Sitka Gear Turkey Tool Belt

Lessons learned: hunting partners

Choosing your hunt partners can be just as challenging as the hunt itself. I remember being stuck with some negative nancys for a week. Before the hunt they're all excited, pumped up, ready to hit it hard. I made all the plans cause they're too busy with work. Strike #1. Then when we get there they're still excited but ask me where to go and how to hunt. WHAT? They've hunted elk before, Strike #2. I had made it very clear before hand that I would take the two greenhorns that were a long , under my wing and be focusing on getting them their first elk. First day of hunting I got up, cooked breakfast for the group, and was met with whining from the experienced ones that I was too loud, up way too early, and breakfast was cold by the time they got out of their bags. Strike #3. They are never coming along again! But I'm stuck with them for the week. What direction should they go? Pick one I'll go opposite. Standard morning convos. First day one greenhorn got his elk. Exp. hunters 0 elk seen. Second day same as before except they pick my direction from day before. So we head the direction they went day before.Greenhorn -1 exp. hunters 0-elk seen. Then the whining starts. Sun too bright,can't glass, no snow,can't tell tracks, other hunters ruining it, too steep, too warm, I'm sending them to bad areas, etc. WTF? Learned my lesson on that one. From then on, all pre planning, scouting , etc, is equally shared by all involved or your out before I get stuck with a negative, pessimistic, lazy, attitude again for a week!! I'm blessed now with a group of positive hunting buddies ,all with the same mindset. We will give it our best shot no matter what. Good luck on your search!
 
The following is somewhat of a expression of frustration but there are reminders for all in hunting partners and expectations.

Choose your hunt partners wisely...
I had a similar experience this year, close to the same area it sounds like as you. Sitting around a campfire over the summer, I was talking about my annual elk trip and invited a friend to come along. It would be his first time. On the way out, he decides he doesn't want to camp because he's afraid of the cold weather coming in, so he books a hotel. 45 minutes away from the closest area we want to hunt. First day, he gets altitude sickness (he's never hunted outside of PA, so never been above 1500 feet of elevation). Day 2 I make him take a rest day. The area that he could have gotten an elk in, I won't take him because even if he did make it up the hill, there is no way he could pack the animal out. I wound up getting my mule deer, but it was hard to find because of the winter kill. At one point during the trip he says, "I'm going to take this trip as my kick in the butt to get in shape and stop drinking so much". I thought to myself, "When you signed up to go back in July should have been the impetus to get in shape". I told this guy how I hunt (backpack in, spike camps, maybe 5-10 miles of walking, glassing, etc., steep elevation, carry meat out on your back) and he took no initiative other than buying gear, watching youtube, and shooting long distance.

Fortunately I met a few kids out there a couple years ago when I was solo and we've hunted together every year since. They can almost keep up with me on a "death march". I'm 20 years older than them, so kind of comical the first year when they thought they would have to help me around. I helped the one kid get his first elk this year and we packed it out over 2 days. But as for taking out of shape greenhorns, I think I'll recommend outfitters for them from now on. Unfortunately my list of hunting partners (big trip type stuff) continues to get smaller every year.
 
I had a similar experience this year, close to the same area it sounds like as you. Sitting around a campfire over the summer, I was talking about my annual elk trip and invited a friend to come along. It would be his first time. On the way out, he decides he doesn't want to camp because he's afraid of the cold weather coming in, so he books a hotel. 45 minutes away from the closest area we want to hunt. First day, he gets altitude sickness (he's never hunted outside of PA, so never been above 1500 feet of elevation). Day 2 I make him take a rest day. The area that he could have gotten an elk in, I won't take him because even if he did make it up the hill, there is no way he could pack the animal out. I wound up getting my mule deer, but it was hard to find because of the winter kill. At one point during the trip he says, "I'm going to take this trip as my kick in the butt to get in shape and stop drinking so much". I thought to myself, "When you signed up to go back in July should have been the impetus to get in shape". I told this guy how I hunt (backpack in, spike camps, maybe 5-10 miles of walking, glassing, etc., steep elevation, carry meat out on your back) and he took no initiative other than buying gear, watching youtube, and shooting long distance.

