As I write this I am only 5 weeks away from heading west to chase a dream that has eluded me for some time now. But, that’s ok because I am a fool for the chase. I’ve fallen in love with elk hunting for a lot of reasons. One of them is the preparation. So much goes into a successful western big-game hunt. And, I’m not just talking about putting a bull on the ground. Success comes in many forms when your means of survival are riding on your back…literally. So, let’s continue my discussion on elk gear that I’ve used and found to be a great tool for success in the western mountains.
KENETREK MOUNTAIN EXTREME 400 BOOTS
The tagline for these puppies is “Hardcore Mountain Boots for Hardcore Mountain Hunting”. Believe me when I say that isn’t just a marketing phrase. Typically, after a long day of hunting I’m ready to relieve myself of whatever is covering my feet. However, last September I found myself sitting around spike camp at and base camp with my boots on. I honestly forgot they were on my feet.
Kenetrek’s Mountain Extreme Boots are made with a one piece vamp of 2.8 mm top grain leather build on top of a stiff nylon midsole. They also have high traction K-Talon outsoles that grip mud, rock and anything else you might encounter. These boots are waterproof and breathable thanks to the Windtex membrane.
I chose the model with 400 grams of Thinsulate Insulation in order to keep my feet warm on those cool mornings and evenings, yet not burn them up during warm mid-day hikes. The ankle support on the Mountain Extreme is second to none. You have no idea what type of conditions you are going to expose your feet to in the western mountains. Ankle support is absolutely vital to hiking and hunting success. These boots did not let me down.
Also, the lightweight property of this boot will surprise you. They come in at 4.2 lbs. And, frankly the price tag, in my opinion, reflects the quality and long-lasting ability of these boots. I likely will never need another pair. So, if you are looking for a boot that will get you through just about any rugged mountain hunt imaginable, and last a long time….look no further.
SITKA GEAR SUBALPINE ASCENT SERIES
In case you haven’t noticed, Sitka has quietly become a hunting gear juggernaut. I used to think I knew what quality hunting clothing was. Then, I started to ignore all the hype being thrown around and started actually looking at the gear I was using. I quickly discovered I had been missing out on some unbelievable stuff. The difference is simple. Sitka doesn’t make All-Purpose gear. They make Specialized Gear that ultimately improves your outdoor experience.
I remember packing my clothes for last year’s hunt and to be honest I was worried. Why? Well, my entire pack felt so lightweight I had sincere concerns that Mother Nature was going to kick my butt if she felt the urge. I was much more accustomed to heavier clothing. The Mountain Series I was bringing along was very light. However, after 10 days in the Idaho backcountry I had reached the conclusion that this stuff was next-level. Not once did I feel uncomfortable while enduring changing temps, rain, cold, heat, etc. The layering system worked flawlessly.
This year Sitka has introduced the lightest system they have ever created. Their new Ascent Series of clothing is nothing short of the bee’s knees. This lineup is much lighter than the Mountain Series because it was built for warm days when you’ve got to cover a lot of ground quickly in order to reach your bull or mule deer.
I tested the pants and shirt hunting black bear in Canada last month and they both proved to be very, very effective for early-season hunting when temps run on the warm side but can fluctuate and drop in the evenings. This should mimic conditions I will find myself in next month chasing elk.
The coolest part of the system, I think, is the new SubAlpine pattern that Sitka just released this year. It is designed for engagement ranges of 50 yards or less, on the ground, in vegetated terrain; kind of sounds like elk hunting doesn’t it? Take one look at the color pallet of the Optifade SubAlpine and I think you will agree that this stuff will make you a ghost in the timber. I can’t wait to test it on early-season “Mountain” bucks. However, there is just one color missing…..RED. I hope to change that very soon.
Next time I’m going to tell you, among other things, about the best arrow rest I’ve ever used. You’ve probably never seen it or heard its name mentioned much. But, trust me when I say you are missing out. This thing is legit. Oh yeah, and I think I will share which sleeping bag I use and the unbelievable features it has. Until then, God Bless and “Pick A Spot”. Writer’s Note: I would like to thank my hunting partner Marcus Flesher for his priceless guidance in helping me choose most of the elk gear I have written about.