Receiving your first western big game tag in the mail is a pretty exciting event. The question now is, “How are you going to ensure you have a great experience and increase your odds of punching your tag?”
I have had the opportunity to rub shoulders with hunters from all over the country. I especially enjoy visiting with hunters who don't live in the west, but have dreams of one day hunting the Rocky Mountains. Whether you have drawn a tag or plan on taking advantage of over the counter tags, opportunities are plentiful. This article is not about which units to apply for as we assume the research process has already occurred and your tag has been drawn or purchased. The purpose of this article is to provide you with suggestions that will allow you to be properly prepared with both gear and knowledge to succeed out west.
If you grew up in the whitetail and turkey woods, you will discover that western hunting terrain is very different. Elk and Mule deer are the primary species in almost all western states. While Mule deer tags are almost exclusively on a draw system, Elk tags can be purchased over the counter in many states. There are also opportunities to hunt Antelope, Sheep, Bison, Moose, Mountain Goats, and Bear, however these tags are available on a more limited basis. Regardless of the tag you draw, the terrain these critters live in can run from rolling hills to almost vertical granite faces with elevations running from 3000-14,000 feet in elevation. They don't call them the Rocky Mountains for nothing. Most mountainous terrain in the west is very steep and very rocky. Weather can turn from bluebird weather to a snow storm that drops 10 inches and back to bluebird weather in a 24 hour period. As a matter of safety and enjoyment, you need to have gear that will allow you to hunt hard during, sometimes massive, fluctuations in weather.
The one question I get asked frequently, is what hunting apparel do I need to bring for my western hunt. I almost always follow up with the question, "what gear do you currently have and what gear do you plan to bring?" Almost without exception, most guys are not bringing adequate gear. My goal is not to sell gear to a hunter that he/she doesn't need, but rather fill gaps in their existing layering system, and ultimately make sure they have gear that will prepare them for western terrain and unpredictable weather conditions. The easy and simple solution is an "Extreme Layering System.” An extreme layering system should be comprised of 4 essential layers, including Base layers, Insulation Layers, Outer Layers, and finally a Waterproof Layer. All layers can be worn together for the ultimate in insulation and weather protection, or can be worn independently as the temperature rises. My gear philosophy has always been, "it's better to have it and not need it, rather than need it and not have it." This especially applies to being in weather situations that can be life threatening.
At SKRE, we make it pretty dang easy to select a layering system that is right for you. This is accomplished through our bundles. We offer 7 different bundles. Our most popular bundles for western hunting are "The Extreme All Season bundle" and "Rocky Mountain Pro-staff Bundle." The Extreme sixteen piece bundle covers you for almost every season, regardless of your hunting location or environment. This layering system is designed to carry you comfortably and safely through warm weather and extreme cold weather conditions. The great thing about the Extreme Bundle is you truly have an option for almost every hunting situation, whether you’re hunting whitetail, turkey, or elk-warm or cold weather.
This last fall, four of us ventured 150 miles north of the Arctic circle on a DIY Caribou hunt. Thankfully, all of us were properly equipped with Extreme All season Layering Systems. Being properly equipped allowed us to conquer extreme weather conditions and ultimately punch all four tags on nice bulls. If an Extreme All Season Layering System is not in the budget, the Rocky Mountain Layering System is an affordable way to get started. Or, maybe you already have several pieces and need to fill gaps in your system. If that's the case, give us a call and we can help you customize your layering system.
At SKRE, we believe success is defined and measured by your experiences in the field. It is our goal to make sure you can add another memory to the album as you soak in the beauty and magnificent splendor of the rugged and untamed west.