By: Jace Bauserman
Apply these four tips now for a more enjoyable and successful fall season.
When you make the decision to wander far off the beaten path in search of big-game nirvana, few things are as important as preseason preparation. The more prepared you are for a given hunt, the more successful and enjoyable the hunt will be. Go into the backcountry ill prepared and you’re setting yourself up for a nightmare. It’s August. You still have time. Apply these four tips and have a better season in the backcountry.
One thing I’ve seen a lot during my backcountry tenure is bow failure. While a few of these disasters were unavoidable, most happened because of simple neglect. When was the last time you waxed your strings and checked your serving for separation and the like? How many shots have you put through your current string/cable setup? My advice is to give them a good once over. If you see only a few frays here and there and your serving looks tight and good, give your string and cables a good waxing and then remove excess wax with dental serving. This process is easy. Simply lay the floss under the string, bring the ends around one another and slide the created loop along the string. This pushes the wax into the string and removes unwanted buildup.
If your string and cables look pitiful or sport any cut strands, now is the time to replace them. Don’t wait. You don’t want to be running off the mountain trying to find a bow shop in the middle of your elk hunt. If you do your own bow work, great. If not, visit your local pro shop and they will get you set and ready to go. Personally, I like to change my strings and cables when they still have a little life left in them. When I peel them off my bow, I leave my peep-sight installed and attach the loops with paper clips. I take these strings with me as extras on every hunt I go on throughout the year. This way if something happens at any point during the season, I can either make the swap in my garage or simply take the set into a pro shop and pay them to change them out. The strings are already shot-in and getting back on target takes very little time.
I’ve also seen piles of d-loop disasters on hunts. If your d-loop is frayed, cut or if you’re looking at it and asking yourself, “I don’t know how this hasn’t broken yet?” change it. D-loop material is easy to come by and learning to tie on a d-loop is something every serious bowhunter should learn how to do. There are multiple YouTube videos out there as well as step-by-step articles that can be found with a simple online search.
In the days leading up to your adventure, grab a set of Allen wrenches and check all of your bow’s set screws. This includes set screws in the cams as well as any attached accessories like a sight, rest, stabilizer and quiver.
Shoot With Your Pack On
I learned this lesson the hard way a few seasons back. Not once during the off-season did I shoot with a hefty pack on, and when a bull came in screaming, I found myself scrambling to unbuckle my waist and chest belts. By the time I got them unclipped and got the pack unslung and situated on the ground, the bull was watching me. Not good. You never know when a shot opportunity is going to arise and being able to shoot with your pack on is paramount.
My best recommendation is to load your pack down with the actual gear you’ll be taking on your hunt. Not only will this help mimic exact weight, but it will also mimic the exact feel of the pack on your back. Plus, loading your pack down with actual hunt gear allows you the perfect chance to complete tip number three. Read on.
Organize That Pack
Badlands builds incredible packs, and if you don’t take the time to learn and organize your pack, you’re really doing yourself a disservice. Take all of your backcountry gear and lay it out on a tarp. Next, spend time organizing all of your gear into different pockets. As you go, you’ll discover a lot about the pack’s functionality, and you’ll develop an effective system that is right for you. You don’t want to be doing this in the middle of the night in the back of your truck with a headlamp while your buddies are waiting for you to jump on the trail. You want to show up to your hunt ready to go, toss your pack on your back and dive into the backcountry.
Side of catching some shut-eye on a regular basis, few things are more important to backcountry success than fueling your body. Lack of proper nutrition and hydration will lead to physical and mental fatigue. You’re decision-making skills will suffer, and it will be much easier to talk yourself into heading for the truck and calling it a trip.
The average backcountry wanderer will burn between 5,000 and 6,000 calories per day. If you’re not replacing spent calories, you’re in trouble. When backcountry hunting, I focus on foods rich in carbs, proteins and fats. There are plenty of lightweight option available, but some of my go-to foods include: Honey Stinger Organic Waffles (150 calories per pack), Jiff Power Ups (150 calories per pack), Gatorade Whey Protein Bars (340 calories per bar), Pro Bar Superfood Slam (370 calories per bar), Jack’s Links Teriyaki Beef Steaks (70 calories per steak), bagel with peanut butter (380 calories), GU Energy Gels (100 calories per packet) and Mountain House meals (calories vary per pack).
I recommend trying different foods in the weeks prior to your hunt. If something is going to upset your stomach or just not set well with you, it’s better to find out while in the comfort of your home.
There you have it. A few tips that will help you prepare and help pass the time between now and that backcountry adventure of a lifetime.