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Petzal: How to Sweat Up A Ridge

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October 28, 2009

Petzal: How to Sweat Up A Ridge

By David E. Petzal

This past summer, a geezer friend of mine was railing at the current generation of hunters who roost in trees like so many spavined turkeys and rarely walk anywhere.

“They haven’t sweated up ridges like you and I have,” he snarled.

Sometimes, you gotta walk uphill, and if you haven’t done much of it, here are some tips from someone who has done a lot it and hated every yard.

*Pay careful attention to how much weight you’re packing, both on your carcass and in your pack. Your boots are especially important. A pair of heavy boots will weigh you down worse than would our current Secretary of State in your backpack.

*Before you start, take off your hat, your gloves, and whatever you wear around your neck. Open your coat. If you have a vest or a down shirt  under the coat, put it in your pack. It will do you no good to get all the way to the top and then freeze in your own sweat.

*The way to climb is with a catatonic plod. If you have to stop and catch your breath every few minutes you’re going too fast.

*If you are 60 or older, do not hunt with people who are younger. No matter what kind of shape you are in you are not going to match strides with someone who is 20 years younger. Go with geezers only.

*If you do go hunting with people who are younger and fitter than you, don’t expect sympathy and don’t expect them to slow down for your benefit.

*Don’t look up, ever. Keep your eyes on the trail right in front of you.

Comments (57)

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from horseman308 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

These are great pieces of advice. I've backpacked up a lot of hills and it was always better when I started by taking off the extra stuff. Also, it's reasons like this why I think the right boots are more important than any other piece of gear. Most hunting boots today seem built with the ideas of standing still and doing minimal walking in mind. I really think a serious pair of hiking/backpacking boots are better than most "hunting boots" for anything except sitting in a tree-stand in sub-freezing temperatures all day.

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from Harold wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Dave,

Living in the Rocky Mtn. West and with a taste for elk meat, I find it necessary to climb often. I am in your 60+ catagory and I have no intention of leaving the mountains! In this locale, heavy boots are a must-a twisted ankle back of the beyond could be a death-sentence. I have found that it helps to get into shape BEFORE hunting season. Even us geezers can handle the mountains if we don't get overweight and out of shape. Naturally, check with your MD first, but there is no reason we oldsters can't be active outdoors(people). I must confess, I do go with younger partners. Their enthusiasm is contagious and they head their way and me, mine. I get plenty far, and back, on these old legs and I have someone to help carry out the meat.

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from idahooutdoors wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

There isn't much of anything in Idaho that is level, here are a few tips to add...

*I prefer up to down as I get older...down is harder on the knees...using a treking pole helps with both...

*go up hill at angles, switchbacking is often easier in the long run than going straight up..

*pick what level spots you can find for breaks, and set small goals out in front of you-the next tree-bush-rock-etc, often small level spots behind rocks and uprooted trees...

*go at your own pace, not that of others you are with, your hunting group should go at the pace of the slowest member of the group, put them in front, don't get so sweaty your cold all day from being damp, and don't get so out of breath you can't shoot...

*stop and glass for breathers every few paces, you'll spot more game that way anyways...

*take some time to warm up, it takes me at least 15 minutes to loosen up and get the lungs expanded, often ask myself what the heck I'm doing the first few minutes climbing up, but if I fight through it I feel great after getting warmed up.

*make sure your hydrated, don't want to cramp up, take water breaks...also empty the bladder before you start out, less weigh to pack..

*the more you climb hills the easier it gets, and the better you'll feel...

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from buckhunter wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

The beauty of hunting uphill is the downhill drag.

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from Happy Myles wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

I believe it was Patrick McManus who wrote "stop a lot and pretend you are glassing something really interesting".

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from Happy Myles wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Oh, and like idahooutdoors I use a walking staff, carved a wolf on the top and painted the lower bottom red. That seems to help everyone guessing.

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from jbird wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Funny stuff Dave, and good advice.

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from Brian Jackson wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Why I like living in south Alabama. The closest thing we have to a ridge can generally be cleared in 2 strides. Now if you have some advice for pushing through a canebrake without spooking every deer in a 5 mile radius I would be more than happy to hear it.

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from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Always a good idea to get STAY in shape YEAR ROUND...but Dave gives sound advise; dress in layers, most of our body heat is released thru the top of our head, and light WATERPROOF boats over the ankle are a must anywhere you hunt!
The last few years I have hunted on my own which I know is not a smart thing to do, but the cell phone keeps me in contact with the wife and I have not ventured more then a mile, or two, in the woods off the beaten path.
Thinsulate is great stuff also for less bulk and body heat retention; But I bet most of us here already know that??

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from matt28 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Dave, this brings up an interesting point and that being what exactly would be the advantages of packing our current Secretary of State in your hunting kit? I can't see her being much good at retrieving and the God-awful vocalizations must frighten game. Perhaps she provides a musky cover scent?

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Where I generally hunt is uphill both ways, so the knees take a real beating. I am the oldest in our hunting group, so it is easy for me to poke fun at THEM for not keeping up with me!

I think 'idahooutdoors' nailed it; never get too out of breath to shoot with a steady hold. Our own body weight is our biggest obstacle. Heavy boots are bad, but a necessary evil. If dry and not too cold, I have been known to walk in to my hunt area in lightweight sneakers, then change to keep from getting cold.

The 3 or 4 homeboys from Alabama that hunt with me every year are generally sucking wind in the Rockies and wanting to ride their four wheelers!

