Author Archive for Jim

Outback Outdoors 2012 Recap

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

The year 2012 has proven to be one of the most eventful for Team Outback Outdoors. The winter season had some of the team members Attending the industry trade shows that are invaluable for us. We get a chance to meet and greet our great sponsors at the ATA (Archery Trade Show) which always show cases the new product lines for the upcoming season. Next up is usually the SHOT (Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade show). Again sponsors are met and contracts drawn up for the new season and again new products are on view for all hunting junkies to see.

Some of the team also attends hunting expositions around the West and country. Working for some sponsors or conducting hunting seminars is what keeps our flame burning bright and also keeps our hunting skills as sharp as possible. Having the opportunity to speak with seasoned hunters, novices, or even new persons to the sport is what we all enjoy doing.

Spring fever hits hard for the Outback Outdoors crew but we know that the chance to chase the gobble of the morning is here. We all enjoy matching wits with these twenty pound monarchs of the high country, or the river bottoms of the Mid West. Two straight months of early mornings and long evenings is what OO team member Jim  lives for. Several states in the  Spring welcome his call.

Another great reason for excitement in the Spring is the chance to chase bears. Whether it is on a wilderness spot and stalk hunt or a tree stand or ground blind hunt over bait the excitement is still real. Again here Jim is very passionate about this time of year and has been successful with taking several good bears of size and color.

Summer has the team working on fitness, scouting areas and planning the many hunts needed to feed the fire for the OO crew. By now everyone has an idea what tags were drawn and where they will be for the following 5 months. Again seminars are conducted and gear is fine tuned to make sure we give our all to punch tags for the fall.

Early Fall means the best time of year for OO. The scream of a big mature bull elk is hard to beat as it echoes throughout the timber. The entire team is somewhere in September looking for elk. We all travel to numerous states in pursuit of elk. All the calling practice and shooting our equipment combined with running the video cameras to the best of our abilities comes into play now. OO has done a great job most years putting down some good footage as well as some big bone from these great animals.

Once the cold brisk air of November approaches the deer either whitetail or mule deer are in trouble. Again we all all driven to chase them and travel wherever we can in order to lay down some good deer. From the state of Missouri or big sky country of Montana we will be out there looking for big rutting bucks. Again waiting in a perch or on the ground one on one Outback Outdoors will do it all.

With the coming of deep snow most would think that the hunting season is over but that is not the case. Chasing some of the apex predators of our country  are pursued. Either setting up calling in coyotes, looking to outsmart the wolves of the West or turning loose hounds on a fresh lion track, members of OO can be found in the snow with weapon in hand.

2012 has proven to be a great year especially with the announcement of our team making it to the big time. We can now be seen on the Sportsman’s Channel as well as Wild Television in Canada. Our webisodes will still be available for viewing as well.

As you can see it has been a busy season and will continue into the future if all goes well. Everyone at Outback Outdoors wants to say a heart felt thank you for following us, sponsoring us and also watching what we bring to the table every week and we could not do it without you.

Team OO harvested turkeys, bears, antelope, elk, deer, bighorn sheep from all over the West so be sure to look for some of these hunts in the upcoming season.

OO Hunt Of A Lifetime

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

The term Hunt Of A Lifetime will have two meanings in this blog. Team OO member Jim Brennan had the opportunity to guide a young man this month on his very first Western hunt and they would be chasing bull elk in Colorado. The young man’s name is Luke Savage and he is not your ordinary 16 year old. He has faced many challenges over the last few years fighting a severe illness, Leukemia. He was chosen by the great organization “Hunt Of A Lifetime” to go on a hunt in New Zealand last year but was too sick to travel. On this hunt there were going to be some obstacles to conquer as Luke lives in Minnesota at close to sea level and the elk we would be chasing were living at close to 9000 feet. I thought fatigue was going to play a major role but I soon learned the mental strength of this young man.

Upon arriving to the high country we had to go to the range and make sure that both Luke and his weapon were ready for the week ahead. He has not had a lot of experience shooting a rifle especially at distances of over 200 yards so it was going to be some work getting him close to a good bull. Luke practiced shooting off the bench, with shooting sticks on the ground as well as off of a back pack. I wanted to make sure that we had all the possible options covered and that he was familiar with these positions.

