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Spike camp in or Hike in/out?
Whats your criteria for spike camping into an area versus hiking in/out each day?
This past fall, I got into an good area that held several nice bulls. The hike to the area is about 2.8 miles. Mostly on old logging roads, only about a 500ft increase in elevation, and takes over an hour to hump in.
One issue is that there can be elk anywhere from the truck to the area.
There is water nearby and good flat spot to spike camp.
Brad I have a spot that is similar. I really like hunting evenings though and hiking 3 miles back to the truck in the dark after hunting all day sucks. Really nice to walk 1/4 mile back to my tent. That being said it’s at the bottom of a big hill and it doesn’t impact the ek.
I'd kill for a 2.8 mile hike with little elevation change!! I'd hike that in a heartbeat to have a truck camp.
Thats what we have been doing
Would rather be 1/4 mile to go to tent than 2.8 miles back after a long day of hunting.
I guess for me it would depend on the temps during the hike. If im going to get all sweaty hiking in id rather have camp closer to where Im going to hunt. 2.8 miles on a flat ground with a small backpack id start to sweat, flat or not. However if Im hunting all the way in, thats a different story all together. In that case Ill take the truck.
Well, the beer's back at the truck camp, sooooo.....
99% of the time I truck camp...but it gets to be a grind. I should spike it more often.
Mountain bike in that scenario, unless there is deadfall across the road.
Mountain bikes would SUCK
Camp would be in the general direction that Midwest is pointing to
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I've hunted similar situations about 3 miles in. I'd probably walk it with only 500' of elevation change. The issue with it is I would prefer to stay in all day in that situation, and you get tempted to hunt mid-day elk that you maybe shouldn't. In top condition, I might consider walking in and out twice a day. Over 1000' elevation and I prefer the spike. Of course it also depends on how far you might hunt from the spot 2.8 miles in, another 2 miles or just within a half mile?
No brainer for me. I'll hike a LONG way for the comfort of a truck camp
Hunting would be directly from spike camp and up to 1/2 mile away - thats where they are bedding
2.8 miles one way, 5.6 miles round trip per day, 39.2 miles in a week to get to and from your hunting area. 2 hours per day/14 hours per week hiking.
If it's an easy hike with only 500 feet of elevation change it wouldn't be too difficult to pack in a spike camp. You could sleep an extra 2 hours each night and branch out and hunt farther out each day if you wanted to. Personally I would probably have a spike camp and return to the truck camp every 3-4 days if I wanted some more comfort for a night or two or to pack in some food, beer, etc. I love being able to hunt right from my tent in the morning and hunting until last light and not be far from camp.
Like Will I prefer the truck camp but I would only walk half as far for it as he will, lol. Anything under an hour hike is a no brainer after that it starts getting trickier. An hour on logging roads and not much elevation change I’m walking in/out with more food options, a roomier tent and a warmer heavier bag along with other truck camp benefits.
EOD to base camp wouldn't be bad, keeping spike camp pretty bare bones. Go refill water, eat a hearty meal, freshen up, and a good nights sleep. Esp for nights that you're chase'm till you run out of light and realize you've tacked on quite a few extra miles.
I agree Mike, hunting straight out of camp is choice.
I feel like camping much closer than a mile to the elk usually ends up impacting the hunting unless you are solo and pretty stealth about the whole thing... and the temptation to be in the woods all day when you maybe shouldn't be.
Sounds pretty choice in and out. I would be skittish about setting up a camp too close to the elk and blowing them out another 2.8 miles and several thousand feet in elevation... Not sure about a big comfy camp as I tend to fly light even at the truck just in case I need to move 10, 50 or 100 miles away to find elk... It's also nice to have a cold beer out of the cooler in the evening:)
I'd do exactly the same, hike in and out. A comfy truck camp beats a small tent or bivy sack in that situation.
The luxury of a truck camp would draw me back to it every night.
I'm opposite. I'd spike camp. This way in the morning your right on top of them with little exertion. Just bring enough stuff for a couple days and see how things pan out.
I'd quietly spike camp. Very similar situation where I hunt. Just don't want to deal with all the other people camped in the main area. Sure they get to about the same place...but by then I've found a bull to chase before the sun comes up. I want first crack at a bull in the morning and am willing to spike camp just a little ahead of them for it.
A wise man once said: When given a choice, take both.
I guess I could see either one as "acceptable" ... and it could be a game day decision for me. I'm in a base/truck camp mode lately, so I'd have to overcome that inertia. But I could see spending a night or two out ... the thing is, I don't have a TON of time to hunt, period. Splitting up camps gets to be a lot of work, and time, and it may be best, on a limited "time budget" to "Keep it simple, Stupid", and just stay at a base camp.
