Furthest you’ve hiked?

GreenBoot

FNG
Joined
Jan 10, 2024
Messages
22
What’s the furthest you’ve backpacked in on mountainous terrain? Do you often plan to break your hike into multiple days, and if so, how many miles per day typically? Assuming you kill, how long did it take you to get out?

Fng here looking for experience and advice.
 

Geewhiz

WKR
Joined
Aug 6, 2020
Messages
2,067
Location
SW MT
Welcome to our club.

I often go hunting on multi day trips, but typically not because the distance it too far to be hiked in one day. Just to save time at the beginning and end of each day by cutting off “hike back to the truck time”. My furthest elk pack was about 4.5 miles from the truck. My dad was with me on that trip and it was still an insane amount of work to get that guy out. It took right about 12 hours of straight hiking with as much weight as we could carry, oh and it was about 40* and raining the whole time which didn’t help. If I was by myself I do not believe I could have done it unless the weather was such that I could split it up over a few days.

As a newb I would hesitate to get too ambitious unless you have help lined up. It will become a harsh reality when you kill and have a 750 lb animal laying in front of you that you have to figure out how to get back to the truck.
 
Joined
Feb 24, 2016
Messages
2,219
Used to really put the miles on. My buddies and I did 12 miles one day in Colorado in search of bulls in early season. I felt like I did a lot of damage to the area just trying to find a bugling bull. I don't operate like that anymore. Ever. It's just not worth it.

I have slowed it way down. I enjoy the hunt so much more.

Others should try it. The hunting would be better for all of us if you did.
 

jpmulk

WKR
Joined
Nov 12, 2021
Messages
333
I’m opposite of mallard. I run ridges until I one that wants to play. Walking 15 plus miles in a day is not unusual. Go til I find em. That’s not 15 miles from the truck though. That’s 15 miles in a loop and zigzagging around. Farthest pack out was about 4.5 miles.
 

taskswap

WKR
Joined
Oct 6, 2021
Messages
351
26 miles, but only once. (I was scouting new territory.) I've just found it's really not necessary most of the time. If I'm spiking out I typically try to push back about 5 miles and circle back to base camp the next day. If I'm walking in, I'll typically hike into an area I want to hunt from about 4am-6am for about 4 miles if there's a decent trail, hunt a few miles through that area, then after legal light ends, hike back.

n.b. I hunt Colorado, which has plenty of wilderness areas but even when in those it's hard to get more than 10-15 miles from "any" road or private property. So I've just found super-long hikes aren't really needed. The "hunt from base camp" crowd usually hangs out a few miles in, at most. And the horseback crowd is usually 10-15 miles back. I hunt the "donut hole" between them.
 

Soj51hopeful

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Aug 16, 2017
Messages
259
Location
Montana
Depends on weather, what animals you’re hunting, terrain etc. in warm conditions I killed a deer 5 miles in and packed it with camp out in 1 shot. Elk I try not to get further than 3-4 miles from the truck.
 
Joined
Jul 30, 2015
Messages
5,700
Location
Lenexa, KS
This is maybe a good time to tell a story.

In 2021 I tagged in out 3 days and still had vacation time left so I went back to Montana with a buddy late Sept early Oct to help him. We packed into a new spot, like a low elk density high bear density kind of spot, just hoping to get away from folks. It was a pretty brutal pack in. Nearly 6 miles with 2400 ft of gain. I was out of shape from busting my ass at work all month so I could go elk hunting again, and we drove all night just to get there, so just generally pretty wiped. There were multiple springs on the map where we planned to camp, only as we went by they were all dry. So we were up on this ridge as the sun is going down and I have maybe 8 ounces of water left and I knew we had a big drop the next morning to get water. Then a bull bugles in this timber near us, and it's clear he intends to feed out into this clearing before us. My buddy drops his pack and moves forward, and I was so beat I prayed to God he wouldn't kill that bull. He didn't, and he still gives me shit for it, even though a few days later he ended up killing a bigger one.

Anyway, I've packed in further before. Pack ins are the worst. But everything gets better after that!
 

KHNC

WKR
Joined
Jul 11, 2013
Messages
3,448
Location
NC
We average about 8-9 miles per day total. I did a 16 mile packout throughout one day in New Mexico for the bull in my Avatar. That was two guys , multiple trips in and out. Took all damn day! Killed it at 0830.
 

squid-freshprints

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Nov 25, 2023
Messages
101
Location
CO
Miles from truck is night and day from linear distance, 20 miles a day is about the most people will do. I once, however did mostly twenty mile minimum days for over two months straight, with a pack made of tarp and paracord! In Utah, in the winter if you know this program you know what I'm talking about.
 

Gerbdog

WKR
Joined
Jun 8, 2020
Messages
821
Location
CO Springs
I've done 8 miles from the truck and set up a camp near water back in there. Great mule deer hunt. No chance i'd try that with an elk. That's just straight back in on a trail.

Wandering around the woods elk hunting is usually 6 miles a day of active hunting. As pointed out, this is not linear.
 

