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Author Topic: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)  (Read 4208 times)

Offline yakimanoob

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Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« on: July 07, 2017, 09:35:48 AM »
Hey folks!  I've been scouring maps and planning a scouting trip for the high buck hunt, and I'd love your thoughts/critiques on my strategy.  I don't mind being told I'm an idiot, as long as you follow it with advice on how not to be an idiot  ;)

I've got my eye on a few spots in Glacier Peak Wilderness or possibly Henry Jackson (GMU 244/245 area), and my general plan is to find a spot that gives me easy-ish access to as many basins and draws as possible and spend my time glassing until I find a buck I like, then stalk.  I've been focused on north-facing slopes that seem to have year-round water sources. 

This is my first attempt at the high buck hunt, and I've never actually put my boots in that dirt, so I'll take any advice you can give me.  Are there general rules of thumb for the area (like maybe altitudes or particular types of environments the deer like)?  I'm also not super familiar with what the deer are after that time of year.  Are they mostly looking for food to fatten up for fall?  Are they in transit to lower elevations that time of year, or are there weather patterns I should pay attention to that will indicate what they might be doing? 

My aim is to spend at least one weekend scouting in August and/or early September -- I'd be mostly focused on learning the terrain as I doubt I'd have enough time to pattern the deer at all. 

Anyway, tell me where I'm going wrong! And thanks in advance for the tips.

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2017, 09:42:42 AM »
Bring lots of bug repellent, without it staying in one spot and glassing isn’t going to work. 

Offline 7mmfan

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2017, 09:50:14 AM »
In general, the deer are going to start their days where the feed is, which is usually a South facing slope. They will then move to cover to bed. This isn't always timber on North facing slopes, but can be a brushy avalanche chute, strip of timber in the head of a basin, or even immediately downhill into timber below where their feeding.

Bigger bucks that haven't been pressured yet, will often bed down very high on the ridge, below rock outcroppings, amongst piles of rocks/boulders/brush, overlooking the basin they feed in. Once they sense pressure, they will then move over into heavier cover on the north facing slopes.

Don't be surprised to find deer well above timberline, in ground that looks more like goat country.

If you think its "easy-ish" access to multiple basins, so will other people, and you will have competition. Consider that. There are very few secrets left in the high hunts thanks to the internet (forums are part of it, but mainly satellite imagery. It is very easy to scout alpine country with google earth, its highly visible). The best way to get away from people is to do just that, get away from them, go further/deeper/steeper than most people are willing to go.
I hunt, therefore I am.... I fish, therefore I lie.

Offline Bill W

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2017, 10:11:47 AM »
deer are going to be more out in the open while in velvet and starting September 1st more in the buckbrush..... meaning where you find them in August won't be where they are in mid-September.

Offline yakimanoob

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2017, 10:18:25 AM »
deer are going to be more out in the open while in velvet and starting September 1st more in the buckbrush..... meaning where you find them in August won't be where they are in mid-September.
Great tip.  Thank you!

Offline teanawayslayer

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2017, 05:09:59 PM »
Get away from the main trails. Where there's a trail there's people. Google earth is a great tool but a lot of it is a lot brushier than it looks on google earth. If you are going to scout in August I would definitely bring some bug spray with a very high deet content! Bugs are relentless from now to the end of August. Find a spot where you can see a long ways and do your scouting that way. Don't want to pressure those big bucks. If you do they'll be gone or in hiding. Make sure your in a spot where water is accessible. Carrying water sucks! Good luck!
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Offline WA1232

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2017, 06:32:23 PM »
I'll add that trail cameras are a great tool. A camera can give you the confidence that deer are in the area, even if they are hard to find in person.

Offline yakimanoob

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2017, 06:34:26 PM »
I'll add that trail cameras are a great tool. A camera can give you the confidence that deer are in the area, even if they are hard to find in person.
Yeah, I have a trail cam I was thinking of taking with me.  Hopefully I can find a place I like to put it on my scouting trip and check it as soon as I show up to actually hunt.

Offline muleracks

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2017, 10:19:45 PM »
You will be in a Wilderness area so 48 hours is the rule for leaving things unattended.
That means that trail cameras are not technically legal if left for days or weeks.
Like your spot and stalk approach.

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2017, 11:49:05 AM »
Dont expect to be by yourself, my advice would be to go in a couple days before the season, find the deer that you want and first light friday morning be in the position you need to be to put him down.  Best chance at a mature buck is opening morning, after some shots are fired they seem to disappear in the thick and dark.
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Offline yakimanoob

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2017, 05:50:18 PM »
You will be in a Wilderness area so 48 hours is the rule for leaving things unattended.
That means that trail cameras are not technically legal if left for days or weeks.
THANK YOU.  I did not know about that rule. 

