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Hey everyone, a friend of mine and I are in the beginning stages of planning an elk hunt, we are planning/hoping to hunt in 2022. Need advice on gear, pack, clothing etc.... I am a white tailed deer and turkey hunter since I was a kid and this will be my first trip out west that was not for the military and I doubt my deer hunting gear will hold up since I mostly hunt from tree stands. Thanks
The latest fad of hunting is convincing everyone they need designer camo to hunt out west. Hunters have always done without, but it does help to have warm/dry gear. I've hunted the mountains on and off for over 20 years and I always say you need good binocs, good boots, and a good pack. Most of your whitetail stuff will work unless you're trying to hike in coveralls meant for sitting in a tree on a cold day. Layers always work because you'll go from freezing to sweating in a matter of minutes while hiking.
Not sure why my post popped up twice lol. Anyway, I don’t care to much about good camo as I am durable, comfortable, and staying dry. I’m aware the pack will probably cost a lot because of the weight it potentially needs to hold.
I'd say the big thing to worry about is a pack and learning how to skin and quarter.
I have a good pack but I learned this year the waist belt doesnt get small enough when I have a heavy/extreme load. Thus the load when heavy is uncarryable. Research your gear, get your gear and practice with it as much as you can.
After that simply being in good physical shape for the altitude.
The best archery hunts are during the rut, think warm weather with the possibility of snow. When I get a tag, and even when I don't I always use lightweight hiking shoes for walks in the woods. No heavy boots for me. I live in the middle of a national forest (elk country) and I think you will find that elk do not have the hair trigger that deer have. I have stalked within shooting distance (40 yds) multiple times wearing street cloths(practicing for when I get a tag). So the designer camo is not needed. Use your military camo, it is what I use.
There isn't anything Thorton don't know, pay attention.
send me a pm and we can talk.
Dedicate 65% of your budget to a landowner tag. OTC elk hunts are nothing compared to limited entry hunts. Killing a nice 6x6 with a bow in a good draw area is significantly easier then killing a raghorn OTC with a rifle. You cannot imagine the difference until you have seen both many times/ Where in Ohio do you live/ i live in North Royalton.
Buy a decent pair of polypropylene long johns. Merino wool is good too but costs more. Don’t have to be expensive. You have enough time, so look for sales. . Just NOT cotton! Thin or medium is all you need. They only serve to transfer sweat to outer layers. Because no matter how cold it is, you will sweat walking in the mountains. Your outer layers are what keep you warm. As stated, designer camo is over rated.
You do need a good pair of rain gear, tops and bottoms. Again you don’t have to break the bank
And merino wool socks!!! Around 65-70% merino.
You will need a day pack to use during hunting. I keep survival gear, rain gear, snacks, water and what you will need if you get one down. I have a water bladder and tube. Don’t want to take off my pack every time I want a drink
If your gonna splurge on one item, spend on a good pair of boots and break them in with good quality socks. Get an onX or baseman subscription and learn how to use the ap
Thanks for all the input so far, I’m definitely not interested in spending money or a lot of it if I don’t have to but am willing to spend it on what is needed to set myself up for success or a good experience. DonVaThome, I am in southwest Ohio in waynesville but grew up just outside of Akron
Buy good boots and good rain gear, not having those two things can ruin your hunt faster than anything else...
Backpack hunting or truck camping? Not much special needed for the hunting part. Good boots, a mapping app or GPS and ability to navigate without electronics as well are important. Be prepared to get 200-300# off the mountain in decent time. I like 10X binos. I have a packable rain coat (Space Rain) and never bring rain pants for here in CO.
Oh...and go in 2021 as a practice trip for 2022, you won't regret it.
If packing in, gear issues matter more for the sleeping, eating, drinking, weight issues.
What state and season are you planning to hunt? Boots will probably be one of your priciest items, but with that said I’ve seen guys hunting in merrells. A trip to REI’s boot section would be worth the trip. Kuiu zip off merino long johns would be high on my list, you can use’m deer hunting too.
We are planning on setting up a camp a little ways from the truck. Right now the plan is to go to Idaho.
Worry about a good pack, a good lil stove and good tent and sleeping bag and pad. Camo and such should be of low priority. Shawn
Just got back from Colorado. 85 one day, blizzard and 25 the next. Good water proof boots, comfortable pack and merino wool socks, shirts and comfortable pants. Always have a dry pair of socks in your pack. I carried a Frog Togg jacket, really light weight, for rain gear and works well for a wind breaker if needed. A warm dry hunter is a happy hunter. my .02
I live in WY and hunt elk every year and spend my summers and fall in the mountains. PM me if you would like.
