Multiple uses for your trekking poles
If you hunt the West you have most likely used or seen another hunter using trekking poles. With all the steep or rugged terrain throughout the West, they are definitely beneficial when hunting. When I start gearing up for a hunt I try to find items that can have multiple uses and trekking poles definitely do. If you are having a hard time justifying bringing them on your next hunt, let me indulge you with their other uses.
The next time you’re packing out your bull and notice your pack is a little shifty, just whip out that trekking pole. Instead of aimlessly walking around snapping off branches (or, worse, you’re in a place without any trees around), go ahead and take out that fancy walking stick. Extend it to the desired length (or electrical tape both together if desired width is too wide for the one pole), then lash the antler to the pole with either some cordage and/or tape so that way the pole rests on your pack, giving you a substantially more stable pack-out. Not only is it more convenient, but it’s also lighter than lugging around a large branch.
Floorless shelters for the ultra-light run and gun hunters are becoming very popular such as the Stone Glacier ULT Tarp and the Seek Outside DST tarp. With that comes the option to ditch the poles that may come with it and opt to use the trekking pole as your main support for the shelter. This option lightens your load when solo hunting, which is always a plus. I have personally been using the DST for most one to two person hunts. Being able to set up the temporary homestead for the night with poles, which I always have, is a very quick process. There are even tents with tub bottoms that offer trekking poles as extra stabilization when in higher winds, such as the Stone Glacier Skyscraper 2p. Or you can go with a complete one-person tent that requires trekking poles for setup like the ultra-light Black Diamond Distance tent w/ Zpoles. When shopping for your next one to two-person shelter be sure to consider one that makes dual use of those poles you're already hiking around with.
Although some of you won't admit it, most of us stink after a hard day of hunting, especially early season deer and elk. Luckily, your trekking poles can help you with that. If the conditions are right, you can take those stinky clothes off your back, go rinse them off in the creek, hang them on your trekking poles that you’ve set up between two trees and voila! Just like that, you’re as fresh as a spring flower ready for the next day of stomping around! Super simple, yet overlooked.
Besides using trekking poles for shelter, this may be my favorite use for lugging those poles around the hills. I learned this technique from a buddy when we were looking for sheds one day. He sat down with a trekking pole he was using to hike with, plopped down on the ground, set his trekking pole between his legs at about a 45-degree angle and proceeded to glass with his binos sitting atop of the handle. Genius! Some of you may already be doing this, but I think there are those out there who can benefit from this. Glassing off hand with 12x or higher binos can be a tedious task when trying to make out things at a distance, but when I tried this technique last bear season, I realized my glassing wasn’t as efficient as I thought. Along with using them for your binos, you can use both poles for shooting off of. When you have the time to set up for a shot, but don’t have a bipod, take the poles out and make an “X”. Use your non-shooting hand at the intersection of the sticks to keep them together. You can make the “X” narrower for more height or wider if you need it lower. With practice, this can be a quick, yet very stable, shooting platform.
In the unfortunate circumstance where you or a buddy has a fall that requires the limb to be immobile, you can use the trekking poles to help support the injury. I carry a small first aid kit, but within the kit, I carry an ACE bandage. Take the pole or poles and place them on the extremity that needs to be stabilized. If you have a clothes layer to spare, I would recommend padding the limb before placing the trekking pole. Take the ACE bandage and wrap the limb with good tension, but not enough to cut off circulation. You can then proceed to hike out or make a call for emergency resources via cell phone/satellite devices. I hope none of you need to use this technique, yet keep it in the back of your mind if you find yourself in this situation.
With these little tips, you can now take full advantage of those walking sticks on your next outdoor endeavor. Stay safe out there and hunt hard!