Caribou Gear

Necessary gear for first western hunt.

steveshuntn1

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Joined
Sep 23, 2021
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143
I’m going on my first elk hunt in Colorado this fall. 2nd season rifle hunt. I have a Kodiak Flexbow and a wood stove. I have a TideWe frame pack too. The rifles are sufficient and hopefully the ammo will do the job if we find something to shoot at. I don’t have expensive name brand elk hunting clothing, but I think some of my deer hunting stuff will suffice. I don’t want to go crazy spending money( I might not like it), but what are the “must have “ items I need for a 7 day hunt. I do plan to set up a camp at the truck and return each day. Also will be buying a satellite communicator like an inreach or zoleo because that’s the only way my wife will let me take my daughter to the middle of nowhere without cell service! So what else do I need?
 

WNC2500

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May 28, 2018
Messages
531
Location
North Carolina
@steveshuntn1 Good glass is a must. I have realized that after 8 years of traveling from the eastern US to MT, and this past month, NM, how important the glass in my pack makes a difference. I think that if you are going to spend hard-earned money, it should be on premium optics like binoculars.
Also, base layers to keep you warm, or to regulate your core temps.
 

NV_ARCH3R

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Joined
Sep 9, 2012
Messages
182
Location
Spring Creek, NV
When I was a kid, all my Dad carried while elk hunting was a binoculars, knife, hatchet, a hank of rope tied around his waist, and an apple and a hershy bar in his pocket. Camo was never heard of. There's a big difference as to what is "needed" and what people "want" on an elk hunt. It can be pretty basic to high end bells and whistles. main thing is to get out and hunt.
 

steveshuntn1

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Sep 23, 2021
Messages
143
@steveshuntn1 Good glass is a must. I have realized that after 8 years of traveling from the eastern US to MT, and this past month, NM, how important the glass in my pack makes a difference. I think that if you are going to spend hard-earned money, it should be on premium optics like binoculars.
Also, base layers to keep you warm, or to regulate your core temps.
I have Nikon binoculars 10x42. Would you think a spotting scope will be needed or just binoculars?
 

WNC2500

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May 28, 2018
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531
Location
North Carolina
My opinion is that if you are doing tons of walking, the spotting scope will end up getting left. A premium spotting scope was what I bought before a MT hunt several years ago. It was also the first thing sold because I never used it. I own a pair of 10x42 Swaro's, and a pair of 15x56 swaro's to really reach out. The 15x56 on a tripod were amazing while glassing NM (miles and miles away).
Long answer short, I think just binos.
 

steveshuntn1

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Sep 23, 2021
Messages
143
When I was a kid, all my Dad carried while elk hunting was a binoculars, knife, hatchet, a hank of rope tied around his waist, and an apple and a hershy bar in his pocket. Camo was never heard of. There's a big difference as to what is "needed" and what people "want" on an elk hunt. It can be pretty basic to high end bells and whistles. main thing is to get out and hunt.
Exactly…you can go in a deep hole buying gear! My Dad and Uncle hunted deer in wrangler jeans and flannel shirts. Killed a lot of deer!
 

kwyeewyk

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Feb 22, 2019
Messages
965
Location
Washington
I have Nikon binoculars 10x42. Would you think a spotting scope will be needed or just binoculars?
In my limited experience 2nd rifle OTC after opening morning they go into hiding and become mostly nocturnal, so not a lot of chance to glass them at long range and probably someone else on them already if they're visible. Spotter probably more useful before season starts to locate and be on them opening morning.
 

Mthuntr

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Joined
Oct 9, 2009
Messages
5,228
Location
In the Sagebrush of SW Montana
To save you a bit of $ on the InReach...if you have a Cabela's card they said they'd be doing 10% Tuesdays again. Stack that with Active Junky rebate.

How's the boot situation? Lots of hunts get ruined by not having good boots and socks.

Have you put weight on that pack? Just make sure it's up to the task

Also how old is your daughter? Does she have gear to hunt/hike or will she be at camp? If she's not warm and comfortable your hunt will suffer.

