This year on my Wyoming highcountry mule deer hunt I had everything thrown at me. From terrain to weather; I battled through mud, snow, rain, sleet; scrambled across scree slides, slipped through dark timber, and ground up sheer ridge faces to sit like a gargoyle atop a barren, windswept glassing perch. Because I knew the area and the challenges that it holds I was able to prepare with the necessary gear to stay warm, dry and most importantly, find big deer.
This list won’t be comprehensive, like what Guy put together here, or what Brandon Mason put together with his OCD (ounce counting document). This list is a reference to the major pieces that performed for me and you can reference both of the other lists for the nitty gritty more detail oriented information.
Savage Model 11/111 chambered in .300 Win. Mag. shooting Hornady Precision Hunter. The rifle was topped with a Zeiss HD-5 with the Rapid-Z reticle. This combination had me “in the game” quickly and easily at any range inside my MER.
Zeiss Conquest 10×42– Light and efficient for the country I was in while still giving me the power needed to pick up deer while “rough glassing.”
Zeiss Diascope- Will soon be replaced by the Gavia, which I’m excited to try but the Diascope served me well for dissecting cover and making those judgement calls a little easier on a potential trophy buck.
BOG-POD HD 3S– I am hard on gear and therefore the heavy duty option is what I use, even with a slight weight penalty. The extra weight also makes it easier to glass in windy conditions, keeping my optics steadier.
Eberlestock Big Top Pack– I am a sucker for panel loading and a roll top design with functional shoulder lift and the Big Top does both very well. The organization of this pack also kept me from searching for “lost” gear as it was always in its place, right where I left it.
Western Mountaineering Badger MF– Can’t say enough good things about this bag; warm, lightweight, tough and comfortable. I’m a pretty good sized fella so a bag with enough room can be hard to find. This one knocks it out of the park for me.
Thermarest Neo Air– I have the three season pad in wide and long. Again, I’m wide and long so this pad is a no-brainer and helps me get a good night’s sleep which in turn keeps me on the top of my game.
Clothing Stand Outs:
Sitka Kelvin Active Jacket– Was worn all of the time! An essential piece for the mountain hunter.
Sitka Merino Base Layers– Top bottom and underwear, served me well! Warm, comfortable and NO STINK!
Sitka Timberline Pants– These are my go to pants for just about every hunt, this year mine were in the subalpine pattern. The knee pads make it tough to wear any other pant in the mountains.
Sitka Stormfront Pants– Wore these on this hunt as much as my Timberlines. When it’s wet and cold, these are a must have!
Sitka Cloudburst Jacket– This jacket was my friend on this hunt. I typically don’t bring a softshell on backpack hunts and use my rain jacket in it’s place.The Cloudburst blocked the chill winds and help trap heat inside my other layers, keeping me toasty and focused.
Kenetrek Mountain Extreme 400 – These are one of my go to pair boots and this particular pair has served me well for three seasons and I suspect will do the same for a couple more.
First Lite Mountain Athlete Compression socks– These are impressive performers that help my feet stay fresh and keep me going strong day in and day out due to the compression design. Also, having a sock that doesn’t smell after multiple days is a true bonus in the backcountry.
Again, for a more complete backcountry list visit the OCD or Guy’s gear list as the above are just my standout gear picks from this season.