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from steve182 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

One step at a time, keep plodding along. The harder the hunt, the greater the reward.

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from RichardF wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

The best thing you can do is stay in shape. If I am going to go up a "mountain" my hunting partner typically heads off in the safe direction, and this is why he has to come to my house to get his fill of deer for the year.

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from T.W. Davidson wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

All:

A couple of years ago my then-12 year old daughter and I went backpacking in Arkansas for several days. The terrain was very difficult, an infinite set of near-vertical jigsaw puzzles up and down an equally infinite (and infinitely painful) series of ridges. Although I was in good shape at the time, I had not backpacked in years. I rapidly rediscovered that being "in shape" with pushups and pullups and 20 miles of running a week does not necessarily mean that one is "in shape" for backpacking in rough terrain. Also, I was probably very overprotective regarding how much weight my daughter should carry, and so her pack was only maybe 15 lbs. and mine was pushing 50 or more.

The first day we only hiked about 8 1/2 miles, and just every uphill inch of our journey was exceedingly unpleasant. My daughter quickly grew tired of, in her words, "moving slower than the snot sliding down your upper lip" and came up with an innovative solution to our problem: She voluntarily took about 15 lbs. of the load out of my pack and put it in hers. We resumed marching.

Half an hour later, when my daughter again grew disgusted/revolted/indignant about my still slow-as-dripping-snot pace, she pulled a rope out of my pack, tied to it my chest strap, built a harness on the other end, donned the harness, and began towing me up the hills and ridges. Several hour into our hike, this was the first time I detected heavy breathing, a red face and a little sweat on her part, although I felt like I needed an iron lung machine and several bottles of 100% oxygen. It was pretty damn embarrassing, but the fact is she had far more horsepower and a much younger chassis. (Part of me, however, was insanely proud of her.)

Nowadays, when I know I've got a backpacking trip or some heavy duty hikes in the hills in my future, I spend weeks or months . . . actually hiking (and torturing myself on a StairMaster) before my real journeys commence. I probably won't mind if my future-adult daughter effortlessly outhikes me when I'm in my late 60s or 70s--and I dearly hope she'll still go on walks with her old man in those future days--but I'm sure as hell not going to let her do it while I'm still in my 40s and 50s. After all, lungs can be replaced, and very few people have ever believed I have a heart beating in my chest.

TWD

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from davidpetzal wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

To Matt28: I don't see much sense in hauling our Secretary of State in a backpack; I was simply looking for the heaviest object of relatively small size that the human mind could grasp.

To All. The best exercise for climbing ridges is climbing stairs, either real ones or in a gym. Running will eventually cripple you. Bicycles are are better than running, but not much.

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from Ruckweiler wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

The knowledge in this article and the various responses are straight out of Infantry 101. Common sense will keep an older hunter from crippling oneself. In essence, remember who you are and Dirty Harry's advice. "A man's got to know his limitations." At least the older hunter is not engaged in Infantry speed marches. To those of you who do, Remember those?

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from Carney wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

I hate to say that this blog post is relevant to me -- I would much rather it could be dismissed as "not close enough to home to be on my radar". But, sometimes the truth hurts...

So, what I've been doing is following some advice I heard: "Want! Want really bad! Want so bad that you can't be stopped in getting what you want!"

And I am wanting really bad to be everything that I was physically in my younger days! As I've written in another place -- "I'm forcing the natural world of my mid-section into conformity to my will by believing I'm younger and acting like it!"

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from elkslayer wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Mr. Petzal
there are plenty of us young bucks (I'm 25) who have never hunted from a tree stand. I put a lot of miles on my boots every hunting season and none of it in anything that resembles level terrain.

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from Jim in Mo wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Good tips. Take off gloves, scarves, etc. We had a hill we called Billy Goat hill. Good lord, even young pups huffed on it.

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from shane wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

OH has me out of shape. I need upstate NY and VT back in my life.

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from T.W. Davidson wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Carrying our current Secretary of State in a backpack would be akin to strapping on and carrying an active black hole. The backpack wearer--and the rest of civilization, society and rational-thinking people within a few hundred thousand (or trillion) kilometers would get sucked into the black hole and disappear to locations, times and destinies unknown. No wonder hubby goes on so many foreign dignitary trips (and successful ones) . . . alone.

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from rabbitpolice88 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

I have rucked up Blood mountain several times and done a bit of still hunting in the North GA mountains. One thing I would add is you MUST find a breathing pattern that does not go against the flow of you body. Some people when they start exerting themselves forget to breath, always remember to breath.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

I learned this from my Dad and later I finally accepted to go slow and do some glassing as I go. I've watched a many critters especially deer and yodel dogs will lie down as close as 20 feet from my trail and set tight until I pass and up pops there head!

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from Clay Cooper wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

One more thing, let the Young Bucks race you to the top and see who has that Chinese disease called Dragon Ass!

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from bluecollarkid wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

I have to say, being 28, I've only hunted in a stand once but DP has a point, lots of guys get that stand, walk 100 yds into the woods, and setup. That said, I've put mountains under my boots and Dave hits all the important points.

