Sunday, August 31, 2014

Day 4 - The Opener

We came up with a plan the night before, we were going after a bull that had bugled on day 1. We never laid eyes on him, just had a general idea of where he might be. It was a half a mile of steep ridges that we had to navigate, one straight down and the other straight up. We walked in under the stars... I'd imagine it took us about 30 minutes to get to the top of the ridge we wanted to hunt on, and once up there it was definitely time to shed some layers. No sooner than I had taken of my jacket, packed it and put my pack on... I heard what sounded like a horse gallop, my eyes drawn to the location... Just at the very tip of the ridge, only about 50 yards away... I caught a quick glimpse of an antler, I ran to the top and got there just in time to see the ass end of a really nice branched bull, running full steam ahead straight away. I have chance and we tried to calm him down, but the reality of the situation was, that he was gone and just like that... We missed an opportunity. The rest of the morning and well IBO the afternoon my father and I worked the tree lines of each draw for about 6-7 miles worth. We do an early season calling routine for about 40-45 minutes at each stop. Throughout our journey we saw sign of elk everywhere and a ton of fresh sign, but never saw a hide. All the tracks were headed up, and we were low. We missed them... New game plan for tomorrow, and hoping to report back with some blood on my hands. 

Day 3

Up at 5:30 am, and headed out to do some more scouting. I set out to look at an area on my own while the other guys kept their focus on some high ridges. Slight chill, but it was nice, the kind that a face welcomes. I heard a couple bugles down below from where I was sitting, so I headed that direction. To describe the land a little bit. It looks similar to logging land back home in Northern California, where we have thick tree lines and patches of thick areas diced by clear cut patching of timber... The only difference being, there aren't any clear cuts, just huge patches of safe brush that divide the tree lines. So I am up high on a point, looking down through several big areas of rolling hills covered with sage and paying attention to the tree lines, hopeful that I will see something poking it's head out to catch some morning sun. That never happened. So after sitting for a great while, I headed back up the ridge to meet up with the other guys. On my way up, something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye on an adjacent ridge. I put some glass on it and it was a cow elk, staring right at me. I watched her for a bit, until she bounded out. The direction she was headed was down, and down below her is where I kept hearing what I thought to be antlers rubbing up against tree branches, at least I hope. Well, that was the highlight of my morning. When I met up with the other guys, that hadn't seen any elk but they did get to watch a moose walk the ridge they were glassing. Back at camp we made some breakfast burritos and then I took a nap. The rest of the afternoon we formed some plans, prepped our packs and shot our bows. Wonderful way to spend the Friday before the opener. Will be up early, hopeful. 

Day 2

After a long day of driving, setting up camp... We were finally in elk country  at the very beginning of our hunt. It was late afternoon by the time we finally sat down to take in the scenery and it wasn't long after that, we headed out to do some glassing and listening before the sun went down. I believe we heard two or three bugles and that was it. Not a lot of action, it's still early and we're about two weeks away from the rut. We remain hopeful. Back at camp, we called it an early night, not sure I ever slept so good.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Day 1 - Idaho Elk

It's 6 am, we've been on the road since 8 pm... The math will add up, I guarantee it. I still don't know if it has sunk in yet, but we're on our way to hunt elk. And as the sun rises over the planes of Idaho, I'm reminded of what I have left behind and what I have came here to do. So with that said, I'm thankful mostly for a wife that supports this passion of mine and I truly think she understands the

need I feel to do such a thing hundreds of miles from home. Obviously, feeling sentimental with this scenery...

Anyway, I am tired, I think it is safe to assume that WE are tired. We still have about 200 miles left of road traveled. We'll set up base camp today, hopefully steal a nap and put some glass on a few ridges. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Idaho Elk Hunt - Meal Plan

In preparation for my back country Idaho elk hunt, I've prepared 10 meals all of a similar fashion.

Coffee = 1 packet Starbucks via mocha latte 

Breakfast = 1 cup granola, 2/3 cup dehydrated milk and raisins or pop tarts for about 420-550 calories. 

Lunch = bagels or tortillas with salami and Parmesan slices or peanut butter and honey for about 500 calories. 

Dinner = Mountain House Pro packs: lasagna, beef stroganoff and chili Mac for 520 calories. 

Snacks = a mix of paydays, nature valley bars, peanuts, crackers, corn nuts, fig newtons and jerky for an additional 800-1000 calories. 

In total I should average around 2200-2600 calories a day and that still probably won't be enough. . 

Back country meals are the fine balance between weight and calories.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Gear Review - Sea To Summit X Bowl and X Mug

I've got a lot of cool gear and plan to do several reviews, but for some reason, I really wanted to start off with the X Bowl and Mug. 

If it came down to it, I could definitely live without these two, but the convenience of having them would make them hard to leave behind. Plus you rarely notice that you have them in your pack when you combine them with your back country kitchen. They're farely light and collapse flat for easy packing. 

The X Bowl:

Price range: $10-$13

I was surprised with how much this bowl could handle and portion wise, when it is full it is exactly what I need to replenish my body after spending several hours on the trail. In addition, it's super easy to clean. 

Once collapsed, it doubles as a plate, which was perfect for my back country tacos!

The X Mug:

Price range: $8-$12

It is what it is and I really only use it for coffee, but it's the perfect size and on them chilly mornings, it doubles as a hand warmer. No worries either, if it gets too warm, you can grip it around the ring at the top. Just like the bowl, it takes little effort to clean.

These items are definitely not necessities, but they make a summer backpacking trip better, for sure, especially if you are sharing meals and cooking with a friend. For those of you who want ultralight gear, these probably won't end up in your pack, but I am more than willing to pack them along, because they do what they are intended to do quite well... And if you were like me, and thinking to yourself, that you wanted a dedicated coffee cup and plate/bowl combo, then I highly recommend the Sea to Summit gear. Good stuff.