The first day out we saw a good number of elk and some really good bulls. The rut was still going strong and to see the look on his face the first time he heard an elk bugle was worth the long drive from Montana to the ranch. After several close calls and near chances throughout the day we headed back to the house without punching his tag. Luke was all smiles that night and told his father and uncle some great stories as they were in camp with us as well.

Day two Luke was up before the alarm and ready to go. We went to a different part of the ranch and I told him that it was going to be a pretty good hike to the area that I wanted to go to. Without hesitation, he said no problem and we covered several miles that morning. Again we were close to several bulls and chased bugles in the timber but never did get close enough for a shot. Several times I checked to make sure Luke was still able to hike and he never had a problem. Coming from a low elevation did not effect him after all he has been fighting for his life the past two years. I was truly inspired by his grit for such a young man.

The third morning of the hunt we once again went to a new spot and by first light we had several bulls bugling. We had to get the wind right and needed to cover some ground quickly. The elk were on the move heading to their bedding area and I thought if we could get to some oak brush and got settled in that Luke should have a shot under 200 yards. The herd was large and there were numerous bulls crossing in front of us as well as some cows. I looked back a few hundred yards and spotted a really nice five point bull. He was mature and tall with some nice ivory tips. I showed Luke where he was at and asked if he wanted to take this great animal. His smile and shaking hands told me all I needed to know. He was set up on the shooting sticks in a sitting position and was rock solid. The elk filed through the opening and the bull followed suit. Once he was clear of any brush I hit the cow call and stopped him broad side and he looked our way. A few seconds later the gun went off and I could see the hit through my bino’s.

Luke had his dream hunt complete and a good Colorado bull down. After a few minutes his dad and uncle arrived and shared in the recovery of his great trophy. A bunch of pictures were taken and the story was told over and over again by both hunter and guide. My season and year were made by this young man and I feel honored to spend a few days with him.

Please check out the web site www.huntofalifetime.org and see what this great organization does to help sick kids live their dream. I look forward to taking more young adults like Luke out in the field and I realized that any problems I may have are small in comparison to theirs.

 

 

 

Outback Outdoors Team Enhancing Our Land For Wildlife

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Everyone familiar with Team Outback Outdoors knows full well that we are all passionate about hunting, fishing and just the whole outdoor lifestyle. Sure we all love to hunt year round if possible and look forward to bringing these hunts to our viewers every month. But a big part of what we do is also take care of the wildlife and the environment they live in. How do we do this you might ask? Well this short blog will show just how much work we put into the land that we hunt and cherish.

I am fortunate enough to work on a beautiful ranch in Colorado every summer and a big part of what I do pertains to helping the wild life survive as well as flourish throughout the year. I do this by enhancing their food sources and water so in the event like this year with record drought all over the West they might have a better chance to survive a cold harsh winter.A big reason for the drop in deer and elk numbers in some parts of the country is due to the fact that over the winter and in early spring the animals come out of it in such bad shape that they don’t produce young.

In the spring and early summer I assist in mapping out exactly where we will place and grow beneficial food sources for all wild life as well as maintain existing ones that we have on the ranch.

I get to use an array of equipment from a huge Hydro-axe, to a large tractor with a brush hog attachment as well as a mower that is pulled by an atv. I also use old fashion elbow grease and a little manual labor to assist in these tasks. I prefer the motorized version as it is much quicker and more efficient.

Some areas get cleared of all brush and sage as well as the thick oak brush that grows out here. Other spots just get mowed and sprayed for invasive weeds and then planted annually. This with a little bit of timely rain helps keep our animals healthy during the spring calving or fawning season. It is also beneficial to the young as they have a good food source to grow quickly on. When the peak of the breeding season kicks in most males will stop eating all together and concentrate on other things. After the ritual is over they will need to replenish lost weight and get ready to survive the usual cold and harsh elements of the Western high country.

With a little planning and hard work you too can help out your wild life not just the deer and elk. Having a good balanced ecosystem is a win win for all involved. Even at 10,000 feet you can grow good groceries for the animals who reside there.

