First time Western Hunt

Honyock

WKR
Joined
Dec 21, 2019
Messages
543
Location
Edmond, OK
Don't skimp on boots and binos. If your feet get trashed, you're not hunting. Buy the best glass that you can afford and leave the cotton clothes at home.
 

16Racing

FNG
Joined
Feb 4, 2023
Messages
11
Coming from another PA hunter make sure you practice shooting farther than you want to. Last year was my first year hunting elk and the only elk we saw was 600 yards. I never practiced shooting this distance didn't think I would need too but I came home without an elk because of it.
 
Joined
Feb 27, 2012
Messages
2,370
Location
Tijeras NM
If you are going to upgrade yoir binos and your pack, may as well do it right. Kifaru and some Swaro's ought to do
 
OP
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ddel23

FNG
Joined
Jan 28, 2023
Messages
19
that's relative to what you are hunting and terrain. you can get away with low dollar optics on a elk hunt if any elk is what you're after. Elk are easy to see and if you aren't counting inches then it doesn't matter. If you are hunting big open country, counting inches or looking for mule deer then high dollar optics are worth it!
Do you think good optics are much more important when hunting mule deer? May have changed up plans a bit and could be targeting mule deer instead.
 

JGBowman

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
116
Good wool base layers, pack, sleeping bag, shelter, wool socks, and boots. This is the stuff that will keep you going in crappy weather.

I purchased a good set of binos once I started making good money. For a while I just used the binos I had and made them work.
 
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ddel23

FNG
Joined
Jan 28, 2023
Messages
19
I have been hunting elk for the best part of the last 50 years and have taken dozens of elk over that time. Good boots are probably the most important piece of elk hunting equipment, and good binoculars come in second. You can absolutely "make do" with an inexpensive pack for a while, but in future years you might wish to get a better one if you are carrying heavy loads. Hunting from a truck camp or hunting from a spike camp should not require daily use of a large pack, but a nice daypack will get constant use.
8X binoculars works for most elk hunts. It is good resolution that matters most, not the power. It is usually a good idea to buy the best binoculars that you can afford. You do not need a spotting scope.
Going to an OTC unit for your first hunt is going to be a real eye opener. Good luck!
Do you run insoles in boots? I have a pair of La Sportiva Trango Tech boots I have used for a year and love them, but after doing 10 miles a day for a few days with a heavy pack my feet get sore since they are pretty stiff boots. Wondering if insoles would help my feet.
 

jlw0142

FNG
Joined
Feb 6, 2023
Messages
86
I'm in the exact same boat and am trying to get the remainder of my gear by the end of this year for an AZ mule deer hunt next season. From what I've read, watched, and experienced on my own, the most important pieces of gear to spend money on are the pack, the boots, and the shelter. Since you already have your sleeping system, I think those are critical. Its important to just think of what will make or break the experience for you, because you will not be willing to keep pushing if youre miserable the whole time.
 
OP
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ddel23

FNG
Joined
Jan 28, 2023
Messages
19
I'm in the exact same boat and am trying to get the remainder of my gear by the end of this year for an AZ mule deer hunt next season. From what I've read, watched, and experienced on my own, the most important pieces of gear to spend money on are the pack, the boots, and the shelter. Since you already have your sleeping system, I think those are critical. Its important to just think of what will make or break the experience for you, because you will not be willing to keep pushing if youre miserable the whole time.
What kind of glass are you using for your muley hunt? I may have the opportunity to draw a mule deer tag in this unit, and will have my hunting partner get an elk tag otc and we are thinking second season. I am curious if you would think I need better binoculars if we are planning on glassing for mule deer as well?
 

jlw0142

FNG
Joined
Feb 6, 2023
Messages
86
What kind of glass are you using for your muley hunt? I may have the opportunity to draw a mule deer tag in this unit, and will have my hunting partner get an elk tag otc and we are thinking second season. I am curious if you would think I need better binoculars if we are planning on glassing for mule deer as well?
I am going to use a Vortex Diamondback 16-48 x 65 for spotting scope and my Leupold BX-2 Alpine 10x42 for binos. Thats just because I chose to spend my money elsewhere though. I definitely think there are much better optics out there, but I'm just getting started and do not have the budget to throw down $1000 on a spotting scope. What glass are you guys thinking?
 
