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codyac21's picture
Location: Denver, Co
Joined: 09/07/2009
Posts: 94
Backpack Archery Elk Camp List - What do you pack in to kill an elk and survive for 5 days by yourself?

DIY, Over the Counter, Public Land, Archery Elk

Backpack into National Forest

I have been backpack archery elk hunting for the last 4 years and have developed my own list of gear that make my backpack elk camp. This year I took an extra scouting trip before opening weekend and got 20lbs of gear stowed away so nothing would be left behind and I can easily hunt in/out.  I also hunt solo so I would imagine a team could bring a lot more comforts than what is realistic bringing by myself.   I pack in for archery season and happened to draw a buck muzzletag in the same unit so my camp is set for a full month of enjoyment.  

Most importantly if I am packing this load deep into the woods I have contacted the local licensed outfitter contracted to the area that I am hunting to notify him of my plan, and confirm his help for a packing out an elk. I absolutely don’t take lightly how important it is to be prepared to ensure a successful hunt and dead elk will not waste.  Packing 65+lb loads in and out of elk country is unrealistic.  Regardless if I needed help packing out an elk the outfitters seem to be helpful.  They openly will inform me of things like what drainage cattle are grazing, or trail locations, and their camp locations and dates.  Therefore I can easily avoid them and their hunters until I need them. 


3 Liter Camel

Katadyn Water Purifier

Lighter X 2, Waterproof Fire sticks, Strikelight

Knife x 2

GPS (and fresh batteries 2AA X Days and 1 pair backup)

Headlamp x 2 (2 is one when you hope to make night trips packing meat) minibackpacking lantern

First Aid (Blood Clotting Bandage, Gauze, tape, various medicines, chapstick (w/sunscreen), antibiotic cream, fishing hook, dental floss, lighter, alcohol wipes, toothbrush and Paste, handsani)

Roll of Toilet Paper and Zip lock of 10 unscented baby wipes/Day

Food: Dehydro dinner, jerky, trailmix, granola bars, coffee, Gatorade mix, tea bag

Pan, Pan holder, Coffee Cup, Spork, Sweetner

Tent/Tipi; Tarp Tipi, Stakes, Center Pole

Stove; Collapsible wood burning stove with stovepipe (unneccessary but 6 man tipi and stove weigh less than 13lbs making it ideal for fall hunting)  

Sleeping Pad (2), 0 degree down sleeping bag, Kifaru Chair

Clothes: Heavy Jacket, Under Jacket, Shirt, Pants, Beanie, Facemask, Buff, Gloves < All camo, waterproof, and wicking.  2 pair wool socks, Boots

Hunting Gear: Bow, Arrows, Release, Arm Guard (for heavy jacket), yardage thingy, smoke in bottle, 50 Ft. Paracord, bone saw, gut hook, diamond sharpener)

10 Liter MSR Dromedary Bag (So you don’t have to worry about purifying water daily which adds great mobility to your spike spots:)

Speakers and Ipod (completely unnecessary and heavy but nice if the elk aren’t bugling)


At the Truck; Cooler (run to town and fill with ice after first load of meat), tarp,  game bags to take back after first load, extra water and food, and scent destroying spray for pack/clothes before packing in 

whiteriver's picture
Location: North Idaho
Joined: 09/01/2011
Posts: 7
That's a great list, thanks

That's a great list, thanks for sharing!  This site has a great list too: http://www.backpacking.net/27-pound.html  It's just for backpacking, not hunting but he's got a good list of lightweight gear.

WesternHunter's picture
Joined: 05/05/2006
Posts: 2374

Very nice.  You go way out and do it pretty simple as it should be.  DYI elk and deer hunts are all I've ever done and all I know.  So for me I'm always perplexed as to why so many hunters use outfitters.  I don't backpack in though.   Good arrangements you've made with the outfitters in that area, that's pretty smart. So tell us what's your success rate been the last 4 years doing it the way you have?

codyac21's picture
Location: Denver, Co
Joined: 09/07/2009
Posts: 94
Not Yet

Unfortunately I have not harvested a wa'apiti with my bow yet.  Not for lack of trying I can assure.  I missed a nice 6x6 bull my first year by making rookie mistakes....so I have blown opportunities.   I would also admit that every season is a tutorial and I am constantly learning how to hunt more effectively.  The rockies and elk are the best of teachers.  Getting a broadside 30 yard shot on an elk seems like finding a needle in a haystack some days but if it wasn't extemely hard it wouldn't be my passion.  

