First time backcountry hunt

Oldmanflanagan

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Oct 9, 2022
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From Florida and I’ve done a bunch of stand hunting and have for the longest time wanted to do some “real” Hunting.
I am starting to plan my first back country hunt with 2 other guys. It’s a very daunting process we need some help in getting started. We had narrowed down that we want to do a elk hunt in either Colorado or Montana, preferably Montana. Some advice I got was that the country is way more wild and harsh than Colorado but I was unsure if this is actually the case. Would love some helpful input and guidance.
 

SoloWilderness

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Either one can be rugged and remote enough to kill you. Colorado weather can change rapidly, and high-country, high-altitude snowstorms are nasty. I would figure the same would hold true for Montana. Montana has bigger bears. Welcome to the forum.
 

T_Double_Ya

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My first suggestion would just be to manage expectations. This stuff is fun but VERY challenging. Be comfortable not getting anything the first couple times, and if you’re cool with that and just want the experience, then you’ll be in good shape.
 
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Oldmanflanagan

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I do get that but it is hard to manage them completely due to how long we will have been planning and how much time money and effort is involved haha, though I am trying to have the correct mindset. That being said I think it would be wise for use to have a deer tag aswel. Seems far more likely to obtain and this way we have more chances to come home with something.
 

T_Double_Ya

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I do get that but it is hard to manage them completely due to how long we will have been planning and how much time money and effort is involved haha, though I am trying to have the correct mindset. That being said I think it would be wise for use to have a deer tag aswel. Seems far more likely to obtain and this way we have more chances to come home with something.
Don’t get me wrong; stay excited, that’s awesome. Just find a way to be comfortable and even happy with getting skunked.
 

BBob

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That being said I think it would be wise for use to have a deer tag aswel. Seems far more likely to obtain and this way we have more chances to come home with something.
You didn't say what season you were aiming for but are you aware that during some seasons and in many areas of elk habitat that elk and deer don't necessarily co-exist together or anywhere even close together? In early season I can be elk hunting and glass up deer but no way in hell can I access those deer without tons of work and usually not from where I am at the moment. On some hunts you might think about having a bear tag instead of a deer tag if you want to up your odds of killing something.
 

grfox92

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NW WY
The best advice anyone could give you right now is to make sure the 2 guys you are planning this with are the right 2 guys.

A lot of people flat out fall apart mentally and physically in the backcountry.

Sent from my SM-G990U using Tapatalk
 
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Oldmanflanagan

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Either one can be rugged and remote enough to kill you. Colorado weather can change rapidly, and high-country, high-altitude snowstorms are nasty. I would figure the same would hold true for Montana. Montana has bigger bears. Welcome to the forum.
Based on your experience is getting an elk a better chance in Public land Montana or public land Colorado ?
You didn't say what season you were aiming for but are you aware that during some seasons and in many areas of elk habitat that elk and deer don't necessarily co-exist together or anywhere even close together? In early season I can be elk hunting and glass up deer but no way in hell can I access those deer without tons of work and usually not from where I am at the moment. On some hunts you might think about having a bear tag instead of a deer tag if you want to up your odds of killing something.
I was thinking of oct-nov timing around best opportunities. I’m open to anything what are your thoughts on that?
 

jlhois

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Have you gone backpacking before?

I had a lot of experience in the backcountry, and a decent amount of hunting experience, before ever combining the two.

I know a lot of hunters don't really like hiking/backpacking just for the scenery, but if you can get in the mountains without any expectation of hunting and still have a good time, you can get all the basics figured out. No tags, no weapons, no worries about meat care and transport, just get out there and walk. You'll figure out a lot about yourself, the landscape, and your gear. After you've got that down, add in the hunting components and it'll be an easy transition.

Not the only way to do it, but it's an idea.
 

fwafwow

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My suggestion is to use the search feature in these forums, and do general internet research. Then come back and ask more focused/specific/narrow questions. All of the advice above is good, but they are probably being gracious. I’d start first with comparing your odds of getting a tag in those two states and then see where that leads you.

Do not ask for specific suggestions on where to hunt - IMHO.
 
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huntnful

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Both states can be equally plentiful or equally void of game. It totally depends where you go. I'd make sure you have a good plan in place to be able to return to whatever area you choose within one or two years. You'll likely need the first years experience to kill on the second trip. The deer are easy to find in those later seasons. They'll be out and about. The bulls find some pretty wicked hiding spots by the end of October and into November and can be hard to turn up. Be prepared to move throughout the area also. If you're not seeing any sign or animals within 2 days, you need to move somewhere else.
 

