Heading West

VTHunter08

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Well it'd be a long story if I told everything, but after researching many states, applying for a NR Montana Elk tag with dad, returning a montana elk tag, and purchasing two OTC tags in Idaho, finally plans are finally starting to come together. Just bought a round trip plane ticket to Idaho for Sept 17-28th. Starting to get pretty excited! Can't wait to see some new country
 

Flatlander

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Where are you going to hunt ? Hunted elk and mule deer in the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness. Those hills are steep.
 

VTHunter08

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We're going to be south of Selway. We'll be hunting eastern sawtooth, and southern salmon-challis. We'll be doing backcountry archery. I'm flying out b/c of limited vacation time, but dad is driving out with all our gear. He'll be in state probably around sept 5-7 and I'll be getting there on the 17th. We're hoping to hike in and do two seperate 4 day deep woods hunts. If its good where we're at then hike back out, resupply, and head back in. Those of you that have hunted out west what do you do about the elevation change? Highest mountain in vermont is 4400', I hike alot in the 3000-4000 range. But this area is all 8000-10,000. I've never dealt with those elevations before. Muscle/cardio conditioning wont be a problem, but I know oxygen or lack there of is going to be a struggle. What have you guys done to deal with it?
 

arlow

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We're going to be south of Selway. We'll be hunting eastern sawtooth, and southern salmon-challis. We'll be doing backcountry archery. I'm flying out b/c of limited vacation time, but dad is driving out with all our gear. He'll be in state probably around sept 5-7 and I'll be getting there on the 17th. We're hoping to hike in and do two seperate 4 day deep woods hunts. If its good where we're at then hike back out, resupply, and head back in. Those of you that have hunted out west what do you do about the elevation change? Highest mountain in vermont is 4400', I hike alot in the 3000-4000 range. But this area is all 8000-10,000. I've never dealt with those elevations before. Muscle/cardio conditioning wont be a problem, but I know oxygen or lack there of is going to be a struggle. What have you guys done to deal with it?
Drink lots of water. Keeping hydrated is key to avoiding altitude sickness. You will acclimate somewhat after a few days but keep the water flowing. It is real easy to get dehydrated out there. My parents used to live at 8500 feet in eagle colorado. First day at altitude it is a struggle for sure. Get over 10000 and it sucks! But you will feel better and better each day.
 

longbow

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One year I flew to Denver rented a car, got groceries and a license and drove right out to camp. So at 6am, I was at ground level in NJ and at 4pm I was camped at 9500 feet. I didn't pause to eat or drink hardly anything since the morning. What a headache I had, felt like crap and did not feel like hunting at all. Could not sleep either. After about a day I was feeling much better with a lot of fluids and good food. My friend who lives out there swears by Rolaids to help the sickness. I was eating them like candy.

So, like Arlow said, drink a lot of fluids and take the time to have a good meal when you get out there and don't run yourself ragged right off the bat. You definitely will feel the altitude. You will be walking and all of a sudden you are out of breath, but if you are in good shape you can push thru it. Just some things I remember from my 8 trips out there. Have not been out in about 10 years.
 

VTHunter08

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Thanks guys, My first day out there will be similar to what you explained Longbow. I'll be flying out of Burlington at 6:30 (300' above sea level), and landing at BOI at 12:45 (3,000 above sea level), eat lunch and then drive up into the mountains to our areas to truck scout (see how many trucks are parked where)(7000-8000' above sea level. So in a matter of 12 hours I'll gain about 7000 of elevation. I plan on bringing 2 containers of mtn ops trail packs to keep me well hydrated and vitaminized, and don't really want to do any hiking that first afternoon. Drive around, eat, relax, and let my body do its thing. Good call on the Rolaids I'll pack a bunch of those. I might try mtn ops Solitude too, suppose to help your body cope with elevation sickness, staying hydrated, and minimize lactic acid build up. We shall see
 

VTHunter08

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In the meantime if anyone has any tips for anything out there, elk hunting in general, backcountry camping essentials, etc please share. We are both very very green at this. I've been wanting to do this for years, and this has been a bucket list of dads for a long time so with my hunting buddy putting it off for a couple years expanding his family, and no trip planned for this year, dad and I both said screw it lets go. I've been going on hunting trips with him for the last 20 years and every trip we've ever taken at one point or another one of us comes up with some hair brained idea and we look at eachother and say "Well . . . It'll be an adventure!" Our expectations are very low, we have both said we'd like to see some elk, hopefully hear some buggling, possibly say we "worked" a bull. If one of us actually releases an arrow that'll just be icing on the cake.
 

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I looked at Idaho for elk before settling on Colorado. Mostly just be cause of the dates and who I was going with. One thing I would look into, is an air service that will fly you to one of the remote USFS air strips. They were actually pretty reasonable and I think I talked with Sawtooth flight service.

I've been hitting the gym regularly to prepare for my hunt, which will start on Nov 2, even though we are flying into Denver two days prior to the season starting. Lots of cardio for me and shoulder workouts, since I'll be carrying a pack all the time.

We ended up renting a cabin just outside of USFS land, and will be driving, then hiking in daily for the hunts. Four guys and two trucks, so hopefully we can cover some ground and find where the elk are holing up.
 

longbow

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You might feel like crap the first day or you might feel pretty good just depends. Each time it can hit you a little differently. One year my wife came with me and after three days she was so sick she had to fly home. She was six or seven months pregnant so that might’ve had something to do with it.
 

Fixed blade

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Good luck with your prep. I’m kinda doing the same thing but for 2020. If you want to bounce ideas please pm me. I would also recommend one of you joining the elk 101 Elk University. We have learned a ton on there so far. I’ve also spent wayyyyyy to much money prepping but gear is fun.
 