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from dickgun wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

DP,
You are a savvy old climber, alright. And, right in all you comments. A steady paced climb beats over doing and allows for the heartbeat and respiration to equalize to what you can maintain.
I esp. like your comment on climbing stairs for workout. For more years than I can remember I told that to sheep clients. Not stairmaster; stairs. In fact a two or three step stool in office and home is a no excuse way to do stepups without any gym or change of clothers, and it includes both up and down. I still do it regularly. I have a mountain 30 minutes away to workout on, but weather and time do not always allow that alternative. We should hunt together. We would be right on the pace to the game! You get first shot.

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from ranger2 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

I couldn't cotton to tree stands, either time I hunted from one. I get bored out of my gourd in five minutes. I guess that comes from being raised on hunting muleys in the Salmon River country. Whereever you start your hunt, it is likely to be an upward trudge. The familiarity of taking off hats and gloves, not racing so you can shoot a critter if you can, and the rest of the thoughts brings back fond memories.

I do have a great story about my younger brother- a tall and lean kid, running-no kidding-, up a 45 degree pitch for a mile and a half after a herd of mule deer. He finally caught them crossing a canyon and picked off a spike from 350 yards. By the time he got back to the highway with the deer, it was completely bald on the one side from dragging it over the shale. I have never met anyone that can take hills like he could back then. And I never remember a single time we went hunting together that I wasn't murmering cuss words about him in between gasps of air.

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from Wags wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

since you can't quail hunt from a tree stand I spend all of my hunting time hoofing it. Done some chukkar hunting, too. All up and down. Key thing for me, above and beyond what Dave has said, GOOD BOOTS that are right for what you are doing. Good boots are the most important equipment you own if you are going to spend time picking 'em up and putting 'em down. Forget ScentLoc and this years newest camo pattern. Take care of the puppies first!!

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from blueridge wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Interesting post, Dave. John Ross and I once were asking a farmer for permission to hunt whistle pigs on his Pennsylvania farm, and he said, in his Penn. Dutch accent, "Ya, iff you valk. Not iff you ride. Valk, like hunters. Not like dese new guys."

Ve valked. Und, ve liked it.

Blue

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from Del in KS wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Most of the above makes very good sense. A week ago I started climbing the stairs at work to prepare for a elk hunt with Ishawooa in 2010.

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from platte river rat wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Harold---did you grow up in NE ??

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from Sidewinder wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

To matt28: "musky cover scent?" EEEWWWWW!

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from nc30-06 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Putting the Secretary of State in a backpack would require a backpack of heretofore never seen size. Heaviest object with the relative smallest size? Have you ever seen that backside?

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from Bella wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Lots o good advice there, Did some backpacking myself climbing Katahdin this summer and No, It ain't as easy as it used to be. Didn't have any problem climbing the actual rock, (with a fanny pack, canteen and my favorite stick) but humping the load of gear to Chimney Pond (50-60 lb frame pack) that was a tough plod indeed.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Del in KS

Beekeeper has expressed interest in hunting with us in Colorado next year. I might better get back on my training regimen soon. Since he is younger than I am, I would not want to be the "anchor man"! HA HA

Are you planning on NW Wyoming with Ishawooa?

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from wingshooter54 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

treestands, ground blinds, high racks, climbing ridges, still hunting thick timber........The absolute best way is when you and big boy meet up. The rest doesn't make a damn.

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from turk wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

I can tell you i do my share of climbing the mountians around the house every year i admit i might not go as far as i use to, i do stay in shape i try to year around by walking up and down the mountain roads during the summer but the only reason i dont have to go as far is over the years there is less hunting pressure it seems like everybody tries to stay away from the big mountains now days which makes it better hunting for me i guess since there is more people with hunting leases down in the southeren part of the state where its flat in the farming zones of the state i have land down there to i still love to hunt in the mountains around where i grew up theres just something about it,i learned how to hunt on those big hills and iam teaching my nephew the same way instead of just walking him to a shooting house i want him to see what its really like and see how and where me and his dad learned to hunt passing on tradition.

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from waterdrinker9 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Not every young hunter rarely walks. I am 19 and where I hunt on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, it can take up to 30 minutes to get to some of the blinds/treestands we hunt in. I don't like the idea of driving a ATV/UTV to your stand unless you are on huge property and even then I would park far away from where I am going to hunt. Every year we take a trip to WV where my grandfather had bought some land with a house on it. I am so used to the flat Maryland terrain that when I get to WV, I feel like I am going to die trying to walk up the mountain. But the reason is I didn't follow one of the tips you have. Thanks for posting these tips and I will put them to good use this fall.

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from jamesti wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

the areas i hunt in colorado are mostly large hills and mountains so it is a given that you will walk them. never have gotten used to a tree stand. i have learned that when you are climbing a hill, always turn around and glass behind and below you. i once climbed all the way up a large mountain and looked back to where i started and there stood a huge mulie! back down i went.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

DEP

If you put madame Secretary in your backpack, you'd better account for a large roll of duct tape in your weight allowance ;)

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from Bill Mason wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

I think everybody has posted some great ideas based on personal experience. Some other sugestions would be to wear only light to mediun weight, dark colored synthetic or merino wool long underwear depending on climate.

Keep cotton away from your skin, including your skivies. Limit cotton to your outer layers if you do not have wool or synthetics.

If you plan to hike a long way consider wearing synthetic shorts over your long underwear. Your perspiratiion will evaporate faster and not be soaked up by your outer layers then and add layers when you stop on slow your pace.

If going to stop for a long time in cold weather consider changing into another pair of liner and wool socks and letting the ones your take off dry and change back into them if needed.

