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Ultralight Hunting: Towards a Coherent Definition


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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Ultralight Hunting: Towards a Coherent Definition

Viewing 25 posts - 1 through 25 (of 110 total)
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  • #1325059
    Stephanie Jordan
    Spectator

    @maia

    Locale: Rocky Mountains
    #2168905
    Dave @ Oware
    BPL Member

    @bivysack-com

    Locale: East Washington

    https://www.backcountryhunters.org

    Just learned of them in the local paper. They are helping with access issues, for example issues surrounding attempts to give Federal land to State and private interests.

    There is a meeting coming up in March where I live and hope to have a booth there and to learn more about the organization.

    #2168909
    Kattt
    BPL Member

    @kattt

    Yeah David Olsen, there are forums and websites specific to biking, fishing, mountaineering, rafting, photography, cooking and hammocks as well.

    #2168920
    Chris C
    BPL Member

    @cvcass

    Locale: State of Jefferson

    I think most backcountry hunters carry way more than they need, but geography will dictate different equipment list.

    Here in California hunting season begins in the late summer heat and rarely calls for cold weather gear at all. (duck season excluded). 35 pounds is easily attainable depending again on geography.

    I do like to see regular backpacking gear pressed in to service though, no need to have two completely different kits without overlap.

    #2168928
    Ian
    BPL Member

    @10-7

    Good stuff David. Hope to read more of these in the future.

    #2168944
    Dave @ Oware
    BPL Member

    @bivysack-com

    Locale: East Washington

    "there are forums and websites specific to biking, fishing, mountaineering, rafting, photography, cooking and hammocks as well."

    Your point?

    #2168946
    Kattt
    BPL Member

    @kattt

    I probably mistook your link for a complaint about BPL discussing hunting at all. If so, my apologies.

    #2168947
    Andrew F
    Member

    @andrew-f

    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    Unlike skiing, packrafting, or fatbiking, hunting isn't something I see myself doing even over the next 5-10 years. But it's always refreshing to read a thorough and well-conceived analysis of a subject even if it's only tangentially related to one's interests. Dave's work continues to set the high water mark for outdoor adventure writing these days. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article.

    I have little to add to the technical content, other than a few observations which are admittedly qualitative and personal:
    -Even when hunting, I can't imagine needing 20 oz for a cooking system. Even 15 oz for a stove and pot seems excessive these days with plenty of options in the 6-7 oz range.
    -Similarly for the shelter – plenty of absolutely bomber options these days in the ~25 oz range without resorting to cuben. If we are trying to be rigorous and provide a standard to urge participants to push their boundaries, 40 oz is difficult to justify.
    -At 51 oz for a spotting scope and 23 oz for binoculars, I have to ask, do you truly need both? I guess this is more of a philosophical distinction. "If it will help you kill your prey, it makes the cut, no matter how heavy." Is this really a rigorous definition when looking through the lens of ultralight? Seems to me, that you should bring the minimum of what you need to be successful, and no more. Ultralight has always been about finding ways to make do without or to make one piece of equipment fulfill multiple roles. It's important to qualify this comment; it comes from a non-hunter.

    #2168955
    Michael L
    BPL Member

    @mpl_35

    Locale: NoCo

    I don't think I'll be doing in fatbiking, packrafting, or ski touring any time soon. However, I have been looking into hunting so this article is interesting to me.

    Thanks Dave.

    #2168995
    David Thomas
    BPL Member

    @davidinkenai

    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    >"-At 51 oz for a spotting scope and 23 oz for binoculars, I have to ask, do you truly need both? "

    Yeah, my thought, too. Binocs, spotting scope, scope on rifle – that's an awful lot of lens doing really similar tasks. I suggest just going somewhere with more animals. And a tripod? Maybe because there's a black bear on most hillsides and the caribou keep wandering through, I don't know trad hunters that carry all that stuff, much less someone going UL. If you want to know more about the animal, dial the rifle scope up to 9x and take a look. Like what you see? Pull the trigger. Or more commonly, do your stalk and then set up the shot. That said, out of 4-5 guys, there are probably 2 binocs along.

    My bigger reaction (and it's also an Alaskan reaction) is to "If it will help you kill your prey, it makes the cut," because I think in terms of "If it helps HARVEST the meat, I'll consider it." It's a semi-joke, semi-true that "You're more likely to be arrested for wanton waste than for killing a human." in Alaska. My friends are never trying to kill something, they aim to fill the freezer. Don't shootl something if you're not almost 100% sure of harvesting it (i.e. a clean kill) and harvesting almost all of it (e.g. don't put a .375 through both hind quarters of a little Sitka blacktail and waste a bunch of meat). I fret more about skinning knives, bone saws, and game bags (and keeping those weights down but functionality up) than optics.

