Archery Antelope & Backcountry Nutrition for Elk
7 DAYS in the Idaho desert chasing Pronghorn is a hunt I look forward to yearly. It's a hunt that my dad and I can actually share a camp and we have about the same chances of getting a shot opportunity despite physicality differences. He just had his hip replaced so he was stuck sitting in a blind from dark to dark which is arguably just as hard as chasing goats spot and stalk all day.
We drove down 10 days prior to put out our blinds on BLM Land, this is a rule that I would say is NOT strictly enforced, although I wish it was. BLM has a lot to worry about and Fish and Game would be the entity to contact if you see blinds on BLM prior to the 10 days before the opener. We put our blinds out in hopes that the Pronghorn would get used to the blinds as they cross under fences known as slides. Slide hunting and water hole blind sitting are great ways to get an archery shot, but require a lot of time. In my experience (killed two over slides), opening day is your best bet and then you'd better have a back-up plan. I had opportunity on does and one decent buck on opening day but elected to pass. Sitting water is ideal but where we were hunting there's too much water in the agriculture pivots for them to worry about getting water. Everyone's blinds in our camp accompanied several other blinds that were not ours, the hunting pressure was thick and it was extremely difficult to get away from other hunters. When their blinds are often 50-100 yards away from yours, it really stinks. Many times the other hunters would arrive to their blind after shooting light or get out for lunch, then come back in the afternoon regardless of where groups of pronghorn were. Your best bet is to get far away from other hunters.
After 2.5 days of sitting blinds and watching most Pronghorn sidestep my blind I decided they were too hip to my ambush plan, so I started spending the majority of my time looking for spot and stalk opportunities.
Pictured above is the NEW Vortex Razor 10x42 UHD's which are insane! This is the best glass I've ever used and I was out glassing everyone during low light conditions. Also, I have been asked several times about the Vortex Bino Harness so I will just state it here, they come with the binos only, you cannot buy them separately.
After several failed stalks I was getting frustrated. I wasn't getting busted by the bucks, rather the does that seemed to accompany them no matter where I went. Plus I wasn't finding much for undulation when it came to topography making stalks painstakingly slow and fruitless.
I have hunted many deserts of NV, AZ and ID, these buzz worms usually let you know when you're too close, but sometimes they're just unavoidable and believe you me, I absolutely hate snakes, but they're part of the deal.
The go to footwear for me is the Kenetrek Mountain Guides, they are non-insulated and go up to my mid shin producing great stability and support.
The morning we were suppose to leave (Day 6), I pushed back our departure time for one last go at spot and stalk. I had a key drainage ditch on BLM that paralleled some private land and was noticing big groups crossing it throughout the mornings. I put myself in the ditch in the dark and at first light glassed up a good buck getting ready to leave private and head to the desert. I got into position and he busted me drawing my bow at 35 yards, he wasn't sure if he actually saw something so he slowed down his pace and did a half circle. This allowed me to do a 400 yard ditch sprint bent over as to stay concealed and get in front of him. When I popped up to relocate the buck, I saw him standing and making a scrape. I ranged him at 57.5 yards and moved my slider.
I would give my self a B+ on shot execution, I fully pulled and broke the shot with a surprise release, but he keyed on the sound of the shot and started to move before the arrow got there. Fortunately, he was quartering away when the arrow zipped through him leaving him pretty well smoked before sprinting out of sight into a draw.
The Sitka Ascent Pant with built in knee pads is a must for early season conditions and long arduous stalks on the desert floor, getting some blood on them was a great sight for sore eyes.
The biggest highlight of the trip for me was seeing my buddy Tyler, get his first ever pronghorn on opening day. He's been a friend of mine since we were kids so any chance I can log some extended time with him is awesome. He defines a great hunting partner by some of these key points; he's well prepared with the appropriate amount of gear, tools, and pulls more than his weight. He made dinner a few nights, scouted for the rest of us throughout the hunt instead of heading home early despite getting his tag notched on the opener. He's also a firefighter/paramedic and knows how to do chores, tie knots, and be self sufficient. These small overlooked characteristics add up over a week of hunting, so make sure you are a capable man when sharing a camp with others.
After snapping a few field photos we got to work on the goat. We gutted him, got the hide off, and quartered him out. He was on ice within the hour, when it comes to August pronghorn hunting, don't mess around. I butchered the meat the very next day and submitted my harvest report to IDFG online. I look forward to next year and I hope you get a chance to hunt these crazy, unpredictable, and often times seemingly impossible to kill animals.
FOOD FOR SEPTEMBER
I generally order food off Amazon.com and then swing into Costco for the everything else. Pictured above will be my average daily food intake while hunting elk in WY and Idaho. I am already down to 148 lbs before the season starts. Since starting CrossFit in 2007 I have steadily become leaner and stronger each and every year. Last year I weighted probably 155 lbs prior to the season. 11 years ago I would weigh around 170 lbs. Weight has never been a focus of mine, but being under 10% body fat allows for having a purpose for every pound on my body and makes me very agile in the mountains. Eating super clean or strict while hunting is not my objective, but I do try to avoid candy or sugar.
The break down goes like this, 3,707 total calories a day. 43% of my calories are coming from fat which is about 13% higher than when I am home, but fat calories give you more energy for the ounce. My total carbs are 37% of my calories and that's just about normal for me. My protein is only at 20%, but that's not overly concerning as I don't believe I'll be breaking down muscle at the rate that I do when I am training at home. I am looking for tremendous sustained energy throughout the day and these foods will do just that. Evenings are always a HOT Off Grid Food Co freeze dried meal that I look forward to eating.
All my daily food is in 1 gallon ziploc bags and ready to grab and go in the mornings. I always do that ahead of time to make sure I have enough food and save time so I can be where I need to be at daybreak. I also can have the option of grabbing enough food to Bivy for 2-3 days at a time if need be. For my first hunt I will be base camping and making sure there are elk to hunt. Being mobile in unfamiliar country is critical and that's what the plan is, I leave this week for the entire month of September. I wanted to wish everyone a safe and successful hunt(s) this fall and look forward to seeing everyone's highs and lows.