I have learned some very important lessons while hunting. None more important than your gear will make or break your hunt. I recently trekked up a Colorado mountain in search for a difficult challenge: elk. I wanted a difficult challenge and I got one! My last two hunts on that mountain we saw plenty of mule deer, moose, and the seldom elk track but I never saw an elk on the hoof. I walked over 20 miles in 5 days and this gear list is what kept me going;
Battery Heated Socks
Battery heated socks are a LIFE SAVER. Without these, my toes would’ve been frozen by noon and I wouldn’t have been able to hike up and down the mountainside. There is a science to using these socks as they take 3 AA batteries per power pack that slides into a pocket on the brim of the sock. I have used these for gun deer season in Wisconsin while I sit in a ground blind for most of the day. One fresh battery pack will last roughly 4 hours if left on for the full 4 hours. It is important to not wait until your feet are cold to turn these babies on because it will take a while to warm your feet. I recommend turning them on about 10 minutes before you think your feet will get cold for best results. I didn’t have these turned on while elk hunting unless I was sitting or my feet were very cold. The only con to these socks is they must be hand washed to prevent damage to the cables inside. Whatever you do, DO NOT use a hair dryer to try to speed up the drying process. I tried that once and melted a hole in the center of my left sock. These are also great for ice fishing as well. I purchased a cotton pair from Cabela’s for $50 but the wool socks are linked here.
Balleck Outdoors Wilderness Warmth
My hands and feet are ALWAYS cold. I’m so glad I found this product. Wilderness Warmth stimulates blood flow through your hands by using a mixture of natural ingredients such as peppers and aloe vera. All you need to do is sprinkle a little bit into your gloves, boots, or waders and you should be set. Reapply as needed. Don’t over sprinkle otherwise your hands will become irritated. With the container only weighing all of 2oz, this should always be in your pack ready to go. Check out Wilderness Warmth and many other products by Balleck Outdoors here.
Homemade Wind Detector/Barrel Protector
This is a hack I learned on this trip and it completely blew my mind. There’s 2 portions to this: covering the opening of the barrel with tape to prevent debris and moisture clogging the barrel and including a piece of thread in the layers of tape. Why spend outrageous amounts of money on wind detectors when you can look in your junk drawer for left over thread and electrical tape? Crazy, amiright? But it totally works!
Próis Neck Gaiter
I was never a huge fan of neck gaiters until about a year ago when the wind was really bad bowhunting. I started with a mid weight gaiter from Cabela’s and now I have 3 total. I have a very early season gaiter from DSG and my heavy weight Próis gaiter, which I won through a giveaway in the Wisconsin Próis women’s group on Facebook. This gaiter is thick and fluffy which helped keep my face shielded from sun and wind burn without making breathing difficult. This is especially important for riding the four wheeler from spot to spot on the mountain. While the one I have isn’t available for purchase anymore, I have linked their current one here. Additionally, if you’re on Facebook and looking for camaraderie from women in the outdoors, I suggest looking for your state’s Próis Facebook group.
Bushnell Backtrack GPS
If my dad and I did not carry this with us on our elk hunts, we would be screwed. We had so many GPS devices and maps with us it was almost hurting our ability to make it back to the four wheeler. The only device that held true was the Bushnell Backtrack. All you do is mark the spot you want to come back to (waypoint) and check the device periodically to see which direction the point is and the distance you are from that point. A key point to making this work properly is hold it flat in your hand as pictured above. If it is cocked in any direction, the yardage and direction of your waypoint will be off. The Backtrack is very reasonably priced and should absolutely be a staple in your pack. You may purchase it here.