You don't need to own Sitka or Kuiu to be successful...I wear Wrangler Outdoor Flex pants. They work just fine though I'm thinking I need something slightly heavier for those late October hunts. I've also worn Duluth Trading Flex Canvas pants which aren't terrible but if it's hot you might get swampass
 

TN2shot07

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Joined
Aug 30, 2019
Messages
842
Location
West TN
I’m with WNC above, get a solid set of binos that will accept a stud for a tripod and then a tripod with a good head. That won’t set you back nearly as much as a quality spotter would and you can use it in most scenarios. He also mentioned 15’s which you would definitely need the tripod for anyway.

You said truck camp so food may not be as big of a deal. If you are going to do any of the freeze dried stuff then try it out at home first, some will jack you up or just taste bad. I also had to play around with a jet boil to know how to use it correctly.
 

steveshuntn1

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Sep 23, 2021
Messages
143
To save you a bit of $ on the InReach...if you have a Cabela's card they said they'd be doing 10% Tuesdays again. Stack that with Active Junky rebate.

How's the boot situation? Lots of hunts get ruined by not having good boots and socks.

Have you put weight on that pack? Just make sure it's up to the task

Also how old is your daughter? Does she have gear to hunt/hike or will she be at camp? If she's not warm and comfortable your hunt will suffer.

You don't need to own Sitka or Kuiu to be successful...I wear Wrangler Outdoor Flex pants. They work just fine though I'm thinking I need something slightly heavier for those late October hunts. I've also worn Duluth Trading Flex Canvas pants which aren't terrible but if it's hot you might get swampass
Nothing worse than swampass! We are getting new boots this weekend so we have time to get them broke in. My daughter is 19…she hunts more than I do for deer and has some gear, but she’s probably going to buy more than I will, with her own money I should add. Her camo has to match…down to the base layers and socks.🙄! I’ll probably be following her around if I’m honest. I have to get her a pack. The one I have is to large for her to fit well. She’s 5’ 10 and about 115 pounds. I’m 6’ and 210 and it’s a little loose on me but I plan to make some modifications to it. I did haul out a couple whitetail with just to try it out. It’ll work!
 

SCliving Outdoors

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Joined
Feb 9, 2018
Messages
420
Location
South Carolina
It really depends on what you want to spend financially. It depends if this is going to be a regular thing or a one time thing. Good boots and a good pack are very important imo. Accuracy and confidence in your weapon are equally as important. When I first started traveling west (and all over) to hunt some of my gear was crap, but I wasn't going to let that stop me. I bought a few things I could afford and made due with the rest. Every year I have updated a couple pieces of gear and now going into my 6th year of traveling and hunting all my gear is really good stuff. Don't think you have to have the "best stuff" to kill an elk. Can it help? Yes. Is it mandatory? No.
 

steveshuntn1

Active member
Joined
Sep 23, 2021
Messages
143
It really depends on what you want to spend financially. It depends if this is going to be a regular thing or a one time thing. Good boots and a good pack are very important imo. Accuracy and confidence in your weapon are equally as important. When I first started traveling west (and all over) to hunt some of my gear was crap, but I wasn't going to let that stop me. I bought a few things I could afford and made due with the rest. Every year I have updated a couple pieces of gear and now going into my 6th year of traveling and hunting all my gear is really good stuff. Don't think you have to have the "best stuff" to kill an elk. Can it help? Yes. Is it mandatory? No.
I plan on going back, but I’ve never been out west hunting before so it’ll be a new experience but I do have the feeling that once I take my girl out there it’ll be a yearly thing for sure. Sounds like boots, base layers and binoculars need updating for sure. Bass Pro trip for Mother’s Day!
 
Last edited:

deer_shooter

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Jul 20, 2009
Messages
1,993
Location
Southwest Pa.
Its been said plenty but boots will probably be your most important purchase. Don't skimp on those if at all possible. Your nikon binos will suffice though if you have extra cash to burn, an upgrade would not be detrimental. Sounds like you have most of the basics covered. Good merino base layers will go a long way in keeping you comfortable. You should be able to find her a decent pack on ebay, camofire or on this site for a better price than new.
Once you go, and get hooked (you most likely will), you will have real good idea of what you want to upgrade or acquire.
 

