Looking back: 5 things learned during the 2014 season
During the 2014 season I combined old knowledge with a new perspective — there were a few new things I learned, but there were also some things that were instilled in me even deeper. So, how was my season? My season was great because I drew two of the best tags Idaho has to offer. I went and filmed many hunts including two of my buddies’ once-in-a-lifetime hunts: Shawn’s goat hunt in the backcountry of Idaho and Mike's Arizona desert sheep hunt. These opportunities gave me a lot of time to try and learn new things while in the field. Here are five things I learned that may help you on your next hunt:
1. When you are going on your buddies goat hunt, bring binoculars or all the guys on the hunt will wonder why you are there in the first place.
I went on my friend Shawn's goat hunt to film and didn't want to be sidetracked looking for animals, so I left the binoculars at home.
I was there to film and film only; however, it was really awkward asking to use my friend’s binoculars to see what they were looking at. I consider this the most mentally and physically challenging hunt I have had the pleasure to participate in. Shawn ended up taking a great goat and I was able to capture it all on video.
I did take my binoculars on Mike's sheep hunt and was able to locate the sheep he ended up harvesting. Moral of the story, if you are paid to film don't take binoculars, but if you are filming your buddy’s hunt, take binoculars or you will be teased during the whole hunt.
I was the camera guy on Mike’s hunt, but I was lucky enough to relocate the ram that Mike harvested. 105 degrees out and I’m wearing the Zamberlan 980 Outfitter GTX RR boot paired with gaiters to protect my legs from cactus.
2. Add the shemagh tactical scarf to your hunting gear.
This scarf was something I picked up from the makers of Kryptek camouflage. The scarf is an awesome addition to the high performance clothing I was already wearing. The shemagh kept me warm with temperatures dipping down into the single digits in the mornings and provided me with shade when I needed that little extra coverage from the sun. It was with me from October on — either around my neck or in my pack.
Using the shemagh tactical scarf for some shade in the 100 degree temps of the desert.
3. Wear gaiters with quality boots for stability and comfort.
Zamberlan Outfitter Boots are amazingly comfortable and durable. They are an inch higher than my last pair of boots and there is something about the way that they are made that gives you that extra support and spring to every step. Yes, I said spring. I’m not sure how, but there is something with the way they are made. It could be the heel lock and the way the upper is put together that give you a little spring in your step.
Wearing gaiters in the summer keeps your summer pants from snagging and from debris getting in your low top boots! Here I’m wearing the Zamberlan Crosser GTX with the Kenetrek gaiters.
Any boot paired with a gaiter is an improvement. I wore the gaiters from July on. Yes, they were warm, but they helped protect my lightweight summer pants and low-topped boots from debris entering into my shoes. Before I strapped on the gaiters, I snagged a couple pairs of high dollar pants on the sage; after the gaiters I did not have one snag. (Not to mention I didn't have to dig rocks and sticks out of my shoes on a regular basis).
In the winter, gaiters help keep your pant legs in place, protect your boots from moisture and give you an added layer of protection from the snow. Gaiters paired with a good pair of boots will add to the enjoyment and longevity of any hunt.
4. Pack a LilLightning Jump Starter Pack for emergencies.
The starter pack should be in everyone’s car, camper, or occasionally in your pack. It’s a high powered battery pack that jumpstarts your vehicles, camper generator, charges cell phones, satellite phones, GPS and cameras.
LilLightening makes jump starter kits for big rigs all the way down to a size made for ATVs and UTVs. I used it a number of times to start the camper generator after running the battery down by using the heater all night. It took a matter of seconds to attach the starter pack to get the generator fired back up and the batteries charging again.
The smaller starter pack is not much bigger than your cell phone, but will jumpstart a camper or truck many times on a single charge.
5. You don't need to harvest anything on your hunts to have a successful hunt.
OK, so I didn't learn that this year — I just reaffirmed my beliefs one more time. I had two of the best tags in the west and didn't notch either one of them. Actually, I drew three tags in Idaho, but spent most of my antelope season helping a friend tag the mule deer of everyone's dreams.
Nate with the archery buck of his dreams. I only antelope hunted a day and half so that I could be there to help Nate on his hunt. I would rather help someone kill a buck like this, than go after an 80 inch goat any day.
My elk season was a huge success. We called in 29 different bulls, but not the one I had my heart set on which was a heavy 6x6 that would go in the 340 class that I had caught on a trail camera a number of times.
Besides calling in a number of 300 to 340 class bulls, I got to spend some time with my 10 year old son in the field teaching him about elk and their habits. This was by far the best day of my elk season. Taking my boy out and teaching him about elk and their habits made not notching my tag better than bringing home any elk I saw on the trip.
As for my deer tag, I had high hopes of bringing home one of the deer I had scouted earlier in the season: a 200 inch typical or the 215 to 220 inch nontypical. Both disappeared during the archery season never to be seen again. I passed on a number of mid 70 to 80 inch antelope bucks. I had a 197 inch 4x7 at 30 yards and let him walk because he wasn't what I was after. That buck was harvested three days later by an acquaintance of mine. It was great to see him go to someone who would appreciate him more than me.
I am not about to shoot something just to write an article or make a video. I don't have to shoot a lesser buck to post pictures on Facebook and make myself look like a “professional” hunter. I hunt for the challenge of finding that mature buck that gives me a little bit of buck fever when I see him. I could have shot at another buck besides the two that I had my heart set on, but I didn't find one that gave me that feeling. I am not the kind of guy that lowers my standards as the season goes on. I will go home empty and enjoy my time in the woods with friends and family before I settle for a buck just to make myself look cool. That's not what it's about to me. I have no issues with telling people that I didn't pull the trigger.
I hope one or two of these things will help you on your hunt next year. You owe it to yourself to give them a try. Head to toe, these things will give you an advantage in the field. I didn't harvest anything, but I hunted and filmed for over 100 days using the things I listed above. They helped make my season more successful. What did you take away from your hunts this year besides a freezer full of meat?