If you’re field Military, you probably know what you need already. Can’t hunt if you can’t hike, can’t sleep or can’t get enough food in you.
100% agree with Thornton on Boots, Pack and Optics. Take care of your feet (I’m anal about extra socks because my dad and his dad were Army Docs during & just after WWII, so I had Infantryman training on feet). Some of my spare socks are knee high for when it gets cold and wet; they keep your pants off of your legs.
Designer camo is a joke. Best stuff I ever saw on a human was on a bunch of Elephant Rangers who wore stuff pieced together in random combos of solid tan, green & brown so there was never a man-sized or man-shaped patch of anything, and no two men matched so there was no repeat pattern when they formed up. A biggish bull Elk weighs as much as 5 of me, and I’ve seen them go invisible at under 20 yards just by stopping in their tracks... and they weren’t wearing any licensed pattern. ;)
And how stupid is “Digital Camo” anyway? Unless your Elk are wearing NVGs, I suppose....
All you need to know about weather is what happened in Denver last week. No telling what you’ll get in the mtns, so you’ve gotta be ready for all of it. Layers. But at least you don’t need those insulated coveralls because you probably won’t sit much. Same for pac boots.
I own 2 pair of NatGear jeans I bought for $5 each 20 years ago, and that’s all the cotton I will wear because I always have a better option. I own all the wool I’ve been able to afford and back-fill with fleece where necessary. My SHTF layer is a high fill-power down jacket that stuffs down to nothin’ and fits under my packable rain jacket. Gotta have hat & gloves. Gore gaiters are a damn good idea and I scored a pair dirt cheap. And if your base camp is very far in, I’m a big proponent of 2 pairs of boots because they almost always get wet (plus, I like having a pair for heavier packing and a lighter pair for day-tripping up the ridge).
I’ve bought all of my clothing on blow-out pricing and for function first, so while I do own a fair number of Camo items, basically none match. Based on the guys chasing the Ivory Poachers, I consider that a positive.
Best boots you can buy are the ones that fit your feet best and provide Enough support for the loads you’ll be carrying in the country you’re in. Do NOT trust older boots unless you’ve worked them pretty hard recently. It’s called hydrolysis. Don't ask me how I know. The best pack is the one that fits you comfortably and holds enough stuff to keep you functioning. I have become a huge fan of trekking poles. Best optics are the best ones you can afford, so long as they don’t get left in camp because they’re too heavy.
You will need a stove because you never know when a fire ban will be issued. I like my MSR whisperjet, but JetBoil is crazy fast for one or two people. At least at low altitude; what’s fine at 4000’ doesn’t necessarily cut it at 12.... I can’t help but choke at the price of them and I don’t like gas canisters; too much trash. And a white gas stove makes for one helluva firestarter when you REALLY need a fire NOW..... Yes, you have to be careful about that, but if you have the stove, you can also have a cup or something hot while you get that fire going via more conventional means...
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Read what Glunt posted each day until you can recite it. A couple other lower key guys on this thread know what they are talking about as well. Hit them up.
In my case I do pack top shelf rain pants as well.
My dad and I went out to CO for a hunt last year from OH......he had been waiting to draw 61 and finally did. The MOST important thing is not the equipment but the attitude and desire to keep on humping. Even in the unit we hunted (one of the better ones), it was a rough week for sightings and motivation to keep at it was pretty critical.
Things I couldn't do without...GPS, maps, water/filter, gaiters, puffy jacket/vest, good boots and socks, nuun tabs (keeps you moving better), 10x binos and harness, quick drying clothes for variety of weather (it ranged from 5 deg - 80 deg while we were there), good pack, extra game bags, knife and sharpener (had to sharpen WAY more than I thought).
It definitely depends on how you plan to hunt.....we were able to park and set up camp and drive around to spots each day. If you were packing in it would be more critical to have a minimized list.
We were successful on last day but it did not come without LOTS of work and lots of moving to find them.
You’ve got two years. Buy a good pack. Kifaru would be my recommendation. Buy uninsulated boots you can walk in. Plan on Bono’s if the area you hunt requires them.
Fancy clothes aren’t needed if you aren’t backpacking. They are nice. But, not needed.
Whatever you do don’t by a flat brim YouTube show hat, exo pack, Phelps bugle tube and run around on Sept 3 making every elk noise in the playbook in a matter of 3 minutes. There are way to many of those guys running around.
