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Author Topic: Lessons from my first solo backcountry attempt  (Read 1380 times)

Offline yakimanoob

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Lessons from my first solo backcountry attempt
« on: September 25, 2017, 03:09:33 PM »
I've got tag soup so far, but with plenty of opportunity to go in the general season :).

I tried a new spot in ALW the first weekend of the high buck, and a pre-scouted spot in GPW this last weekend.  I struck out, but had a blast and let's just say I'm in at least marginally better shape now after hoofing it around the mountains  :chuckle:

In no particular order:

1) I need to practice shooting more.  I didn't have a rangefinder last year (this is only my second year hunting) and knowing ranges now has me realizing how limited my shooting ability is.  300 yds seems like a LONG way off to shoot at an animal, even though my rig is capable of at least double that.  I put my scope on a bear at 500 yds and it just seemed unthinkable to try from that far away.  I certainly need to pack in as much range time over the next couple weeks as I can. 

2) I need to think more about the sun.  Twice during my hunts I found myself in what I had determined to be a great position to watch a basin at dawn, only to realize the sun was in my face and I was surely sticking out like a sore thumb to any creatures around.  Orange may be grey to a deer, but a new bright shiny grey spot on the hillside is still a dead giveaway. 

3) I'm no good at predicting wind directions.  I've been doing my best to study and observe the interactions between prevailing winds and thermals, but I still have a lot to learn.  I spotted the aforementioned bear and planned a stalk that, based on the winds on the ridgeline and thermals I could see in my scope, I was SURE would put the wind in my favor.  Turned out to be quite the opposite, and I was dumping my scent onto the meadow where the bear had formerly been.  I need to get better about using vegetation to judge wind direction.

4) I'm loud as heck.  Maybe I'm not, but dang if it doesn't feel like it.  I didn't grow up hunting so I'm sure I'm making a laughable amount of noise as I try to get close to an animal. 

5) I need to be in better shape if I'm gonna do this whole solo hunting thing.  I've been backpacking for quite a while and ~15 mile days don't bother me too much, but that changed dramatically as I added rifle and glass, and thought of adding meat to the pack.  I was hesitant to even think about taking an animal more than a few miles from the truck, which obviously limited my chances in the Wilderness areas. 

6) Simply being in the high country is never disappointing. 


Anyway just thought I'd share what I'm learning.  Hopefully I can learn quickly enough and/or get offensively lucky again and not have an empty freezer this winter :).

Offline JLS

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Re: Lessons from my first solo backcountry attempt
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2017, 03:30:25 PM »

6) Simply being in the high country is never disappointing. 

Truth.  Glad you had a good trip.  Learn to slow down and you'll be much quieter.  Winds can be unpredictable, even for the most seasoned high country hunter.  Nice post.
Matthew 7:13-14

Offline Bushcraft

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Re: Lessons from my first solo backcountry attempt
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2017, 03:30:56 PM »
Yak,

Congrats on realizing some of the stuff you need to work on.  You'll soon be leaps and bounds ahead of folks that can't or won't do an honest assessment of their situation and take steps to make improvements.

BTW, I proposed to my wife just a few yards to the left of where that picture was taken on a beautiful sunrise morning many moons ago.  I've taken a bear back on the opposing hillside too (I can assure you it was just a gem of a solo pack out on a hot August Sunday!  ;) ).  I also have a hilarious PhoneSkope video of a couple getting it on down at the lake while one of my hunting partners and I were up there on a quick weekend bear hunt.

Second Rule of High Buck...no background pictures!  Haha!  :chuckle:
Liberalism is the philosophy of Western suicide.

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Offline yakimanoob

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Re: Lessons from my first solo backcountry attempt
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2017, 03:53:39 PM »
Yak,

Congrats on realizing some of the stuff you need to work on.  You'll soon be leaps and bounds ahead of folks that can't or won't do an honest assessment of their situation and take steps to make improvements.

BTW, I proposed to my wife just a few yards to the left of where that picture was taken on a beautiful sunrise morning many moons ago.  I've taken a bear back on the opposing hillside too (I can assure you it was just a gem of a solo pack out on a hot August Sunday!  ;) ).  I also have a hilarious PhoneSkope video of a couple getting it on down at the lake while one of my hunting partners and I were up there on a quick weekend bear hunt.

