Anyone who has a nodding acquaintance with hunting will tell you that mountain hunting and ordinary deer hunting are like apples and oranges. The former is about loading your rifle and getting ready to shoot, while the latter requires comprehensive planning and preparation to execute. Read on for four preparation tips for your mountain hunting trip.
You’ve probably seen hunters do well in high-altitude environments and thought you would give it a try. However, this type of activity requires a high endurance threshold. Unless you come from a state such as Colorado, whose elevation above sea level is little under 7,000 feet, you are certainly going up the mountain at a disadvantage. This is even true for the 20-somethings who may be lulled into thinking their bodies are optimized for elk hunting. It’s best to be in shape before taking on such a physically demanding task.
Clean your rifle
Nothing can be more frustrating than aiming your rifle and pulling the trigger with no results. This is something you can fix by simply cleaning your gun. After every hunting session, you are advised to rid your gun of any specs of powder, dirt, or copper both inside and out as a cost-free way to maintain the accuracy and ensure the longevity of your rifle. Consider investing in proper gun cleaning kits to curb the prospect of damaging your rifle in the name of increasing its lifespan.
Conducting proper research ahead of time can help you identify popular locations and increase your chances of success. If you know friends who have been to mountain hunts before, ask them about great locations for first-timers or novices. There are also many online resources that you can use to identify optimal locations. Google Earth, for instance, can be resourceful in the identification of locations nearest to you.
Prepare a game plan
If you are going on the hunt with a group of friends, make sure to prepare and discuss a game plan ahead of time. Discuss the terrain of your location, the game you will be targeting, the gear needed, the tactics, and the objective.
Don’t overstuff your backpack
If this is your first mountain hunt or you feel you have gained a few pounds over the past few months, you should carry a light backpack and rifle. In mountain hunting, climbing, and keeping your balance are constant struggles. A gun that is too heavy will add to that weight and wear you out before you take your first shot.
Invest in binoculars
A pair of binoculars is a vital tool in any mountain hunter’s arsenal. In fact, it is almost as important as your rifle, since you can’t shoot if you can’t see the game. There are many types and classes of binoculars on the market, so take the time to find one that has the perfect balance of efficiency, convenience, and affordability. Top-end binoculars can set you back upwards of $2,000, but even a $1,000 pair would serve you well.
Be prepared to walk
Elk are always on the move, and so are good elk hunters. To find a good herd to hunt, you must be prepared to maneuver several rocky slopes, canyons, and bushes. Many hunters lose heart two or three days into a hunt because they expect to bump into herds immediately upon reaching the hunting location. It’s never that easy, but if you are ready to cover the miles, there is a good chance you will find a game.
Carry lots of water
Water is the second most important substance our bodies require after oxygen. Mountain climbers and dwellers of high-altitude zones tend to drink more water than their counterparts in low-elevation locations for a number of reasons.
The mountains are cold, and as you may know, cooler air holds very little water. As you acclimatize to the higher altitudes, you are likely to pass more urine, as the body strives to prevent bicarbonate-induced respiratory alkalosis. Rapid breathing caused by an increased heart rate has also been shown to accelerate water loss from the body.
All these factors combine to elevate the body’s water requirement of as much as eight quarts per day. Carrying this much water with you is not easy, but it is necessary.
Go in a group
Lack of company should never be a reason to give up on your mountain hunting dream. However, hunting in a group has many benefits that almost certainly outweigh the downsides for a hunting first-timer. For one, if you get injured, you will have someone to help you carry your backpack and call for help. Also, there is a lower chance of getting lost when hunting in a group.
It also helps you learn from your better-skilled buddies, create new friendships, and ward off boredom as you have people to talk to as you maneuver the wilderness. Even if you fancy solitude, hunting in a group is certainly better for your survival and experience.
Have realistic expectations
Going up the mountain with realistic expectations will have plenty of sway on whether your trip will be successful or not. It is extremely easy to gain motivation from social media posts and TV commercials, forgetting that those are the exploits of experienced individuals or snapshots of rare events.
If you are new to mountain hunting or hunting in general, the trick is to start slow and gain experience as you go. Keep your expectations low on your first few trips. Understand that you may come back home without a kill or a successful hit. That way, you will avoid disappointments and have motivation for subsequent mountain hunts.
Mountain hunting is fun only if you have the essentials for outdoor activity and are prepared for the hassle of climbing and dealing with balance issues. Some things you will learn with experience, but for now, all you need is to get up that mountain and get a feel for the conditions. The above tips can help you achieve these goals.