Hunter for Life
Beginnings. A new year is upon us. A new season is ahead and right now is the time to put into action all the things you vowed would be different this year. Did you find yourself in poor shape for the hunting you did? Not everyone will shoulder a 60# pack and beat the crowds by hiking 7 miles in and hunting the big bucks. Most will be doing day hunts from road camp or hunt, but no matter your style of hunting all will benefit by being able to hike further and longer. Better conditioning will allow to feel like hunting more and have you able to make a better shot when the opportunity is presented. Even if you just walk around your neighborhood several times a week this summer you will be in better shape than doing nothing. Strive to improve from wherever your fitness level is at. You run 3 miles 4 times a week- bump it up to 5. You regularly walk a mile a few times a week- increase the distance or your pace. We all have room to get better, and sadly few of us will dedicate the time and intensity to be a Dave Long or Cameron Hanes. But we can all get more mountain fit.
I am fortunate to live in an area where I can go shoot my rifle after a short drive in any direction from my home. Most back east and down south have to belong to a club to shoot. Regardless of your situation, make practice with your weapon of choice a priority this year. Know your true limitations. Everyone is reading about the guys dumping critters at extended rifle range. I personally know several guys I would not want shooting at me at 1000 yards! But, these guys have a lot of $ invested in their set ups. They spend a lot of $ also on ammo in practice. Most compete in long range events. They are dedicated to the craft and can make extended range shots with confidence. Every time. 100%. YOU need to determine what your max range is and limit your shots to that. With archery as well as fire sticks. The animals deserve your best effort, and better to hunt him another time than miss, or worse, wound him. Enough said on that.
What gear did you find lacking last year? Now is show season where all manufacturers are rolling out the new gear. These days you don’t have to be at the SHOT show or others to see what’s new. Facebook has been loaded with “live feeds” from a host of attendees all week. It is great see the new innovations in every aspect of our sport. For basic and advanced back country gear I recommend Brad Carter at Altitude Outdoors. He is a member and sponsor of TMDH, experienced back country hunter and can answer any question you may have. He carries all the quality gear and has used it all. Hit him up.
It will take careful consideration on where nonresidents spend their points to hunt the west this year. Here in western Wyoming the deer population is very low after the devastation of last winter. I was actually shocked at the number of good bucks that survived it and were taken in the 2017 season. 2018 is sure be a challenge, but as Lloyd said in Dumb and Dumber “so your saying there’s a chance”. Yes there will always be some cranker bucks in G and H but 2018 will surely be some of your lower odds of turning one up. On the bright side this winter so far is extremely warm and dry. The deer on winter range came in with record summer fat. In 5 years or so this crop of fawns have potential to be great deer. Can you wait that long to burn your points?
I am anxious to get into hunting prep mode full time myself. The new house is 99.5% done on first floor. The basement is all studded and insulated with rough electrical done. My sons and I will finish it out over the summer. This house is a dream come true for us, and I’m glad I will NEVER have to do it again. When we sell this I plan to move into a nice new single wide trailer somewhere warmer!
However as a lifelong hunter it is fantastic to sit in the great room I designed and look at all the memories of successful hunts on the wall. My hope is you all get to experience that. Many of my trophies I know I will never top, but I will try!
Right now truly is the time to focus for next season. Personally I will focus first on getting in some fashion of mountain shape. I have been plagued with nodules, or non-cancerous growths in my lungs. This of course is resultant of my non Hodgkin’s lymphoma and chemo. The medicines to combat it work against one becoming lean and strong. I am now on a new med that should work long term with fewer negative side effects. It is mainly used as an anti-rejection drug for folks who get organ transplants. Since making the switch and eating cleaner I have lost 16# in 3 weeks. 25 more to go and all of it is weight I don’t have to pack on the mountain. How much “pack weight” can you stand to lose?
Goals and Bucket List? Have you actually planned your short term and long term hunting goals? I suggest you do now, regardless of age and start obtaining them. During Cancer battle and recovery I made an extensive one that I’m working on now. #1 was a mountain lion and I am set to hunt within 2 weeks. I am booked to hunt Kodiak Island for Black tail this November, New Zealand for red stag spring 2019 then NWT for Mountain Caribou in the fall. In between will be partaking of all Wonderful Wild Wyoming has to offer with my kids and grandkid.
The Blogs will get more frequent now that the house is wrapped up (promise!) and I’ll update on my precision rifle build and general life in Wyoming as a retired guy savoring life in a Fantastic place.
Until next time- Keep Hunting for Life.