July 8, 2013 • Karl Badger, Big Game Western States Regional Pro Staff Manager
Across the country, GameKeepers are preparing food plots, setting up game cameras and tree stands, and honing their shooting skills. Out here in the Rocky Mountains we’re doing about the same, as well as expending energy doing some High Country scouting.
This time of year, while critters are starting to migrate with the snow line back to their summer feeding grounds, rivers are flowing with snow melt and alpine meadows are budding up with green grass and wild flowers.
The weeks in June & July are some of the best times to get familiar with the terrain you'll be hunting, adjusting to the feel of a loaded back pack, figuring out how to use your GPS/compass, deciding where to locate the best sources of water and camp sites, and—in case of an emergency—where you can gain access to cell phone coverage. If you hunt with horses, a few summer pack trips will help to harden and stretch your riding muscles as well as perfect your wrangling and packing skills.
Come hunting season, your boots and socks are going to be your most importants pieces of hunting gear. Never, never, NEVER break in a new pair of boots on the first week of your hunt. Do it now and really put them to the test. See how they handle side hilling across loose skree and talus. Get a feel for how they support your ankles and knees while carrying a 50 pound pack. Find out now how dry your feet will be after an all day climb or after rock hopping a swollen river bed. The Danner Pronghorns and Hawks are two of my favorite extreme hiking boots. If you anticipate covering a lot of verticle over a long period of time the CRISPI Utah and Idaho are about the most comfortable technical boots around.
Your backpack is going to carry your life with you and, if you're successful, your boned out critter. For those reasons, you should have a well designed pack that will carry everything you need. Most of the time you'll need both hands free to help you balance and quickly reach for hand holds if needed, so make sure your pack is designed to also carry your weapons. The Hybrid Full Curl Frame is part of the Horn Hunter series by Sportsman's Outdoor Products and has all of the features that a person would need for an extended backpacking trip or hunting adventure. It's available in the Break-Up Infinity camo pattern.
Along with a reliable GPS and or compass, you should also take a cell phone so that you can stay in touch with home base and to keep track of changes in the weather. If you're out of cell phone range, consider renting a SAT Phone.
A few personal comments here: the Mossy Oak ScoutLook Weather App is absolutey the best weather app available for helping you to stay up on weather conditions. While there are plenty of good GPS systems available, I prefer the Garmin Oregon & Fenix as well as a Cammenga Protractor Compass. Cammenga makes compasses for the military. Everyone should own one.
Also, Griffin Technology has a bulletproof phone case called the Survivor, which is wrapped in Mossy Oak Tree Stand and Obsession. These cases will protect your phone if it gets dropped, wet, or bounced.
Finally, my advice to GameKeepers and stewards nationwide is to enjoy these pre-hunt months. Explore new trails, climb a summer-only mountain, take a nap under a tree, fish, mountain bike, cook with a dutch oven, photograph critters and creations, paddle a canoe, or do some star gazing.
Make being a GameKeeper and a steward one of your Obsessions.
Karl Badger is the Big Game Western States Regional Pro Staff Manager for Mossy Oak. He helps coordinate ProStaffers in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Karl resides in Utah and is an experienced high country wilderness hunter who has packed over most of the Rocky Mountains in pursuit of mule deer, elk, antelope, moose and big horn sheep.