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mbVT

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Awesome- it is a blast out there.

For the elevation, getting in good cardio shape is key, staying hydrated vital, taking your time essential- 2-3 days of being patient will pay off.
Hike with your pack and some weight for conditioning, I recommend trekking poles for pack outs.
I've used this with success- https://wildernessathlete.com/products/altitude-advantage
Dad got a prescription from his doc, diamox.
 

mbVT

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Things you'll probably need that are different from new england hunts- frame pack, Game bags, Water bladder and filter, camp, baby wipes, binos, sleeping bag/pad, stove and fuel, freeze dried food.
There are a ton of gear lists out there. Get good clothes and a layering system and you won't need to pack much on that end.

I used an exo 3500 pack, an msr trailshot filter, leki trekking poles. Platypus water bladder, Mountain house meals, first lite wool underwear and shirts, standard hiking pants in green (nylon), rain gear as an outer layer. Vortex seems to make good binos at a reasonable price.
 

longbow

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Your Dad is going to be out there 10 days before you? He should have an elk down before you get out there!

Find some dirt roads that you can either drive thru the mountains on, or walk in on, if closed. With 10 days to scout you should be able to car camp and just hike in 1 or 2 miles, sometimes less, to your hunting spots. My first bull, I shot in the back of a clearcut 400 yards from the road. The second was about 2 miles in.

If you really want to hike in and camp, well that is going to make thing logistically much more demanding.

I camped right behind the car, with coolers filled with food, eggs, chop meat, bottled water, oatmeal, milk, etc, etc,. Then I either walked right out from camp and hunted or drove down the road and hiked in from there. During bow season elk are not spooked yet and they are all over. (This was in Colorado, don't see why it shouldn't be basically the same there). Don't hunt the huge mountains. Just like you don't hunt up the side of Mt. Katadyn, look for some easier to handle ridges with some access points for you. Don't overlook elk being down low in the sage brush areas, they often go down there at night and then back up in the morning.

Probably be freezing in the morning and 80 in the day time. I wore hiking type sneakers, very light cotton pants, and a thin cotton long sleeve shirt.

Just some thoughts from my 8 or so trips out there.
 

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VTHunter08

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Some great info here guys I appreciate it! I started accumulating gear a year or two ago, and did a few over night hikes last year and hoping to do a few more this year before we go. Picked up a kelty 2 man backpacking tent, two frame packs (one for training, one for hunting), lightweight 20 degree sleeping bag, sleeping pad, jetboil stove, platapus water filtering system, and bladder. One thing I realized the importance of while hiking last year was an adequate pillow. I tried just balling up the few clothes I had and used that. That didn't work at all. So I ordered a sea to summit inflatable pillow which should be delivered today. I have a few dehydrated meals left over from last year, but will be ordering another couple dozen in the next few weeks. I have the black orvis XL game bags in my amazon cart right now so that'll happen at some point here soon. I'm also working on a homemade light weight backwoods first aide kit. Clothing wise the last 1.5 years I have put together a halfway decent first lite clothing collection (couple shirts, pants, hat, etc.) I'll be using that as my main hunting attire. Rain gear I have a Big Bill jacket/pant set-up but its not really lightweight or breathable. Not sure what to do with this. Lug it in and probably not use it, not bring it and get soaked every day, or spend the money on something good.
 

VTHunter08

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Your Dad is going to be out there 10 days before you? He should have an elk down before you get out there!
I hope so! I told him to have one tied up for me too! I don't even care if its a raghorn!
 

VTHunter08

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Optics wise I picked up a pair of 10x42 nikon monarchs last year, and my wife got me the vortex bino harness that sits on your chest https://www.amazon.com/Vortex-Optics-P300-Guide-Binopack/dp/B01BYAAGEY/ref=sr_1_4?crid=334N1CHS99XRD&keywords=vortex+binoculars+harness&qid=1560776878&s=gateway&sprefix=vortex+bin,aps,172&sr=8-4

The harness looks kinda bulky but I've been shooting with it for about a year now and absolutely love it!

My dad just picked up some vortex 12x50's. Said he just opened them up the other day and absolutely love them.
 

Fixed blade

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Some great info here guys I appreciate it! I started accumulating gear a year or two ago, and did a few over night hikes last year and hoping to do a few more this year before we go. Picked up a kelty 2 man backpacking tent, two frame packs (one for training, one for hunting), lightweight 20 degree sleeping bag, sleeping pad, jetboil stove, platapus water filtering system, and bladder. One thing I realized the importance of while hiking last year was an adequate pillow. I tried just balling up the few clothes I had and used that. That didn't work at all. So I ordered a sea to summit inflatable pillow which should be delivered today. I have a few dehydrated meals left over from last year, but will be ordering another couple dozen in the next few weeks. I have the black orvis XL game bags in my amazon cart right now so that'll happen at some point here soon. I'm also working on a homemade light weight backwoods first aide kit. Clothing wise the last 1.5 years I have put together a halfway decent first lite clothing collection (couple shirts, pants, hat, etc.) I'll be using that as my main hunting attire. Rain gear I have a Big Bill jacket/pant set-up but its not really lightweight or breathable. Not sure what to do with this. Lug it in and probably not use it, not bring it and get soaked every day, or spend the money on something good.
Any light weight hiking rain gear would work. Doesn’t need to be Camo. Just my opinion.
 

VTHunter08

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Any light weight hiking rain gear would work. Doesn’t need to be Camo. Just my opinion.
Yeah your probably right, I might look for something cheap. It'll probably never leave the pack, and it wont need to last longer then the trip, but probably good to have something.

So Elk University is good? I've been kicking the tires on it. How does it work, pay for it and it make a bunch of information available? Or is it like seminars? or what?
 


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