A big part of planning any backcountry hunt is having to account for all of your daily sustenance. It’s a relatively simple task in everyday life. Eat whatever is available in your fridge and pantry and go to the grocery store or hit up a restaurant if you’re hungry for something else or need something that isn’t already on your shelf.
My approach for our Kodiak Island hunting adventure followed a couple general themes. First, I wanted a little more variety this year than in past years. In 2012, we ate DIY cauliflower, sausage, Ramen dinners every single day for over 2 weeks. Last couple elk trips, we ate similarly streamlined menus with only a couple, maybe 3, entree meal options. It’s a small thing being able to eat something different from day-to-day, but I particularly remember my appreciation for being able to choose on Andrew and I’s 2014 Montana spring bear hunt. That’s what I am aiming to recreate again for this hunt. Second, less sweets for snacks and more savory for the flavor profiles. Sugar gets old…quick. Third, mostly avoid the ultra-high sodium entree options. Fourth, and finally, expand my DIY meal-making assortment to include some new recipes. Oh, and without skipping over the obvious, DIY meal preparation while time consuming can save upwards of 70% of on your meal budget. So I guess that’s #5.
For starters, I’ve got a mixed supply of Starbucks VIA, Folgers, and Taster’s Choice instant coffee packets along with a half-dozen or so hot tea bags for early morning wake-ups and warming our gullets during a midday soaking rain.
Accompanying our early morning “cup of joe”, we will each pop 2 fish oil pills and another 2 in the evening before sleep. I’ve extolled the benefits of fish oil consumption in the backcountry in other posts…suffice it to say, I’m a fish oil advocate.
Breakfast options include 3 or 4 different flavors of oatmeal. I dump 3 single serve packets into a single freezer Ziploc, toss in some supplemental freeze-dried or dehydrated fruit, maybe some chopped walnuts depending on the flavor, and reseal. I also have about 6 scrambled eggs/omelet meals that I purchased from Mountain House, AlpineAire, and Backpacker’s Pantry. One of 2 items that we plan to grab at a Kodiak grocery store is a bag or 2 of fruit, so I imagine some apples or bananas will supplement our pre-packaged meals to start each day.
For lunches and dinners, we have a host of entree options ranging from proven DIY recipes, new experimental recipes I pulled together from other online resources and/or podcasts, and a few of my favorite commercially-available meals from Mountain House and Backpacker’s Pantry (Pad Thai and Sweet & Sour Pork to name a few). I had 6 meals leftover from last September’s archery elk hunt that comprised of dehydrated couscous succotash with venison roast. I pieced together some couscous and Tuna packets meals, Idahoan instant potatoes and gravy with venison roast and dehydrated carrots + kale powder meals, Knorr Sides alfredo + chicken breast chunks, and other interesting combinations. I went a bit wild dehydrating stacks of trays after stacks of trays of kale and plan to incorporate kale powder into a number of entrees. As far as consumption goes, I typically perform well eating a half-entree during midday and a full heavy meal after dark. We’ll see how dad’s metabolism cycles throughout the day, but that may be the approach we end up taking. Hoping some Sitka backstrap, a couple ptarmigan breasts, and maybe even some fish will add even more to our main menu. I’ve got tiny shakers of salt and pepper for those occasions.
For between meal-snacking and on-the-go purposes, I dehydrated about 4 pounds of jerky, plan to grab some tortillas in Kodiak to wrap up almond butter + honey wraps, bought a couple bags of coconut husks (ridiculously high calorie and subtly sweet snacks that I’ve come to love), loaded about a dozen candy bars to spread across the trip (Snickers, x-large Reese’s cups, and Pay Days), threw in a mixed assortment of Clif and Lara bars, and rationed 4-ounces of trail mix per person per day into freezer Ziplocs.
I’m hoping to consume 3200-3400 calories/day. Almost assuredly, that will put us in a substantial calorie deficit throughout the trip, but eating much more than that and I just don’t feel good with that much food churning through my system.