WeiserBucks

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Weiser, ID
Have you gone backpacking before?

I had a lot of experience in the backcountry, and a decent amount of hunting experience, before ever combining the two.

I know a lot of hunters don't really like hiking/backpacking just for the scenery, but if you can get in the mountains without any expectation of hunting and still have a good time, you can get all the basics figured out. No tags, no weapons, no worries about meat care and transport, just get out there and walk. You'll figure out a lot about yourself, the landscape, and your gear. After you've got that down, add in the hunting components and it'll be an easy transition.

Not the only way to do it, but it's an idea.
Your username seems really familiar.
 
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Oldmanflanagan

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You didn't say what season you were aiming for but are you aware that during some seasons and in many areas of elk habitat that elk and deer don't necessarily co-exist together or anywhere even close together? In early season I can be elk hunting and glass up deer but no way in hell can I access those deer without tons of work and usually not from where I am at the moment. On some hunts you might think about having a bear tag instead of a deer tag if you want to up your odds of killing something.
Both states can be equally plentiful or equally void of game. It totally depends where you go. I'd make sure you have a good plan in place to be able to return to whatever area you choose within one or two years. You'll likely need the first years experience to kill on the second trip. The deer are easy to find in those later seasons. They'll be out and about. The bulls find some pretty wicked hiding spots by the end of October and into November and can be hard to turn up. Be prepared to move throughout the area also. If you're not seeing any sign or animals within 2 days, you need to move somewhere else.
That’s what I’m thinking , would be great to get a good solid kill. But there is so much that goes into it that I’m sure the 2nd time around will be night and day compared to 1st time.
 

Azone

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I’ll add to what’s already been mentioned by advising a base camp setup with the option to spike out based on what your seeing and how far you’ll have to go. Walking in 5 or 10 miles into a place with nothing around can and will often cause people to get negative fairly quick.
If it’s the first time no need to be heroes in my opinion. Speaking of being heroes, choose wisely where you choose to shoot an elk if the opportunity arises. Huge difference between a 700 pound bull and 125 whitetail. I once killed an elk in a spot that was borderline unrecoverable by the time he rolled to a stop, life started sucking real fast. I have killed deer and elk on the same trip, it’s doable but maybe better concentrating on one species, your money and time, your choice.
Speaking from the experience of having watched a few people have a hard time and have mental breakdowns out in the boonies, make sure your partners are solid. Watching a grown ass man let him self be reduced to a sniveling child is the ultimate buzz kill. I know several that love to hunt but I can count on one hand who I will do extended hunting trips with and still have fingers left over. If something serious happens you need to be able to trust these guys with your life. I’ve been in a couple dicey ones and was glad I had a solid, calm and collected friend along and not a worry wart or panic button type. Type two fun will make or break a friendship.
If you guys got the cash maybe consider a drop camp, good assistance with the logistics but it will still provide the diy type hunt feel while actually out on the mountain.
Good luck.
 
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Oldmanflanagan

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The best advice anyone could give you right now is to make sure the 2 guys you are planning this with are the right 2 guys.

A lot of people flat out fall apart mentally and physically in the backcountry.

Sent from my SM-G990U using Tapatalk
The guys are definitely solid. We all are very dedicated and determined by nature. Though you never can tell how you will handle an obstacle until you face it. We for sure all have the adapt and overcome mindset.
 

Azone

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Apr 21, 2018
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The Far Left Coast
Have you gone backpacking before?

I had a lot of experience in the backcountry, and a decent amount of hunting experience, before ever combining the two.

I know a lot of hunters don't really like hiking/backpacking just for the scenery, but if you can get in the mountains without any expectation of hunting and still have a good time, you can get all the basics figured out. No tags, no weapons, no worries about meat care and transport, just get out there and walk. You'll figure out a lot about yourself, the landscape, and your gear. After you've got that down, add in the hunting components and it'll be an easy transition.

Not the only way to do it, but it's an idea.
Are you the real jlhois?
 
