Backcountry Hunting: Three Pieces of Gear That Will Change the Way You Hunt

Owen's Valley CaliforniaArticle contributed by Field Staff Writer A. Fick.

If you’re a hunter, you’re meticulous about your gear, spending countless hours, cleaning, testing, packing, checking, and preparing for the chance to use it as it was intended to be used in the field.  If you’re a DIY backcountry hunter, even more so…your gear is an extension of yourself and critical to the success or failure of the hunt and your safe return home.

I have many items that accompany me on a hunt that I prefer, but can easily find a suitable replacement.  For instance, my Browning X-Bolt chambered in 7MM Remington Magnum, my First-Lite clothing, my Vortex Optics, my Buck Knife 110 and many more.  However, there are three things always in my possession that I not only prefer, I don’t go into the field without them.  As I acquired them, they have changed the way that I hunt.  Allowing me to confidently push farther than most hunters, and comfortably get to areas of less pressure and increase the odds of filling my tag.

The first piece of gear is my DeLorme InReach Explorer.  It is a two-way satellite communications device that allows me to keep in touch with my family via text message when I’m out of cell phone service.  (And we all know that the best places in nature are the ones without cell phone reception.)  Other capabilities include navigation with waypoints and routing, making sure that I can always find my way to camp, the truck, water, or back to that secret spot.  It also has a built-in altimeter and compass, both got plenty of use in last year’s JetBoil and InReachEastern Sierra’s hunt.  The most important feature is without a doubt the SOS feature.  If things do go wrong in the field, I can send for help at the push of a button and communicate with emergency responders until help arrives.  A coworker of mine fell ill with altitude sickness while hiking the John Muir Trail last summer and got to experience a helicopter ride with the Sheriff to the hospital in Fresno, CA, all made possible by the DeLorme InReach Explorer.  It’s the one feature that I hope I never need, but if the times comes, it will literally become my lifeline and I would gladly abandon all other gear to have it.  It creates a peace-of-mind that allows me to focus on the hunt and more deeply connect with the wild.

The second item is a software application and evidence of the evolution of hunting and the impact made by today’s technology.  I first learned of it from a fellow hunter I met in a bar in Kaycee, Wyoming.  It’s called onX HUNT, and is an app that I run on my iPhone.  It was designed with DIY backcountry hunters in mind, displaying almost every map you could imagine (Topo, Imagery, Street Maps, etc.).  It allows you to layer maps atop one another, creating a custom view.  onX HUNT MapsThere are dozens of layers that you can apply, specific to State.  They include Radar, Wind Conditions, USFS Roads, Trails, Hunt Zones and my favorite, Government Lands.  The maps combined with the GPS locator on the phone enable me to know exactly where I am at all times.  When hunting public lands in unfamiliar areas, having an accurate map with GPS in an invaluable item.  Many public land hunters target the well-known, high-pressured national forests and large tracts of BLM and State land, but having onX HUNT gives me an advantage.  It enables me to target the smaller, less-known public lands that are hiding in plain sight, with game that has received less (if any) pressure during the season.

Lastly, let’s focus on comfort and stamina.  There is no item that brings me greater comfort and recharges my energy faster than my Jetboil Flash Cooking System.  Lightweight, and designed for backpacking, it goes everywhere with me in the field.  It can boil a cup of water in 2 minutes or less.  It allows me to have a hot meal or better yet, a hot cup of coffee on a cold day miles from the “comforts” of civilization, which means I can spend more time in the outdoors and increase my chances of packing out meat.

Wyoming Mule DeerIn combination, these three items provide me the freedom, confidence and assurance to go farther than most and push myself to increase my hunting abilities.  If you don’t already have these in your pack, I strongly encourage you to get them and put them to use.   You won’t be let down, and you’ll be amazed on the game that you were missing and the opportunity that is waiting for you.

Read More by A. Fick
Backcountry Hunting Preparation: Tips for Success
Wild Boar Hunting in Paso Robles, CA


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