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Guide To Do-It-Yourself Bowhunting
 ?by Cameron R. Hanes

Who wouldn't want to go on top-notch guided hunt after guided hunt? I would love to have that opportunity someday, but currently as any other budget conscious bowhunter, I simply cannot pull it off. This means either I don't hunt or I set up my own hunts, which is what we like to call, Do-It-Yourself bowhunting. There are other differences besides the obvious monetary consideration when comparing guided to DIY trips. The thing I like about on your own hunting is that if I kill it is because of me and if I don't kill it is because of me. In the field, making all the decisions in the heat of the battle is how many of us like it. Plus, the feeling of accomplishment after a successful DIY outing is indescribable.

I will share the gear I have used and the lessons I have learned over years of backcountry hunting. Much of my hunting has been solo, so the gear listed is what I carry on my back to go remote after bulls or bucks for 4 or more days at a time. Here is a list of equipment or gear, thoughts or theories that you must consider.

Pre-season Preparation

To pull off a dream DIY endeavor you are going to have to do your homework. Just as in life, in this type of hunting, there are seldom shortcuts to success. This is where the most tedious, repetitious and mundane work is done, but also, possibly the most important. This is the foundation of your successful hunt.

Shooting

I would suggest hitting as many 3-D shoots as possible. These are great for preparing you for steep angle shots and pressure shots. I also shoot an indoor league at my local Pro-Shop, The Bow Rack, once a week and make certain that I shoot at least 20 arrows every single day from about February on.

First arrow ?Your first arrow is really the only one that matters. You have to be able to hit what you are aiming at, every time with that first arrow of the day. Remember, there are no warm up shots in the field.

Scouting

Gaining intimate knowledge of your hunting area is huge. Get out into the country you will be hunting and verify hunches and investigate any leads you picked up from studying your topographical maps. This is also a prime time to test gear. There is no better time than during scouting trips or overnight outings to test new gear or learn things you may not have thought of.

Physical Conditioning

The fact is that you simply cannot be in too good of shape. I also realize that everyone has his or her own levels of fitness and conditioning. Keep in mind that even a guy in marathon shape will probably still be fatigued during a 10 day high mountain elk hunt, so it is your best interest to pay particular attention to the conditioning aspect of hunt preparation. Whatever you have been doing to get ready for your big trip, do more. More stamina is better and you will need it. That being said, it is also true that:
  • You will typically hike and climb 5-15 miles a day in terrain that is rugged and at higher elevation than most of us are used to. This is why a good cross-training fitness program is most effective. You should incorporate hill work, weights, biking, road running, etc. in an effort to achieve total body condition.
  • One thing that most of us can't do in advance is to get acclimated to high altitude. Many live at elevations that may only be a few hundred feet or even less above sea level, while most elk hunting takes place at 3,000-10,000 feet. The only way to get acclimated is to go to the elevation you will be hunting at, which is not feasible for most of us, but consider that the person who is in good shape physically will have much less of a problem with altitude and will acclimate much faster.

With every rule there is an exception. What can't accurately be quantified is desire. My hunting partner, Roy Roth, is one of the mentally strongest guys I have ever met and what he lacks for in the conditioning department he more than makes up for in the, "Quitters never win and winners never quit" department.

Food and Water

Average daily calorie requirements in the field are 2,800 to 3,600 calories for males and 2,000 to 2,800 for females. Not getting enough food and nutrients leads to rapid weight loss, which leads to; loss of strength, decreased endurance, loss of motivation and decreased mental alertness. Given this, it should be obvious how important packing the right foods are to bowhunting success. I am not even sure if a guy can haul enough food in his pack for an extended backcountry hunt, but you need to really pay special attention to exactly what you'll be hauling on your back for body fuel.

So far as food goes it should contribute at least 100 calories per once of weight otherwise it's not worth packing. For instance, I pack a handful of Nature Valley 100% Natural Oat ‘N Honey granola bars. They weigh 1.5 oz. and have 180 calories, 29 grams of carbs and 4 grams of protein.

You must treat your water, period. This means either with a filter or iodine tablets. I prefer iodine, as it is safer, lighter and more convenient. A filter weighs anywhere from 11 oz. to 14 oz. and costs approximately $60. Iodine tables weigh next to nothing and cost $5. Some complain of the taste, but for one, you do get used to it and besides, I cover the taste with?Emer'gen-C powdered drink mix. This powder mix, which is added to water, comes in small packets that weigh a piddly .29 oz. yet contain 1,000 mg of vitamin C, which 1666% of you Daily Allowance as well as 500% of B6 and 416% of B12 plus it is high in potassium. This is something you must use.

I think the best main staple to the wilderness bowhunter comes in the form of military rations called Meal Ready-to-Eat, or MRE which are about $5 a piece or $2 just for the main course purchased separately. These things are awesome and have a ton of calories, are convenient and are balanced in nutrients (carbohydrate, protein, fruit, etc.). Also, they?Eliminate the need for a stove. They come with a sleeve that you insert the main entrée into and then add a very small amount of water, which activates chemically a self-contained meal heating system. In minutes you have a hot meal. By packing MRE's you will not need to haul a stove, cook set or utensils in your pack. This is huge as every ounce is critical. MRE's come in many different combinations of main meals, fruits, crackers, potatoes, rice, noodles, ham, meatloaf, etc. They also come with a number of this I do not want to pack, like instant coffee and Tabasco sauce among other things, but I simply take these out and discard, along with the heavy package the MRE's come in, prior to my trip.

