Sunday, 4 November 2018

The Guardian: Five countries hold 70% of world's last wildernesses, map reveals

Saturday, 3 November 2018

2018 Elk Preview

I started working towards this success over two years ago.  The first taste of my first elk was delicious! Elk is every bit as good as I had heard.

Chasing Food, Woodland Caribou By Jenny Ly

Check out this fantastic story about a fly in caribou hunt by Jenny Ly of Chasing Food Club! Captivating and well written. Well done Jenny!

Friday, 2 November 2018

The Guardian: Humanity has wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970, report finds

Vancouver Hunter: All scientific sources are in agreement.  Habitat loss is the biggest threat facing animals.  As a hunter and conservationist, I feel strongly that we need to act to protect and restore habitat so that we can have strong natural biodiversity for generations to come.  It's our responsibility to advocate for the habitat and animals we care so much about because no one else is. No one else cares as much as us about what happens deep in the wild, far away from the easily accessible, eco-tourist friendly, provincial and national parks.  No one else ventures as deeply into the wilderness, spends as much time, or has as deep a connection to wild animals as we do.  Without habitat we will lose more animals.  Without animals we will lose hunters.  Without hunters we will lose advocates for wildlife and habitat.  Without advocates we will lose more habitat.  We need to reverse this cycle of decline.

Humanity has wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970, report finds

The huge loss is a tragedy in itself but also threatens the survival of civilisation, say the world’s leading scientists
Humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970, leading the world’s foremost experts to warn that the annihilation of wildlife is now an emergency that threatens civilisation.

The new estimate of the massacre of wildlife is made in a major report produced by WWF and involving 59 scientists from across the globe. It finds that the vast and growing consumption of food and resources by the global population is destroying the web of life, billions of years in the making, upon which human society ultimately depends for clean air, water and everything else.

“We are sleepwalking towards the edge of a cliff” said Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at WWF. “If there was a 60% decline in the human population, that would be equivalent to emptying North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China and Oceania. That is the scale of what we have done.”

“This is far more than just being about losing the wonders of nature, desperately sad though that is,” he said. “This is actually now jeopardising the future of people. Nature is not a ‘nice to have’ – it is our life-support system.”

 “We are rapidly running out of time,” said Prof Johan Rockström, a global sustainability expert at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. “Only by addressing both ecosystems and climate do we stand a chance of safeguarding a stable planet for humanity’s future on Earth.”

Many scientists believe the world has begun a sixth mass extinction, the first to be caused by a species – Homo sapiens. Other recent analyses have revealed that humankind has destroyed 83% of all mammals and half of plants since the dawn of civilisation and that, even if the destruction were to end now, it would take 5-7 million years for the natural world to recover.

The Living Planet Index, produced for WWF by the Zoological Society of London, uses data on 16,704 populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians, representing more than 4,000 species, to track the decline of wildlife. Between 1970 and 2014, the latest data available, populations fell by an average of 60%. Four years ago, the decline was 52%. The “shocking truth”, said Barrett, is that the wildlife crash is continuing unabated.

Wildlife and the ecosystems are vital to human life, said Prof Bob Watson, one of the world’s most eminent environmental scientists and currently chair of an intergovernmental panel on biodiversity that said in March that the destruction of nature is as dangerous as climate change.

“Nature contributes to human wellbeing culturally and spiritually, as well as through the critical production of food, clean water, and energy, and through regulating the Earth’s climate, pollution, pollination and floods,” he said. “The Living Planet report clearly demonstrates that human activities are destroying nature at an unacceptable rate, threatening the wellbeing of current and future generations.”

The biggest cause of wildlife losses is the destruction of natural habitats, much of it to create farmland. Three-quarters of all land on Earth is now significantly affected by human activities. Killing for food is the next biggest cause – 300 mammal species are being eaten into extinction – while the oceans are massively overfished, with more than half now being industrially fished.