    We're prepared for snow. We're prepared for ridiculously high winds. We carry over-night gear. And including guns, we're about 15-20 pound base weights going out. One thing my posse does is not everyone carries a gun. You never shoot 5 guns at once, so why carry 5 guns? The best shooters take their best-for-the-conditions rifle and half of us are porters who keep our eyes open.

    Obviously a thought-provoking article and as with all of David's articles, well written.

    #2169012
    Ian
    BPL Member

    @10-7

    My experience has been more from work and military than hunting but I find that they both fill a purpose. If I was somewhere where I'm not going to see more than 1/2 a kilometer, then yeah, I'd probably leave the spotting scope at home and make due with my binos and scope.

    From David C's pictures, he's in the land of wide open spaces. I'd personally use the binos to find the animal and then the spotting scope to figure out of the animal is legal to shoot. Easy enough to figure out if the deer is a 2 or 3 point at three hundred yards with binos (not familiar with Montana's regs for big horn sheep) but I'd hesitate to make that call at some of the distances seen in his pictures.

    Confirming this at distance can save a lot of time and effort wasted stalking up on a animal that's not legal to shoot.

    My "hunting" experiences have been more backpacking with a rifle so not trying to pretend to be Joe hunter here but how I use the two professionally is basically the same.

    #2169020
    David Thomas
    BPL Member

    @davidinkenai

    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    Ian: I can see the need for a spotting scope when going for sheep for just the reason you state – to confirm 3/4 or full curl or whatever the local rules are. And, yeah, avoiding hiking from one ridge line to another is a big win.

    My hunting buddy says, "You can't eat the horns" and we're always on a meat hunt, so I've never had to make that call.

    #2169022
    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member

    @philip-ak

    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    We have been leaving our spotting scopes at home and bringing powerful zoom (20x or higher) compact point and shoot cameras (well, we normally bring those anyway). When we want to evaluate an animal we take a max-zoom pic of it and review the image on the camera's built in screen which lets you zoom in and pan around. You actually can get better critter data out of a small, light P&S camera than you can out of a pretty expensive and heavy field optic.

    Decent 10×42 binos are a must though.

    #2169023
    Chris C
    BPL Member

    @cvcass

    Locale: State of Jefferson

    That is an interesting alternative to a spotting scope. I have never used any more than binoculars myself, but someone always has a camera handy…

    #2169042
    Ed Tyanich
    BPL Member

    @runsmtns

    I have been backpack hunting since the late 1970's and am also an optics geek. I have owned everything from 4 power monocular's to an 85 mm Zeiss spotting scope and more binoculars than I can even remember. For the way I hunt, I now carry my Leica 8 x 20 compact binos both on backpack hunts and pretty much all hunts. They fit my hunting style. They are high quality optics and I tend to walk a lot more than I glass. It has worked well for me as I have taken somewhere around 30 elk plus many deer and several sheep.
    That said, my style of hunting and my gear choices aren't what works best for others. I know people that sit for many hours in the same spot, often year after year and they nearly always get their game.
    Another consideration is the terrain you hunt. Optics and spending time looking through them is more important in terrain that has dense vegetation than in open country.
    Like all gear, it comes down to personal choice and comfort level to do the job the best way for yourself.

    Very good article Dave. It is always great to see new perspectives.

    #2169044
    Ross L
    BPL Member

    @ross

    Locale: Beautiful BC

    I have been hunting the northern Rockies (Canada) for 30 years. I consider a spotting scope essential for sheep, goat mulies etc., not so much for moose. My outfit is relatively light at 44 oz.. I use a Bushnell Elite 15x45x60 (21.5 oz) with the rubber armor removed and a Slik Compact 11 tripod. I have spent the last 20 years lightening my load but still leave on a 10 day solo mountain hunt with a 30 lb pack, 17 lbs of food and a 6 1/2 lb rifle. That's with a cuben duomid, quilt, Stone Glacier pack, ti Jetboil and all the other light gear available.Northern BC

    #2169972
    David Chenault
    BPL Member

    @davec

    Locale: Queen City, MT

    I appreciate the thoughts everyone. A decent weight standard here will never happen without plenty of debate.