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2017, 06:21:23 PM »
Dont expect to be by yourself, my advice would be to go in a couple days before the season, find the deer that you want and first light friday morning be in the position you need to be to put him down.  Best chance at a mature buck is opening morning, after some shots are fired they seem to disappear in the thick and dark.

I've seen deer scoot out the night before as more people arrived for the opener.

Offline ian_padron

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2017, 11:35:44 AM »
In general, the deer are going to start their days where the feed is, which is usually a South facing slope. They will then move to cover to bed. This isn't always timber on North facing slopes, but can be a brushy avalanche chute, strip of timber in the head of a basin, or even immediately downhill into timber below where their feeding.

Bigger bucks that haven't been pressured yet, will often bed down very high on the ridge, below rock outcroppings, amongst piles of rocks/boulders/brush, overlooking the basin they feed in. Once they sense pressure, they will then move over into heavier cover on the north facing slopes.

Don't be surprised to find deer well above timberline, in ground that looks more like goat country.

If you think its "easy-ish" access to multiple basins, so will other people, and you will have competition. Consider that. There are very few secrets left in the high hunts thanks to the internet (forums are part of it, but mainly satellite imagery. It is very easy to scout alpine country with google earth, its highly visible). The best way to get away from people is to do just that, get away from them, go further/deeper/steeper than most people are willing to go.
Yeah that^^^

Last year was my first time hunting high buck and I saw deer every day. HOWEVER, I learned a spot and learned it well during the summer when the bucks were still in velvet and totally relaxed. Still returned home empty handed though, finding 'em is only half the battle.

In my experience, you want to find a trail that will give you centralized access to run as many ridges and glassing points as possible. Get off the trail and peek into green basins that are a ridge or two away from the closest trail, DO NOT lose elevation, stay high and don't skyline yourself.

There are almost always deer or bear in those basins. Glacier Peak Wilderness is full of places just like what I've described.

Google Earth is a great start but I can't say I've found a single spot that I'd put in my top 5 by scouting online. All of the hidey holes were found with boots on the ground.

This is how I did it.

Step 1: Recon missions, bring binos but mainly you're just checking out country and trying to see as much as possible. Make a list of spots that have feed, cover, water etc.

Step 2: Return to your best 2 or 3 spots and spend at least a night or two back there and glass the *censored* out of it at dawn and dusk. If you don't see bucks...move on.

Step 3: Pick your best spot and show up on September 15th and hope you're the only one that knows about it (slim chance but you never know).

The high hunt is fun, and as much as guys will try to scare a new guy away from it (like me when I moved out here) there really are some great spots that see very few hunters.

Good luck this year man!

Sent from my SM-N910P using Tapatalk

Offline yakimanoob

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2017, 11:59:49 AM »
Thanks Ian! 

And believe me, I know how to read a topo map well enough to know that finding a buck is probably less than half the battle :).  I'm no performance athlete anyway, so I'm expecting this hunt to be one of the more physical challenges I've encountered especially if I'm successful. 

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2017, 06:14:41 PM »
But still.  I can't freaking wait.  57 more days!!

Offline Watimberghost

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #15 on: July 20, 2017, 06:58:59 PM »
Great advice Ian_padron! Google Earth is an incredible tool. But nothing compares to getting out there and seeing for yourself.

Good luck this year all :tup:

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #16 on: July 20, 2017, 07:45:13 PM »
In general, the deer are going to start their days where the feed is, which is usually a South facing slope. They will then move to cover to bed. This isn't always timber on North facing slopes, but can be a brushy avalanche chute, strip of timber in the head of a basin, or even immediately downhill into timber below where their feeding.

Bigger bucks that haven't been pressured yet, will often bed down very high on the ridge, below rock outcroppings, amongst piles of rocks/boulders/brush, overlooking the basin they feed in. Once they sense pressure, they will then move over into heavier cover on the north facing slopes.

Don't be surprised to find deer well above timberline, in ground that looks more like goat country.

If you think its "easy-ish" access to multiple basins, so will other people, and you will have competition. Consider that. There are very few secrets left in the high hunts thanks to the internet (forums are part of it, but mainly satellite imagery. It is very easy to scout alpine country with google earth, its highly visible). The best way to get away from people is to do just that, get away from them, go further/deeper/steeper than most people are willing to go.
Yeah that^^^

Last year was my first time hunting high buck and I saw deer every day. HOWEVER, I learned a spot and learned it well during the summer when the bucks were still in velvet and totally relaxed. Still returned home empty handed though, finding 'em is only half the battle.