 Chemical pollution is also significant: half the world’s killer whale populations are now doomed to die from PCB contamination. Global trade introduces invasive species and disease, with amphibians decimated by a fungal disease thought to be spread by the pet trade.

The worst affected region is South and Central America, which has seen an 89% drop in vertebrate populations, largely driven by the felling of vast areas of wildlife-rich forest. In the tropical savannah called cerrado, an area the size of Greater London is cleared every two months, said Barrett.

“It is a classic example of where the disappearance is the result of our own consumption, because the deforestation is being driven by ever expanding agriculture producing soy, which is being exported to countries including the UK to feed pigs and chickens,” he said. The UK itself has lost much of its wildlife, ranking 189th for biodiversity loss out of 218 nations in 2016.

The habitats suffering the greatest damage are rivers and lakes, where wildlife populations have fallen 83%, due to the enormous thirst of agriculture and the large number of dams. “Again there is this direct link between the food system and the depletion of wildlife,” said Barrett. Eating less meat is an essential part of reversing losses, he said.

The Living Planet Index has been criticised as being too broad a measure of wildlife losses and smoothing over crucial details. But all indicators, from extinction rates to intactness of ecosystems, show colossal losses. “They all tell you the same story,” said Barrett.

Conservation efforts can work, with tiger numbers having risen 20% in India in six years as habitat is protected. Giant pandas in China and otters in the UK have also been doing well.

But Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International, said the fundamental issue was consumption: “We can no longer ignore the impact of current unsustainable production models and wasteful lifestyles.”

The world’s nations are working towards a crunch meeting of the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity in 2020, when new commitments for the protection of nature will be made. “We need a new global deal for nature and people and we have this narrow window of less than two years to get it,” said Barrett. “This really is the last chance. We have to get it right this time.”

Tanya Steele, chief executive at WWF, said: “We are the first generation to know we are destroying our planet and the last one that can do anything about it.”

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

2017 Moose and White Tailed Deer

In July 2017, in spite of our group’s diminished odds due to our draw successes in 2015, one of our friends managed to get a moose draw while putting in solo.  There was no hesitation in deciding to go with him to Vanderhoof so that we would be there to help in case he managed to clip his tag. 

On the way to our spot near Vanderhoof, we would have to pass through a number of areas which are open for what I have now termed “Complicated moose” as well as 6 point elk.  “Complicated moose” as I have now taken to calling it, means spike-fork, 10 point, or tri-palm moose.   This is the ministry’s way of letting you still get out moose hunting in spite of wanting to limit the number of moose taken from an area by creating a relatively low chance of success.  Anyways, I bought all the tags I could reasonably think I might punch and started prepping for the trip.

Just like in 2015, we headed up towards the area so that we would be there and ready for when our friend’s tag became valid on October 1st.  However, unlike 2015, there would only be the four of us headed up there this time, compared to the 10 who went on the trip in 2015. 

When we got to the campsite, it was just as I had remembered it.  There were already a few people camped there, so we took a spot a little further in than we had on the previous trip.  Once we finished leveling the trailer, there was still enough time to go out for an evening hunt.   I decided to join my friend who had the tag, so we hopped in his tracker and burned out of camp. We headed to the spot where my father in law and his friends had been successful on past trips, the same spot where I got my first moose in 2015.  It’s is clearly a hot area.

As we started approaching the turnoff to the hot area we slowed to a crawl.  The tracker was as nimble as an ATV, and had no trouble with the dips and climbs.  As we slowly approached the spot where I got my moose in 2015 our eyes scanned the hill sides and valleys for any sign of moose.

We continued on a few hundred meters and around the final bend to where the trail ended.  We slowly came to a stop and by buddy shut off the tracker. As we sat there in the fading light he rolled down his window and gave a moaning cow call.  “MOOSE!” I exclaimed as we both saw the unmistakable movement in the bushes.  My heart was pumping.  Were we really going to punch a tag on the first hunt of the first day?