SCliving Outdoors

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Joined
Feb 9, 2018
Messages
420
Location
South Carolina
I plan on going back, and have a feeling that once I take my girl out there it’ll be a yearly thing for sure. Sounds like boots, base layers and binoculars need updating for sure. Bass Pro trip for Mother’s Day!
I would look online at sites like camofire, steep and cheap and backcountry. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using gear that is marketed towards hikers and campers. You can often save $$$ that way. Just don't shop at REI, lol.

Binos are a little different, but do your research before hand. eBay, Amazon, and gun broker will have better prices. I know some people want to hold things before they buy them but I've never done a ton of research to purchase excellent glass and been disappointed. I would look hard at Maven and Leupold (or Leica and Swaro depending on your budget). Steer clear of vortex. If you want to hold them and look before purchasing go to the store and hold them and look at them then come home and purchase online, lol.

I don't buy anything from the big box stores. Unless its an emergency have to have it today type thing. I know that cabelas and bass pro have cc that give you points back, but the points earned/money saved while shopping in their store still usually comes out to less than the deals that can be found online.
 

LopeHunter

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Joined
May 31, 2007
Messages
3,023
Location
MO-->CA-->NW-->AZ&NW
Here are my observations after 30 years of hunts out West. Big difference between wooded vs more open terrain, anything above 8,000’ elevation, August vs November, crowded units where “brown is down” vs can pass on a bull and find it a few days later if change mind, pleasant weather vs unpleasant, easy to maneuver terrain vs snowy/muddy/deadfall and day hunting vs spike camp or backpack camp.

Boots are critical as are socks. Dry feet without blisters or bruised toenails is the goal. Learn to lace your boots like climbers so isolate the toe pocket zone.

Layers of clothes that can keep you warm and dry but reduce collected sweat as hike then pause to glass.

If will be in open terrain then a spotter scope is the glass you may use the most. If can’t see 500 yards then binos will get the most use. Buy the best you can afford as can save you hours of hiking.

Sleep is important. I use eye patches, ear plugs if not in grizzly country and neck gaiter in cold weather. I take Advil PM if am restless.

If backpacking with your camp then buy as light of gear as can afford. Few hunters head out with no idea where will sleep each night but can be effective in big units with few roads.

Know your weapon and how to adjust it if a scope gets loose or bow string is cut.

Have a plan for Day 1 as sun rises. Have a Plan B and C if Plan A is a flop.

Keep a hunt diary. I am on Volume 4 and as an old guy is nice to read my musings on places I hunted. I always recap at end of each day and again at hunt’s end on what went well/not well and lessons learned about me and my gear and my strategies.
 

OntarioHunter

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Joined
Sep 11, 2020
Messages
3,525
Frogg Toggs rain gear is great. Very lightweight, compact, somewhat breathable, and affordable. I bought a camo replacement set in Lewistown sport shop last fall for less than $70. Not real tough stuff but my last pair lasted fifteen years.
 

steveshuntn1

Active member
Joined
Sep 23, 2021
Messages
143
I would look online at sites like camofire, steep and cheap and backcountry. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using gear that is marketed towards hikers and campers. You can often save $$$ that way. Just don't shop at REI, lol.

Binos are a little different, but do your research before hand. eBay, Amazon, and gun broker will have better prices. I know some people want to hold things before they buy them but I've never done a ton of research to purchase excellent glass and been disappointed. I would look hard at Maven and Leupold (or Leica and Swaro depending on your budget). Steer clear of vortex. If you want to hold them and look before purchasing go to the store and hold them and look at them then come home and purchase online, lol.

I don't buy anything from the big box stores. Unless its an emergency have to have it today type thing. I know that cabelas and bass pro have cc that give you points back, but the points earned/money saved while shopping in their store still usually comes out to less than the deals that can be found online.
The boots are what I want to get my hands on…and I’ll be looking at a couple other places as well as the big box stores. The other stuff I have no problem buying from eBay or Amazon. I love a good deal!
 

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