Going Guided Out West

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Part two of this blog I will cover hunting out West with a guide or outfitter. There are many benefits to using a reputable outfitter when traveling across the country for a hunt. I will cover what I feel are the best reasons to go guided for at least your first experience.

The outfitter will be very familiar on where the game will be on certain ranches or on public ground. They live out there and have the luxury of scouting and watching where and when the elk or deer or bears will be when you come out for a hunt. The time in the field well help you to be more successful and use your short time on the hunt wisely. You can spend days just locating game and that will waste time instead of actually hunting. Due to weather or fires or just change in feed patterns the animals will move great distances some times. If there is a winter kill or a problem with say wolves or other predators they will know ahead of time.

 

 

Most outfitters will either have very nice lodges or farm houses or some type of wall tent camp. Here you will be able to get a good nights sleep and eat very well which is important when you climb mountains day in and out on a Western hunt. You can also have access to phone, Internet and a television if you desire. A good warm shower will also replenish your spirits and keep you going full strength for the week. Being able to clean your hunting clothing is also very nice. When the weather gets nasty it is always nice to come back to a warm place. The atmosphere back at a camp with friends is also nice and helps cement memories that will last a life time.

 

 

The guide or outfitter will also have all the gear and or supplies needed for your hunt. If using horses they will have good reliable stock. All their gear will be in good working order and you can depend on them getting you in and out of your adventure safely. He will also have experienced helpers along like wranglers, cooks and other guides. All of your needs will be taken care of to help add to the hunt.

If you are hunting by vehicle or atv’s or just on foot they will supply you with it all. Some will even have a spare weapon in camp just in case something happens to yours and believe me it does on occasion. Airlines are known to lose gear, horses tend to damage a well sighted in gun and falls can ruin a well tuned bow. 

You have a 700 plus pound animal down on the ground and now what do you do. This again is also where a good outfitter will take care of you. He will break down the animal for you or have a place where you can butcher and cape it in a clean warm area. If the animal has to be packed off the hill they will do all that work for you. This is huge especially if you are back packed in and have to get out a critter before it spoils.

Animals out West are much different to hunt than some that reside on the East coast. If you have never hunted say antelope before you will need to know where to set up, when the breeding season is and hot they react to decoys.

If you are hunting mule deer and do not know their habits and or places they like to reside you will be at a great disadvantage. Hunting a high country deer in the early season in velvet will be different than say a mid November rut hunt.

Elk hunting requires you to know how to call during the archery season to get yourself in close to a bugling bull. Again not be familiar with this will hurt your chances of punching your tags. Where will they be feeding and how far are they go to a bedding area.

 

A good quality business will also help you fill out the proper paperwork to put in for tags and know the deadlines. They will know what areas and what your odds of drawing certain tags will be. Some of the states are very confusing and having this done for you the right way is important.

Another key to using an outfitter is their knowledge of size of game in a certain area. Is that deer or elk a shooter or should I hold out for a possibly bigger one. They can give you an honest idea of what to expect and will pull you off an animal if they think that you can do better.


I absolutely enjoy guiding hunters and have as much fun if not more when they make the shot. Seeing the smile on their faces and creating memories that will last a life time is what its all about for me.

Good hunting and stay down wind!!!

Marsh Madness

Friday, May 18th, 2012

The Spring season was here and my turkey tags were filled. Now I could switch gears to one of my favorite animals to hunt the Black Bear. I was heading up to the far Northern reaches of Alberta Canada to hunt with Interlake Safaris and the owner Jason Lambley. He runs operations in both Manitoba as well as Alberta for bear, moose, deer and wolf hunts. I was going to be headed into a very remote area in his Alberta camp where the only way in is on an Argo. These 8 wheel machines are incredible and when you put tracks on them they become almost unstoppable. The area is a combination of big timber and vast open marshes. These Argo’s can get you in when no other vehicle or ATV can. I have never been in one and we had a 3 hour ride just to our cabin where we would call home for the next 8 days. The permafrost was just breaking free and the ride in was more like covering 10 miles on a giant sponge but the weather was supposed to be perfect for coaxing Spring bruins out of their winter dens.