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from RJ Arena wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Dave - you gave some very good points, I do like to look around every 10 paces to make sure I am on track and that I am not walking "into a situation", which could be game,hazards, and the like. Otherwise very sound advice

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from Beekeeper wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Dave,

I don't think any of the backpacks I tested for F&S could accept such a large and ponderous item as Madam Secretary, although the amount of hot air she routinely generates could be used with the aid of an adequate gas bag to help lift those ample hindquarters into a low orbit...

WMH,

I'm in training for October 2010. The air I'm used to breathing is as thick that cotton honey. I thought a head start on more efficiently processing that thin stuff they call air in Colorado along with lightening the load a bit would help me stay within a couple of hundred yards or so behind you!

I too have found a walking staff, light but sturdy boots and as I've gotten older, stopping to glass more (and more) a big help in getting up hill without having to be carried down! The walking staff also provides a good, stable shooting support.

Even in the light rolling terrain I live and hunt in most often I've found that stripping down and taking off the lid when going to the stand assures a warm and peaceful time rather than shivering in my own sweat...

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from sgaredneck wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

rabbitpolice88- Thanks for bringing up Blood Mountain -I haven't been there in 20 years or so. I am sure it has changed less than I have. It is still steep and I am rounder and softer.....

Carney - I identify with you 100 per cent. Thanks for the "Want! Want really bad! Want so bad that you can't be stopped in getting what you want!" I now have that written on a piece of tape on the treadmill.

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from jim in nc wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

As a registered Democrat, I must register a dissent: I'd rather pack Hillary up a ridge than Rush Limbaugh. Aside from that, I think DP has it right.

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from Bill Mason wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

to Jim in NC. Rush would be lighter in weight due to all the hot air.

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from ranger2 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Somebody mentioned hiking after chuckars~ the first time you hunt chuckars is for fun. Every other time you hunt chuckars is for revenge!

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from Ruckweiler wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Another tip I learned at Ft. Benning is to wear men's black nylon socks directly on your foot and then put your wool/cotton socks over that. Reduces friction within the boot and cuts down on blisters on a long hump.

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from Jere Smith wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Indeed so Mr Ruckweiler. I learned it in Basic Training in 1959

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from Paul Wilke wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

All the tips are good, heres one more:
It's the trip, not the destination.
Take your time, walk backward a few feet, rest more than you have to, use your eyes more than your feet, you could enjoy the trip so much that when you get to the top you might be disappointed

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Beekeeper

I have been working so much this past year, I have neglected my conditioning. The first couple of days above 7,500 feet kick my tail too. (I know, some of you hunt way higher than that) I live at sea level too, so it is an adjustment for me for a couple of day. I like to spend the night before in Rock Springs, WY when I can instead of driving from Idaho on into Colorado.

This old man will be ready!

LOL

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from rabbitpolice88 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

scaredneck,
Yes, it is still quite steep. The last time I hiked Blood mountain was the coldest day of the year last year. it was 0 with a wind chill that made it feel like -10. I know that's not cold for up North but brother for the South that's freezing. The most I've done of Blood mountain was up it, down it and around the base. It was about 12 miles.

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from sgaredneck wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

rabbitpolice88,
The last time I went there it was in the fall so it wasn't that cold. It was gorgeous while it was kicking my tail. As far as cold, I will always contend that the coldest place I have ever been is the Okefenokee Swamp on a 3-day canoe trip in February....the cold mixed with the humidity -WOW. I've been a lot of other places where the actual temp was way lower but the perceived temp after 3 days of wet cold.......

WaMtn - If you have a pack, the madame secretary, and the costco value pack of duct tape, I assume part of it is for her mouth so her laugh won't spook everything within a county or two, and the rest is to wrap around the pack so it doesn't go high-order from all the internal pressure. No solution for the possible musk (gag) i can think of. I would personally rather slide down a giant razor blade into a vat of acid while listening to Yoko Ono than pack her around....

S GA

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

sgaredneck

You could have left out the musk and Yoko Ono. I was having my breakfast.....

LOL

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from Zermoid wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

NOTE To ALL,
Dave only mentioned packing our Secretary of State UP a ridge, he made NO mention of packing Her MORE Than Ample Hindquarters Back DOWN!

This could be a perfect plan to save America!

GO DAVE!

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from T.W. Davidson wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

All . . .

I may have missed the following tip in my perusal of the comments above, but aluminum hiking sticks are extremely helpful in getting up ridges, hills and mountains. They weigh almost nothing, and if you're in decent shape, you can use your upper body and arms to leverage yourself uphill with the poles. The poles are also very helpful when crossing a creek or river, and as brakes to help you get downhill without slipping or falling or crippling yourself. Good poles are adjustable in height and they don't have to be expensive. My daughter has a pair and I have a pair. Sometimes, if we're going on just a day hike with butt packs or light rucksacks, we'll take a single pole each. We've discovered that even a single pole in rough terrain is far better than nothing at all.

TWD

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from Tim Platt wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I take exception to the if you are over 60 rule... but only because I want it lowered to 50. Better yet don't try to match strides with anyone who is 20 years younger than you period. The boot thing took me a long time to learn. They are bigger they are warmer they are better, unless you actually try to walk in them.

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from muskiemaster wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

grouse hunted four days straight now sat in the stand in morning and put more miles on during mid day grouse hunting then I have all month, let me tell you I sure am glad I got the good boots before this I'm pretty sure my feet would've been cut off right now otherwise.