In my experience, you want to find a trail that will give you centralized access to run as many ridges and glassing points as possible. Get off the trail and peek into green basins that are a ridge or two away from the closest trail, DO NOT lose elevation, stay high and don't skyline yourself.

There are almost always deer or bear in those basins. Glacier Peak Wilderness is full of places just like what I've described.

Google Earth is a great start but I can't say I've found a single spot that I'd put in my top 5 by scouting online. All of the hidey holes were found with boots on the ground.

This is how I did it.

Step 1: Recon missions, bring binos but mainly you're just checking out country and trying to see as much as possible. Make a list of spots that have feed, cover, water etc.

Step 2: Return to your best 2 or 3 spots and spend at least a night or two back there and glass the *censored* out of it at dawn and dusk. If you don't see bucks...move on.

Step 3: Pick your best spot and show up on September 15th and hope you're the only one that knows about it (slim chance but you never know).

The high hunt is fun, and as much as guys will try to scare a new guy away from it (like me when I moved out here) there really are some great spots that see very few hunters.

Good luck this year man!

Sent from my SM-N910P using Tapatalk


Some solid help right here!  :tup:
"All those who love Nature she loves in return, and will richly reward, not perhaps with the good things, as they are commonly called, but with the best things of this world-not with money and title, horses and carriages, but with bright and happy thoughts, contentment and peace of mind."

John Lubbock

Offline Bill W

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #17 on: July 21, 2017, 07:47:54 AM »
Thanks Ian! 

And believe me, I know how to read a topo map well enough to know that finding a buck is probably less than half the battle :).  I'm no performance athlete anyway, so I'm expecting this hunt to be one of the more physical challenges I've encountered especially if I'm successful.

In the past when I went on the high hunt I packed out a number of deer.  You don't need to be a performance athlete (your words).  But what you need to do is plan your pack and gear with a little thought and also remember for the trip out that you don't eat hide, bones or the skull.   Only pack in what you need, but don't skimp.  Try to find multi-purpose items.  Pack extra garbage bags for putting boned out meat in.

Forget the 12 lb rifle.  There's 4 extra pounds there you won't need.  Your shot will be 350 yds or under.  Forget the spotting scope.  Use your binoculars and if necessary, get closer.  Figure on getting blisters at some point and plan for fixing them.  If your feet hurt you won't be walking much.

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #18 on: July 21, 2017, 08:01:25 AM »
yeah i'm in terrible shape but brought out my whole camp and buck on my back and we hunt off a trail. Go slow and use trekking poles.

Not advocating being out of shape but you don't need to be cameron hanes.

If it was my first year I would kill the first legal buck you see just for the experience. it will be a well earned trophy regardless of size. Ultimately it is just awesome to be up there!

Post up your gear list and let guys help you with redundancies. It's also smart to pack your pack a week out so you have time to think through a change or two. Every time I pack the day of or before or am cramming things in at the trailhead I always overpack. If you are solo you really want to think through your gear well. But it takes going a few times to fine tune anyhow.


what in the wild wild world of sports???

Offline Bill W

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #19 on: July 21, 2017, 09:33:31 AM »
One more thing.  Plan on rain or slop snow for this year's high hunt.  Over here in the basin we're 10-15 degrees cooler than last year's temps.   Looks like a La Nina and that should mean a wetter fall.

Offline yakimanoob

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #20 on: July 21, 2017, 11:44:14 AM »
Thanks so much for the tips everybody.  I'll have to think about whether to take my scope or not.  I'm not flush on optics or money for them, so the best I can do is a pair of Nikon 10x25mm Trailblazer binoculars and a Bushnell Spacemaster 50mm spotting scope with a 25x eyepiece (I own the 15-45x eyepiece as well but it's crap).  Obviously not the best optics, and yes I am saving for replacements but won't be there by September.

Rifle system:
- Savage 16 LWH in 7mm-08
- sling
- Nikon Prostaff 5 2.5-10x40mm

My baseline camp/food system is the same I use for backpacking:
- Osprey Atmos 50 AG pack (brand new after being replaced on warranty for a creaking suspension)
- Hennessy hammock OR marmot 2p tent OR just the hammock's fly and ground cloth, depending on how I feel after the scouting trip on which I will take the hammock.
- 20° down mtn hardwear sleeping bag
- 3/4 length thermarest pro-lite
- Sea-to-summit backcountry pillow
- JetBoil Titanium cook system
- mountain house for dinners, oatmeal + trail mix for breakfast, various bars or sausage or jerky or sandwiches/wraps for lunch and snacks
- coffee
- 2.5L hydration pack
- 1L collapsible bottle for use in camp
- MSR water filter
- pack towel (sometimes I leave this at home)
- goretex rain jacket
- mid-layer jacket AND/OR puffy down jacket depending on temp
- extra pants, socks, undies
- Lowa Arco GTX boots
- gloves and beanie depending on temp

