A couple weeks ago I had my hunting stuff spread out on the floor in front of me as I organized for an upcoming annual DIY mule deer hunt in eastern Montana. I get so many questions from LRH members about whatís a good widget to use for whatever. Plus we have a constantly growing number of members who are learning about how to get into western state DIY hunting. So I decided then and there that when I returned from the hunt I would write up the looooong list of gear that I had along with me.
When I completed the list I challenged Andy to a guessing game. ďAndy, how many items will I have in my pockets and in or attached to my backpack?Ē
ďWell, you like to have lots of stuff along so I will guess 50.Ē Since the correct answer was incredibly close at 51 -- I felt my sense of fun with the challenging quiz was totally crushed by my spoilsport son. But I guess he knows me too well.
Normally he would be hunting with me but family and our business were keeping him home this time. So I would be hunting solo. The hunt is done on a private ranch in Montana that is enrolled in the Montana Block Management Program giving access to the public. There are many such ranches totalling 7 million acres available and perhaps you should find one you like and start hunting there.
This ranch has some of the most interesting and challenging terrain that I always enjoy. I seem to lean toward the areas that are farthest from the public roads and which have the highest elevations. There is about a 700 foot elevation gain from where I park my vehicle to the top of the tallest ridges that I hunt.
I was referred to it by an LRH friend. Thanks, Ryan! In the years just before I started hunting there the deer population was strong and good sized bucks were often taken. In recent years the deer population is struggling with a comeback after a couple of severe winters which decimated the herd.
I still go there because it is such a great piece of land and I love the boots-on-the ground experience. This year I passed on a couple "meat" bucks but saw nothing larger to interest me.
But letís switch over to my gear list. On this type of solo hunt I will hike in from one to one and a half hours from my vehicle in the pre-dawn dark. Iíll set up on a high point just before first light. And during the day I may wander another mile or two off in the distance before returning -- again in the dark -- to my vehicle.
So safety is a concern and I want to be prepared for an unplanned overnight stay on the mountain. And of course if successful there is the need to debone the meat and haul it out. In that case I first do a gutless deboning on the spot. I place the meat into ziplock bags and leave most of it on the kill site while I return to my Jeep with some of it and drop off all my unnecessary gear. Then I head back out with an almost empty pack for the remainder of the meat.
Here is my list with links to web pages that have more detailed product descriptions and in most cases the ability to purchase -- whether in the LRH Store or at another web store. I hike in to my starting point wearing only a couple light layers in temps as low as 15 or 20. I lash to my pack or carry inside of it my other layers to change into after the sweaty hike is over.
Total weight of my pack plus its contents including clothing lashed to or inside of it, things in pants pockets plus my rifle was 39 pounds.
BinoBib protective cover by Scopecoat
Much less bulky than the pouch type carriers. I also like that when I take my binos off my neck and set them down where I am shooting prone, they are still covered and protected. Seven years of use so far.
Ultra-Light Bino Harness
My binos, rangefinder and camera each utilize this wonder of simple design and versatile function. Look how little bulk there is. I never feel the thin elastic cord is pinching my skin.
Vortex Uni-Daptor Great for glassing with binos on a trip when you donít want to carry a spotter.