    #2170062
    Tim Skidmore
    Spectator

    @timskidmore

    Locale: Canadian Atlantic coast

    Are we talking small game with a 22 or a .410, or large game with a high caliber rifle or a 12 gauge?

    I may take a light gun for small game, but a light 12 gauge is just nasty with slugs or heavy shot. That debate over carrying a knife is moot of course, and there's all the other gear you'll be lugging. Then there's carting out your kill, a few bunny's and a pheasant sure, but that 600 pounds of moose (dressed) isn't going to walk it's self out. That ATV and trailer doesn't quite seem lightweight to me.

    #2170066
    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member

    @philip-ak

    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    Some hunting-specific stuff like game bags can weigh a ton. We use cheap white cotton pillow cases for game bags. They are much lighter than normal game bags and work great. They also fold down small. We use 4 for a Sitka black tail deer (to keep the quarters and cuts separated) but you could carry 3 or maybe only 2 if you stuff them full. These would not work on a larger animal, of course. The new generation of disposable blade knives are also super light and work well.

    #2170073
    Mitchell Ebbott
    Spectator

    @mebbott-2

    Locale: SoCal

    There are some trekking-pole based DSLR-compatible tripod solutions out there. Is there a reason those wouldn't work with the spotting scope? 30 ounces for a tripod seems like a lot.

    #2170538
    Sam Haraldson
    BPL Member

    @sharalds

    Locale: Gallatin Range

    A hunter's optics choices and how much they have to bring or get to leave at home rests in the species and terrain they are hunting. Bowhunter extraordinaire Cameron Hanes has a phrase that sums up why a hunter might choose to bring higher power optics into the field and that is so you can "…let the glass do the walking". By choosing a vantage point with sweeping views of multiple micro ecosystems you can keep your body in one place and just paint the hillsides with your optics in search of critters. That 50+ ounce spotting scope may just be a good trade-off to five or 10 miles of walk-scouting all that landscape.

    My only two nitpicks with the gear list are a one lb stove system (you must have been intending for snow melt, perhaps?) and the need for a dozen rounds. I read your rationale but think a dozen is high. Solid work, Dave. Thanks for adding this to the annals of BPL.

    #2170962
    kevin timm
    BPL Member

    @ktimm

    Locale: Colorado (SeekOutside)

    I usually go out in Oct – Nov somewhere between 35 -40 all in, carrying a days worth of water. I have been as low as 27 or 28 in November near timberline, but that had an intense focus of removing all weight and was cutting it a little closer than I should. I was also using a pack, I thought I could manage the first load and then come back with more of a hauler. You can save a lot of weight splitting stuff with a friend or two. I am not an optics geek, so I spend more time walking and some glassing, but most of the more open country I hunt I can see the animals pretty far away. Further away than I can get to in any reasonable time. Deer, Sheep etc, I think you need better optics by far. My current optic solution is a Range Finder, Small Minox Spotter, Snipe Pod , and some 8X Binocs. Combined the weight is less than 3 lbs and will do most of what I need, with my feet doing the rest.

    Ironically, I find what I call "walk spotting" for me , to be just as effective during the mid day as long as you do not blow anything out, especially if there is a little snow on the ground or you hear a bugle in another drainage.

    #2171338
    Ed Tyanich
    BPL Member

    @runsmtns

    There are lots of lightweight tripod options. Even such things as a 1/4"/20 bolt welded to a wood screw, short spike or even a pair of mini vise grips. I have used all of these and they do work, especially with a small spotter line a Nikon 50mm ED, or a Minox 50 mm.
    Not so good on a bigger scope, and you can't glass just anywhere with these.
    For serious spotting, a tripod that is stable and quick to adjust is the way to go. Without it the weight of the spotter might be dead weight do to compromised function.

    #2171508
    kevin timm
    BPL Member

    @ktimm

    Locale: Colorado (SeekOutside)

    Bigger spotter requires bigger tripod. Lightweight ones are really only suitable for the small spotters.

    #2175430
    Adam Klags
    BPL Member

    @klags

    Locale: Northeast USA

    Not sure why an inverted trekking pole with a few pieces of UL spectra or other lightweight line stretched to create "legs" can't be utilized for the same purpose…?

    I've used a very long lens on this type of setup before and no issues – what makes it different with the spotting scope? If this gives a totally immobile and solid base, why go for the tripod? If you already have a trekking pole, 1 oz or 2 of line is all you'd need, weight-wise.

    I have never hunted before, so I am curious with this question… I have used a spotting scope and some huge binoculars before though.

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