Once we got to our camp we had a very warm comfortable sleeping cabin and another cabin that shared the cooking dining area as well as another sleeping area. It was perfect for a wilderness hunt and the water would come from a close by creek for cooking and showering. Once I got into camp myself and one other hunter unpacked and got settled into our cabin.

We did have a slight problem of a pine martin that decided to use the cabin for his winter condo. He was able to eat and chew through just about all the food that was brought in over the winter. After a few hours of cleaning and doing inventory on what was left we were ready to turn in for the night.

Each day we would head out to the bait sites to refresh and put up trail cameras. This way we had the latest intel on what bears were coming in and at what time. The majority of bear action is from 6pm to about dark which this far north is close to 10:30pm. I had chosen a nice stand site for my first hunt and Jason asked if I was interested in carrying a rifle along with my bow in the event that I see one of the many wolves in the area. After all I had 2 bear tags and a wolf tag in hand. I chose not to for the first night and boy was I about to be sorry. I saw a small bear the first hour and later on another good size boar came in. I have taken numerous bears in the past and on this trip I was looking for a big boar or a color phased bear. Right before dark I heard noise behind me and to my dismay it was a black wolf!!!

Here I was with no rifle and a beautiful wolf at 60 yards behind me in the timber. I sat sulking a little while until the engine noise of the Argo coming to pick me up broke the Canadian silence and snapped me back to reality. I told Jason about my sighting and he said that the chance of seeing a wolf again the rest of the week was slim. He smiled and said, “told you so take the gun”. The next night found me in the same stand sight with a bow and a rifle this time. I saw the same small bear which became a regular at the bait sight as well as a hungry pine martin and a fisher. An hour before dark a new bear came in and was right on the line for being a shooter for me. I elected to pass and sat until dark with no wolf sightings. I thought for sure that my window had closed on my life time wish of a wolf.

 

Day 3 after the usual 90 minute argo ride through a mile long swamp  and timber found me in the same set up as the previous 2 days. Again I chose to just carry the bow and let the other hunter have the rifle as he saw a wolf over in his area. By 7 I had my usual visitor bear and the next few hours were quiet. About 9 I heard a bunch of commotion in the timber and saw 2 black objects running through the thick area behind me. I figured it was 2 bears fighting. I turned the camera on in time to see a nice chocolate bear run across an old oil pipeline and then the other black animal appeared. Well you got it, it was another wolf. A perfect jet black wolf was chasing the bear passed me at 60 yards and again I had no rifle. I could not believe it happened again. The wolf returned and decided that he would lay down in the grassy area in front of me for the next 10 minutes as if to say, Ha Ha!!
Day 4 was here and after a rough night sleeping and some ribbing from the outfitter I was perched again in the same spot. Now I was going to carry the rifle with me for the duration of the hunt, I am a slow learner I guess. A few hours into the sit my friendly small bear came and went several times. It was again a little slow until right before dark. I heard something walking in the leaves and I could see it was another bear but this one was a chocolate color phased bear. Wow another animal on my bucket list. It was too dark to get good video of it and certainly not enough pin light for a shot. He was very nervous and turned back into the timber. I sat there for the last 10 minutes and waited to get picked up. Just then on the grassy area in front of me stood my black wolf. I could not believe I was going to get a third chance. It was too far and dark for an archery shot but I was not going to let this slip away. I brought up the rifle and had enough light to try and steady the cross hairs. My breathing was that of a person who just ran a half marathon after eating at Chucky Cheese. I did manage to steady the gun and made a perfect shot dropping the majestic wolf in his tracks.  I could not believe but I had just shot my first wolf.
I just about jumped out of the stand to retrieve my trophy and I was all grins when Jason came to pick me up. We took a few pictures and I relived the hunt a hundred times that night back at the cabin.

The next night again had me back in the same tree and I wanted to get a good look at the color phased bear from the night before. I sat for a few hours and sure enough about 7:30 here he came. I could see while he walked in that he had a perfect pelt on him and was a good size boar. My mind was made up quickly and a few minutes later I had my second dream animal down in as many days. I got great footage of the hunt and he went down only 30 yards from the shot. I climbed down and recovered him and took some quick photos and was back in the stand. I still had 2 hours of hunting time left and another tag in my pocket.