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from bill b. wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

I have a wonderful initiation rite to pass along experienced in my youthful years when the pursuit of mountain peaks was prime motivator. It is aimed squarely at fng's and as a rite of passage will be remembered and celebrated by the receiver and climbing party. Well maybe not the receiver. Here it is...when a halt is called on the trek up and a fng takes nature call, their unattended pack is uploaded with a suitable 8-10 # rock or boulder. When they return and the trek resumes, a kind fellow climber helps them gear up, so as to keep them from finding their little surprize until either camp is reached or the next halt is taken......Caution though the reaction generally leads to payback, but be sure to have camera ready when the pack is broken down.......

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from Happy Myles wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

I believe it was Patrick McManus who wrote "stop a lot and pretend you are glassing something really interesting".

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from matt28 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Dave, this brings up an interesting point and that being what exactly would be the advantages of packing our current Secretary of State in your hunting kit? I can't see her being much good at retrieving and the God-awful vocalizations must frighten game. Perhaps she provides a musky cover scent?

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from buckhunter wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

The beauty of hunting uphill is the downhill drag.

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from T.W. Davidson wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

All:

A couple of years ago my then-12 year old daughter and I went backpacking in Arkansas for several days. The terrain was very difficult, an infinite set of near-vertical jigsaw puzzles up and down an equally infinite (and infinitely painful) series of ridges. Although I was in good shape at the time, I had not backpacked in years. I rapidly rediscovered that being "in shape" with pushups and pullups and 20 miles of running a week does not necessarily mean that one is "in shape" for backpacking in rough terrain. Also, I was probably very overprotective regarding how much weight my daughter should carry, and so her pack was only maybe 15 lbs. and mine was pushing 50 or more.

The first day we only hiked about 8 1/2 miles, and just every uphill inch of our journey was exceedingly unpleasant. My daughter quickly grew tired of, in her words, "moving slower than the snot sliding down your upper lip" and came up with an innovative solution to our problem: She voluntarily took about 15 lbs. of the load out of my pack and put it in hers. We resumed marching.

Half an hour later, when my daughter again grew disgusted/revolted/indignant about my still slow-as-dripping-snot pace, she pulled a rope out of my pack, tied to it my chest strap, built a harness on the other end, donned the harness, and began towing me up the hills and ridges. Several hour into our hike, this was the first time I detected heavy breathing, a red face and a little sweat on her part, although I felt like I needed an iron lung machine and several bottles of 100% oxygen. It was pretty damn embarrassing, but the fact is she had far more horsepower and a much younger chassis. (Part of me, however, was insanely proud of her.)

Nowadays, when I know I've got a backpacking trip or some heavy duty hikes in the hills in my future, I spend weeks or months . . . actually hiking (and torturing myself on a StairMaster) before my real journeys commence. I probably won't mind if my future-adult daughter effortlessly outhikes me when I'm in my late 60s or 70s--and I dearly hope she'll still go on walks with her old man in those future days--but I'm sure as hell not going to let her do it while I'm still in my 40s and 50s. After all, lungs can be replaced, and very few people have ever believed I have a heart beating in my chest.

TWD

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from idahooutdoors wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

There isn't much of anything in Idaho that is level, here are a few tips to add...

*I prefer up to down as I get older...down is harder on the knees...using a treking pole helps with both...

*go up hill at angles, switchbacking is often easier in the long run than going straight up..

*pick what level spots you can find for breaks, and set small goals out in front of you-the next tree-bush-rock-etc, often small level spots behind rocks and uprooted trees...

*go at your own pace, not that of others you are with, your hunting group should go at the pace of the slowest member of the group, put them in front, don't get so sweaty your cold all day from being damp, and don't get so out of breath you can't shoot...

*stop and glass for breathers every few paces, you'll spot more game that way anyways...

*take some time to warm up, it takes me at least 15 minutes to loosen up and get the lungs expanded, often ask myself what the heck I'm doing the first few minutes climbing up, but if I fight through it I feel great after getting warmed up.

*make sure your hydrated, don't want to cramp up, take water breaks...also empty the bladder before you start out, less weigh to pack..

*the more you climb hills the easier it gets, and the better you'll feel...

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from Happy Myles wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Oh, and like idahooutdoors I use a walking staff, carved a wolf on the top and painted the lower bottom red. That seems to help everyone guessing.

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from davidpetzal wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

To Matt28: I don't see much sense in hauling our Secretary of State in a backpack; I was simply looking for the heaviest object of relatively small size that the human mind could grasp.

To All. The best exercise for climbing ridges is climbing stairs, either real ones or in a gym. Running will eventually cripple you. Bicycles are are better than running, but not much.

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from Sidewinder wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

To matt28: "musky cover scent?" EEEWWWWW!

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

sgaredneck

You could have left out the musk and Yoko Ono. I was having my breakfast.....

LOL

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from jbird wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Funny stuff Dave, and good advice.

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from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Always a good idea to get STAY in shape YEAR ROUND...but Dave gives sound advise; dress in layers, most of our body heat is released thru the top of our head, and light WATERPROOF boats over the ankle are a must anywhere you hunt!
The last few years I have hunted on my own which I know is not a smart thing to do, but the cell phone keeps me in contact with the wife and I have not ventured more then a mile, or two, in the woods off the beaten path.
Thinsulate is great stuff also for less bulk and body heat retention; But I bet most of us here already know that??

