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Joined: 08/08/2010
Posts: 15
Help me pack my pack

Hey fellas, been lurking and reading for a while. Im coming out to Colorado for Elk 2nd rifle and I have a request. I have never been west of the mississippi before to hunt, and I have to admit Im a little overwhelmed with thinking things through with how to effectively pack my pack so i dont forget anything. I have been to this date strictly a whitetail hunter, who has the luxury of MAYBE walking a mile to my treestand, and the most Ive ever had to pack is when I sit from sun up til sundown during rut. That being said, I purchased a very nice pack (I think it has 5 or 6 pouches on the "waistband" and has one big pack and a smaller one for the "backpack". I think Im ok as far as getting a list of what I needed (using the search feature here) but now comes the task of putting things where they belong. Any rules of thumb or little hints you guys have learned from? Your help would be greatly appreciated.

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Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/23/2010
Posts: 10
Couple questions

mossy33oak wrote:

Hey fellas, been lurking and reading for a while. Im coming out to Colorado for Elk 2nd rifle and I have a request. I have never been west of the mississippi before to hunt, and I have to admit Im a little overwhelmed with thinking things through with how to effectively pack my pack

Well - another lurker might as well start it  Big smile

When I started hunting here in CO a decade and change ago, I was the same. Born and raised in MN and WI and mostly in awe of the big elk country here. 

Couple of questions that make a big difference, though:

- Assuming you're hunting from a basecamp of some kind (you didn't mention)? Truck camp? Cabin? Wall Tent? Horses?

- How far in do you plan on going on a daily basis?

- What kind of country? (Alpine, Dark Timber, Sage/Aspen, Pinon/Juniper?)

- How far from a town are you (assume normal driving conditions)?

- How far will your hunting group be if you kill one or if they do?

Some basics that serve me well irregardless of the above:

- Hydration bladder. A must for me now. Saves a lot of rooting/maneuvering to get a drink and you can carry more water. 

- Knife on belt, not in pack

- GPS/2 Way radio accessible without digging

- Snacks (and any vices: Chew, Smokes, etc) in a side or outer pocket that you can reach easy

- Extra clothes on top

- Skinning gloves/game bag/rope/webbing, etc on bottom (if you need them, you'll be taking the sucker off and unpacking it anyway. If you don't, no sense sorting through them)

A lot of the rest depends on the above questions. 

Best, welcome,

Chris

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Joined: 08/08/2010
Posts: 15
Thanks Chris

- Assuming you're hunting from a basecamp of some kind (you didn't mention)? Truck camp? Cabin? Wall Tent? Horses?  Mixed, base camp half week, motel half week

- How far in do you plan on going on a daily basis?  Not really sure, we will be walking everywhere we go

- What kind of country? (Alpine, Dark Timber, Sage/Aspen, Pinon/Juniper?) Once again not really sure, Bitteroot is all i know

- How far from a town are you (assume normal driving conditions)? We are staying in Baggs WY and hunting bitteroot (?)

- How far will your hunting group be if you kill one or if they do? I wont be far from at least 2 other guys at all times

Some basics that serve me well irregardless of the above:

- Hydration bladder. A must for me now. Saves a lot of rooting/maneuvering to get a drink and you can carry more water. ok i have one of those

- Knife on belt, not in pack  noted

- GPS/2 Way radio accessible without digging noted

- Snacks (and any vices: Chew, Smokes, etc) in a side or outer pocket that you can reach easy Can I carry my 10 can log like a sabre on my side?? 

- Extra clothes on top

- Skinning gloves/game bag/rope/webbing, etc on bottom (if you need them, you'll be taking the sucker off and unpacking it anyway. If you don't, no sense sorting through them)

A lot of the rest depends on the above questions. 

Best, welcome,

Chris

Thanks for the suggestions Chris, I will make a note of these.

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Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/23/2010
Posts: 10
No worries

If camp is relatively close to your hunting area, then you can reduce food, etc that you have to carry (and Baggs is a couple miles north of the state line, so you're at least a few miles away, I would assume). I always bring some high-energy snacks (candy bars, granola bars, etc), but we are generally back at the cabin for lunch. If you're out all day, food in an accessible location. 

If you're within striking distance of your party, then you can also divide/reduce the load a bit (since in theory, they'll be there to help if you knock one down, and vice versa). We also swear by 2-way radios with headsets to keep the noise down. Remember that it's illegal to use radios to guide hunters to animals (e.g. no saying "Hey Bob - there's 4 head coming own to your right 100 yards away"), but they're great for keeping in touch or confirming shots, etc, etc. 

I would carry a decent small first aid kit and basic survival gear (a couple of lighters, para cord, space blanket, etc) - this can be down in the bottom, of course. I keep mine in a big ziploc.