Keep in mind -- there's a cost for switching to a spike camp. Time, confusion, things forgotten, different food, weight. It would have to be "worth it" in terms of the two E's: Elevation (that I don't have to regain) and Elk (that I don't have to re-find).
And then there's the intangible factor of how I feel that day, and what I want to do, regardless of cost.
if the elk could be anywhere in the 2.8 miles then i would get out of there and camp at the truck.
When I seen 2.8 miles I was thinking no way I would hike that. But after seeing a big majority would hike it, helps me realize why in 3 yrs of trying I haven't got an elk. We camped within 1/2 mile of where we wanted to hunt, guessing we pushed them out. We spiked out. It was 1.75 miles from the truck with 1500ft elevation climb.
Thanks for all the input guys. Obviously there are some unmentioned details that factor into the decision.
The area with the bulls isn’t a new one to me by any means. But only hunted by going in and out for the past 15+ years.
The biggest draw to me for spending a night or 2 would be to listen for bugling during the night. I can’t do that from my truck camp, 2.8 miles away
Plus I told Midwest that I’d pack beer in and stash in the small creek :)
Depends on how old and mobile you and your hunting partner are. I prefer to spike in most places these days, I can get in pretty well but the wife not so much, do eliminating that hike in and out every day helps a lot. We've spent the money to get good gear and make a real comfortable camp. Less walking, more sleeping and we enjoy the hell out of it!
Get a good sleeping bag that compresses well and a small pad or one of those pack hammocks. Just keep it in your pack with an MRE or two and some other chow to keep you going for a couple of days. If you end up there late in the evening and don't want to come out - roll out under a good spruce and be ready to get on them first thing in the morning without the hike! Heck, the truck is still close if you want to blow out of there even in the middle of the next day!
KS, my problem with spiking out is that I will probably end up another 2.8 miles or further from the truck when I kill my elk. Makes the pack out that much tougher! Heck, I might miss out on that bull 100 yards from the truck with easy packing if I am already spiked out 2.8 miles away...
I will hike about an hour. It is not just distance, elevation plays into that equation too, before I feel the misery of spiking in becomes worthwhile. I enjoy camping. I love hunting. Every time I combine the two I end up compromising my high standards for both and being half miserable and it dulls my mental makeup when it comes to the hunt. I went through a stage where I really romanticized the whole backpack hunt concept, but real world experience and my fondness of hot showers and cold beer won that battle.
I have always had a main tent camp up in the area I`m hunting if I need to go a long distance I will spike out from the main camp. The main camp is a sparse set up near water. Dragging ass up the mountain every morning would be crazy. But it`s also a lot further than 2 miles away.
I keep a spike camp packed and ready to go in my base camp. But the past three seasons I havent found a situation to use it. Two miles in is about as far as I feel like I can get an elk out by myself and at that distance I'd just as soon hoof it and sleep in a warm comfy bed with a meal other than mush in a sack.
My favorite spike camp situations are at the end of a nasty ATV road where I can branch out from there. Rarely do ATV hunters do that, and they almost never get far from the end of the trail to hunt. They ride to my camp, turn around, and leave. But I can pack in a super comfy camp with libations and have a means to get one out, and be another mile + further in from the end of the road by daylight.
For me it varies by situation. Over the years I've mostly spiked out. The four years previous to this I did truck camp and hiked 1 to 3 miles to a hunting spot. Was successful all 4 years but this year decide to spike out again. I really enjoy the solitude of spike camp as I hunt solo. Figure I have a comfy bed and hot showers, and a beer most of the year! I think the spike -out is good for the soul. Spent three weeks in one spot this year and shot a nice 6x6. Had elk come by camp several times. Must confess I do pack in peppermint schnapps and enjoy that with hot chocolate each night! I do as low impact camping as possible. Back pack tent and no fires. And I hike out and go to town once a week to visit family and take part in those creature comforts that make us soft! It's about a 2 mile hike to where I was this year and plan to do the same next year. I think once I got into the seventies, spiking out makes a lot of sense, for more reasons than one! There's a few other Bowsiters that know what I mean........
I always feel if I spike in, I'm going to extend my range further than I'd like to. Instead of 2 miles and 2000 vertical feet back up to the truck, It might be 3 miles and 3000 feet. Plus, I always think about adding one more load (taking my camp out), to the 4 or 5 loads needed to get the elk out. Also, I like the flexibility of being able to drive to another trailhead, if one area doesn't pan out.
