I'm always about "better to have and not need, than to need and not have", but I found a bipod on my hunting rig is useless FOR ME. Laying prone in the field is about like kissing your cousin. Yeah, the idea might might be tempting, but it still ain't right. I'll leave prone to the range/target shooting.
So, the shooting stick and field chair is where its at. Gonna start training for this style, along with standing shots, and reconfirm zeros.
I use, wood sticks by, Hunters Specialties for Sitting shots ( on Hillsides ) to, 400 Yards ( Elk & some Deer, ARE in mostly, ROUGH / STEEP, country ! ).
I put my Pack on my Chest to, support the Rifles "Toe" area and press upwards with Knee, to keep tight and STEADY against, the Toe !
I can hit our 11 inch Dia. Steel Plates, EVERY time using, this method at, 350 - 400 yds !
For Prone at, longer Distances, I shoot over my, EXO Pack ( stuffed Firmly with, Lunch, Napping Pad, Kill Kit, and Extra Clothes ) and I'm using, a home made, tightly wound, ( light weight ) Foam,.. Toe, Rest ! I carry, my Rifles ON the Pack with, a Kifaru, "Gun Bearer" ( this Combo, WORKS ! )
NO more, Bi-Pod for me, on Huntin' Trips,.. Now used, just for, shooting small Varmints, off my BENCH !
And with, the EXO 5500 ci Pack, I can carry, a Quarter of, the Elk,.. BACK, to Camp !
Prone in my area is useful depending on the time of year, terrain, and vegetation. That said I don't care for bipods on my general big game hunting rifles either. I save them for my range/ varmint rifles. I've been shooting off sticks or my pack for while now. Generally slung up if time or situation permits. I'm out of practice though. I better get back at it! I could stand to lose about 50 lbs too lol.
It really comes down to matching ur equipment to ur terrain. I use bipods all the time, can’t imagine leaving the house without them actually, but we have short vegetation, I can lay down shoot from many vantage points, and there’s just too much walking for me to carry more. Most of my game animals, I’ve flipped bipods out, flopped down, ranged, dialed and shot them, I’m quick at it from practice, I’m doing it while thinking about my wind call I’m gonna make
Tall Sage brush and usually, fairly STEEP Hillsides, in MOST of the area's where I Hunt,.. Deer / Elk / Moose in, the Rocky Mtn West ( Like, Northern Ariz, Wyo, Colorado and Idaho ) And very Hard to get, flat and comfortable to, shoot Prone.
NOT much, use for them, "here", UN-less on Top of, a Ridge and "trying" to shoot, way across to, the next Mountain.
IF, I need to shoot PAST 400 yards and IF, lucky enough to find, a FLAT enough spot to lay down,.. I'll put my Rifle, OVER my Pack as, it
Works "good" to, 650- 700 Yards for, us. Glad, it "works" for you, tho ! Your FIRST Sentence,.. says it, ALL !
I run the spartan precision bipod but with the Tricer GTP-RS legs. They have collets that allow you to use your trekking poles as a very tall bipod...add your pack as a rear rest and you are set up for 400y no problem.
Once I started carrying Phoenix Shooting bags I dropped my bipod. For prone shots I use the Phoenix shooting bags. We hunt Coues deer a lot so prone shots happen. For seated or standing shots I either use a clamp attached to my tripod or if I'm doing more walking and shooting standing up I carry my Viper Stix. They can be used seated as well. I've shot a ton of steel and killed critters at 500 yards easily off the Vipers. We just used them in Africa and shot 13 head of game ranging from 80 yards to 500 yards off of them. The Vipers can also be used for walk sticks in a pinch during a stalk. I have shot a lot of stuff using a bipod, but they add weight and don't work great on uneven surfaces. The Phoenix shooting bag to rifle surface is always the same and the bottom of the bag conforms to the surface underneath.
The country I hunt here in sw Mt. rarely gives the opportunity to shoot prone from a bipod. I think I have only taken one elk prone. I do think prone from a bipod is over practiced and too many rifles built around it when most of the time thats not how your going to make a shot. At least in my part of the world.