Not Applicable – Really?!?!
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Maybe some day my blog will be famous enough that people will start taking pot shots at my writing material…

Not applicable, really! What difference does it make whether or not weight carried is hung around your neck, worn on your feet, carried in your hand, or worn around your waist? I purposely cropped the picture down to protect the guilty, but time and time again, I see annoying details like this come out in weight shaving and set up your pack articles.

Honestly, there is a certain suite of equipment that is essential and you can only pack so light. But the item list labeled NA includes things like boots, bow, and binos. 3 items that guys consistently abuse themselves carrying. Many boots are 30 ounces apiece. Bow quivers and stabilizers are HEAVY! Binoculars range from super lightweight monoculars to heavyweight optics.

I suppose this isn’t so much a critique, as a warning. Don’t get so caught up in your backpack setup that you forget to put the same amount of careful thought into what you’ll be carrying on your person.

Bugle tube is another one. Certain manufacturer’s bugles can weigh 8, 10, 12 ounces. Not saying my will play the equivalent sweet music as a name-brander, but my 1.5 ounce washing machine tube will get the job done.

“Elk” Call Inventory
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It’s not a surprise that my elk “call” inventory is a little unconventional. I’ve got a Hoochie Mama but have never carried it…too heavy. I’ve got the Primos high-domed diaphragm calls, but I can’t always make the perfect cow talk. I don’t use a high-volume open reed, but I don’t really need to. Pete has one and with partnered archery elk hunting, it becomes more a mid-range locator than a final 80 yards finisher. My elk bugle is just a 13″ section of tubing from the local hardware store. And my go-to elk calls – bottom row of diaphragm calls pictured below are actually turkey calls! HS Strut’s ‘Lil Strut’, ‘Double D’, and ‘Raspy Old Hen’.

Here’s some excerpts from HS Strut’s website.

Lil’ Strut – the Li’l Strut will produce consistent turkey vocalizations day after day. This is a hybrid cutter which delivers the realistic rasp you need without sacrificing the aggressive yelps and cuts. My paraphrased version – this incredible elk call can go from soft “mewing” cow talk to a high-pitched spike elk bugle just by manipulating the placement of your tongue on the call’s durable reed.

Double D – This line of calls produce all the authentic tones of a turkey, from the yelps of an old boss hen to raspy, seductive cackles. These calls utilize H.S. Strut’s new Infinity Latex for reeds that require less air pressure to run, giving hunters more realistic sounds. Both the tape and latex are moisture resistant for longer life. Top quality latex and tape along with H.S. Strut’s high manufacturing standards for consistent thickness and reed stretch ensure you get the best diaphragm calls ever produced. The Double D utilizes 2 thin reeds. My paraphrased version – Why hunters use heavier, bulkier, more cookie-cutter sounding calls like the Hoochie Mama and others is more than we’ll ever know. Get a call that is lightweight enough to be mistaken for a Wheat Thin, yet versatile enough to make mid-volume cow elk noises, transform a length of washing machine hose into a dominant bull’s bugle, yet always remain on your pallet to stop that DIY bull for the perfect shot at a moment’s notice. As an added bonus, it’s durable enough to survive 17 straight days of alternating slobber and damp pants pockets.

It’s what works for me. Hopefully, we can once again show that it works for the elk too!

OTC Either-Sex Archery Elk License – Signed, sealed, delivered…
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Just received my ticket to the high country.

Western hunting tags are definitely not cheap, but after a hunt, I’ve never once thought that a tag or license wasn’t a complete bargain. I can’t imagine that my perception will be any different this time.

Colorado Archery Elk 2014 – Gear List
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I suppose this is becoming one of the obligatory pre-hunt blog posts, but a lot has changed with this one. Maybe I should say, a lot has disappeared off this one. Pete and I are planning a massive loop that will take us deep into some remote wilderness basins. To make that possible, we need 2 things. 1) Time – 6-8 days probably. 2) Mobility – and by this I mean minimal gear lists and ultra-lightweight backpacks. We’ll be camping off our backs again which means no base camp and no spike camps, only carrying our entire wardrobe, shelter system, food, and weapons with us all day every day. A lot of guys will report pack weights, but fail to include what they’ll actually be wearing, the necessary allotment of water/food, or forget they’ll be carrying a 6 pound bow.

This is my bottom line – 38.9 pounds. That’s me naked plus everything. 7 days food, water, bow, boots, belt, camera, socks, and Bic lighter. Quite similar to past hunts, but leaving most of the backup clothes and sock/underwear changes at the truck. Also, no technological frills this time. No SPOT, no video camera, no tripod, no binos, just us and the mountains and the elk. Here’s the full rundown.

The only change I’m really considering is unscrewing the stabilizer off my Hoyt and putting a pair of Vortex binoculars around my neck. The country out there is wide open and we’re currently debating the potential usefulness of good optics for an archery hunt…decisions, decisions.

If you thought the gear reviews were good back in 2012, get ready for this round of comments. It’ll be real easy to get frustrated with gear items when no alternate options are readily available for recall and replacement. We’re feeling confident though with our setups. They’re proven, they’re lightweight, they’re rugged, and they’re efficient. Best of all – the whole package suits our preferred style of hunting! Aggressive, mobile, and (hopefully) lethal!

Better Late than Never – Archery Practice
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With restricted quarters with which to shoot my bow in the backyard, it’s harder to get motivated to fling arrow after arrow at 24.5 yards. That being said, I finally got in full swing last week and have been shooting every night since. Since longer range practice hasn’t been feasible, I’ve been focusing more on form and I’ve seen great results.

One of the biggest tips I’ve picked up was from Pete who got it second hand from one of his acquaintances. I had always shot with a torqueless grip that put all the pressure on the webbing between my thumb and forefinger. The theory being that gravity will take over and rotate your bow’s axles to a perfect vertical state. Not saying this is the wrong way to go because it “worked” for me for over a decade.


On the second-third-recommendation from a person I don’t know, I shifted my grip to use the entire face of my palm and I’ve found that my pin hold is a lot steadier and I haven’t picked up any torque in the process. My groups have noticeably tightened.

I still don’t wrap my fingers around as shown in the above picture (I think this is where any introduced torque tends to come from if the grip tightens), but this has resulted in my shooting consistently nickle-quarter sized groups at my maximum range of 24.5 yards.

2 night’s ago, Raelyn set an acorn up on the fletchings and I decided it made for a great photo opportunity. I’m planning to get in at least one long-range practice session weekly leading up to our elk hunt, but it’s all about repetition and muscle memory…I’m liking my chances!

Infolinks 2013