Fortunately I met a few kids out there a couple years ago when I was solo and we've hunted together every year since. They can almost keep up with me on a "death march". I'm 20 years older than them, so kind of comical the first year when they thought they would have to help me around. I helped the one kid get his first elk this year and we packed it out over 2 days. But as for taking out of shape greenhorns, I think I'll recommend outfitters for them from now on. Unfortunately my list of hunting partners (big trip type stuff) continues to get smaller every year.
Glad you were still able to find a buck to get this year! It definitely is rewarding getting a deer. Also helping others is great! I have been on quite a few packouts this year so far. Always great!

Yeah, those that don't take initiative early in the preparation might be a flag that the hunt may not turn out how you seem. Or those that don't have similar styles. As for sharing camps, definitely like the idea/plan of everyone doing their own thing and coming back to camp, but with greenhorns, there is a part that kinda feels bad leaving them to fend on their own.

Two things i have been mulling over is being selfish in my hunt planning, and going on the hunts I want and if hunt styles match, go with them. Or else, if its one that hunts completely different, then maybe go as a helper on their hunt, so I'm not discouraged by it. With my buddy that has been elk hunting 5 years (always a gap year between hunts) would expect more initiative/planning on his part. Looking to do some Father/Son hunts here next year in Idaho, where he would have the tag and I can help him with whatever (carrying some gear and what not).

Take these years as lessons, but its ok being selfish a bit. Only so many seasons/trips a year.
 
Or choose to have no hunt partners. Few arguments save for those among the voices in ones head at that point.


Never pick hunt partners who will hunt mountain mule deer and elk using whitetail tactics. Check.
Bingo. I went with a family member a couple of years ago who had never been on a western hunt where I had been on multiple. He watched youtube all summer and was a complete "know-it-all" once we left the trailhead. I would say lets go left and he would say right. If I said the sky was up, he said it was down. After a few days of that, I left him and hunted on my own, and it was 100X more enjoyable, just getting away from him and doing what I wanted to do without having to debate. Of course I found some great areas on the last couple of days, but it was too little too late. I only get to go on a western hunt like that every couple of years, and I really resent that I essentially wasted that year by agreeing to go with him. From now on, Im telling anyone I "hunt with", I'll see you at camp after dark.

PS - He has been back a couple of times and didn't kill anything then either
 
I somewhat had the same thing happen the last time I went to Colorado hunting. We have a wall tent so there's no moving it once it's setup. I picked out areas that were somewhat close to where I knew we would be hunting. However, riding to camp with them, I really didn't have anyway to get where I wanted to go.
 
Hunting is like skiing for me: I don't want anybody else's interpretation of the experience to impact my own. I know I'm going to have a good time hunting or skiing regardless of the conditions, and having others along can only detract from that. Only exception is I love skiing with my daughters; however they never complain about conditions. Icy, cold, stormy, doesn't matter. I take some credit for that. :)
 
i learned a long time ago not to hunt with people you dont KNOW...i talk to guys that dont hunt because they dont have anybody to go with them, that tells me theyre not hunters...im 68 and have alot of friends but i would only spend days of wind ,snow ,rain and disappointment with 2 of them...nothing worse than being stuck in a tent with a whiner
 
i learned a long time ago not to hunt with people you dont KNOW...i talk to guys that dont hunt because they dont have anybody to go with them, that tells me theyre not hunters...im 68 and have alot of friends but i would only spend days of wind ,snow ,rain and disappointment with 2 of them...nothing worse than being stuck in a tent with a whiner
It’s nice to hunt by yourself, no one to screw up your plans.
 
