Elk Hunting Gear... Necessity or waste of time?

RyanLawsonHunter

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Jan 11, 2016
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7
Location
Kansas
Hi Everyone,
I am planning my first public land Elk hunt in CO this year. At this point it feels like I'm spending a ton of $$ on gear. In your experiences, what gear do you consider a necessity and what have you found is a waste of money and space in my pack?

I'm trying to keep my cost down since the tag is $600. I'be seen Randy's "bag dump" videos several times and feel I have a pretty good idea of what I need however every time I visit a Bass Pro or Cebelas I find myself continually finding new things I think I need.

Perhaps this is common due to it being my first time and the initial sticker shock is hitting me but really.... do I need it all?

Thanks for your help guys/gals!
 

Croz

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Jul 30, 2015
Messages
27
Good luck on your first Elk hunt! Will you be packing in, or do you plan on driving in and setting up camp near the truck?
 

MinnesotaHunter

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Joined
Sep 15, 2010
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3,706
Location
Gem Lake, Minnesota
It might be easier to start with what you don't have that you think you need, so what don't you have that was on the bag dump video?

What I use the most for day hunting:
-GYM MEMBERSHIP
-boots
-backpack
-binos
-merino base layers and socks
-technical synthetic clothing (this can be one of the hunting brands or decent stuff from REI)
-packable puffy coat (see caveat above)
-game bags w/2 contractor garbage bags (I have a reusable set from Caribou, they have lasted through 2 bears and 2 elk so far)
-headlamp
-GPS
-rangefinder
-camera
-trekking poles
-wool hat and gloves
-gaitors
-Nalgene bottles (x2)
-cut up piece of sleeping pad to sit on while glassing
-wind checker (little smoke bottles)
-Havalon and a buck vanguard knife
-survival stuff (space blanket, iodine tablets, firestarter, first aid, 550 cord)
-cow call

Optional:
-tripod w/bino adapter or spotting scope
-bugle tube

I probably forgot some stuff.....
 

1_pointer

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Joined
Dec 20, 2000
Messages
18,123
Location
Indiana
It might be easier to start with what you don't have that you think you need, so what don't you have that was on the bag dump video?

What I use the most for day hunting:
-GYM MEMBERSHIP
-boots
-backpack
-binos
-merino base layers and socks
-technical synthetic clothing (this can be one of the hunting brands or decent stuff from REI)
-packable puffy coat (see caveat above)
-game bags w/2 contractor garbage bags (I have a reusable set from Caribou, they have lasted through 2 bears and 2 elk so far)
-headlamp
-GPS
-rangefinder
-camera
-trekking poles
-wool hat and gloves
-gaitors
-Nalgene bottles (x2)
-cut up piece of sleeping pad to sit on while glassing
-wind checker (little smoke bottles)
-Havalon and a buck vanguard knife
-survival stuff (space blanket, iodine tablets, firestarter, first aid, 550 cord)
-cow call

Optional:
-tripod w/bino adapter or spotting scope
-bugle tube

I probably forgot some stuff.....
My list looks very similar to the above, except I prefer a hydration bladder over bottles. Boots, backpack, and binos get priority for me when it's time to spend money.

I have the first thing on his list, but after meeting him it's apparent he uses his more than I...
 

MNElkNut

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Joined
Jan 27, 2012
Messages
1,024
Location
Minnesota
I would list this stuff under critical:

1. Comfortable MOUNTAIN boots. Not all hunting boots are meant for the mountains. Waterproof as well.

2. Non-cotton comfy hunting clothing. You are going to be spending a lot of time in it. A Merino wool baselayer is really the best way to go.

3. Wind Checker. the smoke in a bottle stuff.

4. GPS or app for your phone and the KNOWLEDGE of how to use it in the dark to get places. Understanding features on a topo map is required knowledge.

5. The ability to get up early and the fortitude to stay out all day. Don't sit around the campfire all night. Get back, eat, then go to sleep. You can BS at home. Don't come back for lunch. Be in the backcountry hunting from before dawn til the last minute of legal shooting light. Don't cut corners on this one.

6. Prehunt planning and gaining knowledge. The more time you spend preparing the better you are going to be in the field. If you procrastinate and put off learning about elk, don't expect to shoot one. They are not whitetails.