Riding on cloud 9 now my trip was a dream hunt and anything else that happened the rest of the week would just be the proverbial icing on the cake. It has been a great hunt with Interlake Safaris and the food and camp have been outstanding. The same night I took this bear a wolf was missed with the bow by the other hunter in camp. He also took a nice black bear himself on the same night.

Now it was down to the last day and after smiling for what seemed like days, well I guess it has been I was sitting in my stand for the last time. I have seen 5 different bears while on this stand but knew unless a very big bear came in I would not punch my last tag. It was a little windy tonight and I had no action. This was odd even my friendly resident bear was no where around. The night was winding down and the wind finally laid down by 8:45 but still no action. I figured my last night was a bust and was satisfied with that. About 9 I heard a branch snap behind me. This for a bear hunter is always a good sound. I turned behind me to see a very large black bear heading into the bait. I powered up the camera and stood up getting ready for possibly a shot at this nice bear. Could this be happening, I said to myself. 3 great trophies in one week. The mature boar came in like he owned the place and sat down for a tasty treat in the bucket of cake icing we had out. After 10 minutes the big bear finally stood up to go to the next course in the dinner barrel and I had my shot. The arrow zipped right through the bear and he sat down and looked around. He had no idea what happened and a few seconds later he jumped across the logs walked 5 yards and tipped over. I had my third animal and a trip etched in my memory for the rest of my life. He was close to 350 pounds and a very nice thick hide. I sat back and recounted the past week before climbing down to put my hands on him. Pictures were taken and once Jason came we loaded him into the trailer for another great ride back through the swamps to a warm camp.

I can’t thank Jason Lambley enough for his great hunt that he puts on. Everything you want and need is taken care of and the best part is that he only takes a low number of hunters in all his camps to ensure good quality animals. He runs land based hunts in a nice lodge, river access hunts, float plane trips into remote hunting camps as well as argo based hunts to small comfortable cabins in the wilderness.

For your next great adventure be sure and contact him as his rates are very reasonable.

Interlake Safaris can be found at the following contact information:

Jason Lambley 204-372-8504 or www.huntsfromtheheart.com

Turkey Tag Out

Monday, April 30th, 2012

All winter long most outdoors-man and women go through the dreaded cabin fever. We think of spring not for the warm weather and pretty flowers but for gobbling turkeys. We prepare our gear and shoot all winter to be sure that we are ready when that big Tom comes into our decoy spread. I live for these 20 pound critters and look forward to hunting them with the bow every year. I have done well over the last 20 plus years and enjoy watching the country come to life each morning. 

A good set of decoys and and blind make bow hunting these birds a blast. You can get top pin close or more and have some great action. I usually like my standard 7 to 10 yard shot. This way if you are hunting wary birds and they hang up they are usually within 20 either way. They are way too small of a moving target to shoot much further than that, well at least for me.

 

This year I had tags for my home state of Montana as well as Idaho. The border is only 2 hours away and it offers some great turkey hunting. I like to try and hunt a few states and with it being so close I can give the birds a break and bounce back and forth. Even though you practice all year and would think that an opening morning 8 yards shot would be a slam dunk it is not! Well for me this year it was not. Who would think that such a little bird could get a grown man all flustered but it happens. A few days later I made good on my bird in Idaho.


The previous winter was rough for the turkeys in Montana and I was just not finding a good number of mature birds. The few that we had found this spring were already taken by my friends. I still head out every morning weather permitting to find a bird that wants to play the calling game. This weekend I found such a group of birds and was able to work them for over an hour. A little patience and subtle calling finally brought in this bird for another close up shot. I am tagged out for spring turkeys for this year.