Guide To Do-It-Yourself Bowhunting
 ?by Cameron R. Hanes

Who wouldn't want to go on top-notch guided hunt after guided hunt? I would love to have that opportunity someday, but currently as any other budget conscious bowhunter, I simply cannot pull it off. This means either I don't hunt or I set up my own hunts, which is what we like to call, Do-It-Yourself bowhunting. There are other differences besides the obvious monetary consideration when comparing guided to DIY trips. The thing I like about on your own hunting is that if I kill it is because of me and if I don't kill it is because of me. In the field, making all the decisions in the heat of the battle is how many of us like it. Plus, the feeling of accomplishment after a successful DIY outing is indescribable.

I will share the gear I have used and the lessons I have learned over years of backcountry hunting. Much of my hunting has been solo, so the gear listed is what I carry on my back to go remote after bulls or bucks for 4 or more days at a time. Here is a list of equipment or gear, thoughts or theories that you must consider.

Pre-season Preparation

To pull off a dream DIY endeavor you are going to have to do your homework. Just as in life, in this type of hunting, there are seldom shortcuts to success. This is where the most tedious, repetitious and mundane work is done, but also, possibly the most important. This is the foundation of your successful hunt.

Shooting

I would suggest hitting as many 3-D shoots as possible. These are great for preparing you for steep angle shots and pressure shots. I also shoot an indoor league at my local Pro-Shop, The Bow Rack, once a week and make certain that I shoot at least 20 arrows every single day from about February on.

First arrow ?Your first arrow is really the only one that matters. You have to be able to hit what you are aiming at, every time with that first arrow of the day. Remember, there are no warm up shots in the field.

Scouting

Gaining intimate knowledge of your hunting area is huge. Get out into the country you will be hunting and verify hunches and investigate any leads you picked up from studying your topographical maps. This is also a prime time to test gear. There is no better time than during scouting trips or overnight outings to test new gear or learn things you may not have thought of.

Physical Conditioning

The fact is that you simply cannot be in too good of shape. I also realize that everyone has his or her own levels of fitness and conditioning. Keep in mind that even a guy in marathon shape will probably still be fatigued during a 10 day high mountain elk hunt, so it is your best interest to pay particular attention to the conditioning aspect of hunt preparation. Whatever you have been doing to get ready for your big trip, do more. More stamina is better and you will need it. That being said, it is also true that:

  • You will typically hike and climb 5-15 miles a day in terrain that is rugged and at higher elevation than most of us are used to. This is why a good cross-training fitness program is most effective. You should incorporate hill work, weights, biking, road running, etc. in an effort to achieve total body condition.
  • One thing that most of us can't do in advance is to get acclimated to high altitude. Many live at elevations that may only be a few hundred feet or even less above sea level, while most elk hunting takes place at 3,000-10,000 feet. The only way to get acclimated is to go to the elevation you will be hunting at, which is not feasible for most of us, but consider that the person who is in good shape physically will have much less of a problem with altitude and will acclimate much faster.

With every rule there is an exception. What can't accurately be quantified is desire. My hunting partner, Roy Roth, is one of the mentally strongest guys I have ever met and what he lacks for in the conditioning department he more than makes up for in the, "Quitters never win and winners never quit" department.

Food and Water

Average daily calorie requirements in the field are 2,800 to 3,600 calories for males and 2,000 to 2,800 for females. Not getting enough food and nutrients leads to rapid weight loss, which leads to; loss of strength, decreased endurance, loss of motivation and decreased mental alertness. Given this, it should be obvious how important packing the right foods are to bowhunting success. I am not even sure if a guy can haul enough food in his pack for an extended backcountry hunt, but you need to really pay special attention to exactly what you'll be hauling on your back for body fuel.

So far as food goes it should contribute at least 100 calories per once of weight otherwise it's not worth packing. For instance, I pack a handful of Nature Valley 100% Natural Oat ‘N Honey granola bars. They weigh 1.5 oz. and have 180 calories, 29 grams of carbs and 4 grams of protein.

You must treat your water, period. This means either with a filter or iodine tablets. I prefer iodine, as it is safer, lighter and more convenient. A filter weighs anywhere from 11 oz. to 14 oz. and costs approximately $60. Iodine tables weigh next to nothing and cost $5. Some complain of the taste, but for one, you do get used to it and besides, I cover the taste with?Emer'gen-C powdered drink mix. This powder mix, which is added to water, comes in small packets that weigh a piddly .29 oz. yet contain 1,000 mg of vitamin C, which 1666% of you Daily Allowance as well as 500% of B6 and 416% of B12 plus it is high in potassium. This is something you must use.

I think the best main staple to the wilderness bowhunter comes in the form of military rations called Meal Ready-to-Eat, or MRE which are about $5 a piece or $2 just for the main course purchased separately. These things are awesome and have a ton of calories, are convenient and are balanced in nutrients (carbohydrate, protein, fruit, etc.). Also, they?Eliminate the need for a stove. They come with a sleeve that you insert the main entrée into and then add a very small amount of water, which activates chemically a self-contained meal heating system. In minutes you have a hot meal. By packing MRE's you will not need to haul a stove, cook set or utensils in your pack. This is huge as every ounce is critical. MRE's come in many different combinations of main meals, fruits, crackers, potatoes, rice, noodles, ham, meatloaf, etc. They also come with a number of this I do not want to pack, like instant coffee and Tabasco sauce among other things, but I simply take these out and discard, along with the heavy package the MRE's come in, prior to my trip.

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