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Where I generally hunt is uphill both ways, so the knees take a real beating. I am the oldest in our hunting group, so it is easy for me to poke fun at THEM for not keeping up with me!

I think 'idahooutdoors' nailed it; never get too out of breath to shoot with a steady hold. Our own body weight is our biggest obstacle. Heavy boots are bad, but a necessary evil. If dry and not too cold, I have been known to walk in to my hunt area in lightweight sneakers, then change to keep from getting cold.

The 3 or 4 homeboys from Alabama that hunt with me every year are generally sucking wind in the Rockies and wanting to ride their four wheelers!

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from steve182 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

One step at a time, keep plodding along. The harder the hunt, the greater the reward.

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from RichardF wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

The best thing you can do is stay in shape. If I am going to go up a "mountain" my hunting partner typically heads off in the safe direction, and this is why he has to come to my house to get his fill of deer for the year.

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from Ruckweiler wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

The knowledge in this article and the various responses are straight out of Infantry 101. Common sense will keep an older hunter from crippling oneself. In essence, remember who you are and Dirty Harry's advice. "A man's got to know his limitations." At least the older hunter is not engaged in Infantry speed marches. To those of you who do, Remember those?

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from Carney wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

I hate to say that this blog post is relevant to me -- I would much rather it could be dismissed as "not close enough to home to be on my radar". But, sometimes the truth hurts...

So, what I've been doing is following some advice I heard: "Want! Want really bad! Want so bad that you can't be stopped in getting what you want!"

And I am wanting really bad to be everything that I was physically in my younger days! As I've written in another place -- "I'm forcing the natural world of my mid-section into conformity to my will by believing I'm younger and acting like it!"

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from T.W. Davidson wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Carrying our current Secretary of State in a backpack would be akin to strapping on and carrying an active black hole. The backpack wearer--and the rest of civilization, society and rational-thinking people within a few hundred thousand (or trillion) kilometers would get sucked into the black hole and disappear to locations, times and destinies unknown. No wonder hubby goes on so many foreign dignitary trips (and successful ones) . . . alone.

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from ranger2 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

I couldn't cotton to tree stands, either time I hunted from one. I get bored out of my gourd in five minutes. I guess that comes from being raised on hunting muleys in the Salmon River country. Whereever you start your hunt, it is likely to be an upward trudge. The familiarity of taking off hats and gloves, not racing so you can shoot a critter if you can, and the rest of the thoughts brings back fond memories.

I do have a great story about my younger brother- a tall and lean kid, running-no kidding-, up a 45 degree pitch for a mile and a half after a herd of mule deer. He finally caught them crossing a canyon and picked off a spike from 350 yards. By the time he got back to the highway with the deer, it was completely bald on the one side from dragging it over the shale. I have never met anyone that can take hills like he could back then. And I never remember a single time we went hunting together that I wasn't murmering cuss words about him in between gasps of air.

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from blueridge wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Interesting post, Dave. John Ross and I once were asking a farmer for permission to hunt whistle pigs on his Pennsylvania farm, and he said, in his Penn. Dutch accent, "Ya, iff you valk. Not iff you ride. Valk, like hunters. Not like dese new guys."

Ve valked. Und, ve liked it.

Blue

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from nc30-06 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Putting the Secretary of State in a backpack would require a backpack of heretofore never seen size. Heaviest object with the relative smallest size? Have you ever seen that backside?

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from Beekeeper wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Dave,

I don't think any of the backpacks I tested for F&S could accept such a large and ponderous item as Madam Secretary, although the amount of hot air she routinely generates could be used with the aid of an adequate gas bag to help lift those ample hindquarters into a low orbit...

WMH,

I'm in training for October 2010. The air I'm used to breathing is as thick that cotton honey. I thought a head start on more efficiently processing that thin stuff they call air in Colorado along with lightening the load a bit would help me stay within a couple of hundred yards or so behind you!

I too have found a walking staff, light but sturdy boots and as I've gotten older, stopping to glass more (and more) a big help in getting up hill without having to be carried down! The walking staff also provides a good, stable shooting support.

Even in the light rolling terrain I live and hunt in most often I've found that stripping down and taking off the lid when going to the stand assures a warm and peaceful time rather than shivering in my own sweat...

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from Ruckweiler wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Another tip I learned at Ft. Benning is to wear men's black nylon socks directly on your foot and then put your wool/cotton socks over that. Reduces friction within the boot and cuts down on blisters on a long hump.

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from Jere Smith wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Indeed so Mr Ruckweiler. I learned it in Basic Training in 1959

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from Paul Wilke wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

All the tips are good, heres one more:
It's the trip, not the destination.
Take your time, walk backward a few feet, rest more than you have to, use your eyes more than your feet, you could enjoy the trip so much that when you get to the top you might be disappointed

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from rabbitpolice88 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

scaredneck,
Yes, it is still quite steep. The last time I hiked Blood mountain was the coldest day of the year last year. it was 0 with a wind chill that made it feel like -10. I know that's not cold for up North but brother for the South that's freezing. The most I've done of Blood mountain was up it, down it and around the base. It was about 12 miles.

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from sgaredneck wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

rabbitpolice88,
The last time I went there it was in the fall so it wasn't that cold. It was gorgeous while it was kicking my tail. As far as cold, I will always contend that the coldest place I have ever been is the Okefenokee Swamp on a 3-day canoe trip in February....the cold mixed with the humidity -WOW. I've been a lot of other places where the actual temp was way lower but the perceived temp after 3 days of wet cold.......