7. This goes with #6 above. Get in shape. If you can't get to where the elk live, you will be hunting where they don't live. Think of it this way, if you painted all the areas on a map blue where the elk rarely go, yellow where they sometimes go, and green where they spend most of their time, you don't want to be stuck hunting in the blue or yellow zones. Yet many, many people do.

8. Maintain a good attitude and enjoy the hunt for the right reasons. Don't let harvesting an elk determine the success of your hunt. Statistically speaking, you wont harvest one, so make sure you enjoy the other aspects of the hunt.

9. Don't know if you are going with someone, but if so, enjoy your time with them. Be careful who you pick as a partner.
 
Joined
Oct 7, 2014
Messages
572
Hi Everyone,
At this point it feels like I'm spending a ton of $$ on gear.

Perhaps this is common due to it being my first time and the initial sticker shock is hitting me but really.... do I need it all?

The first few trips are gonna hurt because of the things you need to buy, but it gets cheap each time. A lot of hunters overlook the initial investment especially if they grew up in the sport or had friends that could lend them gear early on.

Boots, pack, binos is a pretty good place to spend serious money. I would guess you probably want to spend twice what you did on the tag for gear without any excess, but with 8 months until your hunt that's only $150/month in gear rather than $1200 in one lump sum.

Ways to save money are buying used, watching the offseason sales and places like camofire, rei outlet and sierratrading post. Using the $30 mapping app vs $400 for a GPS and chip saves money. You are definitely correct that most people save weight and money by what they don't bring/buy that bringing a ton of lightweight gear.
 

MinnesotaHunter

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Joined
Sep 15, 2010
Messages
3,706
Location
Gem Lake, Minnesota
Ways to save money are buying used, watching the offseason sales and places like camofire, rei outlet and sierratrading post. Using the $30 mapping app vs $400 for a GPS and chip saves money. You are definitely correct that most people save weight and money by what they don't bring/buy that bringing a ton of lightweight gear.

^this.

Keep your eyes peeled year round, and check out places like steepandcheap.com, camofire, the outlet area for REI/backcountry/etc are pretty awesome this time of year too. Make a shopping list and stick to it though, it is easy to find yourself buying extra stuff because it is cheap.
 

devon deer

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Joined
Aug 25, 2011
Messages
2,444
Location
Devon, England
H
Perhaps this is common due to it being my first time and the initial sticker shock is hitting me but really.... do I need it all?
Thanks for your help guys/gals!
When i first started to buy stuff it was a killer, i didn't have anything really, but found that cutting corners doesn't work, first mistake, i thought i could get by using my son's tent, big mistake, i bought a Hilleberg, not cheap but hopefully you can see where i am coming from. But i always looking to find things i can make, as an example a Hilleberg footprint costs a fortune, but you can make one for less than $10! Use the internet/youtube for great ideas

-Havalon and a buck vanguard knife
Please don't keep reminding me, i loved my Buck Vanguard, until i gutted a deer near my truck, left the knife on the back and drove home, never to be seen again, i will another one day, i loved that knife!

Cheers

Richard
 
Last edited:

MinnesotaHunter

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Gem Lake, Minnesota

Elkoholic

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Jul 19, 2012
Messages
762
Location
Ohio
Buy the best quality gear you can afford.

6yrs ago while preparing for my first western hunt (elk) I needed everything and bought a crap load of gear. Being totally green to western hunting at the time and not aware of the crap load of useful info like here on HT at the time I bought gear that turned out to be sub standard. I've since replaced everything I bought that first year with good quality gear. One example are boots, that first 2wk trip totally trashed what I bought, I think most all will agree, boots are #1 priority, don't be cheap on boots. Do your research on gear, lots of great useful info can be found in threads on here. And yes the early years of gear buying sucks, then you get to the point of all you need is a tag and gas in the vehicle, and that's sweet.
 

swmt

Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2012
Messages
55
Minnesota hunter nailed it with the number one priority - gym membership.
In over thirty years of elk hunting there are really only two reasons I have missed out on opportunities at animals. I couldn't get my behind to were the animals were or I wasn't dressed well enough to stay out long enough. Elk gear really does boil down to comfortable clothes, boots and a pack, then depending on terrain, binos. I think a lot of hunters spend far too much time obsessing about their gear rather than working to get into mental and physical condition to spend long hard days afield.
 