Quickly we realized it was a cow, but we were off to a good start.  We stayed there for a while longer and continued to call every 15-20 minutes.  Eventually we decided to make our way back to camp.

When we pulled back to camp we were greeted by the others who were camped there.  One was a family with two small daughters, probably 5 and 8, and the other was a father and son and their friend.  As we chatted for a while I noticed the two little girls we each holding a grouse.  Their mom was showing them how to clean their grouse using the standing on the wings trick.  I watched with amusement as these two girls got right in there, gutting and cleaning their grouse.  They weren't squeamish at all.  Very cool.

The following day the father and son were successful and managed to get their moose.  As with everyone, they were cagey about saying where they got their moose, but it wasn’t hard to find the gut pile.  It was just up the road.  They mentioned that they had also been surrounded by wolves while they were field dressing the moose, so the son ended up shooting one of the wolves.  It was a huge wolf, a very impressive animal. 

That day my father in law and I decided to drive back to the hot area to see if anything was around.  As we hit the first deactivation, my father in law’s new winch dug into the far side of the ditch, causing the truck to come to an abrupt stop.  We chatted and decided that I would get out and direct him through so that the winch wouldn’t get hung up again.  As I got out of the truck and closed the door I heard what sounded like falling marbles.  That couldn’t be good.  My father in law heard it too and got out.  I watched as he bent down to pick up a shard of glass. That's when we noticed that the rear window of the truck had been broken.  So frustrating.  We patched it up with plastic and dock tape as best we could and continued on for the rest of the day, but saw no animals.

The next day we decided to all split up.  My father in law and I went up the road to see what we could, maybe get a deer or find the moose for our friend.

From that day forward, things pretty much blended together.  I hiked up and down hills and ridges, scouted new areas, and sat for hours hoping for animals to materialize from the treeline at dawn and dusk.  I could tell that the lack of success seeing moose sign, let alone a moose, was discouraging for everyone.  We broke up the days with a little grouse hunting, fishing, and had a fantastic grouse curry one of the evenings.

During those days we saw several whitetail does and fawns.  On one of the evenings out with my buddy we saw black bear in the distance, but in spite of having a tag, I decided it was not the time for me to clip that tag.  I didn’t want to risk the bear meat or the pelt while we waited for an opportunity for my buddy to get a moose.  It was pretty warm at that point and temperature was a factor, so I took a pass.

Another evening, while my father in law was out hiking, he ended up having a black bear come out of the woods at him.  As soon as it saw my father in law, it turned tail and vanished back over the bank.

The fishing at this spot is unbelievable and worth the trip just for that.  We caught a few and had them for lunch to add some variety.  We decided to catch our limits the day before heading home, so they would be as fresh as possible for the trip down to the coast.

After a few days the father and son left along with their friend.  Then rolled up "the colonel", as he became known.  A retired RCMP officer, who was nice enough, but just seemed to like putting us on the spot, sort of like he was flicking a switch and turning from chummy guy sharing a story to police interrogation.  Anyways, he was up there with his wife and she had the moose tag.  A few days later they ended up being successful too, but we never did end up figuring out if the gut pile we found belonged to their moose.  The location of the gut pile didn’t match their story… perhaps I would have made a good detective. Haha!

The next couple who rolled into camp was an elderly couple with a camper.  They came over and introduced themselves as Jehovah's Witnesses and we exchanged pleasantries.  They explained the husband had severe Parkinson's disease and had fallen a number of times recently. They also remarked that we had set up a shower behind a tree.  The front was hidden by a tarp, but the back and side facing their camp was open.  My buddy’s dad made a joke that we’d give them a good show the next day.  They said their goodbyes and retired for the night.  My buddy’s dad leaned in and said “Just you watch.  If they get a moose they’ll be the first one’s over here asking for help.”

The shower was a pretty fantastic addition to the camp that year.  We heated water with the wood stoves and our friends had brought a little portable shower pump that ran on D cell batteries.  We each used it a few times and it really made us feel fresh.