But please don’t feel sorry for me because after turkeys are done I chase one of my favorite  animals, the bear. I am headed to Alberta Canada at the end of the week and look forward to finding a big mature boar. It is an excellent hunt and whether I am sitting in a stand over bait or spot and stalking I equally love to do them. Hopefully I will have some good stories and pictures of a big bear down in the next few weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Archery Turkey With Good Friend

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Every year I look forward to chasing turkeys with my bow and sharing my hunts with my good friend Dave. We have teamed up for some very good hunts and always seem to get it done. He is an excellent hunter and we share a lot of laughs while out in the field. We just came back from a short hunt in Northern Idaho. We have hunted this area before and have learned the best places and techniques to bagging a mature Tom with our bows.

A big key to success is having the right set up and be in the right spot to get the birds into less than 10 yards. Here we had the 1 hen lying down and the other feeding. The Tom was facing us. It is important to face the tail towards the direction you think the Tom will come from. This bird was gobbling with a handful of hens and we got close and set up. He was down the hill behind the decoys and knew he had to come up the hill to see the set up. Most mature birds will come around and face the advisary and give you a great shot.

After a little calling the Tom could not resist coming up the hill to see if he could add these hens to his group. Once he crested the hill he saw the strutter and could not resist. He came right into the spread at full strut and Dave made a great shot. I captured the entire hunt on video for him.

That afternoon we hunted a different area and I was up to bat. We noticed that a Tom we were working was very hesitant about coming into our same spread. This bird must have had a few bad encounters with another Tom in the area and was very timid. We tried to take the strutter down after he left and call him back in but he had made his mind up not to take on another Tom. We roosted the birds and set the blind up that night in the dark. We were going to be close to their fly down zone and did not want to make any noise come morning.

The next morning we decided to only put out hens and not go with the strutting Tom. It is also very important to use very realistic decoys. I have these new hens I got and as always my strutter has a real fan in it. This added realism makes the difference no doubt. Dave even goes to the extreme of replacing the eyes on his decoys with real glass eyes from a taxidermist.

I put out the 2 hens and we nestled into the blind 30 minutes before the song birds started to wake up. The gobbling began and soon the birds hit the ground. It took a while for the group to make their way out into the green field we were sitting on. There was 4 hens 2 Jakes and the 1 Tom. The males responded to our calling a few times and at one point the 3 were less than 5 yards from the blind gobbling spitting and drumming. The problem was they were on the backside of the blind and behind the pine tree we used for cover. After about an hour the hens fed out into the field and brought the Tom with them. The Jakes kept hazing the strutting bird away from my hens as the so often do.

Patience and just some subtle calling brought the big bird closer to the hens. As he cleared the window in the blind I came to full draw and made sure the camera was rolling. After a nod from Dave I settled the Hoyt in and shot the bird broadside at under 15 yards. He went only 20 yards and never left the field.

Outback Outdoors Spring Fever

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

As I am writing this blog about Spring fever and the great possibilities for being in the woods we are setting records with the heat this week. The team hits the woods hard once the snow melts to chase turkeys and look for shed antlers. I enjoy being in the outdoors scouting, calling turkeys and also walking my hunting areas looking for tell tale signs of the animals that made it through the winter. It is a great way to lose the cabin fever and get some well needed exercise. 

You can also take this time to contact ranch owners and help out with their calving or fixing fences and it helps build a good relationship. I just came back from finding these sheds, running all over trying to get a big Tom in bow range and help the land owner brand calves. This little bit of work goes a long ways to keep your favorite hunting area “yours”.

Just make sure you check yourself for ticks as I pulled off 23 of the little heathens in just 1 day.

 

Bowhunter Banquet

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Like other members of Outback Outdoors I do a handful of seminars and appearances. This past weekend I was the guest speaker for the Lewistown Bowhunters in Lewistown Montana. It was their 35th year and I was honored to partake in it. During the day I gave a seminar on elk calling and hunting. I covered basic calling and show cased my favorite calls from Bugling Bull Game Calls. I also had a table set up to sell product. During my seminar I covered my favorite time to hunt elk which is during the mid day.

I have had great luck over the last 5 years or so hunting elk during the mid day when they are in a set area and bedded. The wind and thermals are steady and the elk are more relaxed and stationary. If you can get in close to the herd and get within a bull’s comfort zone you have a good chance of calling him in. Those bulls will also get up often during the mid day and water, wallow or walk through their herd checking for estrous cows. This can be a deadly tactic on big herd bulls that you will have a hard time calling at any other time.

