If you haven’t heard of Initial Ascent backpacks, don’t feel alone, they launched in 2018. They are a relatively new offering with a strong product straight out of the heart of Idaho. The 4000+1500 with Pannier cui pack comes in at 5.95 lbs. The rugged triaxial carbon fiber frame that by itself accounts for only 18 oz. of the pack’s weight. The bag is composed of 500D Cordura and by itself has six large pockets, four on the sides and two on the back. Two of the pockets on the sides and both on back are composed of a stretch material that will make zipping the pockets easier than say a rigid Cordura build pocket when stuffed full of gear. Sign up for this giveaway by filling out the form below. Good luck!
the rugged triaxial carbon fiber frame that by itself accounts for only 18 oz. of the pack’s weight. This surprised me as it is much more beefy than their competitors in this space that have opted for carbon fiber frames.
The next episode of Beyond The Grid TV is coming next week! Our question for you with this teaser is do you think that the Audad from this hunt was edible? Leave a comment below about whether or not you think it was edible and subscribe to our YouTube Channel here!
“What’s in a name?” This popular line from Shakespeare applies to more in life than you might realize. A name or descriptive terminology for something often has much deeper roots than we’ve been taught to believe. Such is the case with the term “Sportsman.” For years I’ve had a problem with us as Americans referring to hunting and fishing as a sport – because it isn’t. Hunting is a lifestyle, a passion – not a sport.
Years ago I was able to hear one of the most recognized wildlife biologists, researchers and biggest proponents of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation speak at a wildlife management conference in Bismarck, North Dakota. His name is Dr. Valerius Geist and he very eloquently put the history of the term Sportsman in its proper context, complete with historical perspective from England and Germany on truly where this descriptor of those loving the outdoors came from.
The fact of the matter is this: hunting is not a sport, it is a passion. In America, for decades we have perverted the term to have competitive connotations because the word sport is in the description. The term Sportsman is in fact an old English term simply describing the relationship between the hunter and other hunters, the hunter and the land and the hunter and the wildlife resources they are helping manage through wildlife conservation. To be a Sportsman meant you were a gentleman and treated other hunters, the land and the wildlife with profound respect.
Too often we hear stories of irrational behavior exhibited by fellow hunters in the field – someone piggybacking on your hunting spot after you simply shared your story of success with them in passing, another person trying to beat you to an animal in a basin you have clearly been hunting before anyone else, an individual tagging an animal you just shot and claiming it was actually them who shot it when they just saw you shoot the animal and quickly arrived upon the dead animal, tagging it before your arrival. The list goes on and on (notice I didn’t refer to these slobbish people as hunters or sportsmen since they are nothing of the sort – true hunters/sportsmen do not act this uncivilized toward their fellow hunters/sportsmen).
These horrific stories are the exact opposite of what the term Sportsman means. Hunting is not a competition between you and other hunters. It is not a competition between you and the animal. Sure, there are supreme challenges that exist in hunting which test your merit and fortitude, but there is no scorekeeping, or at least there shouldn’t be. To be a Sportsman is to be a gentleman in all senses of the word. A Sportsman will go without filling a tag rather than push others out of the way to get first crack at an animal. A Sportsman will share hunting tactics and secrets with other Sportsman because they thoroughly enjoy seeing others have success in the field.
This level of respect runs much deeper than just respect for a superb mature animal with magnificent antlers or horns. It incorporates appreciation of the supreme table fare the animal offers, the spiritual uplift we feel when “hunting in lonely lands” as Theodore Roosevelt put it, and the deep satisfaction that we as hunters have since we acknowledge we are part of a much bigger picture than just us and the singular animal we pursue and attempt to harvest in the fall.
Growing up, I witnessed more good examples of what it means to be a Sportsman than bad ones. In fact, it wasn’t until the late 1990s that I watched a paradigm shift in our country toward a more selfish approach to “enjoying” the outdoors. The hunt became more about the kill than the journey toward the harvest, more about the chest-pounding bragging rights of the volume and size of animals that were taken than the thrill of the pursuit and potentially going without. This mindset is detrimental to our future as hunters in this country, maybe even more so than this same mindset was in the late 1800s.
Hunters are conservationists in the purest sense of the word. In our modern culture the term “conservationist” is often mistakenly given to extreme animal rights groups with ludicrous political agendas. In fact, these are not conservationists at all. They milk our wildlife and land management agencies out of much-needed funds for sound management practices to be used instead for frivolous lawsuits trying to further causes that are anything but friendly to wildlife management and the American citizenry. These same funds that run the aforementioned agencies are mainly supplied by hunters and fishermen, true sportsmen and hunter-conservationists, who have willingly taxed themselves for over 100 years to ensure our wildlife and land resources are there in perpetuity.
