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Minimizing Weight for The Backcountry

Learning to cut weight from your gear and not compromise your safety is a learned skill. After scrutinizing your pack list, it's easy to assemble a large pile of equipment. It's more challenging to focus on the little things that conspire against you, adding unnecessary weight and bulk. Ounces equal pounds, and the little things add up quickly.

How To Render Bear Fat

Where I reside in Montana, winter days are short, menacingly dark, with snow storms frequently followed by rain; weather that is unappealing to most. As the spring days grow longer, I am drawn to spend more time outside enjoying the extra hours of the season. Everything about spring turns my thoughts to adventures in the mountains. Witnessing the mountains emerging from winter while engaged in a hunt is something I never grow tired of. The varied thrush is a bird I often hear during long, drawn-out evening glassing sessions in the mountains. With their first calls echoing through dense stands of old growth timber, and the scents of a forest gradually rewarming, it’s easy to fall in love with spring black bear hunting.

Shed Hunting Tips

To find sheds you must search where the bull elk spend their winter and spring. The most effective way to find these areas is to scout in the winter. In December bulls will group up in bachelor herds and move to their winter range. Depending on the area and the severity of weather, this move could be 1 mile or 100. Bulls will then spend the winter months feeding on big south facing, wind swept slopes where feed is ample and not buried too deep under the snow. Some of these slopes can be seen from roads. Others you'll have to hike in to scout. Glass these slopes from a far. If you find bulls they'll likely shed near there come spring.

West African Peanut Elk Stew

Peanut or groundnut stew is a popular dish found in many West African countries with countless regional variations. You’ll find differences in preparations and the accompanying starch (rice, yams, fufu etc), but most versions will feature a savory, hearty stew that includes tomatoes, peppers, peanuts and some type of meat. My version uses venison, in particular the elk I got while hunting in Utah. This is a simple to put together, one pot meal, fitting for a cold day at the end of winter. Perfect for sharing with friends and family as a vehicle to relive stories about and lessons learned from the hunt.

Mountainside Vindication

My own inadequacies lay manifest as I postholed up the snow covered ridge. Every labored breath a stark reminder of the wrong turns I had taken the year before. All of the mornings I had chosen to silence my alarm and stay in the warm, cocooning, opulence of my blankets. The extra helpings. The well intentioned declarations to start over when the next Monday came. They all hit me like a punch to the gut as I willed my diaphragm to rise and fall and begged for the breath that would offer some relief, some respite from the burn of lactic acid and the ache of muscles atrophied from too little use.

Barklow Systems Thinking - Big Game

Deep in the wilderness is not the time to find out your clothing system doesn't meet your expectations. A technical clothing system for the backcountry hunter must be versatile, lightweight, and capable of keeping you warm and dry. Dynamic mountain weather and remote locations do not treat the unprepared hunter kindly. Whether you're living in a desert, coastal forests, or high above treeline, the clothing system you build must perform.

Avalanches: An Underrated Mountain Hunting Risk

Anyone who travels in the mountains when there is snow on the ground needs to know how to avoid being caught in an avalanche. This includes hunters who chase game like deer, elk, sheep and mountain goats, and anyone who might find themselves in the backcountry traveling on steep, snow-covered slopes.

There is no Off Season

Originally brought to the US by explorers in the sixteenth century, wild pigs have established themselves as a substantial presence in our ecosystems across the country. There have been tremendous efforts on both private and public land to trap and eradicate them due to their impact on farmers and grasslands. However, the geography of North America and our mixed opinions on management render their eradication nearly impossible.

Backcountry Power Breakfast

Freeze-dried meals and nutrition in the backcountry in general has come lightyears in the last few decades. However, I can’t say the same in the breakfast department. They always seem to be the same old thing – some variation of oatmeal or granola and often too sweet for my liking.

Simple Truths of the Desert

Spend any time in the desert, under a late summer sun, and you’ll quickly be reminded of two things: life and death. Oases of life exist. And yet the grip of the desert is always near; the traces of it linger for decades as bones lay bleached, and tracks rest baked into the Earth’s crust, a reminder of the fact that literally everything is on the line out here, day in and day out.

The Train to Goat Country

For years, Kiviok Hight has heard the distant echoes of the train whistle from the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad engine. Ever since his last Colorado archery mountain goat hunt ten years ago, he’s been dreaming of this hunt. On that first goat hunt, and on elk hunts since, the sound of the distant train engine has been the only reminder of the human world. He decided that if he ever drew the tag again, that train would become part of the experience.

The Journey: Dustin Roe

Outfitter Dustin Roe pushes gear—and his guides—to the outer limits. The fail factor was high. No one had ever hunted stone sheep in the rut, in November, in northern British Columbia, where bitter cold and high mountain winds stopped even the most seasoned mountain hunters.