On one of the next days I returned to camp and saw my father in law working on his generator on the upturned hull of the car-topper boat.  The generator wasn’t working and my father in law was tearing down the carburetor.  At a certain point a few screws ended up falling into the grass and we managed to find all but one.  That generator was deemed to be out of commission and we shared our friends’ Honda 2000i for the rest of the trip.

For the next few days we drove, walked, hiked, and glassed.  I saw nothing.  If it wasn’t so much fun just to be out there it would have been very discouraging. 

A few days later we were returning to camp in the evening and saw our friend’s truck heading out of camp.  We pulled up to them hoping to hear that they got a moose.  There was a moose down alright, but it was the old couple who had gotten it, right in the middle of the road, and surprise surprise, they needed a hand loading it into the truck

My father in law and I decided to go along and help as well.  As we dropped off some stuff back at camp, we discussed not taking the blocks and gear since they had assured us they had everything they needed to pull out the moose.  We decided to bring the gear anyways. 

We arrived expecting the moose to be field dressed and just ready for some extra muscle to get into the back of a pickup.  We were wrong.  The moose was there, 30m up into the treeline, uphill thank goodness, and my buddy was getting ready to start gutting it.  Right away there were too many chefs in the kitchen so my father in law decided to supervise and make sure no one got hurt.  My biggest fear was that one of us would get hurt, ending our hunt, from helping someone who really had no business being out in the bush anymore.  It became clear within moments that the old man and his wife could never have hauled this moose out without our help.  They had no gear, but what’s more, they were so physically unable that they could not have done it themselves even if they had the proper equipment.

Once the beast was gutted we rigged up a block to haul it out of the trees down into the bed of my buddy’s truck.  In the haste, people were more eager to hurry than do it right, resulting in the rope breaking a few times.  At that point the wife of the old couple remarked to my father in law that the rope must not be that strong.  It was in fact rated to over 2000 lbs and it was the fact that the block was not free to sit correctly that the rope was being pulled against the edge of the block, which in turn, cut the rope like a knife.  I could see the frustration in my father in law’s eyes or it might have just been the reflection of my own frustration. 

After re-rigging we slowly dragged the moose down and into my buddy’s truck bed.  As he started pulling out it was clear his bumper was caught on a rock and the mud was not affording him much traction.  The last thing we needed now was a ruined truck because of doing a good deed.  We managed to free the bumper and we all headed back to camp. 

When we got back my friend’s dad made it clear that we wouldn’t be skinning it tonight, we had hunting to do the next morning and would give the elderly man an hand skinning and hanging it the next day around noon.

After the elderly couple retired to bed, we made more than a few jokes about packing up in the night, clipping my buddy’s tag, and heading home.  … only half jokingly.  Anyways, we got back to hunting the next day, no one was injured and no gear was damaged by the good deed, and the old couple even ended up giving my buddy a hind quarter for all his work.  It was well deserved, but still a ridiculous situation none the less.

Later in the week a few of familiar faces showed up, the same two gents who we met for the first time there in 2015, Jim and Doug.  Two good old boys with the right attitude and some good stories.  They are the two who had the Suzuki samurai which we think bumped the grizzly in 2015 and set it on the path towards my father in law.

The next morning my father in law decided we would head back down the road to the area where he had been charged by the grizzly bear.  We had seen a few does and fawns down there earlier in the week and we had tags to punch.  We left camp around 7:00am. We got to the end of the road out of the rec site and turned right.  As we started to speed up my father in law joked that maybe we should try road hunting as fast as my buddy drives his tracker, and wouldn’t you know it, a moment later, less than 100 meters from the turnoff to camp, my father in law looked at me and said he just saw a buck in the clearing that we had just flew past.  He gradually slowed down the truck and we both got out, loaded our rifles, and I started walking back down the road.  On hindsight I feel badly to this day that I didn’t think to insist that my father in law go after this buck.  As I started to walk up a little side road around the clearing I looked at my father in law and he signaled, pointed and whispered to me to stay on the main road. I followed his instructions and continued down the main road as my father in law stood by the side road. 