Good hunting partners are hard to find, they cant care what things cost or the cost to get there. Success is something I always strive for but a guy has to be comfortable with the unknowns. I like to hunt by myself but its also nice to have someone there with to celebrate or as a moral boost. I've brought multiple Midwest deer hunters elk hunting. Needless to say they couldn't hang and never asked to go back.
 
Good hunting partners are hard to find, they cant care what things cost or the cost to get there. Success is something I always strive for but a guy has to be comfortable with the unknowns. I like to hunt by myself but its also nice to have someone there with to celebrate or as a moral boost. I've brought multiple Midwest deer hunters elk hunting. Needless to say they couldn't hang and never asked to go back.
This is very true, friendships can be built or broken on a hunt depending on the individual’s if they aren’t comfortable and compatible with each other.
 
I typically only hunt with my wife.

But, this year I invited my buddy to hunt with me. He met me at my house, and we drove my truck 6 hours to go to the camping spot where we were hunting. We stopped at the store, I filled the truck up ($120 in diesel) and he went into the store and came outside and had the nerve to ask me for money to pay for half the case of beer. Pissed me right off.

It reminded me why I hunt with my wife. The older I get the less tolerant of crap like that….get off my lawn.
 
Last edited:
I solo hunt alot, but if the son-in-law and / or hunting buddy doesn't have to work. We came up with a unspoken rule who ever glasses or spots the animal first gets the choice to follow up and try to down the animal. If we're rifle hunting one backs up the other. Just incase nerves take over and the first guy missed the shot. As far as the wife going with. I took her on a waterfowl hunt when we first got married long ago. Shot a really nice mallard drake when it fell out of the sky it land at her feet. I got that look I learned a lot over the years. She looked at me and said ok I'm going back to the truck and read my book, have fun gave me a kiss on the cheek and walked off. We still laugh about it years later and I always ask, going hunting in the morning you want to go. Lol
 
The following is somewhat of a expression of frustration but there are reminders for all in hunting partners and expectations. Yes its long, but it was a frustrating week. I almost ended up leaving partway through as it how it was turning out, it wasn't worth my time, but my dad was with, so stuck it out and nothing good happened.

This story starts off from about 4 years ago, shortly after I started elk hunting and digging into randy Newberg and other elk hunting videos on YouTube and podcasts. I had a buddy I knew that invited me to go out with him to Colorado with others he knew to elk hunt an OTC unit.

The way this group hunted was go about 10 miles into the national forest and set up camp there. Near this camp spot were various meadows that they would sit only in the evening and they would be somewhat successful; about 1 or 2 elk a year on average. But group size was like 5 or 6 every year.

I went there when I was living in the Midwest 4 years ago, and 2 years ago as it was an excuse to get out west. 2 years ago my dad came for his first elk hunt. A little over a year ago I moved to north idaho and have more access to elk hunting closer to me.

Typically my buddy I first went out there with was on a 2 year cycle with his wife to let him go out west. So this year he looked at applying for a deer tag in a new unit while my dad and I would get elk tags.

This is where the turn goes wrong.

This deer tag was in a unit hit hard last winter and the elk tags were only good for 5 days. In addition it would be only the 3 of us, myself, my dad, and my buddy.

We had looked at this unit last year a bit and during application season, but after he drew not too much conversation occurred. After my September archery hunts I dug hard into making hunt plans for various areas of the units. I assume my dad will rely on me. But my buddy still didn't know 100% for sure if he wanted to use this tag as winter kill and animal densities were a worry for him. However, he never started looking at this area until late September/esrly October.

As it was a new area to us, we didnt know the deer, elk or animal location and behavior so I had put together about 8 different hunt plans areas that basically covered the unit for high probabilityof elk and deer. I sat down with him and my dad to go over the unit over 2 hours, describe the unit as its completely different than where we have hunted and walked through multiple areas. Basically, the goal was to be mobile in hunt areas to find the elk and deer and cross off areas where they are not. (The units we were looking at was about 36miles by 36 miles).

