Ultralight Hunting: Towards a Coherent Definition
Feb 18, 2015 at 1:11 pm #2175458
Optics are contextual to a certain extent, but my sense is a lot less than most assume. Again, the distinction between a routinely successful hunter and a backpacker with a rifle must be maintainted. For example:
A riflescope is never going to be good for anything (besides it's intended purpose) other than a quick look at an animal. The laws of optics simply do not permit a scope to have the eye relief required for use on a centerfire, a practically useful field of view, and anything approaching acceptable weight and size. Pick two of these, at best. The old timers who have tons of heads on the wall and use a scope as their only optic are not proof that this is the best system, just that skill and experience can be good substitutes for technology.
An adaptable tripod with a decent head and bino adaptor makes a massive difference. I really can't overstate this. I'm skeptical, to put it mildly, that any lesser system has enough weight savings to merit the associated increase in fiddling. The Summit SS I use works for standing and sitting on all sorts of uneven terrain, and sets up in a matter of seconds to a very comfortable position. This kind of rig encourages thorough glassing with good technique.
Spotting scopes are probably the most negotiable item here. I've left my behind deer hunting plenty. In many circumstances it is invaluable, and indeed the little Minox I've been using this year is in desperate need of replacement. Even in ideal conditions 30x magnification is nowhere near enough for alpine hunting when, as someone mentioned, evaluating legal horn size is all too often a big deal.
My stove number was indeed for a rig which could melt snow, and function in windy temps down to single digit F. On early season trips you can often manage just fine with an alcohol rig or similar. Insofar as later-season extended trips are the real proving grounds, I used that metric to guide my gear selections (esp layering).Feb 19, 2015 at 3:22 pm #2175814
I think one of the outdoors magazines had one of those articles which questioned why hunting outfits increased in weight since Col. Whenlen's time where he recommended a base 15-lbs, excluding worn clothes, consumables, optics and rifle. Wish I can find the article since I am not sure if it was in Field and Stream or Outdoor Life.
But to be honest, men of his time didn't have to deal with restrictive seasons lasting only a week or two; and he was able to take out a prospector's licence which enabled him to harvest as many game as he wanted to feed himself. Also, the whole idea of a spotting scope was a relatively new thing too. And those folks knew the lands really well and how to read it. Whereas we are compensating for off-trail adventures.Feb 19, 2015 at 3:24 pm #2175816
There was this trapping show, I think it was Yukon Men, and there was an episode where the boys were glassing for caribou. Everyone in my family was horrified by that since, here in Canada, it is illegal to glass. So, I understand why people have binoculars.
Plus, monovision is really hard on the eyes. Tried carrying a monocular for hunting, and eventually just decided to leave it behind. Binocular trumps every time.
Although I do know some of my Nordic hunting friends have scopes with deattachable Optilock and that's all they ever used. They don't glass, but they can take the scope off and put it back on their rifle when needed.Feb 19, 2015 at 3:33 pm #2175820Luke SchmidtBPL Member
What do you mean its "illegal to glass" is it illegal to sit and watch for an animal to show up?Feb 19, 2015 at 4:00 pm #2175827
Same question. I just read this article: http://www.outdoorlife.com/articles/hunting/2014/10/trouble-paradise-hunt-canadian-wilderness-takes-some-unexpected-turns
They were glassing…?
Can you explain?Feb 19, 2015 at 4:20 pm #2175833pesticidefreeBPL Member
@sleepingLocale: The Cascades
I believe 'glassing,' in today's usage, means using binoculars or a spotting scope, etc., to scout a ridge, valley, etc. for game.Feb 19, 2015 at 4:27 pm #2175834
Yes doug. I'm interested in parsons explaining how it's illegal in Canada. I've never heard that and I iust read an article were they are doing it.Feb 19, 2015 at 4:30 pm #2175835IanBPL Member
"I'm interested in parsons explaining how it's illegal in Canada."
Maybe he's talking about spotlighting? Now I'm curious.Feb 19, 2015 at 4:53 pm #2175842
Glassing is illegal by law via this Section 87 of the Criminal Code Act:
There have been hunters arrested for glassing with a rifle-scope. Those who got charged with it had no idea they were pointing a rifle at a person while surveying the ridge.
That's what glassing means in my hunting circle– checking things out with a rifle-scope. If we were talking about using a binocular or spotting scope, we say "spotting".