As I approached the clearing I started to be able to make out the shape of a deer through the brush.  I continued to creep forward, one step after another, trying not to spook the deer.  He was looking right at me and I could see his rack.  I found a little opening and tried to steady myself.  This would have to be an offhand shot.  I hate those, I never practice them, I really should.  The buck was at no more than 20 metres from me, looking straight at me.  I chose my spot, found the pause in my breath, and slowly increased pressure until the trigger broke.  BOOM!

I expected to see something as I lowered my rifle, but I could not.  There was no movement and no deer visible from the road. Doubt began to creep into my mind and I thought that I must have missed. How could I have missed at 20 metres?  I began to walk around the brush to the entrance of the clearing and there he was, a nice little whitetail buck.

After the obligatory photos, we set to work field dressing.  We set him on the back of the tail gate of the truck and headed back to camp.  As we pulled in we were greeted by curiosity.  No one had heard the shot in spite of the proximity to camp.  We hung the buck and by 8:30am we were all finished up with him and having another cup of coffee around the fire.

For the rest of the trip we continued to try to find a moose for my buddy.  I spent a few long evenings up on a ridge which looks out over the valley, trying to glass up some activity so we could make a plan.  It seemed as though everyone else had been lucky and gotten their moose, basically on a road, but all we had seen the whole trip was the cow on the first day.

Not my photo.  Thank you Encyclopedia Britannica
On one of the last days we decided once again to head down the road to what has since become known as grizzly flats. On the way there, just before the first of the two turnoffs that leads to grizzly flats, we rounded a corning and saw what looked like a black bear cub.  My father in law and I both lifted out binos at the same time, and almost in unison exclaimed “A wolverine!”. We felt truly lucky to have seen such an elusive animal.  We watched him for a while until he trundled over the bank.

On one of the evenings towards the end of the trip, after having hiked up the ridge and glassed for the whole afternoon unsuccessfully, I was walking back down the road towards where I had parked the ATV when one of the guys from a neighbouring camp rolled up.   We chatted for a bit, but neither of us had seen anything.  I couldn’t help but notice his bubba mug from which he was continuously sipping and a truck bed full of dozens of empty 2 litre bottles of Captain Morgan’s.  Was he drinking?  I couldn’t be sure.  Was he sober?  He sure seemed to be.  Not a hint of inebriation.   Impressively high functioning or just keeping his recycling close at hand.  I’ll never know, but I do have my suspicions. Haha.  Just one of the many random and funny encounters in the bush.  We said our goodbyes and I headed back to camp.

At the end of the trip, as the elderly couple were packing up, they thanked us again for our help and mentioned that they would preach to us next time if they ran into us again.  No, thank you.  We spent the last couple days hunting and fishing to catch our limit.  We didn’t end up getting my buddy his moose, but he went home with a hind quarter and we got a white tail and tons of troubt.  It had been another great trip.

Friday, 24 August 2018

Summer is Almost Over: Scouting, Preparing for Fall, and Elk Calls

7:30pm free-handed through binos
Summer is ending quickly and hunting season will soon be here.  Life has a funny way of getting in the way when it comes to things like scouting and preparing for the hunting season.  At the beginning of summer I always have these grand plans to scout every other weekend and really get out there.  This year, like last year, has allowed me few weekends to prepare for the fall.  I really only managed to get out there for one and a half good days of scouting this off-season.  Once, earlier in the spring and again just this last weekend where I managed to spot a moose just at dusk.

My list to prepare for the upcoming season is long and there is little time before I head north on September 16th to try to find an elk with my father in law. Between now and then I have to:

1) Get the range at least twice more.  Once just to practice shooting skills and a second time to put a half dozen fouling shots through my rifle and confirm the zero after a final cleaning.  The first 3 shots after I clean the rifle have a very different point of impact than once it has been fouled.