Tools and misc:
- Leatherman multitool
- Gerber Vital skinning/cleaning knife
- CRKT pocket knife
- 3mm accessory cord
- nitrile gloves
- sunscreen and bugspray
- fire starter
- butane lighter
- aforementioned optics
- personal kit (glasses and contacts stuff, toiletries, etc.)
- first aid kit (~8oz and a story for another time)
- SPOT gps beacon
- 2-way radio
- trekking poles
- sunglasses and hat
- toilet paper
- headlamp and backup and batteries
- game bags and trash bags
- GoPro and a few accessories
- extra battery pack to charge my phone
- map
- small gear repair kit


Whatcha think?

Offline kselkhunter

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #21 on: July 21, 2017, 11:59:49 AM »
Your list looks pretty complete.     By "map" I'm assuming you mean "map + compass"

My personal preference would be to take the tent instead of hammock, for weather risk.

Do you need the 2-way radio if you have the Spot?  What's the range on the radio? 


Offline yakimanoob

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #22 on: July 21, 2017, 12:23:20 PM »
Your list looks pretty complete.     By "map" I'm assuming you mean "map + compass"

My personal preference would be to take the tent instead of hammock, for weather risk.

Do you need the 2-way radio if you have the Spot?  What's the range on the radio?
The 2-way may very well stay home.  It just depends on if I have friends in the area. 

I carried a compass for many years and never once felt like I needed it, and eventually dropped it from the pack list.  I study the hell out of the area maps and use my phone GPS with TopoMaps+ and onXmaps. 

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #23 on: July 21, 2017, 12:31:38 PM »
I think your pack looks heavy.  Remember you have to bring out 100 pounds extra if you shoot something

Offline yakimanoob

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #24 on: July 21, 2017, 01:11:03 PM »
I think your pack looks heavy.  Remember you have to bring out 100 pounds extra if you shoot something
Suggestions for getting it lighter?  What would you leave behind (or replace with something lighter)?

FWIW: weekend before last we went hiking in the Enchantments, and I carried the above gear minus the rifle system, spotting scope, gerber vital and nitrile gloves.  Base weight (gear + 2.5L water + food) was right around 28#.  Add in the hunting gear and I'll be at about 40#. 

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #25 on: July 21, 2017, 01:16:47 PM »
Its hard to give advice because everyone has their own preferences on where to cut corners, what is safe, and what their creature comfort level is.   For instance, I see three knives.  To me, one is plenty.  I don't pack a pillow.  Are you hunting or are you filming.  You have what looks like three cameras.  You carry two headlamps with backup batteries.   Now every item can be justified plus 100 more you didn't list.   Its up to you what you want to carry.   Having spent a lot of time in the mountains I can tell you your pack is going to limit you. 

Offline fillthefreezer

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #26 on: July 21, 2017, 01:32:05 PM »
leave the multi tool, the sunglasses, the 2way.
take 1 good black garbage bag, no more than 25ft cord. list looks good to me overall. that pack will not be happy loaded with a critter, let alone critter and camp..

Offline kselkhunter

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #27 on: July 21, 2017, 01:53:29 PM »
Cutting suggestions:
Leatherman.
One of the knives
GoPro
Two way radio.

That's a few pounds total.  Maybe only take one of the optics, that would save more. 

My best advice is to learn the gutless de-boning method.  You can save a significant amount of weight on the pack out compared to packing out quarters.  And it's a cleaner field dressing method. 

That and train hard.  Good luck.

Offline yakimanoob

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #28 on: July 21, 2017, 02:27:12 PM »
Its hard to give advice because everyone has their own preferences on where to cut corners, what is safe, and what their creature comfort level is.   For instance, I see three knives.  To me, one is plenty.  I don't pack a pillow.  Are you hunting or are you filming.  You have what looks like three cameras.  You carry two headlamps with backup batteries.   Now every item can be justified plus 100 more you didn't list.   Its up to you what you want to carry.   Having spent a lot of time in the mountains I can tell you your pack is going to limit you.
I'll have to think about the knives.  I could easily drop the pocket knife, but somehow feel naked in the wilderness without a multitool. 

3 cameras?  Besides my phone, I'm only carrying the GoPro (a gift from my family in Alabama with the sole demand that I film my outdoor adventures).  I could think about leaving that behind as well. 

I think you guys have convinced me not to even think about the 2-way. 