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ddel23

FNG
Joined
Jan 28, 2023
Messages
19
I am going to use a Vortex Diamondback 16-48 x 65 for spotting scope and my Leupold BX-2 Alpine 10x42 for binos. Thats just because I chose to spend my money elsewhere though. I definitely think there are much better optics out there, but I'm just getting started and do not have the budget to throw down $1000 on a spotting scope. What glass are you guys thinking?
So right now I have diamondback 8x28 binos and a lower end Leupold spotting scope, not sure on model. It is damaged though so I may try and get a refund. Kind of debating on getting a set of 10x42 binos for the extra zoom, as well as better eye relief. Have you been out west much? Curious if I will glassing as much as I see on tv or if that is only in the best units. Thanks
 

jlw0142

FNG
Joined
Feb 6, 2023
Messages
86
So right now I have diamondback 8x28 binos and a lower end Leupold spotting scope, not sure on model. It is damaged though so I may try and get a refund. Kind of debating on getting a set of 10x42 binos for the extra zoom, as well as better eye relief. Have you been out west much? Curious if I will glassing as much as I see on tv or if that is only in the best units. Thanks
I am not very experienced, but I do definitely think that glassing is pretty crucial for spot-and-stalk hunting. Ive only been out west a couple times, but that land is BIG. You've not only gotta find areas where the deer may be, but then youve gotta find where they are in that area...then they may not be there and you gotta move. Im not gonna act like I know it all because I am pretty much new to it too, but I would definitely use all the resources you can to become as educated as possible. Im a member of GoHunt (which has loads of knowledge available), and I would advise you to read Dwight Schuh's "Hunting Open Country Mule Deer" and "How to Take the Best Buck of Your Life" by Robby Denning (who helped start Rokslide) to prepare yourself as best you can. Hope that helps.
 

Tobe_B

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Mar 25, 2018
Messages
176
So right now I have diamondback 8x28 binos and a lower end Leupold spotting scope, not sure on model. It is damaged though so I may try and get a refund. Kind of debating on getting a set of 10x42 binos for the extra zoom, as well as better eye relief. Have you been out west much? Curious if I will glassing as much as I see on tv or if that is only in the best units. Thanks

I spend a lot of time behind my glass. I can cover more ground, faster, with Binos than I can with boots. I used 10x42s for several years and still have them. They were plenty for spotting game. I also have some 12x50s I carry. Depends on they style of terrain I’m going to hunt for which set I’m grabbing. Leave your spotter at home. It’s heavy and you’re going to have enough going on for your first hunt.


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Joined
Mar 12, 2012
Messages
87
Location
PNW
Have you been out west at all in the mountains? If this is your first time, I would think of it more as investment and a big first step in your life long pursuit of western hunting. I'm decades into it, and it's been a long arc of learning that doesn't stop. I highly recommend hunting from the truck/base camp and not packing in the first time. I have no doubt you could do it, but it adds complexity and takes energy. I think I read a couple of buddies were joining you. Packing in can test those who haven't done it before, and your experience will be limited by the person that may not be as in to it as you are. Instead, get to know an area and start learning how to move through the land, locate elk, stalk, wind/thermals, the list goes on. If you like all that, you'll have a frame of reference to start thinking about packing in and what you need the next time.

Clothes: I would concentrate on boots/clothing that will make you comfortable. I recommend layers because either ambient or exertion will give you wide temp swings and sweat. You'll want to minimize sweating. Bring leukotape and tape your feet before hand where you think you may get blisters. Wrecked feet will ruin your experience. Since you're rifle hunting, I don't think you need camo clothes. If you need to buy clothes, buy them so you can use them more than just on the hunt.