2) Prepare 5-6 meals ahead of time for the trip.  We usually prepare and freeze meals before trips so that after a long day of hunting there is an easy dinner that just needs to be heated up waiting for you at camp.

3) Learn to ride a Honda 90 dirt bike.  We're considering taking a Honda 90 dirt bike with us to help get us deeper, faster, to help scout this new area we are going to.  The only trick is, I have never ridden a dirt bike before.  We're likely heading up to some trails this weekend.

4) Gear prep and packing.  There is always a lot of gear to go through and decide whether or not it will make the cut and come along or stay at home.  With the trailer, its easy to bring too much gear.  I'm going to try to keep it as light as possible this year, keeping gear to a minimum to help make setting up camp as quick and easy as possible.

5) Practice elk calling.  I've been practicing with a variety of Primos calling products.  In order, from easiest to hardest for me.

Primos Hoochie Mama Cow Elk Call

 Without a doubt, the Hoochie Mama is the easiest call.  You can adjust the length by twisting the black tip in and out to get longer notes or shorter notes.  It is simply a matter of putting your thumb over the hole in the grey bellows and squeezing.  It gives a convincing elk chirp which sounds exactly like the elk communication I heard in the Squamish River valley last winter.  Easy to use.  I hope its effective.
Primos Super Pack Elk Call Bugle

I bought this call in a pack with a DVD on elk calling, the Hoochie Mama, and a Top Pin diaphragm. After watching the DVD it is now really easy to use this call to make a convincing bull elk bugle.  The hardest part is to get to the highest register of pitch with this call, but overall, very easy to use.
Primos Money Maker Diaphragm Call
It took me several days of practice just to be able to make a noise with a diaphragm.  It really felt like I was going to gag for the first long while.  This takes tons of practice to sound good so I decided to keep the diaphragm in my car so I can practice while I am commuting.  It is easier to make bull bugles than convincing cow chirps.  The cow chirps start off well but I can't seem to be consistent about ending them on a low note.  The Hoochie Mama call is what I am trying to copy with this Diaphragm, I would say that I am 70% there.

Primos Long Range Imaka Da BullCrazy Elk Call
I have no idea how to make this one sound right.  It really seems to make a good sound at first, but then when I try to end the chirp, I just can't figure out what I am doing wrong.  I have tried gently sliding the call and tapering off my breath.  It is the hardest of all.  I am no where close to getting a good sound out of this one yet. Any suggestions are appreciated.

Lots to keep busy with until the season opens!

Monday, 6 August 2018

First Hunting Trip and Gear List Part 1: Looking After Yourself

It's August and many of us are scouting, going through our gear, sighting in rifles, and getting mountain ready for the upcoming fall season.  One of the things I am trying to arrange this year is to recruit some new hunters to come with me for a weekend outing in between my bigger trips.  From the people I have spoken to who are interested in coming with me, one of the biggest barriers is the overwhelming complexity and cost of being prepared for a day of hunting.

BC has this very interesting licence option called an "Initiation Licence" where a person 18 or older can get a one time licence to go hunting with a mentor, where that person doesn't need their PAL or CORE, but will need to be under the constant and direct supervision of the supervising hunter and shooting on their tags.  The initiation licence is a great way for someone to try out hunting without having to go through the whole process.

So here's the scenario.  You've been invited to go with a well established hunter or hunting group and you need to prepare yourself.  You don't need all the skills or gear that make a hunter, but you need the mandatory basics to look after yourself for the day.  The goal is to be comfortable, not be a burden, and start learning to hunt.  For those who already have the shooting skills, you may get an opportunity to take a shot if you have the initiation license.  Here we go!



Before we get to the gear list there is one mandatory skill every new initiation licence hunter needs to master.  No, it's not shooting.  The most important skill, that failing to acquire would spell certain doom, is being able to shit in the woods.  There are no toilets out there.  We are not going to town just to poo.  It's going to be a long day, so you need to be prepared for this. 