After I walk through specific areas, I get a message a few days later from him indicating the specific wilderness study areas in our unit that we can access. This was after I had mentioned them to him the overviewnight. So kinda frustrating that either he wasn't paying attention or that the other night was his first time hearing about that so it slipped his mind. Again, the only reason we were gonna be hunting this unti was because he was the one with the deer tag. Otherwise we would have been hunting elk like whitetail in the other unit.

A few days later, (in early to mid October) he started digging into message boards and Facebook groups about the unit he had is deer tag in and that really dissuaded him from hunting there due to the winter kill. He was thinking of returning is tag, but by the time he looked, we were 5 days out from leaving; regulation required at least 30 days. Once he drew the tag, research on that unit, especially with the winter kill should have started and looking at the regulations on decision making should have been looked at.

After he realized he couldn't return the tag, he did reach out to CPW and talked about the unit. But through talking with the game warden, a certain area got placed specifically in his mind; yet its one depended on migration. The 8 or so hunt areas and plan for being mobile got thrown out the window and he doubled down on an area that I actually ignored in my hunt areas as it wasn't and 2nd season elk looking area or an area that mule deer bucks would be (that area requires migration to occur)


I was supposed to meet my dad and buddy in town Thursday morning, but did not make it until the evening as I hit winter storms in Montana and Idaho. But when I got there. They had set up camp, about 5 miles (approximately 30 mins on good roads) back from a main county road. This would mean of I wanted to keep the hunt plans active I had looked at, I would be needing to drive 30 mins out to the main road, the maybe an hour after that to hit other areas. Unfortunately for my expectations, we had a bunch of snow and rain happen so those roads went from 30 mins in a truck to impassable until they dried.

We end up stuck back in a part of the unit (less than 0.5% of the total area of our hunt units) where elk had not moved into yet.

His hunt style has definitely been influenced by Midwest whitetail hunting as well as the other unit where they hunt meadows. When I proposed us walking to find deer (I had given up finding elk in this unit after Friday scouting it) he thought it was a new idea. (Saw 22 mule deer does, no bucks).

After two days of hunting, we packed up camp and moved to the unit where they sit meadows. Moving within the unit was not happening. We tore down camp Sunday night, drove all night and got into the other area with the people we know that hunt meadows.

We had two full days to hunt there, however it was cut short for me as my dad ended up with elevation sickness and needed to get down to lower elevation.

So no elk or deer were killed.

Basically the big take away I will give everyone from this is the following: as you start talking hunt areas and plans, make sure all people on the party are expecting the same type of hunt i.e., are we having a really accessible basecamp to get to various parts of the unit, or getting deep back in there. Also, make sure that hunt styles are similar. Even as I was trying to discuss and talk with my buddy that we can walk and glass and search for animals, he was still expecting to sit on a know and watch deer walk down the whole draw for him to shoot. He was not used to a spot and make a move kind of hunt. Also, effort needs to be taken in the hunt planning process. Even if you re-iterate in conversation over conversation about driving and checking out different areas, it doesn't always stick.

For me, it really just solidified for me that even in my 30's I don't want to waste a hunting season with poor planning and poor execution. As well as having mix-match hunting styles. There's something important about hunting the hunt how you want to hunt it. Yes adaptation needs to happen during the hunt, but when you end up in the corner of a unit, away from the hunt areas you had planned, it's definitely frustrating
Choose your hunt partners wisely...
Great insight
 
If you plan a hunt and an individual flakes out when the palns are pretty much set, do you give them a second chance ever?
If they flake out - NO WAY. I would be expecting him to pay for his share of costs that have been incurred prior to this crap.

Chances are that our friendship would be damaged regardless. I don't hunt or hang out with people that I don't trust or can't depend on - Life is too short!
 

Forum statistics

Threads
110,347
Messages
1,916,972
Members
34,721
Latest member
jeemeeyah
Back
Top