Much of the American and Canadian wildlife management thought process has been wrapped up in one neat little package called the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. In this model there are seven proponents, or tenets, that are often referred to as the seven sisters. These are: 1) Wildlife Resources Are A Public Trust, 2) Markets For Game Are Eliminated, 3) Allocation For Wildlife Is By Law, 4) Wildlife Can Be Killed Only For Legitimate Purpose, 5) Wildlife Is Considered An International Resource, 6) Science Is The Proper Tool To Discharge Wildlife Policy, 7) Democracy Of Hunting Is Standard.
Two gentlemen who have been some of the most prolific in connoting and promoting this model are Valerius Geist and Shane Mahoney, traveling the world over preaching this methodology and doctrine to illustrate the undeniable fact that North America has the most amazing story of wildlife conservation and management in recorded human history. This is an inarguable fact. We must remember the importance of the model isn’t only because of the successes of our wildlife management strategies over the last 100+ years, but also because of major mindset changes that occurred in this country in the late 1800s to early 1900s thanks to individuals like Theodore Roosevelt, Aldo Leopold, George Bird Grinnell, Ding Darling and Gifford Pinchot, to name a few.
In that time some of our wildlife populations plummeted to all-time lows due to the unregulated market hunting that was occurring and also the belief by many of the time that our nation’s wildlife resources were limitless. European settlers were amazed at the amount of wild game that they had the new freedom to pursue. The mindset at this point in history seemed to be on bragging rights on the sheer number of animals in which one would harvest, similar to that of present-day slob hunters mentioned above. Eventually, however, the handwriting was on the wall with respect to the dwindling wildlife populations and a new ideal began to take hold in America; the notion of wildlife conservation and selective harvest, i.e. trophy hunting as we’ve come to know it. This new train of thought was not brand new but was gaining in popularity as people such as Theodore Roosevelt began to propagate it through the Boone and Crockett Club as well as other venues such as the 1909 North American Conservation Congress.
Roosevelt said to Congress in 1907, “To waste, destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.”
Soon the thought of sportsmen taxing themselves and paying fees for hunting and fishing licenses became a reality in order to fund the management of these replenishable resources. While the work of the early pioneers of wildlife management who were mentioned above is admirable and was necessary to spearhead these efforts, the work of wildlife management and conservation is not limited to those in the limelight. The conservation and wise use of our natural resources depends on folks like you and me just as our behavior as sportsmen toward fellow hunters is up to you and me.
Thankfully, Sportsmanship isn’t completely dead. Two falls ago, Scott Reekers and I were on the trail hiking into an area that few backpack hunters go. We ran into several horse hunters who were pursuing elk, mule deer and bighorn sheep. More than once we received their looks of puzzlement when asking us what the heck we were doing back there without horses. After we all laughed and exchanged pleasantries, each and every one of the hunting horsemen were more than eager to share locations of critters with us in the spirit of camaraderie. What a breath of fresh air! I hadn’t seen sportsmen cooperating like this since I was in high school! It was a refreshing reminder of the not-so-distant past and it came from hunters of all ages on that trip. The same thing happened again last fall in the same area.
Scott and I have often discussed how this mindset was missing in large prevalence in today’s American hunting culture. Ironically, Scott never shared a story with me that happened to him on the mountain many years prior, exhibiting the true spirit of the Sportsman. To illustrate, our editor had received an email from a subscriber who was happy to tell the full story since he recognized Scott’s name in our Journals and ran into him on the trail those fateful years in the past.
He stated, “A few seasons ago I backpacked into a remote camp the day before the Wyoming deer opener. Not long after setting up camp, another hunter arrived in the same general area. We met up and began chatting. This guy asked me where I’d be on opening morning and graciously offered to move farther down the ridge. Two days into the season I was fortunate to kill a beautiful buck that went over 190″. Unbeknownst to me, upon hearing the shot, he then proceeded to drop 1,000 feet in hard-earned elevation to meet up with me.
When I described the fallen buck to him he replied, “That sounds like the buck I was after.”
Oddly, he was excited about it and was ready to help me pack the buck back up the mountain he just came down. It was dark and cold by the time we hit the top and the man offered to make room in his wood stove equipped tent. I now can honestly say that Eastmans’ staff member Scott Reekers is one of the kindest men I’ve met. In a time when he easily could have been abrasive or simply went along with his hunt, Scott went out of his way to give a fellow hunter a hand and it’s something that won’t be forgotten.”