WaMtn - If you have a pack, the madame secretary, and the costco value pack of duct tape, I assume part of it is for her mouth so her laugh won't spook everything within a county or two, and the rest is to wrap around the pack so it doesn't go high-order from all the internal pressure. No solution for the possible musk (gag) i can think of. I would personally rather slide down a giant razor blade into a vat of acid while listening to Yoko Ono than pack her around....

S GA

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from Zermoid wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

NOTE To ALL,
Dave only mentioned packing our Secretary of State UP a ridge, he made NO mention of packing Her MORE Than Ample Hindquarters Back DOWN!

This could be a perfect plan to save America!

GO DAVE!

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from T.W. Davidson wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

All . . .

I may have missed the following tip in my perusal of the comments above, but aluminum hiking sticks are extremely helpful in getting up ridges, hills and mountains. They weigh almost nothing, and if you're in decent shape, you can use your upper body and arms to leverage yourself uphill with the poles. The poles are also very helpful when crossing a creek or river, and as brakes to help you get downhill without slipping or falling or crippling yourself. Good poles are adjustable in height and they don't have to be expensive. My daughter has a pair and I have a pair. Sometimes, if we're going on just a day hike with butt packs or light rucksacks, we'll take a single pole each. We've discovered that even a single pole in rough terrain is far better than nothing at all.

TWD

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from horseman308 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

These are great pieces of advice. I've backpacked up a lot of hills and it was always better when I started by taking off the extra stuff. Also, it's reasons like this why I think the right boots are more important than any other piece of gear. Most hunting boots today seem built with the ideas of standing still and doing minimal walking in mind. I really think a serious pair of hiking/backpacking boots are better than most "hunting boots" for anything except sitting in a tree-stand in sub-freezing temperatures all day.

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from Harold wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Dave,

Living in the Rocky Mtn. West and with a taste for elk meat, I find it necessary to climb often. I am in your 60+ catagory and I have no intention of leaving the mountains! In this locale, heavy boots are a must-a twisted ankle back of the beyond could be a death-sentence. I have found that it helps to get into shape BEFORE hunting season. Even us geezers can handle the mountains if we don't get overweight and out of shape. Naturally, check with your MD first, but there is no reason we oldsters can't be active outdoors(people). I must confess, I do go with younger partners. Their enthusiasm is contagious and they head their way and me, mine. I get plenty far, and back, on these old legs and I have someone to help carry out the meat.

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from Brian Jackson wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Why I like living in south Alabama. The closest thing we have to a ridge can generally be cleared in 2 strides. Now if you have some advice for pushing through a canebrake without spooking every deer in a 5 mile radius I would be more than happy to hear it.

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from elkslayer wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Mr. Petzal
there are plenty of us young bucks (I'm 25) who have never hunted from a tree stand. I put a lot of miles on my boots every hunting season and none of it in anything that resembles level terrain.

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from rabbitpolice88 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

I have rucked up Blood mountain several times and done a bit of still hunting in the North GA mountains. One thing I would add is you MUST find a breathing pattern that does not go against the flow of you body. Some people when they start exerting themselves forget to breath, always remember to breath.

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from waterdrinker9 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Not every young hunter rarely walks. I am 19 and where I hunt on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, it can take up to 30 minutes to get to some of the blinds/treestands we hunt in. I don't like the idea of driving a ATV/UTV to your stand unless you are on huge property and even then I would park far away from where I am going to hunt. Every year we take a trip to WV where my grandfather had bought some land with a house on it. I am so used to the flat Maryland terrain that when I get to WV, I feel like I am going to die trying to walk up the mountain. But the reason is I didn't follow one of the tips you have. Thanks for posting these tips and I will put them to good use this fall.

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from jamesti wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

the areas i hunt in colorado are mostly large hills and mountains so it is a given that you will walk them. never have gotten used to a tree stand. i have learned that when you are climbing a hill, always turn around and glass behind and below you. i once climbed all the way up a large mountain and looked back to where i started and there stood a huge mulie! back down i went.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

DEP

If you put madame Secretary in your backpack, you'd better account for a large roll of duct tape in your weight allowance ;)

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from Bill Mason wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

I think everybody has posted some great ideas based on personal experience. Some other sugestions would be to wear only light to mediun weight, dark colored synthetic or merino wool long underwear depending on climate.

Keep cotton away from your skin, including your skivies. Limit cotton to your outer layers if you do not have wool or synthetics.

If you plan to hike a long way consider wearing synthetic shorts over your long underwear. Your perspiratiion will evaporate faster and not be soaked up by your outer layers then and add layers when you stop on slow your pace.

If going to stop for a long time in cold weather consider changing into another pair of liner and wool socks and letting the ones your take off dry and change back into them if needed.

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from RJ Arena wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Dave - you gave some very good points, I do like to look around every 10 paces to make sure I am on track and that I am not walking "into a situation", which could be game,hazards, and the like. Otherwise very sound advice

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from sgaredneck wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

rabbitpolice88- Thanks for bringing up Blood Mountain -I haven't been there in 20 years or so. I am sure it has changed less than I have. It is still steep and I am rounder and softer.....

Carney - I identify with you 100 per cent. Thanks for the "Want! Want really bad! Want so bad that you can't be stopped in getting what you want!" I now have that written on a piece of tape on the treadmill.

