Mule Deer, Elk and Western Big Game Hunting -

Summer Backpack Scouting Tips
By Brian Latturner

With summer upon us and the snow just about all melted off in the high country, it's time to hit the trails and go searching for monster muleys. So, here are a few tips for those of you who will be carrying a backpack into your hunting unit this summer.

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& Read About the Trekking Poles
• • • One of the most important tools I use when backpacking is a set of trekking poles. At one point in my life, I thought they were for the weak, the old, and were just more weight to carry. I was so wrong! Trekking poles can be a backpackers best friend. Through my own research, I estimate that by using trekking poles, which allows one to use their arms to help them walk, you can take 20-25 pounds of weight off your legs for much of your hike, which will result in fresher legs when you reach your destination and quicker travel to your destination. Currently I'm using the Easton Hike Carbon 3 Trekking Poles.

• • • Water! This is the most important thing you'll need to have a successful backpacking trip. We often think about high mountain springs and creeks, but the fact is, once you're on top of the high ridges where big bucks tend to live, you're often 600-1000 vertical feet from the nearest source of water. One must plan ahead. I often figure on needing a half gallon of water for my 3-5 hour hike into a spot, plus one gallon per day on the mountain. On most of my two night scouting trips, I'm leaving the car with a bit more than one and a half gallons of water. Here's what I typically need water for:
     - 64 oz. for my hike in
     - 16 oz. for 1st night dehydrated dinner
     - 8 oz. for evening coffee
     - 16 oz. for morning coffee
     - 6 oz. for oatmeal & granola breakfast
     - 32 oz. for sipping throughout mid-day
     - 16 oz. for dehydrated dinner
     - 8 oz. for evening coffee
     - 16 oz. for 2nd morning coffee
     - 6 oz. for 2nd morning oatmeal & granola breakfast
     - The small amount remaining is for the hike out
As you can see, I'm going about 2 days on a gallon and a half of water. During the summer, I typically return to the car thirsty, but I do get my two mornings and two evenings worth of scouting in without needing to drop down into a canyon for water.

During early summer scouting trips one can sometimes find snow banks on high north slopes which provide the needed water, but I rarely rely on that. A snow bank is just a bonus.

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about Backpacking Shoes vs. Boots
• • • Shoes ... Over the years I have learned that the lighter, more flexible shoe I can venture with, the better. At one time, I'd backpack wearing boots. By strengthing my ankles and legs trail running and mountain climbing in the spring, I can go with a lighter weight shoe for summer scouting trips. Currently I'm using a Solomon trail running shoe. They're great for trail hiking, which is most of what I do on summer scouting trips. They also dry very fast in comparison to leather boots. Yes, my feet do get soaked very quickly if the grass is wet, but they get soaked even with boots and the shoes dry fast once the sun shines.
I've found that I move quicker and can feel the trail better wearing the light weight trail running shoes. That "feel" of the trail makes a big difference with balance and the weight and flexibility of the shoe allows a more free movement of my foot.

• • • Food on a pack trip is obviously a good thing to bring along (ha ha ha). Seriously, I'm a fan of oatmeal and granola for breakfast and dehydrated meals for dinner. Here's what I take on a typical 2 night, 2 day trip;
     - Two Dehydrated Dinners
     - 1 cup of oatmeal (1/2 cup per morning)
     - 1/2 cup of granola (1/4 cup per morning)
     - Package of pink salmon (lunch/snack)
     - A few crackers (lunch/snack)
     - 2 Atkins Protein Bars (After dinner or mid-day treat)
     - 2 granola bars (before daylight snack with coffee)
     - 4-5 coffee singles
     - Sweetener
     - Powdered Creamer
     - And an extra power bar
That food list is quite light weight and takes up little room. A Subway sandwich on the drive home is always a treat!

Click-a-Pic ... Details & Bigger Photos

Click-a-Pic ... Details & Bigger Photos

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