I'm thinking hard about the tent vs hammock vs tarp issue.  My tent isn't fancy, and while it's solid quality it's also heavy, weighing in at about 5.5lbs.  I don't doubt the utility of a tent, especially if it's raining, but still...


And keep your dirty hands off my pillow  :chuckle:

Offline Bill W

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #29 on: July 21, 2017, 02:36:30 PM »
here's my take on your list.  I deleted what I thought you didn't need and listed it below.  You want to rethink your jackets and hats.  Take enough of a jacket to stay warm down to 25 degrees.  You won't see temps below that but you may see rain and/or snow.  You will need light rain gear of some sort.

Weigh your gear and binoculars and list the total.  It better come to 50 lbs.  Better if it's lighter.



Rifle system:
- Savage 16 LWH in 7mm-08
- sling
- Nikon Prostaff 5 2.5-10x40mm

My baseline camp/food system is the same I use for backpacking:
- Osprey Atmos 50 AG pack (brand new after being replaced on warranty for a creaking suspension)
- Hennessy hammock OR marmot 2p tent OR just the hammock's fly and ground cloth, depending on how I feel after the scouting trip on which I will take the hammock.
- 20° down mtn hardwear sleeping bag
- 3/4 length thermarest pro-lite
- JetBoil Titanium cook system
- mountain house for dinners, oatmeal + trail mix for breakfast, various bars or sausage or jerky or sandwiches/wraps for lunch and snacks
- coffee
- 2.5L hydration pack
- 1L collapsible bottle for use in camp
- MSR water filter
- pack towel (sometimes I leave this at home)
- goretex rain jacket
- mid-layer jacket AND/OR puffy down jacket depending on temp
- Lowa Arco GTX boots
- gloves and beanie depending on temp

Tools and misc:
- Gerber Vital skinning/cleaning knife
- CRKT pocket knife
- 3mm accessory cord
- nitrile gloves
- fire starter
- butane lighter
- aforementioned optics
- personal kit (glasses and contacts stuff, toiletries, etc.)
- first aid kit (~8oz and a story for another time)
- sunglasses and hat
- toilet paper
- headlamp and backup and batteries
- game bags and trash bags
- map



stuff to either leave home or leave in the car/truck:

- Sea-to-summit backcountry pillow
- extra pants, socks, undies
- sunscreen and bugspray
- Leatherman multitool
- SPOT gps beacon
- 2-way radio
- trekking poles
- GoPro and a few accessories
- extra battery pack to charge my phone
- small gear repair kit




Offline Stein

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #30 on: July 21, 2017, 09:52:40 PM »
5.5 lbs is monster for a tent.  Look in your house for stuff you don't need, sell it and buy a new 1-man that is 1-2 pounds.


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Offline fillthefreezer

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #31 on: July 21, 2017, 09:56:38 PM »
5.5 lbs is monster for a tent.  Look in your house for stuff you don't need, sell it and buy a new 1-man that is 1-2 pounds.


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This^^ but I would grab a 2man at 3lbs


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Offline yakimanoob

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #32 on: July 21, 2017, 10:46:36 PM »
Bill W, you are CLEARLY not a ginger like me, saying I should leave my sunscreen behind  :chuckle:

Offline Bill W

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #33 on: July 22, 2017, 07:04:43 AM »
Bill W, you are CLEARLY not a ginger like me, saying I should leave my sunscreen behind  :chuckle:

I don't think you are going to be sitting out in the sunshine if you are hunting deer.  You should be sitting in the shade of a tree or rock so you don't stick out.

5.5 lbs for a tent is doable but not ideal.  I used to have a 4 lb kelty that was quick to set up.  Sold a lot of my backpacking gear that was hunting related and donated the rest to the boy scouts.   If you are hunting with someone share common gear.  We used to coordinate among our group for who brought what.

I always carried in an onion and a pound of bacon.  That was for a later meal of liver and onions.

Offline Magnum_Willys

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #34 on: July 22, 2017, 07:26:13 AM »
My 8 man tent weighs less than yours - I would save 3# there and ditch the leatherman and radio.

Online Odell

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Re: Critique my high hunt strategy, please :)
« Reply #35 on: July 22, 2017, 07:29:28 AM »
I burn pretty easy and quit taking sunscreen or only take the tiniest amount after not using it on multiple trips. Heck it rains or snows more often then not it seems like.

Clothing, food and redundancies are what weigh me down. Two years ago i ended up with 4 knives and 4 ways to make fire.

I hear you on the pillow. It's mere ounces and really helps with sleep. Like bone said, its all about your level of comfort.

what in the wild wild world of sports???