Second Rule of High Buck...no background pictures!  Haha!  :chuckle:
Oh geez...  people can be outrageous sometimes.

Didn't figure I was risking anything by posting the pick, considering there wasn't even a place to park at the trailhead on opening weekend and the place is riddled with trails.  I figure the vast majority of people who would try the high buck know about this spot already.  Heck, it was the first place I thought of looking at the maps as a beginner  :chuckle:

Offline Bushcraft

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Re: Lessons from my first solo backcountry attempt
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2017, 04:14:17 PM »
Oh, I don't think you were risking anything at all.  I was just attempting some light-hearted fun and didn't mean anything by mentioning the "Second Rule".  It's sort of known spot that's easy to get to and can either be overrun with people or you can have it all to yourself.  Inexplicable luck of the draw.
Liberalism is the philosophy of Western suicide.

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Offline savagehunter

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Re: Lessons from my first solo backcountry attempt
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2017, 04:49:42 PM »
Other hunters doesn't really bother me and totally love the pics. There were 23 other hunters where we were opening day. We got one and it was actually nice to bs with alot of cool guys in the evening . Honestly people that know those pics have been there done that. I wouldn't know one from the other but it is awsome to see pics of some of these basins that I will never get into even if I wanted to 6 miles is my max. Maybe one day I'll spring for a nice horse ride to deer heaven . Thanks and if you do get one solo make sure you have backup to give you a hand.

Offline savagehunter

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Re: Lessons from my first solo backcountry attempt
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2017, 04:53:28 PM »
Just getting up there is half the battle. Took me and my son 5 years before we connected. This is where getting high is a good thing.

Offline Shawn Ryan

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Re: Lessons from my first solo backcountry attempt
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2017, 03:11:10 PM »
Good lessons.  Don't be as concerned about the noise as the other "lessons."  Like already said, the fact that you are self-assessing puts you ahead of others.  Just keep doing it; it gets easier.

Offline ian_padron

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Re: Lessons from my first solo backcountry attempt
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2017, 12:05:40 PM »
Awesome post man. It's been fun to watch you figure things out this year through your posts.

The High Hunt is something else, that's for sure.

I've been at it just 2 years since moving from the Midwest, and have learned similar lessons, every time out you're going to learn something new that will only help you going forward. I've gone from not having any clue what I was doing, to seeing bucks all summer long. And it's been hard the whole time haha.

My buddy hammers a pig up high every single year, and he constantly preaches that it's all about "embracing the process".

Pumping water, weathering out storms, hiking ridges, coming home empty-handed, etc. All that stuff hardens you as a backcountry hunter. You gotta learn to love the process.

Being in shape physically is great, and it will help you out hustle other hunters, but I've found that being mentally tough is far more important.

I'd put money on the line that I can out hike, out climb, and out pack damn near any man out there...but when you haven't seen a deer in 4 days, and it's raining sideways, and you're hungry, and your girl is at home waiting for you...it takes some serious will power to drown out all the background noise and focus on the task at hand.

I'd say that's been my biggest challenge so far, with seasons as short as they are in WA, you gotta nut up and find that little extra something in you.

And like Bushcraft said...no background pics! Haha jk...but really

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Offline Tbob

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Re: Lessons from my first solo backcountry attempt
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2017, 12:14:04 PM »
I love the backcountry hunts! I didn't come from a hunting family and have learned almost all of my lessons the hard way, but then again, I wouldn't have it any other way! Keep it Up man! One of the things I enjoy most about being out there is that i get to see places that 99% of the rest of the world couldn't even comprehend!

Offline yakimanoob

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Re: Lessons from my first solo backcountry attempt
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2017, 01:37:57 PM »
Thanks everybody!

Offline Watimberghost

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Re: Lessons from my first solo backcountry attempt
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2017, 01:44:23 PM »
You will never stop learning lessons. Every trip, every encounter. Its what makes the outdoors so addicting for me. Ill never really master it.

Offline WSU

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Re: Lessons from my first solo backcountry attempt
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2017, 01:51:25 PM »
300 yards is a long shot.  We read about long range shooting on the net so much that it seems like the norm.  I've shot plenty of critters and very few have been over 300 yards. 

 

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