Jn78

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
May 9, 2018
Messages
290
Totally depends on the terrain. My hunting partner and I frequently backpack in and camp at a spot 5.5 miles from the truck, but the hike in is pretty flat and it mostly follows a trail. I would rather do that than a mile of steep blow down. I hunt up a mountain about 2.5 miles from camp. So, in this spot, I usually get into elk about 8 miles from the truck. The furthest I shot a bull in there was 9 miles from the truck. I hunt 3rd rifle season, so it is hard for me to get up super early and stay warm throughout the day. I usually leave the tent just before shooting light. I always seem to kill bulls in this spot in the afternoon, so I field dress the bull and carry half out the night of the kill. The second day I hike back up to the kill site and get the rest of the meat back to camp. If it is not frozen, I will debone everything and pack it to the truck that day. Then I hike back to camp in the dark. If it is frozen, it takes 2 trips to get the meat to the truck. My biggest packout days are usually 16 or 18 miles, but I have pushed it to 20. But the packout is almost all down hill and it is easy walking. My partner and I alternate years where we get tags for this area because hauling 2 elk out would be too much for us.
It also depends on your experience and gear. If you have heavy gear and it is cold, your backpack in might be as heavy as packing out an elk. I have taken a couple of less experienced (but fit) folks to this spot over the years and just the hike to camp was very difficult for them. You should load your backpack up with a 70 pound sandbag, add in some water and some other stuff. Get the weight to about 100 pounds and go for a few mile hike. That will tell you a lot.
So, my trip ends up looking like this:
Backpack to camp - 5.5 miles
Days I dont kill - somewhere between 6-10 miles
Kill day - 16-18 miles
Take camp back to truck - 5.5 miles
 
Joined
Jul 18, 2015
Messages
1,215
Location
Colorado
For a true backpack style DIY hunt where I'm packing myself in and then packing an elk out, I limit myself to 6ish miles deep for basecamp and about 10 miles deep for where I'm hunting. Anything else and it's unrealistic for me to do myself. Packouts take 3 days in that scenario for me. Now if I had a crew of dudes helping it would be a different story.
 

BadEarth

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Dec 4, 2017
Messages
152
Location
Eastern Montana
Me and a buddy killed 2 bulls on the first day of our hunt this year 4 miles back in with about 2000’ of elevation change. Took 3 days to get them and our camp out. Only had 4 days set aside to hunt. Was a good learning lesson, if we killed ours the last day I don’t know how we could have done it in time. Mountain terrain sure is brutal and elk get heavier every one I kill
 

TaperPin

WKR
Joined
Jul 12, 2023
Messages
1,937
A lot depends on what kind of trail, or lack there of - 7 miles in on a nice horse trail in relatively flat country is a walk in the park. 5 miles trying to follow game trails with a lot of elevation gain and or loose footing will be a good workout.

Hunters on foot camped at the trailhead moving on game trails will make it 5 miles in by mid morning, but that’s close to the limit for most of them.

I packed one meat bull a hard 5 miles in mud and snow and that was enough for me - after that meat hunting was closer in, but if an elk was big enough I’d not have a problem taking as much time as it took to pack him out.

One thing you’ll have to figure out is how capable you are. Some of my friends say they’d kill anything in horrible locations, when they are barely in good enough shape to hike in that far with no weight. Having the desire is good, but out of shape knees can only be pushed so far - only getting half an elk packed out will result in a lot of hard questions at the game check station, and admitting you weren’t able to retrieve it will usually result in a hefty ticket.
 

Jaquomo

WKR
Joined
Apr 27, 2012
Messages
323
26 miles, but only once. (I was scouting new territory.) I've just found it's really not necessary most of the time. If I'm spiking out I typically try to push back about 5 miles and circle back to base camp the next day. If I'm walking in, I'll typically hike into an area I want to hunt from about 4am-6am for about 4 miles if there's a decent trail, hunt a few miles through that area, then after legal light ends, hike back.

n.b. I hunt Colorado, which has plenty of wilderness areas but even when in those it's hard to get more than 10-15 miles from "any" road or private property. So I've just found super-long hikes aren't really needed. The "hunt from base camp" crowd usually hangs out a few miles in, at most. And the horseback crowd is usually 10-15 miles back. I hunt the "donut hole" between them.
I called that rhe "buffer zone" in an article I wrote in Bowhunting World. But that all varies by the enthusiasm of the hunt-from-base guys in any given spot. Two areas I hunted last year had a buffer starting about a half mile from roads. I've hunted other places where the go-getters pushed the elk pretty hard and far, and they didn’t come back (the elk).
 

taskswap

WKR
Joined
Oct 6, 2021
Messages
351
I called that rhe "buffer zone" in an article I wrote in Bowhunting World. But that all varies by the enthusiasm of the hunt-from-base guys in any given spot. Two areas I hunted last year had a buffer starting about a half mile from roads. I've hunted other places where the go-getters pushed the elk pretty hard and far, and they didn’t come back (the elk).
It changes year to year, too, as folks watch various Youtube guides and read various books and forum posts. I've had years where I saw very few people at that range and years I saw many, in the same zone. In the end I do it because it works for me - it's a comfortable distance to feel like I'm enjoying myself, and putting in enough work to feel like I'm not wasting time, but not so far that if I had some emergency it would be a huge ordeal to get back to my truck.

It's funny, for all folks worry about new assistive tech / cheating like drones, IR scopes, and all that, I used to joke with a friend that I'd be more interested in tracking other hunters than elk. I was only half joking...
 

Hnthrdr

WKR
Joined
Jan 29, 2022
Messages
2,623
Location
Co
Younger me did 45 miles in 5 days with camp on my back, one of my buddies quit and went home on day 4, other buddy and me finally found elk on day 5… like many have said, this is often unnecessary and counter productive. Now sometimes I still do 3-5 mile days, but like it’s said slow wayyy down, enjoy the hunt for what it is
 
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