If the elevation change is only 500 feet...I could practically jog in and out with a daypack ;^)
Personally I really look forward to spending some nights on the mountain under the stars with some solitude and possibly being awakened by bugles. It's worth the reduction in comfort. I'd much rather be there than sharing a trailhead with other hunters or at a camp where somebody might drive up to me or past me.
And for those that are concerned about hunting midday "when we shouldn't be hunting" heaven forbid we make that mistake because non of us have ever killed bulls midday. Make sure to tell Cory Jacobsen and the BRO/Land of the Free boys that they shouldn't be hunting midday... ;^)
Looks like plenty of trees around your camp to high line a horse or two. Stay at camp.
I'd say spike camp it. Seems like you put on a lot of miles when walking 3 in and 3 out every day. Do it in and out twice a day and, you've walked 12 miles basically just getting in and out. 10 days of that and then hunting miles and you've really exerted your knees. I like truck camping too but, I like going strong for the duration of the hunt better.
Did the horse thing a couple decades ago.
Got that T-shirt. Out grew it.
I had a very similar situation this year. I was solo and opted to camp close to the hunting vs. hiking in and out each day. I would come in every 3 days or so. I got to spend less energy getting to my spots and had more time to relax at the end of each day. I had a spot that did not impact the elk that I could tell.....at least until the last weekend of season when they all disappeared....but then I think that was due to many factors with my presence being only one of them.
The last weekend I did truck camp and hike in and out just because I was tired of the labor of fetching water, not having comfortable place to sit/sleep/etc. That did get old after awhile.
Not sure how I'd do it next time around.....probably a mix of both. I didn't have a great spot for truck camping......so that might have had some influence as well.
Bottom line, while I really enjoyed the freedom of solo hunting I really missed having folks back at camp at the end and beginning of each day...........and beer. ;)
Either way could work , but the deciding factor for me is in your first post. You said that the elk could be anywhere from the truck to the main area. I hate stumbling into elk in the dark and spooking things before I ever get started. I would definitely truck camp in this situation and hunt all the way in.
Brun. Like I mentioned to Midwest, we chase elk each day right up to the spike camp area, or they are there when we get there.
So why not just ‘be there’ when they arrive?
I’d spike camp. I am a very light sleeper. If a bull bugles I usually wake up right away. I do a lot of elk location while I’m trying to sleep. That doesn’t happen when I sleep at the truck. With that said, I do enjoy an alcoholic beverage at the end of the day.
Sounds like a good situation either way. It would of course be good to 'be there' when they arrive. I would be a little worried that if I camped too close they might not follow their usual pattern, but it wouldn't hurt to give it a shot. You could always go back to hunting out of your base camp if you felt the spike camp was messing things up.
Being a quarter to half mile from where the elk want to be and getting in front of them instead of always trying to come in from behind and swing around would be a big advantage. Also, these are otc units. There is always unknown pressure coming from the easy access areas that may push the elk right in your lap.
Just how much beer can you carry, Brad? :-)
I mostly hunt wilderness so my mules carry camp a little over 12 miles for me but even do ,many times my odometer reads between 14-16 miles ,a day. Do 2.3 for a truck camp any day.
I have many other spots to hunt intermittently from base camp and hunt this only when conditions are right. Hence the spike camp question
Whats really nice about this spot is that I can stash an Action Packer full of spike camp items in August - beer in creek - and decide during the season when I want to stay a night or 2. Go back anytime and pull the stash after season
Like i mentioned above, very knowledgeable of the area and elk travel patterns, but Ive never sealed the deal in this particular spot... and thats the goal
Knowing you, I'm sure you've already made your decision. What has prevented you from killing in this spot? My guess, you've already asked this question and made the decision to be there, ready. Lets discuss this further over drinks on Friday
Brad, I have a very similar situation that's only a little over a mile "crow fly" but too difficult to access in and out in the dark through the deadfall with no trail. So I am always behind them on the last steep ridge in the morning and have to leave early in the evening.
This year I'm going to stash a spike camp back in there and if the elk are there I can hunt it right. For me, spike camping is situational and not a blind strategy.
This is a dilemma I seem to face every year. I also have a few spots that aren't too far, generally under 2 miles but the terrain is brutal & takes close to 1-1/2 hour to cover that distance in the dark & try to be there near daylight. I've sworn for years I was going to spike in but seem to be distracted by choosing a different area to hunt when push comes to shove! (grin)
Like Lou I would not go in blind I would go in there & make sure elk were using the area first before committing to it.
I do know one thing. I would not take anything in there less than a 5-point & most likely a 6 point would be the target bull. I hunt all OTC as well but there are a few places around that hold these sacred little spots! Some of these spots are so small they are good for one day, you'd best kill when your opportunity arises as there is no tomorrow once you're there!
