Solo Scouting: Gain the Public Land Advantage

 

Typically the sound of my alarm going off at 4:00 am causes me to roll over, hit the snooze button and pull the covers over my head wishing that I could go back to sleep uninterrupted; on this morning however when my alarm sounded off, I jumped out of bed. 
My first solo scouting trip of the year into the backcountry signifies that my favorite time of year, archery Elk season, is just over the horizon. Once I loaded my horse Fury and mule Otis into my trailer, we made the two and a half hour drive to a majestic place in the National Forest that I have been fortunate enough to hunt over the years. 
Hunting public land, I am always looking for ways to gain the advantage over the next hunter whether it comes to spending countless hours conditioning in the gym, shooting my bow, preseason scouting, mastering the art of calling Elk, or reading anything and everything that I can get my hands on hunting related. My philosophy is that you can never learn too much and often times you can take bits and pieces of information that you find relevant from a plethora of sources and figure out what works best for you. 
I found this bull in a bachelor herd.
My goal for this trip was to set up three different locations with trail cameras so that I can better establish patterns of Elk movement, determine which bulls are in the area as residents or passing through, and of course I want to see antlers on film, a sneak peek of what is to come during hunting season. 

 

As time goes by, with the help of my trail cameras, I will be able to better monitor when the herds of bachelor bulls start to break up in search for estrous cows. Plus as I revisit the area over the next 5 weeks, I will be able to identify the exact week that the bulls start to scrape the velvet off their antlers and begin territorial marking areas. The more I can learn before season starts about past and current behavior patterns, the better I am able to anticipate future behavior and strategies for hunting. 
I made quick work of organizing and loading all my gear onto Otis and struck out cross country through some of Mother Nature’s steepest, roughest terrain covering over a 12 mile span (as a crow flies).  I had anticipated riding most of the trip because I was leading a pack mule; what I hadn’t anticipated was the change in terrain over the course of a single year that would force me to walk most of the trip. 
The vegetation had grown to heights that I have never before witnessed, creeks and streams in places that are normally dry, countless mud bogs, and new windfall that caused me to zigzag mercilessly across the mountain. All of this on top of topography that is either straight up or straight down. I had my work cut out for me; double that work load since I was solo and I chose to take the “Rookies” of my livestock herd. 
Thick vegetation made for slow travel.
Going in, I had already pre-determined where my trail cameras were going to be placed. All three locations have similar attributes; close proximity to heavily used game trails between bedding and feeding areas in an area that has a nearby water source or wallow. I did vary the elevation levels of my chosen camera sights in order to capture movement patterns more accurately. 
This wallow will be tore up in another month.
After 11 hours, I finally made it back to my horse trailer; exhausted but thrilled in having accomplished my goal.  Successfully hunting public lands requires a lot of hard work and even more heart. I am passionate in my pursuit of Elk and am constantly working towards finding ways to make it happen, giving myself the advantage over the next hunter. 
Training hard, scouting hard, doing what it takes, pushing through preconceived personal limitations, you are on public land, you are doing it yourself, you have to dig deep and give it everything you’ve got. 

 

 

The same day I set up my trail camera, this bull was photographed. 
Big game.big prep.always prepared. Always lethal

Under armour clothing

Evo Cold Gear Pants
Base 1.0 Long Sleeve Top
Charged Cotton T-Shirt
Ridge Reaper Crew Socks
Under armour footwear
Valsetz Boots

 

Gear List & equipment
Swarovski EL 42 Binoculars
Eberlestock X1 Backpack
Garmin GPS
Hunten Outdoors Trail Cameras