usmc1371

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Joined
Feb 18, 2016
Messages
15
Location
Pilot Rock, OR
Make sure you are in good shape its the cheapest thing you can do that will up your chances of success. Then buy good boots and break them in well befor you hit the mts, being in great shape won't help much if your feet fail in a day or two.
As far as whats in your pack it will depend on if you are "back pack" hunting or simply carrying a day pack and returning to a comfy base camp every night. I'm not a back pack hunter, i carry a smallish day pack (badlands diablo) and it works good for day hunts.
Here is a quick rundown on whats in my day pack.
Water bladder 3L, para cord, gps, first aid kit, space blanky, packable rain gear, orange stocking cap, havalon knife with a couple blades, spyderco mule S90V, game bags, compas and map, gloves, lighter and matches/fire starter, extra cow call, TP, range finder on the waist belt of the pack, hand full of extra shells. I'm sure there is more but off the top of my heat thats what I don't want to leave the truck with.
 

PRM

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Joined
Oct 24, 2013
Messages
102
Here is my list. It evolves year to year. It all fits in a rolling duffel, rifle case and carry-on for travel, and once at the trail head it all fits in my pack. My backpack is typically my carry-on. I always keep my boots in my carry-on along with binos, rangefinder, headlamps, license, map, compass, and jacket.

I would say most on the list are necessities for a back country stay in mid-October at 10k ft or I wouldn't take it.
___________
Paradox Pack
BCS Tent
Ti Stove
Sleeping bag
Pad

Stove - pocket rocket
Fuel
Spork
Ti Pot
MRE 1/day
Mtn Home 1/day
PowerBars 1/day
Snacks - almonds, dried fruit
Hot Choc
Coffee - Via packs
Vitamins
Water Purification - Sawyer
Water bottles - 2x Nalgene
Water bag - Platypus

GPS
Batteries
Map
Compass
Watchband compass

Lighter
Fire Starter - Trioxane
Wyoming saw - wood & bone blades
Mini flashlight - Surefire
Headlamp x2
Batteries
Camera
Charger - for trip, not hunting
Phone - for trip, not hunting
Phone charger - for trip, not hunting
SPOT
Paracord (100')
Allen wrenches
Waterproof matches
Orange Ribbon
Wipes
First aid kit
Clot pack
Moleskin
Chapstick
Ibuprofen
Eye drops
Rolaids
Nasal spray
Sinus meds
Toothbrush
Toothpaste
Duct tape

License
Hunter Safety Card
Rifle
Ammo
Knife
Game bags
Dish gloves - for game cleaning
Trash bags
Sharpener
Rangefinder
Binoculars
Cow Calls

Stocking Hat
Orange vest
DCS Guide Jacket
Cabelas Primaloft jacket
6-pocket pants (2x)
Raingear - bottoms
Boots
Socks 3pr
Long underwear
Gloves
Gaitors
U-Wear
Shirts
Hand/Foot warmers
 
Last edited:

Strand

New member
Joined
Feb 12, 2016
Messages
5
Location
North Dakota
I'll echo a few things that have already been said, but the gym membership and good boots are so key. 2014 season opener, I was in as good of shape as I have ever been, but only had a couple miles on new boots. Big mistake, I was chomping at the bit to put on some miles, but could NOT get my heels to cool down in my boots. I tried to grunt through it and wound up hiking my way to huge blisters on both of my heels. That was painful and miserable beyond words.

Also, I think some of the best money I ever spent on hunting gear has been my kuiu zip off merino bottoms. I have the 145 and 210 weights, but only have to break out the 210 on the coldest hunts. If they're in the budget and you're in need, check them out. You can put them on/take them off without have to take your boots off. That might not sound like much, but it makes a huge difference for me.
 

Pagosa

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 13, 2011
Messages
1,120
Location
Montana
It seems like my first day elk hunting I always pack too much gear. It really doesn't take a lot to hunt elk, and being mobile/quiet helps a ton. My list as follows.

Water 2 liters, snacks, fire starter, gps, binos, 5-10 bullets, headlamp, knife/whetstone, one gamebag (for loins on first trip out), Wyoming saw. All this gear will fit into a daypack.

As far as clothes I wear wool pants from Army Suplus with a good set of gaiters, good boots, base layers, cabelas fleece coat, and a vest, or down coat in bad weather. Sometimes I just wear carhatts in early season, or bdu's due too warm weather.

Having a 2nd pair of good boots is sometimes needed, if your trolling through snow all day.

I've bought a lot of my gear off of craigslist. And like others have said start running/working out now. Good luck.
 
Yeti

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