Now that is the definition of a Sportsman!
Aldo Leopold, often called the father of modern wildlife conservation, stated, “A peculiar virtue of wildlife ethics is that the hunter ordinarily has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his conduct. Whatever his acts, they are dictated by his own conscience, rather than by a mob of onlookers.”
This quote is just one more authoritative reminder of the meaning behind the term Sportsman. Scott’s story should be the norm, not the exception that it sadly is today.
In today’s culture of selfishness and entitlement mindsets, each one of us needs to work even harder to win back the values of the American Sportsman. If we don’t, our future time afield will undoubtedly be in jeopardy. The voting, non-hunting public will make sure of that. Remember that when you are in the field or in the convenience store or grocery store on the way to the field, you are representing much more than just yourself. People are watching, including other hunters. Act according to the code of the Sportsman and that will influence other hunters to do the same, plus it will leave a lasting impression on those who think that hunters are just a bunch of slobs that seek thrill killing on a high-fenced game preserve and nothing more.
It’s our choice. How will we act on the trail toward our fellow hunters and the wildlife we are pursuing this fall and the falls after?
Maybe the Fair Chase Statement from the Boone and Crockett Club will help you in your decision, “The ethical Sportsmanlike, lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging, wild, native North American big game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals.”
As summer approaches, tags are being drawn, plans begin to form, everyone is getting excited for the season ahead. I was lucky enough to pull a challenging mountain goat tag in my home state of Wyoming, which is going to take me into entirely new country. I’ll be spending a lot of time in unfamiliar landscapes. I already am planning scouting trips to this new country, in hopes of finding legal goats, but also possibly a big highcountry buck or two as well. I know I will be spending my time alone like usual. There is something to be said about solo hunting. For me, it is my preferred method. Though I enjoy sharing time in the hills with friends, I truly enjoy the challenge both mentally and physically of hunting alone.
The longest solo hunt I have personally done was 13 days straight in the Frank Church Wilderness back in 2007 while pursuing my once in a lifetime bighorn ram. By the end of two weeks without seeing another human, I was at the point of losing arguments with my horses. It was the mental aspect that began to take its toll. Going days without even seeing a sheep made staying positive challenging. I kept focusing on the adventure, and not the hope of success. I was alone in one of the most remote landscapes of the lower 48, and every decision and move I made was mine to choose. In the end, I almost gave up, but forced myself to climb one more mountain, and it was the reason I punched my tag. I have yet to have a hunt challenge me mentally as that sheep hunt did, but it also taught me what I could accomplish if I overcame the feeling of being mentally defeated.
For some, the idea of spending days alone in the mountains is not something they are comfortable with, or even care to do. But, I think being a solo hunter has made me a much better hunter overall. Though it is great to spend time in the hills with friends and family, being alone changes the way you look at everything. Every decision and step you take, is entirely yours to choose, and the only one second guessing you, is you.
As a dedicated highcountry mule deer hunter, I spend a lot of time alone in a tent in the remote mountain peaks of western Wyoming. I second guess my decisions all the time! Did I leave that basin to soon? Did I miss a giant that I’ll never see now? Should I have glassed that other ridge tonight? Being alone gives you plenty of time to question yourself, but at the same time gives you the freedom to cover country however you want. I have a constant desire to see new areas, go over the next ridge or peak, and see what could be there. Even though I have numerous spots I know will hold a big buck or two on a yearly basis, I still always find myself exploring entirely new country. I refuse to get set into the same routine, because I like the challenge of finding new areas and learning more about the country the animals call home, while at the same time always challenging myself to be successful in new circumstances.
If you have ever considered going at it alone, but have never taken the plunge. It is one of the most rewarding experiences when it all comes together. It will push you to challenge yourself in different ways aside from what the mountains already will. Last fall, I had a dream season that ended in leaving the mountains on separate solo hunts with both a bull and buck of my dreams. As I daydream about what is in store this year, I already know I’ll be put to the challenge of finding a mountain goat in extremely rugged country with low goat numbers, and I can’t wait to push myself and see what will happen. If you decide a solo hunt is in your future, remember to find positive things to focus on even if things aren’t going like you hoped. Anytime you’re in the mountains is a reason to smile, and the chance to pursue the animals that call them home is just a bonus.
Sometimes when we are in the outdoors, accidents happen. At that juncture in life we each have a choice on doing the right thing or trying to cover it up.
