Moral to the Story
Without implementing my bivouac strategy I described in last week’s column, the hunt and it’s successful outcome never would have happened. While I picked up the story from the time I glassed up my bull, getting to that spot required some hard work and planning. After a 12-mile horse ride in to my drop camp site (compliments of an area horse packer) I then loaded up my pack with a bivouac camp and nearly a weeks worth of food on my back before taking off on a five mile hike to my elk hot spot. With the assistance of my headlamp, I arrived at “camp” just at dark the night before the opener. I set up bivy camp in a couple of minutes, ate and fell asleep. I woke up at first light the next morning ready to hunt. No humping it miles in the dark anymore for me.
By using high quality gear that I can trust my well being to I can stay mobile in big, broken and unforgiving country. Over an extended hunt this makes a huge difference. If you have any hope of being successful in the backcountry you have got to hunt efficiently or the chances of filling your tag spiral downhill sharply from day to day to day.
In 1997 I killed a wilderness bull on the 9th day of my hunt and in Wyoming in 2004 I arrowed my bull on the 8th day. On each of these hunts there were times when I wanted to throw in the towel, but thankfully I stuck it out. I had felt as though I hit the wall a couple of times and just think, this was even by implementing my “can’t miss” backcountry hunting strategies.
The fact of the matter is, hunting deep in the wilderness off your back is hard no matter how smart your approach. It is no coincidence that I have never seen another hunter on my Oregon elk hunts, nor did I in Wyoming or any of my 15 Alaska hunts in deep for that matter. If you long for prime hunting opportunities and personal reward beyond what words might describe, the backcountry is for you.
Time to go bivy sack shopping!