Gear: a good day pack that you can bring back a qtr. Bring a pack frame with a load shelf which are usually cheap (craigslist, ebay) and keep it at camp and use that to pack your elk.
Binos: I hunted for years with a cheap pair of 10x42 nikons. They worked. I have alpha glass now that I love, but I didn't feel limited by those binos in my early years.
Rifle: practice and limit yourself to your effective range. The farthest shot I've taken at an elk is 400 yds. Most were much closer. I like to hunt, so my focus is to shorten the distance.

Camp: Make sure you have a way to warm up and dry off in the evening. It's a game changer, and makes it way more enjoyable. Bring the best food you can. I precook and freeze meals when I have a base camp, so I spend time heating food and not cooking. It takes a lot less energy so I can relax and focus on the hunt.

Meat care: Watch videos on how to break down an elk. Plan for it to be in an awkward spot. Have cord to tie it off if needed. If you get an elk, depending on how far you need to pack it out, be prepared to bone it out. If warm, get it out quickly and have a place/plan to cool it. Last, you need to figure out how you're going to bring it home. Make a plan so you're prepared.
 
Last edited:
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ddel23

FNG
Joined
Jan 28, 2023
Messages
19
Have you been out west at all in the mountains? If this is your first time, I would think of it more as investment and a big first step in your life long pursuit of western hunting. I'm decades into it, and it's been a long arc of learning that doesn't stop. I highly recommend hunting from the truck/base camp and not packing in the first time. I have no doubt you could do it, but it adds complexity and takes energy. I think I read a couple of buddies were joining you. Packing in can test those who haven't done it before, and you're experience will be limited by the person that may not be as in to it as you are. Instead, get to know an area and start learning how to move through the land, locate elk, stalk, wind/thermals, the list goes on. If you like all that, you'll have a frame of reference to start thinking about packing in and what you need the next time.

Clothes: I would concentrate on boots/clothing that will make you comfortable. I recommend layers because either ambient or exertion will give you wide temp swings and sweat. You'll want to minimize sweating. Bring leukotape and tape your feet before hand where you think you may get blisters. Wrecked feet will ruin your experience. Since you're rifle hunting, I don't think you need camo clothes. If you need to buy clothes, buy them so you can use them more than just on the hunt.

Gear: a good day pack that you can bring back a qtr. Bring a pack frame with a load shelf which are usually cheap (craigslist, ebay) and keep it at camp and use that to pack your elk.
Binos: I hunted for years with a cheap pair of 10x42 nikons. They worked. I have alpha glass now that I love, but I didn't feel limited by those binos in my early years.
Rifle: practice and limit yourself to your effective range. The farthest shot I've taken at an elk is 400 yds. Most were much closer. I like to hunt, so my focus is to shorten the distance.

Camp: Make sure you have a way to warm up and dry off in the evening. It's a game changer, and makes it way more enjoyable. Bring the best food you can. I precook and freeze meals when I have a base camp, so I spend time heating food and not cooking. It takes a lot less energy so I can relax and focus on the hunt.

Meat care: Watch videos on how to break down an elk. Plan for it to be in an awkward spot. Have cord to tie it off if needed. If you get an elk, depending on how far you need to pack it out, be prepared to bone it out. If warm, get it out quickly and have a place/plan to cool it. Last, you need to figure out how you're going to bring it home. Make a plan so you're prepared.
Thanks for the great reply. I agree with you about car camping. Everyone that posted made me really second guess my plan and I agree that being able to cover ground will definitely be an asset rather then sticking to one area. I have already began mapping out the unit I plan to hunt and marking all possible parking locations with loops to walk and try and locate game. Ton of great pointers in your response, thank you!
 

Huntnnw

WKR
Joined
May 25, 2015
Messages
390
Location
Rockford,WA
Do you think good optics are much more important when hunting mule deer? May have changed up plans a bit and could be targeting mule deer instead.
yes! and if you are hunting them out of the rut you spend alot of time glassing looking for them bedded. They are smaller than elk and blend in much better
 
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