Unfortunately some hunters make a poor judgement call at times. One such case from the ‘18 hunting season in CO has been in the news recently. A young man 19 years of age was caught and charged with almost $20,000 in fines for poaching a moose. He stated that when he shot, the animal was too far away to be positively identified while he was hunting elk. After realizing he made a mistake, rather than notifying the authorities, he neglected to report it and an anonymous source turned him in. Thankfully he admitted to it, but the damage had already been done, both to his reputation and those of law-abiding hunters in the eyes of the non-hunting public.
Aldo Leopold, often called the father of modern wildlife conservation, stated “A peculiar virtue of wildlife ethics is that the hunter ordinarily has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his conduct. Whatever his acts, they are dictated by his own conscience, rather than by a mob of onlookers.”
As hunters we are more than just killers. We are sportsmen. What’s in a name, you may ask? In the August/September issue of Eastmans’ Hunting Journal in 2016 I wrote a fairly long article related to this issue. We have so much responsibility as representatives of hunters at large when we are out in the field, and we have a tendency to forget just how much others are watching our behavior. I know I am guilty of this.
This article isn’t meant to brow-beat this hunter. It is meant to remind us all to be on our best behavior in the field and if we make a mistake, fess up to it. It is ALWAYS easier to deal with a situation head-on than to avoid it in the hopes of it going away. My dad always told us kids, “If you can’t find time to do it right the first time, when will you find the time to go back and fix it?”
Iron sharpens iron so let’s all help each other maintain accountability in the field. Our reputation to the non-hunting public is at stake and with the growing unrest in this great country, we can’t afford too much more egg on our face.
In a recent article for Eastman’s, I wrote about the three macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) and how all three play an important role in your backcountry nutrition plan. Here, I’d like to outline the wide range of foods you can choose from when assembling your backcountry menu. All of these foods will contain nearly 100 calories per ounce or more, so you should be able to assemble 3,000 calories per day in less than two pounds of food.
When picking out carbohydrate rich foods for your adventure menu, you want to look for sources of carbs that are complex rather than simple. The reason for this is that complex carbohydrates take longer to digest and assimilate, so you’ll find that your energy levels are more stable after eating. In contrast, eating mostly simple carbohydrates such as refined sugar, can cause a sharp spike in your blood sugar levels, followed by a subsequent blood sugar crash. If you’ve ever felt the 3 pm energy slump, you’ve likely experienced this blood sugar drop.
Here’s a wide range of foods that are a dense source of carbohydrates.
Protein is one of the more difficult macronutrients to fit into your backcountry diet. This is because most processed foods are made up of primarily refined carbohydrates and fats. It’s a good idea to make sure you’re getting protein into each meal or snack if you can.
Jerky (ideally made without high fructose corn syrup)
Freeze Dried Meats (Beef, Chicken, Pork, Turkey)
Dehydrated Meats (Biltong, Jerky Bars such as EPIC Provisions)
Fats are going to be the biggest caloric bang for your buck. Fatty foods can contain nearly 190 calories per ounce (such as powdered coconut milk), and will give you sustained energy to burn while you’re putting in the miles (or sitting and glassing). As with all foods, you’re better off to reach for whole foods sources of healthy fats. Below is a list to choose from that pack pretty easily.
Coconut Oil Packets
Powdered Coconut Milk
Nuts (Almonds, Pistachios, Cashews, Brazil Nuts, Hazelnuts, Macadamia Nuts, etc.)
Clearly, lots of energy bars are going to contain a mix of protein, carbohydrates and fats. My only word of caution is to make sure you taste test all of them before you hit the trail, you want to make sure you bring food that you actually like to eat. These are some of my favorites.
You can also look for dehydrated or freeze-dried meals that contain a mix of protein, carbohydrates and fats. These are more widely available than ever online and at your local outdoor store. Look for brands that have plenty of whole foods protein, ideally 25 grams of protein per serving. Keep an eye out for unpronounceable ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, inflammatory fats such as canola oil, and any allergens that you’re trying to avoid such as wheat, dairy or soy. You likely want a minimum of 400 calories per four ounce serving, so be sure to read the nutrition facts.
Here’s an example of all the food I packed for a four-day solo trip, where I planned on covering a lot of miles and sweating a whole bunch. I tend to pack a little extra food, just in case I end up staying for another day or need to share my food with a fellow adventurer.