I apologize for the misunderstanding.Feb 19, 2015 at 4:57 pm #2175845
87. (1) Every person commits an offence who, without lawful excuse, points a firearm at another person, whether the firearm is loaded or unloaded.
(2) Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1)
(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or
(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.Feb 19, 2015 at 4:58 pm #2175846
Is looking for game with a sporting scope or binoculars.Feb 19, 2015 at 5:01 pm #2175849
Michael, I edited. :)
Meant to clarify.Feb 19, 2015 at 5:17 pm #2175858IanBPL Member
Ok that makes more sense.Feb 19, 2015 at 6:07 pm #2175883Dave @ OwareBPL Member
@bivysack-comLocale: East Washington
Sounds like the laws against brandishing a firearm here in WA state. You can't point or threaten with a gun, tho you can carry it.
Some hunting areas are so thick, a scope, unless it is 1 power, make it harder to get on target, other areas people have attached bipods on their rifle stocks.
My dad took many deer with a handgun. He used a 1 power scope. Total weight of that old Ruger was probably around 3 lbs.Feb 19, 2015 at 6:46 pm #2175899
Found the article which discussed how and why hunting gears increased in weight over the years. :)
And there is this excerpt:
"Whelen was a frugal man who traveled light. He made his own gear when he could and did not carry an ounce more than he needed (his complete backpacking outfit weighed only 12 pounds). His camps always looked the same: a blanket roll beneath a lean-to tarp (which he preferred to a tent) and a pot suspended above a cooking fire built just as Bones Andrews had taught him."
But to be fair, I have his book, and the weight of the rifle, worn clothes and ammunition are not included; but he does talk about how much each item should weigh and what modifications made to lighten them. The pack-frame recommended was Alaskan packboard or Trappers Nelson.
And he preferred making fires or fashioning poles out of fallen trees for his tarp set-ups. Although he recommend using portable stoves because of witnessing forest-fires due to carelessness many times.Feb 20, 2015 at 6:31 am #2175986AnonymousGuest
.Feb 20, 2015 at 11:47 am #2176084Todd OndickSpectator
Just got around to reading your article…wow! Nice to see all of this put together in one place. I've been loving your work here and on your blog, Dave. The thoughts presented in your conclusion sum up this pursuit perfectly! UL backpacking and backcountry hunting were made for each other.
I wonder though, do we need a defining weight for UL hunting? Is weighing and critiquing everything you bring hunting (or UL backpacking) the same as setting “a rigorous comparative standard with no wiggle-room?” My camp and clothing setup for early bow season is far different than for the second week of rifle season, here in Montana. Your base elk hunting kit will look different than your base sheep or antelope kit. Or squirrel kit, for folks east of here. Is it a weight we are seeking, or rather a philosophy for choosing what we drag along with us into the outdoors?
It seems like the keystone of going UL is doing precisely what you did: weigh and scrutinize everything you bring. I would add that learning skills to replace pieces of gear can take this even further. Keep up the great writing!Feb 20, 2015 at 12:41 pm #2176108Todd OndickSpectator
As far as productively adding to the discussion, here are few things I've done to help lighten up in addition to what Dave discusses in his article. YMMV, but this has lightened my load by well over 5 pounds:
-Carry only binoculars, as others have stated. A quality pair of roof prism 10×40 binoculars as your only optics is usually all you need. Any more magnification and things get wobbly w/o a rest. I wouldn't go lower than 8x, and rigging a simple 5’ piece of webbing for an x-back sling is a must. Great comments on glassing; besides being really dangerous, your field of view is far less than through binoculars of the same magnification. Save 3-5 pounds of spotting scope and tripod.
-Know your country. Hunting (and scouting) the same areas year after year let you know the places the animals use and those they don't; wild game are creatures of habit, though wolves and other hunters spice this up a bit. This is the best part of hunting in this manner: intimately knowing a place. You don't need a spotting scope if you have a good idea where the game is, though they are handy for unfamiliar territory or wide open country.
-Lighten your kill bag. Mine holds a polycro groundsheet, nitrile gloves, plastic meat bags (like garbage sacks w/o the toxic mold release agent), a knife, and lengths of reflective cordage. I bring a small ring saw when elk hunting. Love the Havalon Piranta, but am using a Helle Nying knife because my fingers have become quite cold intolerant. Save 10oz or more on game bags and other do-dads, plus all that bulk.