A small thermos is a godsend. I have a small one (maybe 2" diameter/12" tall) that fits perfectly in a side pocket. Coffee stays warm until after lunch. 

Knife sharpener is a must. I also like carrying a small folding saw. Both can be down with the processing stuff, since, as noted, you will have time to unpack if you need them. Reminder on the processing gear - lots of rope/cord/webbing is a must with elk. As are game bags. I'm sure others have told you, but even a small calf elk puts a whitetail to shame, size-wise. If your pack can't accomodate a quarter for the pack out, make sure that someone in your party has a pack that will. 

I keep the camera in an outer chest pocket for quick shots of random stuff. 

If you won't be wearing your foul-weather gear, that needs to be on top of the inside of your pack (scope covers, too, if they aren't the flip-up kind). 

Best of luck!

Chris

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Joined: 08/02/2010
Posts: 135
elevation is one thing to

elevation is one thing to consider as well.

i guarantee if youre abouve 9k ft your pack will feel 20 pounds heavier than it does back home! i read in a helth magazine that the average human takes around 3 times as many breathes at 9kft as they do at sea leavel in order to have the same amount of oxygen in the blood! that means you will dehydrate WAAAAY faster as much of our water is lost through the lungs and breathing. not to mention the fact that colorado is dryer than most eastern states. drink lots of water is my point.

good luck with the hunt i head down to colorado in 2 weeks for 1st rifle bull! wooohooo

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Location: Colorado
Joined: 08/03/2009
Posts: 31
Weight Distribution

One thing to consider as you are planning your pack is how to distribute the weight. Hopefully your pack has a wide belt and good padding. (3" webbing with padded back and sides is best) Place your heavier items low in the pack to keep the weight on your hips rather than your shoulders. Believe me, your shoulders and neck will thank you for it. This does not mean to put something you will need or want often (such as binocs) low in the pack, unless you really enjoy re-packing every hour. Frequently used items need to be easily accessible. Also, try to keep the weight as close to your body as possible to help improve your balance. If you pack heavy items on the outside of the pack, they (and gravity Big smile ) will work against you on the trail. Most good packs have some kind of compression straps on the outside to tighten down the load. This helps a lot with balance and comfort.

Make sure as you hike that you check the waist belt often as many will loosen as you hike. You want the majority of your pack's weight resting on the hip bones.

On the survival kit: I carry a small kit (space blanket, waterproof matches, magnesium stick, small swiss knife and a signal mirror) in a pocket. It never fails that a hiker has a great kit, but leaves it in their pack as they take a short walk and then cannot find their pack again.

Oh, and make sure you throw an extra pair of thick socks in your pack...should your feet get wet from a stream crossing or just from sweat it can turn a tough hike into a miserable hike. Take care of your feet, put moleskin on any hotspots as soon as they form, keep em dry, that sort of thing.

Enjoy your trip and let us know how it went! Yes

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Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/23/2010
Posts: 10
Socks!

Wings wrote:

Oh, and make sure you throw an extra pair of thick socks in your pack...should your feet get wet from a stream crossing or just from sweat it can turn a tough hike into a miserable hike. Take care of your feet, put moleskin on any hotspots as soon as they form, keep em dry, that sort of thing.

This is huge. Can't believe I left it out. If you're relying on shank's mare, extra socks and blister care are way up the list in terms of essentials. 

One other thing - headlamp or small flashlight. That has saved my bacon before even on very familiar ground. 

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Joined: 08/08/2010
Posts: 15
Thanks guys!

I really appreciate all the responces. I will be rereading this thread in the next 2 weeks several times before I do my final pack. The one thing that keeps bothering me is am I going to "over pack" and then realize its too heavy and then take out all this useful stuff and then need it lol. I just know the thing I unpack and leave in the tent or laying on my hotel bed will be exactly what i need.....its murphys law.

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Joined: 07/07/2010
Posts: 84
some more info

I can help Mossy answer some of the questions since he'll be going out with me.  The first few days of the week we'll have a base camp set up in Routt National just south east of Black mountain so we'll mostly be hunting dark timber that part.  Then we have an apartment for the 2nd half in Baggs and will be hunting Serviceberry so here we'll be in more desert/sage/open terrain.  The reason for the room is we were planning on hunting the entire week on Serviceberry originally but thought we'd have a better shot at some elk in Routt the first few days.  Three of us have cow and bull tags.

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Joined: 08/02/2010
Posts: 135
one thing i always seem to

one thing i always seem to wish i had more of is small rope! it can be super useful and hold no weight...extra batteries for the gps?? they always go bad when you need em.

find out where and hours of operation of your closest emergency services....can be a real time and life saver!

ecubackpacker's picture
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Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: NC
Joined: 09/11/2009
Posts: 1639
Yeah, can't have enough 550

Yeah, can't have enough 550 cord on these hunts, although several hundred feet will do.  Good luck Thumbs up

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