ve ever dreamed of an elk hunt, you may envision fall colors, big mountains and screaming bulls. Hunting bull elk during the rut is a hunt of a lifetime.
The truth of the matter is there are numerous ways, locations and scenarios for elk hunts. I think of the vision I shared above, while an acquaintance shared a vision of riding short horses across Mongolia with guides who didn’t speak English and expected you to jump from your running horse to ambush the glorious bull.
When you’re seeking an elk hunt, whether going on a DIY (Do-it-Yourself) or guided hunt, you need to set your dream as number one and plan the hunt around it.
If you’re not quite sure what I’m speaking of in “types on hunts”, let me enlighten you.
You can stay at a five-star lodge, sleep between 1000 thread count sheets, eat lobster and be driven out to look for the bull of the size you’d like. OR You can hike in, six miles, a-foot-back, carrying your dehydrated food, tent and air mattress on your back. You see the variables in between these two extremes are endless.
Although I do love luxury and plush accommodations, I also enjoy the challenge of surviving and hunting at +9,000 feet. Generally for this “roughing it,” type hunt I’m afforded the luxury of having my horse carry much of my gear. I do have weight restrictions and limits to what he’s going to carry. After all, I don’t want him to expire carrying the kitchen sink up to wilderness camp.
This year a couple friends and I will be hiking into a new hunting area. We won’t be bringing my trusty stead. We’ll be carrying our packs, which means I’ll be bearing the weight so I’m even more limited to only the necessities.
What to put in your pack for a remote elk hunt
- Rifle and ammunition – These are likely the heaviest items you’ll be carrying. Your choice, including weight, in firearms may play key in the task. On a remote, hike-in hunting trip you’d better not forget your hunting tool. Also, remember to bring a sufficient amount of ammunition.
- Hunting license – I usually carry my hunting license on my person but friends carry theirs in their pack. Either way, it’s essential. If you forget it, it’ll be a long hike out.
- Hunting pack – Look for a lightweight, sturdy, trekking pack that fits your frame. The one I love obviously might not fit you because I’m a petite woman.
- Accommodations - Tent, sleeping bag and pad. The sky’s the limit on all of your housing needs. Some key features I recommend are waterproof, rainfly, lightweight, ease of set up, compact size and durability.
- Food and water – Divvy food for the number of days you intend to be in the woods. I pack each day’s snacks and meals in a larger, plastic bag so I don’t over eat and run out of food.
There are many types of dehydrated meals. I prefer the Mountain House brand. You’ll have to do some trial and error learning in this department.
Bring a water filter system, bottle and bladder to store it in. Use water for drinking as well as cooking.
- Cookware – I’ve used a Jet Boil to heat water and cook meals for years. It suffices as a stove, pan and cup; stores nicely and is lightweight. Remember an extra fuel cell for this stove. Pack a lightweight 3 in one tool with fork, knife and spoon.
- Survival tools – Pack paper maps and compasses as well as your GPS. Bring a headlamp, and don’t forget extra batteries.
Make sure you have first aid kit pain relievers, bandages, antiseptic wipes, suture materials, fingernail clippers and any prescriptions.
- Hygiene products – Take your dental kit and “mountain money,” aka toilette paper. To minimize space, pack mini-sized toothpaste, floss and folding toothbrush.
- Hunting clothing – It’s your choice as to weather you’d like to wear camo or not. When you’re headed in to the wilderness and have limited space, you need to bring 2 pairs of pants, two lightweight shirts, rain jacket and pants, an outer-layer jacket for the chance of cold fronts arriving. Pack waterproof boots and a sufficient number of socks for the days you’ll be hunting. If your feet are sore, you’ll be of no use. A hat will protect you from sunburn and help conceal your bright face.
- Hunting necessities – The goal on this hunt is to tag out, which means you’re going to need cow calls and bugles to get that big boy in. A good set of binoculars come in handy for locating game prior to the stalk. I prefer the Swarovski ELR because they are a two in one, binocular with range finder. Once you locate “Mr. Big and after shots are fired, you’ll need knives, a sharpener and game bags.
- Bring a small amount of paracord for use in tying quarters to your pack-frame. Flagging tape is useful. Mark the trail as you pack the first quarter out of the woods. You and your friends can follow your marked trail as you return to pack the remaining quarters out.