2016 Archery Elk Gear List
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September is creeping closer and with that slowing advancing calendar is the onset of dreams filled with steep beetle-killed timber slopes and bugling bull elk. Last night I emptied out the tupperware containers and did some minor revising to the gear list. Major additions since our 2014 adventure…(click on links below to check out our last archery elk hunting adventure)…

Day 1
Day 2, AM
Day 2, PM
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5

…include the Kifaru Mountain Rambler pack (which comes at a significant weight cost but infinitely more comfortable and bomb-proof than my Badlands 2800), Clip-Shot camera accessory, exchanging a roll-out Tyvek groundcloth for a Tyvek-constructed bivy sack, trading my Stoic merino 1/4 zip for a MEC quilted hoodie, and going improv on my whiffle bat bugle.

All told, my naked carry weight is 40.78 pounds for a 7-day pack. Minus a minimum wearing weight (boots + base layer + outers; 5.09 weight) and bow (5.56 weight), pack weight is within ounces of 30 pounds flat. That includes a pound and a half daily allotment of food (x7) and a liter of water. If you’re wondering where the stove, kettle, and fire starting materials are, Pete is carrying that – I’ve got the shelter.

Travel Tips for the Traveling Hunter
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An assortment of thoughts and tips on hunting trip travel.

*Best website I’ve found for searching rental vehicles is carrentals.com. Throw Mr Rebates in on top of whatever price they quote, and I’ve yet to find a way to beat them.

*Double check that the vehicle you think you are getting has 4 wheel drive actually has 4WD.

*Double check your vehicle has a spare tire before you drive off the lot.

*If they fly into your airport of choosing, Frontier Airlines is probably going to be your best option unless…

*Southwest Airlines can beat the ticket cost + $30/checked bag. The beauty of SW Airlines is that every passenger gets 2 checked bags free. A potential huge savings if you are checking a gun case and a cooler or otherwise.

*Scout ahead to find dry ice and don’t be afraid to use your hotel room bathroom (after proper sanitizing of course!) as a butcher shop.

*Don’t be intimidated to fly with capes and meat as long as they are thoroughly frozen with some dry ice. Just remember you must remove the dry ice prior to checking your cooler as checked baggage. Also, booking non-stop return flights can drastically reduce anxiety as it greatly lessens the opportunity for luggage to be misplaced in layover transfers.

*Coordinate with hunting buddies to make sure you are only taking 1 item for items that the whole group only needs 1 of. You’d be surprised how much gear overload this can save.

*If you aren’t camping, check out AirBnB for lodging options. Another overlooked option are local area cabin rentals, oftentimes they are cheaper and more central to where you’ll actually be hunting. As a last resort, booking a hotel is the way to go – don’t forget Mr Rebates.

*ALWAYS SHOOT YOUR GUN AFTER TRAVELING!!!!!!!! NO EXCEPTIONS!!!!!!!! Again, scouting ahead to locate a local gun range that’s open to the public can save you some hassle and boost your confidence heading into the field.

DIY Whiffle Whistler (AKA Elk Bugle)
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Cheap, lightweight, effective, DIY – count me in.

An $8 kid’s whiffle bat that I found at the local Walmart and $3 of digital camo ace wrap delivered by Amazon. Throw in a razor blade to make a few modifications, and that’s all you need to create a big volume, lightweight elk bugle. Dimensions don’t matter a whole lot, but I suggest starting at maximum size and then trimming away material until you reach balance between bulk and performance.

Using your choice of diaphragm, a bat bugle will carry your volume past that of many market products. It’s loud! That said, a diaphragm lets you control not only pitch but volume, so you can keep it in check when low-mid volume calls are in order.

The one downside I’ve seen mentioned on some forums was that bat bugles sometimes have a weird vibration in their tone. Whether it was the compression camo wrap or the choice of bat brand – I didn’t experience anything but sweet elk music. On the same forums, I saw multiple mentions that many elk calling competitions have gone so far as to outlawing some bat and “bucket” style bugles. Gives an unfair advantage, makes the elk music too sweet – hmmm…sounds like a winner in the elk woods.

At 3.5 ounces and $11 all in, this is a new addition to the arsenal that I can’t wait to try out this September.

Wyoming Antelope Draw Results……SUCCESSFUL!!
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Five of us went into Wyoming’s Special antelope draw with 3 points averaged. I had considered 4 units seriously. Unit 63 and 68 experienced significant point creep and we would have missed the boat entirely. Unit 75 crept up as well but not enough to have left us completely in the dust, we’d have been looking at 33% odds. The only unit that stayed stable (though it did creep from 4 points to 5 in the Normal draw) is Unit 73, the unit we applied for and the same unit that we’re eyeing for a mule deer hunt in another couple of years. (….Drum roll….) We were SUCCESSFUL!!

We are super excited for October to roll around and some of the hunt logistics have already fallen into place, not the least of which is lodging thanks to an AirBnB booking – an absolute basement bargain price that would embarrass even the nicest of rural Western hotel/motel accommodations.

Even if point creep stabilized the next couple of years, we shaved 2 years off our antelope hunt wait and likely more by going Special. All in all, I believe it’s money well spent and easily justified. When Andrew and I were out in 2007, the cost of a normal antelope tag plus the cost of a trespass fee to hunt quality private land put us well over $600. 10 years later here in 2016, these tags put us on 1,000+ square miles of top-notch public land with way higher trophy potential at less cost. It’s all about a perspective, and I’d call this tag a bargain!

Kifaru Hunting Pack – Mountain Warrior
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A hunting pack called the Mountain Warrior, it must be awesome. My how things have changed in the 4 years since my initial gear up for run-and-gun elk hunting in the mountains. Eberlestock was an option back then, Kifaru was just getting its legs, Badlands was a reputable brand, and Sitka was the standard. Now, options have tripled, even quadrupled, at a minimum. As long-time followers might remember, I’ve run the Badlands 2800 in the original bat-wing style for several hunts running now with absolutely zero complaints. So why consider a change?


But I did and made a change. I went top tier and bought a lightly-used Kifaru frame off a hunting forum and decked it with a Mountain Warrior pack topped with a Longhunter Lid set-up. The improvements over my past pack are significant. It’s top to bottom bombproof. It’s got a lumbar pad. It’s got more room than my prior packs. It’s got a meat shelf that puts the weight of a packout close against my back. It’s versatile. It’s got a lot of straps. A LOT of straps!! That’s my main complaint, my only gripe actually – it’s complicated. If Stone Glacier achieves an elegant but effective simplicity, then Kifaru offers efficiency with all the bells and whistles. That said, my complaint – Kifaru’s complexity – led me to discover one other huge plus, their customer service. A++ grade in that department.

The most critical part of any good product review remains…bloody it up! Can’t wait to put it through the wringer, chasing elk in Colorado first, and hopefully gunning for antelope in Wyoming in October. Tag results for the second hunt available tomorrow!

Infolinks 2013