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from Bill Mason wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

to Jim in NC. Rush would be lighter in weight due to all the hot air.

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from ranger2 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Somebody mentioned hiking after chuckars~ the first time you hunt chuckars is for fun. Every other time you hunt chuckars is for revenge!

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Beekeeper

I have been working so much this past year, I have neglected my conditioning. The first couple of days above 7,500 feet kick my tail too. (I know, some of you hunt way higher than that) I live at sea level too, so it is an adjustment for me for a couple of day. I like to spend the night before in Rock Springs, WY when I can instead of driving from Idaho on into Colorado.

This old man will be ready!

LOL

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from Jim in Mo wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Good tips. Take off gloves, scarves, etc. We had a hill we called Billy Goat hill. Good lord, even young pups huffed on it.

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from shane wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

OH has me out of shape. I need upstate NY and VT back in my life.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

I learned this from my Dad and later I finally accepted to go slow and do some glassing as I go. I've watched a many critters especially deer and yodel dogs will lie down as close as 20 feet from my trail and set tight until I pass and up pops there head!

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from Clay Cooper wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

One more thing, let the Young Bucks race you to the top and see who has that Chinese disease called Dragon Ass!

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from bluecollarkid wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

I have to say, being 28, I've only hunted in a stand once but DP has a point, lots of guys get that stand, walk 100 yds into the woods, and setup. That said, I've put mountains under my boots and Dave hits all the important points.

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from dickgun wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

DP,
You are a savvy old climber, alright. And, right in all you comments. A steady paced climb beats over doing and allows for the heartbeat and respiration to equalize to what you can maintain.
I esp. like your comment on climbing stairs for workout. For more years than I can remember I told that to sheep clients. Not stairmaster; stairs. In fact a two or three step stool in office and home is a no excuse way to do stepups without any gym or change of clothers, and it includes both up and down. I still do it regularly. I have a mountain 30 minutes away to workout on, but weather and time do not always allow that alternative. We should hunt together. We would be right on the pace to the game! You get first shot.

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from Wags wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

since you can't quail hunt from a tree stand I spend all of my hunting time hoofing it. Done some chukkar hunting, too. All up and down. Key thing for me, above and beyond what Dave has said, GOOD BOOTS that are right for what you are doing. Good boots are the most important equipment you own if you are going to spend time picking 'em up and putting 'em down. Forget ScentLoc and this years newest camo pattern. Take care of the puppies first!!

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from Del in KS wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Most of the above makes very good sense. A week ago I started climbing the stairs at work to prepare for a elk hunt with Ishawooa in 2010.

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from platte river rat wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Harold---did you grow up in NE ??

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from Bella wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Lots o good advice there, Did some backpacking myself climbing Katahdin this summer and No, It ain't as easy as it used to be. Didn't have any problem climbing the actual rock, (with a fanny pack, canteen and my favorite stick) but humping the load of gear to Chimney Pond (50-60 lb frame pack) that was a tough plod indeed.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

Del in KS

Beekeeper has expressed interest in hunting with us in Colorado next year. I might better get back on my training regimen soon. Since he is younger than I am, I would not want to be the "anchor man"! HA HA

Are you planning on NW Wyoming with Ishawooa?

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from wingshooter54 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

treestands, ground blinds, high racks, climbing ridges, still hunting thick timber........The absolute best way is when you and big boy meet up. The rest doesn't make a damn.

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from turk wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

I can tell you i do my share of climbing the mountians around the house every year i admit i might not go as far as i use to, i do stay in shape i try to year around by walking up and down the mountain roads during the summer but the only reason i dont have to go as far is over the years there is less hunting pressure it seems like everybody tries to stay away from the big mountains now days which makes it better hunting for me i guess since there is more people with hunting leases down in the southeren part of the state where its flat in the farming zones of the state i have land down there to i still love to hunt in the mountains around where i grew up theres just something about it,i learned how to hunt on those big hills and iam teaching my nephew the same way instead of just walking him to a shooting house i want him to see what its really like and see how and where me and his dad learned to hunt passing on tradition.

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from Tim Platt wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I take exception to the if you are over 60 rule... but only because I want it lowered to 50. Better yet don't try to match strides with anyone who is 20 years younger than you period. The boot thing took me a long time to learn. They are bigger they are warmer they are better, unless you actually try to walk in them.

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from muskiemaster wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

grouse hunted four days straight now sat in the stand in morning and put more miles on during mid day grouse hunting then I have all month, let me tell you I sure am glad I got the good boots before this I'm pretty sure my feet would've been cut off right now otherwise.

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from bill b. wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

I have a wonderful initiation rite to pass along experienced in my youthful years when the pursuit of mountain peaks was prime motivator. It is aimed squarely at fng's and as a rite of passage will be remembered and celebrated by the receiver and climbing party. Well maybe not the receiver. Here it is...when a halt is called on the trek up and a fng takes nature call, their unattended pack is uploaded with a suitable 8-10 # rock or boulder. When they return and the trek resumes, a kind fellow climber helps them gear up, so as to keep them from finding their little surprize until either camp is reached or the next halt is taken......Caution though the reaction generally leads to payback, but be sure to have camera ready when the pack is broken down.......

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from jim in nc wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

As a registered Democrat, I must register a dissent: I'd rather pack Hillary up a ridge than Rush Limbaugh. Aside from that, I think DP has it right.

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