Continued from What Is It With Gear Lists? Part 1
Skill Three: Effective Glassing
So now that I have established that spending time in the hills trumps being #mountainstrong let’s talk about what to do when you are in the mountains. You have to find game to harvest game and in the mountains the most effective way to do that is glassing. Unless you have religiously read Mike’s books and Guy’s articles on glassing you should probably go take a refresher. We all need it and putting Mike’s system into actual practice is a mental grind. But when you find that buck, it’s worth all the effort!
In terms of effective western hunting, “scouting” is actually code for planting your butt on one vantage point long enough to glass up every animal you can find. Eight hour sits in one spot are normal and short nights of sleep are commonplace during the summer. The reality is that we work really hard to get in shape so we can sit in one spot for hours on end.
The skill here is patience and attention to minute details. Finding a twitching ear at 800 yards through the buck brush isn’t easy and won’t be done in a short glassing session. Learning to glass with the grain of the land and picking vantage points accordingly is paramount. Not to mention picking smart travel routes so you don’t bust every animal out of the country on your way up! Good glassing leads to finding the biggest animals, which leads back to point one, making the shot. You cannot kill what you cannot find.
Gear for this skill is pretty simple. Buy the best glass you can afford. Good glass used effectively can and often does make you a better hunter. Light transmission in low light conditions is where the 90%-ers are separated from the guys who leave early because they can’t find anything through their optics. Top tier glass gathers more light due to higher quality lenses and construction. High quality optics are an investment and I promise taking that next step up is worth it.
Where Does That Put Us For The Rest Of The Gear?
So what about all of the rest of the gear needed for the backcountry? It really comes down to comfort level, hunt intensity and duration. I worked my way into the top tier clothing brands over time and the more demanding my hunt, the more I felt the step up in price was worth it. For winter hunts survival doesn’t hinge on having my lightweight wood burning stove with me. But it does make my comfort level that much greater in the absolute worst conditions, which in turn makes me mentally stronger during the hunt. Not to mention that the stove is an effective way to dry out clothing.
Comfort also generally means lighter weight, which usually means higher price. After I addressed my skill-set related gear it was time to upgrade the comfort level on much of my gear pieces. Over time my gear has gotten better, my pack has gotten lighter and truth be told, it has made life in the backcountry that much more tolerable.
Was it worth the high price tag? Resoundingly, yes! After much time and effort the gear has made me more comfortable and now that I have worked on skills (and continue to do so) that help me kill more animals, comfort on the hunt was the next logical step.
Finally, remember that once you buy top tier glass, a good pack and boots and the shooting equipment to hit your target, the investment is over for a long time! Proper practice with good gear builds the skills to be a better hunter, and comfort in the backcountry will always work in your favor. All of these are worth the price tag.