-Go gutless and bone out. Yes, there is a learning curve, but these two skills have transformed my hunting! The polycro tarp is very tough and lets you lay everything out to quickly bag and hang, so contamination, waste, and spoilage are nearly a non-issue. Save 20-50+ pounds in packing out bones, skin, and fur.
-x100 on Dave’s rifle information. My current rifle weighs in at 11 pounds, loaded. It was 13… got some more work to do! Should never have traded that Remington titanium 7mm-08 :(
-Shoot off your ruck and shoot offhand w/a sling. I used to shoot from a bipod and later a bog pod/tripod, but have gone back to the ruck. Now if you are reaching out past 400yds, this may not work for you. Keep your backpack cinched up tight and save 8oz to 2 pounds on the bipod or shooting sticks.
-Learn range finding by mildot. Everyone shooting further than 150 yards should have a mildot scope, right? Work out your shot dope and glue it inside your scope cover. Loving the android app Shooter to calculate dope; what a game changer. Save 8oz to 1 pound on a rangefinder.
-Cache or set camp whenever you can. I almost always set up a cache w/ my cooking and sleeping kit and hunt from that base. Save your legs for chasing and packing out critters.
-Practice, practice, practice, practice some more. Mike Clelland’s advice to practice UL techniques close to home and in relative safety is so true. Practice so you know your kit, know what to expect, can carry that 80 or 100lbs+, and can deal when, as Aron Snyder says, the s**t hits the fan. With a pack well under 35 pounds.Feb 20, 2015 at 1:01 pm #2176113
You'll have to excuse me for what I sm about to ask you. I have hunted big game all over the west for about 35 year now.. Also graduated with an Animal Acinece degree (two semesters of meat science). I have beem thoroughly schooled on dismembering large animals with a knife.
1)By going "gutless" HOW are you removing the hanging tenderloins on an animal?
2) What do you need a ring saw for if you have a good sharp knife?
BTW, I agree with the 10x binocs, but for a decent exit pupil, I prefer 10x50sFeb 20, 2015 at 1:11 pm #2176117Chris CBPL Member
@cvcassLocale: State of Jefferson
here is a video that is the best explanation to remove the tenderloin using the gutless method
(edited for spelling)Feb 20, 2015 at 1:48 pm #2176135
Dave P, thanks for the cool link. Whelen's model 94 with iron sights probably weighed right around what my Kimber does (w/ scope).
Todd, a few questions.
When ranging via mildot, you're depending on a know dimension within the target, yes? Brisket depth of a given number of inches and so forth. How precise can you get with this method? Seems like beyond 300 yards a laser would still be a worthwhile investment. On the other hand, being able to range and shoot fast between 100 and 200 would be darn handy.
Regarding plastic meat bags, have you run into any issues with the meat not being able to breath or cool on a multi-day packout in warmer weather?
I agree on using the gutless method for butchering. Even if I'm taking a hide I still start at the spine when I get to the meat. Much more efficient. Grabbing the tenderloins is dead easy after the first animal or twos worth of practice.
Shooting from field positions is invaluable, and it's importance really can't be overstated. In New Zealand last month I took my longest shot on an animal from the most awkward position I've ever had to use; laying on a 40 degree, unstable talus field. Thankfully that long range brought plenty of time to futz and move rocks to get a stable position, which eventually (after two misses, before I made an ideal position) led to a fatal hit.Feb 20, 2015 at 2:16 pm #2176148
Just for the record, I am not talking about the main Tendeloins that run along the spine above the ribcage.
I am talking about the small "hanging" tenderloins running underneath them INSIDE the ribcage.
No way to extract those without gutting the animal ,unless you have some amazing new method to share here.
They are about 10 to 20 pounds of the BEST meat on an animal. Period. Its literally a crime to leave it behind.Feb 20, 2015 at 2:22 pm #2176154Chris CBPL Member
@cvcassLocale: State of Jefferson
The video link I posted actually addresses that, careful cutting allows you to remove them without removing the entrails.
In the video though it does appear that the ribs may have been cut free?Feb 20, 2015 at 2:30 pm #2176163
Remove the loins, make a little slit next to the spine behind the ribs (not puncturing the abdominal sack, push said sack out of the way, cut tenderloins free. You can get both from one side. When it's warm I do the above first as any swelling in the guts can make it harder to create room for knife work. If you're a big heart and liver fan you'll probably want to do things the traditional way.Feb 20, 2015 at 3:32 pm #2176188
Thanks for the description of how you do it.
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