Karl Badger: Big Game Western States Regional Pro Staff Manager
It was Muir who said “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings”.
I choose to pursue my Obsessions out here in the Rocky Mountains between 7,500 and 11,000 feet above sea level. Extreme high mountain hunting is where you can see game rich alpine meadows, hidden basins, waterfalls, clear snow-melt rivers, and towering crags. The stars at night always seem to be a little brighter, and the sunrises and sunsets brush the mountain side and forests in colors not seen in the lowlands.
Whether I'm chasing elk, mule deer, Rocky Mountain big horn sheep or shira moose, spending time in these wild places has instilled in me a desire to be a better steward of all that is free and wild.
Thank you, Mossy Oak, for endorsing the same!
While I don't always punch my tag, hunting in No Mans Land means I always come home with a pack full of lifelong memories of things that I've seen and experienced.
Gaining access to these wild hunting grounds,can only be done by either hiking/backpacking or on a horse with a pack string and will always require light-weight bullet-proof gear.
Once you've been blessed with a license—most non-residents need to apply through a lottery in order to hunt in the Rocky Mountain States—you should immediately embark on a fitness routine. At the very least cross train with running, lifting weights, and hiking with a pack. If you're going to be hunting with horses, find some time to sit in a saddle and get used to being a cowboy.
Next, you need to evaluate your footwear, which should include good fitted merino wool socks and a somewhat technical pair of boots. The Danner Hunter and the CRISPI Utah GTX, are two of my favorites. Without a good pair of wicking socks and sturdy boots you could be crippled within the first few days of your hunt.
Equally important is your base layer of clothing. Whatever you have next to your skin needs to have wicking benefits and dry quickly. Merino wool is the best.
Mid layers, insulating layers and shells should provide warmth and a waterproof barrier without adding weight and bulk. First Lite www.firstlite.com offers the perfect "every-layer" kit and can be purchased in Break-Up Infinity as well as a few pieces in Brush.
Getting your gear and harvested animal up and down the mountain will require a good pack; if you're hunting on horseback you can rely on a pack string. Eberlestock and Sportsman's Outdoor Products make some of the best hunting packs for hauling and are available in Mossy Oak Brush and Break-Up Infinity. I personally endorse the Horn Hunter Series www.gohornhunter.com. The Full Curl Frame is designed to pack your gear, weapon and a harvested animal.
Additionally, you'll want to have adequate shelter, plenty of high-carb food and a water purifier.
Finally, concealment. Mossy Oak Brush, Break-Up Infinity and Tree Stand have all proven to be effective camo patterns for hunting out West.
Regardless of the critters you're chasing or the time of year you chase them, every sportsman needs to experience at least one high mountain hunt.
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.