I agree with Will, you have your mind made up, you will do it this year. It will be interesting to read your take on it & if you'd do it again! (grin)
"Where legal" here in my home state my pack goats have been a big help to me in this regard. I'll stash a fairly comfortable spike using them a few days ahead of time. I'll stash gallon jugs of water if there isn't any close by or its inconvenient to get to. I have not tried hunting with them, I just don't want to be dealing with them while im trying to focus hunting. I have not hunted with them so I have no idea how the deer or elk will react. I hear deer run and elk come in. When the hunt is over I reverse the process.
Situations,thatclose and with logging road, I'd go in and out
"what has prevented me from killing in this spot"?
The old adage - 'Elk aren't hard to kill, they are just easy to miss' - plays heavily. Ha!
Last September 14th, Midwest and I went into this area in the morning and got into 3 bulls. We chased one past the the spike camp spot, and called 2 more in that came in silent that offered no shots.
A few days later we were back in there in the evening and I bugled in another big 6pt but no shot offered.
The more I think about it, the more its becoming a quest... lol!
A logging road with gradual elevation gain? This sounds ideal for a mountain bike.
Brad - the boys and I did that same thing in Colorado a few years back. The spot where we finally found elk was about a 2 mile walk in the morning, but it was on a good trail and only gained about 500' of elevation. The boys wanted to sleep back in there on the ground, but I overrode their votes and we walked back and forth to truck camp. I was afraid we would blow the elk out of there by spike camping so close to them, and I liked the comfort of truck camp :-)
GotBow - I read an article a couple years ago about a guy who used his pack goats during his hunt to walk up on animals and shoot them.
I met a father and son in WY this year who rented pack goats and a trailer. Very reasonably priced too. They'd never done it before. The goats packed their camp in and their animals out. Seemed like a lot less hassle than when I used to hunt with my horses.
Well, now that I know that there are people packing in beer and stashing it in creeks I'm gonna be a little more observant when crossing creeks from now on...8^)
I'd go with the extra hiking and truck camp. If I did do a spike I would cut the distance in half so I only had maybe a mile to hike in. Since cnelk said there could be elk anywhere on the hike in, I wouldn't want to skip hunting the area I would miss if I spiked all the way in...
I can only say what I would do after I've been there and seen for myself. You can PM me the coordinates, wouldn't want others ruining this spot for you:)
Yeah, that's "elky" enough...
"A logging road with gradual elevation gain? This sounds ideal for a mountain bike."
Lots of non-mountain bike friendly terrain to navigate before you hit the first logging road. Mountain bikes wouldn't work in cnelk's scenario.
I do have a place I hunt in Wyoming that I will not hunt again without having a mountain bike or fat tire along. About 2 miles on a closed road at a gradual incline to where I cut off to hunt and would be able to coast all the way back to camp. Easy 45 min walk in the morning but gets to be a grind after a few days.
MT, at least leave a note with an IOU. ;^).... or make it seem like bears got to it.
Will do...I wouldn't take them all. Hate it when someone drinks my last beer...8^)
Lou, I did have one experience with a Coue's doe and the goats. She was so fixed on the goats she got within 10 yards of my grandson and I and we were talking. One of my big male goats got real curious, I saw as she was starting to leave he was going to follow after her. I had to chase him down before he got to far. I just figured that to be a fluke. I plan to do some experiments with them off season to see how mule deer will react. it will be fun anyway. Also, I have never camped over night with the goats. I understand to do that your spike camp should be outside with them or they have to be high lined. Reason being they will jump on your tent with you in it to get to you. No thanks, a 200 pound goat on the chest would be a disaster.
How much can a goat carry?
Nick My buddy in NE Neb has pack goats - see link
Nick, 5 percent of their body weight is what is recommended but only after they are 3 years old. Just like anything else I make sure they stay in shape. My two boys carry up to 50 lbs a piece, the girls are about 30 to 35. They will tell me if it's too much or if Im pushing them to hard. I've had them tongues out panting like a dog. LOL
Depends on if you want to cover that dead space every day or not. If you're finding elk between you and your target area than why kill one further in than you need to? Unless the area you are spiking to is better than the areas you are passing up, then I won't spike in. If the distance you are talking about is too strenuous every day, like it's all up hill, then I would spike in to cut down on travel time and save energy. Just don't camp too close to the elk and spook them out of the area, or you will be spiking in, only further than before.
I'm confused about goat hauling weights. 5% of a 200lb goat is 10 lbs isn't it? At 5% carry weight the 50 lb load would require a 1000 lb goat. Did you mean 25%?