Jdizzle's picture
Location: Boulder, CO
Joined: 09/02/2011
Posts: 58
Great list codyac21. Looks

Great list codyac21. Looks like a real cozy camp. Glad to see other soloist backpackers. Good luck

Jdizzle's picture
Location: Boulder, CO
Joined: 09/02/2011
Posts: 58
Here is what I take on my

Here is what I take on my solo backpacking for rifle season:

Internal frame pack
Sleeping bag
Gore-tex bivy
Thermarest neoair pad
Homemade alchol stove
Coffee cup and press in one
One liter of denatured achohol
Snow peak pans with silicon bowl and spork
Camelbak with inline filter
Sharpening stone
Bone saw
Talc powder
Scentaway soap, wipes, and deordorent
Pine chewing gum
Firstaid, stop bleed,pre H, tums, ect
Eye glass cleaner
Water ballons for gun barrel
Small gun cleaning kit
High asorbent pack towel

Food, all put in no scent bear bags:
Mountain house packs
Cliff bars
Popcorn kernels
powdered creamer
coffee grounds
beef jerky
Ketsup, soy sauce, hot sauce and pramesion packets
bacon bits
Farm fresh eggs
Salt, spice blend
Small cooking oil

Scentlok jacket and pants
Underarmor thermals
Camo hoodie
3x socks and underware
Seperate camp/sleeping cloths
Gloves light and heavy
400 gram boots
Breathable shirts
Baseball cap
Waterproof poncho

Collapesable fishing pole

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WesternHunter's picture
Joined: 05/05/2006
Posts: 2374

Welcome aboard guys, great to have you.

codyac21's picture
Location: Denver, Co
Joined: 09/07/2009
Posts: 94
Interesting to see someone else's approach

Thx for sharing.  I knew I would learn something.  I've never slept in a bivy before but I have looked at buying them multiple times.  Do you set up a spike or basecamp or sleep in your bivy where ever you end up after your days hunt?  

That alcohol stove is also interesting.  I've never actually used one but they look ultralight.  1 liter of alcohol sounds like a lot though...

Never heard of pine chewing gum either...?

How long does an egg stay good unrefridgerated?  That would be good with bacon bits, maybe some packets of salsa or minitobasco bottle, salt pepper......I usually just use dehyrdrated meals.  

Popcorn Kernals?


Jdizzle's picture
Location: Boulder, CO
Joined: 09/02/2011
Posts: 58
Bivys are fine if you are not

Bivys are fine if you are not claustrophobic, just make sure its gore-tex. I only use it if it is cold or raining. I wont usually set up a base camp, so I have more time to hunt. I try to just set the days camp at the nearest water source to where I am that day. It makes it much easier to get water to clean dishes and wash cloths or whatever, and I also like to fish for an hour or so at dusk/night, cause as you know on solo trips there is no one to talk to around camp.

I dont exactly know how much alcohol I bring cause I just have a aluminum water bottle I use. So probably 20 ozs or so?

I have chickens at my house so I get fresh eggs. They can last unrefrigerated for a week to two weeks, but I don't think I would try it with store bought eggs cause you don't know how old they are.

Popcorn kernels for making stove top popcorn. It takes up very little space in your backpack for as big as it gets. 1/3 cup of kernels makes enough for 4 people.

whiteriver's picture
Location: North Idaho
Joined: 09/01/2011
Posts: 7
If you get eggs that are

If you get eggs that are dated way out and eat them scrambled then you'd be fine even if they are from the store.  The cooking destroys any bad guys that have grown in there, the taste is the same, and since you're backcountry cooking and not making a merengue or something the slight varient in fluffiness you'd get from non refridgeration or age won't make a difference. 

I'm also glad to see some other solo packers here!  I want to go elk hunting this year but I'm a little overwhelmed with the enormity of it all without any help.

GooseHunter Jr's picture
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/28/2005
Posts: 3748
Some great gear lists there. 

Some great gear lists there.  I am wanting to do a backpacking elk trip soon, these lists give me a great place to start gathering some more gear from.  Thanks guys!