Good Earth Sweet and Spicy Herbal Tea and Honey Packet
Approximately 3200 Calories
Heather’s Choice Banana Buckwheat Breakfast
EPIC Beef Bar
Peanut Butter Co. The Bee’s Knees
KIND Pressed Bar
Veggie Go’s Fruit Leather
Almonds 1 oz
Plantain Chips 1 oz
Heather’s Choice Orange Vanilla Packaroons
Heather’s Choice Smoked Sockeye Salmon Chowder
Nibmor Drinking Chocolate
Natural Calm Magnesium
Approximately 3200 Calories
Heather’s Choice Blueberry Buckwheat Breakfast
Vital Proteins Collagen
Justin’s Maple Almond Butter Packet
Lawless Beef Jerky 2 oz
Heather’s Choice Lemon Lavender Packaroons
Pressed Kind Bar
Veggie Go’s Fruit Leather
Almonds 1 oz
Plantain Chips 1 oz
Country Archer Cayenne Bar
Heather’s Choice Dark Chocolate Chili
Mint Tea and Honey Packet
Nibmor Drinking Chocolate
Approximately 3200 Calories
Remember to have fun planning your backcountry menu! Include a wide range of healthy, delicious foods that you like to eat, and make sure you test everything before you head out into the field. It’s a good idea to bring a mix of salty and sweet foods, or you can find yourself burnt out on too many sugary, sweet treats. Of course, make sure you have some sort of luxury waiting for you back at the truck, such as a cooler full of beer and a bag of chips.
Sig Sauer's BDX System - Shooting Prairie Dogs - YouTube
Hunters Dan and John Pickar put the Sig Sauer BDX system to the test on the prairie dog town. The pair finds the Ballistic Data Exchange system to be easy and fun to use! The BDX system uses Bluetooth technology to communicate between Sig Sauer’s BDX rangefinders and rifle scopes. Set up is quick. Plug a rifle’s ballistics into the app and you are off and shooting with deadly accuracy in no time.
Field Judging Elk - Guy's Elk Hunting Tips - YouTube
Guy Eastman shares his tips for how to age elk on the hoof. Antler size isn’t always a good indicator of age. Instead rely on body conformation. Guy breaks down what to look for the next time you’re glassing up a bull. For more videos on elk and elk hunting visit this playlist on our YouTube channel.
I have various issues with several states and how they do their reporting, but Montana takes the cake. Two of the last three years, the State has not even counted deer or elk hunters, so there are no unit or controlled hunt success rates posted on their web site for 2016 or 2018. We also hear from hunters all the time that they don’t trust what Montana does report.
Montana uses an antiquated voluntary phone survey. Some hunts like deer hunt 103-50 had zero response to the survey last year. People tell us they lie when asked where they shot their deer. In other cases, online data is wrong. Want to know the success for controlled hunt 270-50? In 2017 the regs listed 45 mule deer controlled permit buck tags and everything else was does or a whitetail general license. But the harvest report lists 1148 mule deer hunters. Oh, but wait. In Montana a hunter with a whitetail general license can shoot a mule deer if he chooses. So, every whitetail hunter is a mule deer hunter. It’s a mess, not to mention the general hunt is at the same time as the controlled hunt that takes several points.
Why no hunter numbers or success rates for 2016 and 2018? I’m told the State’s biologists get together every year and say what data they need to manage wildlife and apparently that doesn’t include hunter numbers or success rates, so to save money they skip information you and I do need.
This is my primary beef with wildlife departments and nowhere is the problem more egregious than in Montana. Even though they are posted, reports are for biologists, not hunters, even though we need them to apply intelligently and we, for the most part, pay the bills. This needs to change.
I called a couple of Montana Wildlife Commission members, including Richard Stuker, the vice-chairman. Turns out that in addition to an effort to simplify regulations, he has been on a campaign to get mandatory reporting in Montana but has met with pushback from biologists. One reason is worry about a revenue drop if people cannot apply the following year until they report.
Look, I get that wildlife departments are always strapped for money, but seriously? It takes 5 minutes to report how you did online or by phone. Heck, in Oregon, you don’t even need a paper tag anymore, you can get it on your phone like an airline boarding pass and make your report on the app.
Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, New Mexico and Utah (controlled hunts) all have mandatory reporting. If it’s not done by a certain date, there is a small fine. If it is not done at all, they can’t apply until they do report. I doubt many hunters blow off applying and lose their points over the 5 minutes it takes to report.
Here’s your chance to make a difference. If you live or hunt in Montana contact any of the names below to tell them you want a modern mandatory reporting system that gives you what you need. Even better is if your organization presents a request to the FWP, which is way easier than you think.