In all seriousness get a good pack(exo is fine) , several pair of wrangler atg or outdoor Nylon pants($20 at Walmart), good boots, decent rain gear. If you’re backpacking a good lightweight tent and sleeping bag, if not any tent and bag or blankets can get you by. Learn to cow call and bugle. Learn when to use them and use them sparingly unless the elk are going nuts. Forget about moaning into your bugle tube, popping the tube, check bugles and other such noises that bulls don’t commonly make. Once you’ve gained some experience and mastered your bugle to the point hunters can’t tell the difference between you and a bull, then you can start playing with other noises.
Thanks for the advice, knowing I do not need to break the bank for this is really encouraging. I am planning to camp wherever we park the truck, maybe after I gain some experience I’ll walk in and camp where I stop for the day but it will not be in this trip.
Good advice above.
I don't spend as much time in the mountains as most on here, but I agree with most of it.
I honestly don't think you need a top of the line pack and gear if you're camping at the truck. I made do the first couple of years with lower quality packs and whitetail hunting cotton, and did OK. Sure, packing an elk with a cheap pack is torture, but it's torture with a $700 pack too :)
I also wouldn't go out and spend $400 on a pair of boots. But I may be in the minority here, as I have very little foot trouble. I wear the lightest minimal boot I can find. I prefer to have multiple pairs of $150 boots rather than one heavy ass pair of $400 boots. I once hunted in NM for 6 days in low top Brooks running shoes, and that included packing out a mature bull in decently rugged terrain. Tore the shoes to shreds, but my feet were fine.
Bake I can’t imagine NM rocks without boots, lol. I wore my steel toes in SW NM.
Protect your feet. For every hunter that gets buy with $150 boots I can tell a story of a guy in inexpensive boots that lost layers of skin from hot spots in boots that lacked ankle and mid-sole support for uneven terrain and did not lock down the toe pocket nor heel zone. I paid north of $300 for a pair in 2008 that I still use. Other than sno-seal wax coating each year and replacing the laces there has not been one bit of maintenance. I have over 1000 miles of sidewalk pre-season hiking with a 40 pound pack that ramps up to 80 pounds as season approaches and have about 400 miles on cool weather hunts.
I tried on about 10 pairs of boots with the actual socks I would use on the hunt and carried a 40 pound pack before pulled the trigger. I was at an outdoor show at a convention center so several brands were on sale so easy to compare.
Since then I have bout late summer boots and bitter cold weather boots. I do the same thing to test before buy. Lose your feet and you are toast. Not a big deal if less than a mile from the trailhead but that is not realistic out West if you are planning to hunt public. Now, there are some private land hunts where could do in basketball shoes and a hoodie.
I hiked close to ten miles last year in $30, uninsulated rubber boots in snow. Shot an elk and packed it out as well. Just layered in socks and double inserts. No welts or skin breakdown. I'd never dream of spending $300 on boots.
I wouldn’t either but I wouldn’t dream of humping mountains in my muck boots. My wife elk hunted in her bogs but she hikes my pasture in them every day of the winter and her calluses have calluses. My feet never see the light of day and are as soft as a babies bottom. ;) Salomon 4d gtx for me. I saw them on sale I few months back for $170. The current pair I have have been elk hunting 20 days and worn every day at work and home for about 500 days. Best $200 I’ve ever spent. I’d rather wear them than my tennis shoes.
I would spend time researching the area you are going to and talk to the game wardens and rangers in the area you choose. You need to pick an area that gives you a decent chance of engaging elk. Other wise you are just a bowhiker! I would plan on going later in the season than earlier, as elk will be more vocal and more apt to make a mistake. Get up early and be in a position to actually hunt when the sun comes up. Find the highest wallow on the mountain and set it in the afternoon and evenings. Elk hunting with a bow is 90% mental. Be more aggressive than you think you should be. If calling, always have you bow up and arrow nocked. If hunting in pairs, always look at where the hang up spot will be for the bull coming in and place forward hunter there.
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If you are camping by your truck it is nice to have an efficient kitchen. Here are a couple of pictures of ours. A distribution pole on top of a propane tank with a couple of hoses always you to run a cook stove, lanterns and even a heater if you like. We hunted for 17 days this year and it not go through one 20# tank so it is economical. The stove and lanterns are cheaper than backpacking models. If you tent is not large enough you can have a separate screen tent for a kitchen. Just bring a role of plastic to wrap around it if the weather turns bad. If you look close you will see that we even have a rubber floor that is easy to sweep and allows us to get up in bare feet and start the water for coffee in the morning and heat the tent. It is a lot easier to stay positive when you are comfortable.