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Oldmanflanagan

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Oct 9, 2022
Messages
27
I’ll add to what’s already been mentioned by advising a base camp setup with the option to spike out based on what your seeing and how far you’ll have to go. Walking in 5 or 10 miles into a place with nothing around can and will often cause people to get negative fairly quick.
If it’s the first time no need to be heroes in my opinion. Speaking of being heroes, choose wisely where you choose to shoot an elk if the opportunity arises. Huge difference between a 700 pound bull and 125 whitetail. I once killed an elk in a spot that was borderline unrecoverable by the time he rolled to a stop, life started sucking real fast. I have killed deer and elk on the same trip, it’s doable but maybe better concentrating on one species, your money and time, your choice.
Speaking from the experience of having watched a few people have a hard time and have mental breakdowns out in the boonies, make sure your partners are solid. Watching a grown ass man let him self be reduced to a sniveling child is the ultimate buzz kill. I know several that love to hunt but I can count on one hand who I will do extended hunting trips with and still have fingers left over. If something serious happens you need to be able to trust these guys with your life. I’ve been in a couple dicey ones and was glad I had a solid, calm and collected friend along and not a worry wart or panic button type. Type two fun will make or break a friendship.
If you guys got the cash maybe consider a drop camp, good assistance with the logistics but it will still provide the diy type hunt feel while actually out on the mountain.
Good luck.
Great info , much appreciated. Trying to learn as much from other peoples experience I feel no need to be a hero. What I have been told so far that seems fairly practical is to use the trucks you drive in as a sort of base camp and pack out of that the gear for 3 days or so and planning to come back to the trucks to refuel for the next several days rather than trying to have everything in our packs for 6-7 days straight. That being said how far should we be going each day? Obviously if we see nothing at all for two days we should probably move on. But what should we be expecting to move each day on average in back country. Obviously there are a ton of variables just looking for a baseline
 
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Oldmanflanagan

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Joined
Oct 9, 2022
Messages
27
Have you gone backpacking before?

I had a lot of experience in the backcountry, and a decent amount of hunting experience, before ever combining the two.

I know a lot of hunters don't really like hiking/backpacking just for the scenery, but if you can get in the mountains without any expectation of hunting and still have a good time, you can get all the basics figured out. No tags, no weapons, no worries about meat care and transport, just get out there and walk. You'll figure out a lot about yourself, the landscape, and your gear. After you've got that down, add in the hunting components and it'll be an easy transition.

Not the only way to do it, but it's an idea.
Have you gone backpacking before?

I had a lot of experience in the backcountry, and a decent amount of hunting experience, before ever combining the two.

I know a lot of hunters don't really like hiking/backpacking just for the scenery, but if you can get in the mountains without any expectation of hunting and still have a good time, you can get all the basics figured out. No tags, no weapons, no worries about meat care and transport, just get out there and walk. You'll figure out a lot about yourself, the landscape, and your gear. After you've got that down, add in the hunting components and it'll be an easy transition.

Not the only way to do it, but it's an idea.
I have done a fair amount of hiking and a fair amount of hunting but not mixed. And being from Florida there is no good hiking within 9 hours. So the hiking has consisted of doing day hikes whilst on vacations in North Carolina , Tennessee etc, Scotland, ireland just wherever I go. But I haven’t been in this area before. So it would be a great time even just to experience the nature aside from the hunt, but I also love hunting so adding that in should be fun. In my opinion even just hiking with a gun and a hope makes it more enjoyable.
 

Azone

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The Far Left Coast
Great info , much appreciated. Trying to learn as much from other peoples experience I feel no need to be a hero. What I have been told so far that seems fairly practical is to use the trucks you drive in as a sort of base camp and pack out of that the gear for 3 days or so and planning to come back to the trucks to refuel for the next several days rather than trying to have everything in our packs for 6-7 days straight. That being said how far should we be going each day? Obviously if we see nothing at all for two days we should probably move on. But what should we be expecting to move each day on average in back country. Obviously there are a ton of variables just looking for a baseline
Two days is usually my limit in an area if it’s slow as well, I get all antsy and feel like I’m wasting time. Don’t hike past elk to kill elk. In todays day and age of supplement fueled wilderness cross fit marathon athletes who will stop at nothing, there is no deeper and further anymore. And just when your feeling all bad ass for walking in eight or nine miles then you will hear the clanking of horseshoes and usually be greeted with a howdy, or a smug look or a why you guys all the way back here.
I’ve done the gung ho let’s get way back there on foot deal and sometimes it works and sometimes it’s a bust. I prefer a comfortable base camp setup and then my friend and I will spike from there when we locate animals as the need arises. But sometimes we just feel like taking a hike and staying on the mountain right out of the gate, it’s all just dependent on what the animals are doing. The first elk I ever killed was a hair under two miles from a main road. Don’t hunt where you want animals to be, hunt where you find them. Elk taste just as good whether they were packed out 10 miles or 300 yards. There’s some great guys on this forum and an even greater amount of knowledge, be polite and don’t burn spots and usually someone will offer a helping hand.
 
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