There were some great trophies brought in for display including a huge 193 inch ram, a 350 plus elk and several Pope and Young deer and antelope.After swapping hunting stories with a group of men and women and future hunters the kids we all enjoyed a great dinner. I was tasked with entertaining the group for 45 minutes with a speech. I chose to discuss the ever pressing issue of the wolves and the damage they have caused to our state as well as several others. It was a topic I take serious and have posted my opinions several times on different forums. With our state being so large there were many people who did not realize how bad it was.

Everyone had a great time and I look forward to speaking for them again and finishing the spring with a few more shows and seminars. Next up it will be the mountain chicken aka turkey and then the bears of the Canada.

Western Hunting Guided Or Unguided

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Almost everyone that hunts anywhere across the country at one time or another dreams of coming out West to hunt. It can be a daunting task deciding whether or not you should go with a guide or try a do it yourself adventure. Both have their place and it depends on the individual. Do you want to put in your hard work and team up with some good friends to help share in the trip? Some want to be able to come out and have all the home work done for them by an experienced outfitter who is familiar with the area.

In part one I will cover the unguided route. To do this hunt properly you have to do a lot of preperation prior to the hunt even starting. You must first decide where you want to go and for what species you want to hunt.

 

Each state out West has very different regulations, deadlines and laws that you must be conscious of. Some of the applications resemble that of a 100 page novel. Make sure you study the booklets and call all of the fish and game offices to help fill out these properly. Deadlines vary from the end of January up to the end of May. Applications can also be very complicated as to having to pay a partial fee or the entire tag fee up front. Seek help from friends who have been through this process before or have hunted the same state that you are choosing. You want to make sure everything is filled out properly prior to sending it in. I once lost a years point in Arizona just because my check was not addressed properly.

Now that you have sent off your tags its time to research your hunting area. With the Internet now it is far easier to scout. Google earth, Topo maps and GPS devices make this a breeze. You can not do enough home work and the more you put in now the better your hunt will be when you arrive. Scout now and hunt more later is a good saying. Check with local fish and game offices, biologists as well as game wardens. Call local taxidermists and they usually have some good current information of your area. It is always best if you have a few partners who will go on the hunts with you. This way you can share the work load and compare notes. Give each friend a task or two to handle and the research goes a lot easier.

The West can be very hard for the average hunter especially if he or she is not in top shape. It amazes me how many people spend a bunch of time scouring hunting stats, working on getting their tags in and do not work on their fitness. I believe it is by far the number one factor why people are not successful on their Western adventure. You have no excuse to not hike or walk and do some type of weight training. Put a back pack on and start walking. Altitudes range from 3000 feet to well above 10,000 feet. You can’t adjust for the altitude when living out East but if your body is in shape you can acclimate much quicker. Work on this at least 3 times a week and you will be much happier when carrying out your elk quarter on your back.

 

Having the right gear is a very important aspect of your hunt. Will you be hunting out of your truck everyday or using atv’s or even on horse back. Now is the time to get your equipment dialed in and be familiar with it. Make sure everything is is running order and tuned up. If it is a motorized vehicle make sure you have the proper permits to drive on forest roads. Some areas only allow you to use them for recovery during the mid day hours. A simple registration sticker is all you need. In Montana however you must have a working light, horn and rear view mirror to drive on roads. Spare gas cans and tires are also important. Most areas will be far from a local fuel stop.

 

 

Will you be hunting from a camper everyday or using it as a base camp. Are you sleeping in a tent and cooking over a fire. Another popular way is the bivy style hunting where you carry everything on your back as you go along. All have their place and people will choose a variety of ways to hunt. It does not matter to me just get out there and hunt. The weather can change in a minute’s notice whether you are out West in August or November. Having a proper shelter can make a huge difference.

Hopefully by now the mail man would have brought you good news and a tag is in hand for one of the great Western states for a fall hunt. Do not be intimidated by the process and do yourself a favor by coming out West and try it and I guarantee you will not be disappointed whether you punch your tag or not.