Do you want to go on your first backcountry hunt, but don’t know where to start? You are not alone. There is a ridiculous amount of information out there when planning for your first backcountry hunt. Sifting through all of the available information can be very time consuming and stressful. Here are five tips to help you plan for your first backcountry hunt.
1. Don’t Get Overwhelmed with the Resources Available:
There is an endless amount of information available to you on the internet, everything from forum boards to product reviews to podcasts. How do you filter through all of that and find relevant information? Find someone you know with firsthand experience to help guide you through and give you tips. Don’t expect them to give you their sacred hunting spots, but let them send you in the right direction and tell you what worked for them and what didn’t. It can get overwhelming looking through all of the information out there, try to look for trends in reviews instead of the single 2 star review that is the exception. Find a resource you trust and form your own opinions and experiences off of that.
2. Create a Budget:
Preparing for a backcountry hunt can be very expensive if you let it be. Creating a budget to help you prepare for your first backcountry hunt can be frustrating. I started by taking inventory of everything that I already had and then figured out what I had left to get. I set up my budget then broke it down into each month. For me, excluding buying the tags, I had planned to spend roughly $150-200 each month on gear for the 7 months leading up to the hunt. I prioritized what I needed by getting the gear that I wanted to test first, saving the non-essential items for last. Buying used is a great way to get high quality products for an affordable price.
3. Test Your Gear:
When purchasing gear for backcountry hunts, you need to take some things into consideration. Doing your research online can only teach you so much about your gear. Get outside and use it over and over again and you will soon find tips and tricks that will help you down the road. For example, setting up your tent 4 or 5 times in the yard might show you that you are carrying too many stakes, or that it saves you time if you pack it up a certain way. Most importantly, testing your gear will help you identify anything that might fail in the backcountry. You don’t want to let a downpour in the Colorado high country find the holes or tears in your tent fly before you do
4. Planning Your Food:
If you find yourself stressing about not having enough food for a trip, you’re not alone. Knowing what your body needs is extremely important when it comes to being efficient in the mountains. Food also usually becomes one of the heavier items in your pack, having a high calorie per ounce ratio is important if you want the most bang for your buck. I have found that my body needs about 2400 calories per day when I’m hunting. This will vary for everyone, so the only real way to know how much your body needs is to go out and test it. The entire Heather’s Choice line has a great calorie per ounce ratio, and also tastes delicious. There are some great resources out there getting more in depth with nutrition, in which I recommend Heather’s Facebook live feeds to help you get started!
5. Gear List Spreadsheet:
I’m an ounce counter, plain and simple. I weigh each and every item of gear that goes on my back. Why? Because every ounce adds up. Saving an ounce here or there means saving a pound down the road. A spreadsheet does two things for you; keeps track of the weights of your gear, and creates a checklist to make sure you have everything you need before leaving for the trip. One example of where a spreadsheet has helped me, is in choosing a hydration bladder. I own a 2L bladder that I thought would work perfect, after weighing it, it came to a whopping 12.20 oz. Who would’ve thought that a bladder could weigh close to a pound! I upgraded to a Platypus 3L and instantly took 8 oz off my total pack weight. Any food scale works great for weighing items. The one I bought only cost me about $10 on Amazon and works great!
Hopefully this helps you get off on the right foot when planning for your backcountry hunt! One last tip, experience is priceless, so get out there and put some time in the woods!