The biggest trick to squatting is not pulling your pants down all the way.  If you have them bunched up at your knees then it will lessen the risk of getting yourself.  Your "business" is going to land somewhere from between your ankles to a foot or so back from that.  If you have your pants bunched around your ankles, guess what...
In the above diagram, the top and middle options work, from first hand experience.  The bottom one, is probably going to be a horrendous mess, but hey, whatever works for you.  My only opinion is that if you need a log that will be when you can't find one.  I suggest getting comfortable with the first two.


The reason I say pooping in the woods is the only mandatory skill is because you can still come along and hike with me if your shooting skills aren't at the point where you would be the person taking the shot.  It is unlikely we'll be successful anyways, so most of what we are going to do is just spend time in the woods looking for animals.

Silence and Motionlessness

While it may seem obvious to most, it isn't obvious to everyone.  When we're walking in the woods looking for animals, the more noise we make the more likely animals will hear us and flee.  When we see an animal, remain silent and motionless.  Animals will notice motion and sound easily and if alarmed by it they will surely take off.


Overall, the principle is that you need to be prepared for a cold, rainy, fall day of hiking in the mountains.

Hiking boots

For your first trip this may be your biggest investment unless you already have a pair.  Keep in mind, we are unlikely to be on well established trails and the weather is likely to be wet and cold.  Bad footwear, wet and cold feet, and the blisters that result, will ruin the day.  That said, for my first hunting trip I picked myself up a pair of inexpensive boots because I really didn't know if I would like hunting.  They served me well for a few years before I replaced them with a far nicer pair.  That's all you need.  Any hiking boots that are comfortable and hopefully broken in will do.  If you are buying some, then ankle support and waterproof are critical features.  You can get yourself an entry level pair of adequate boots from Cabela's for under $80.  Just make sure they fit your foot well without your heel lifting as you walk.  Make sure you get some good quality wool socks as well.

Cabela's Iron Ridge. These are the first boots I bought, $160, on sale for $127.  I still use them as my alternate boots.  More than good enough for your first boot.

Cabela's Denali Boot by Meindl.  Regular $399, on sale for $319.  These are my current boot.  They are fantastic.  More than you need when starting, but if you have deep pockets they are worth the price.  The all around rubber bumper will prolong the life significantly.

Rain Jacket and Rain Pants

You definitely don't need to run out and buy camo.  Deer are colourblind, so the colour isn't even that important.  If you see a deer, silence and motionlessness is far more important than what you are wearing.

You'll need to bring a rain jacket, because the weather can turn really quickly in the mountains.  If you have rain paints as well that would be a huge plus to bring along.  When you are choosing what to bring, put it on and walk around while wearing it.  If it makes a swooshing sound as you swing your arms or as your legs pass each other, that's less than ideal.  Animals can hear that and won't stick around.  Depending on the time of year your rain jacket and pants may live in your backpack for most of the day, and if that is likely to be the case then you can get away with some loud clothing.   If you have a choice, choose the quieter option.

For my first trip, I went to Canadian Tire and bought a jacket and pants for less than $100 each.  They were fine for my first two week long whitetail trip.  Since that trip I upgraded to GORE-TEX gear.  Where I really notice that inexpensive clothing lets you down is in the knee mobility.  Even the Cabela's MT050 gear I have now has poor leg mobility.  Whatever I get next, knee and leg mobility will be my primary focus to make hiking easier.

Anyways, if you feel like getting quiet hunting clothing, Cabela's has some really inexpensive gear on sale.  HA! It must seem like I have a deal with Cabela's.  I don't! Honestly, they are just crazy good for getting you the basic gear on a budget.

Cabela's Rain Suede. Regular $75.  On sale for $60.
Cabela's Rain Suede. Regular $60.  On sale for $48.

Layers of  Non-Cotton Clothing

Cotton kills.  Fact.  When cotton gets wet, from rain or sweat, it stays wet and sucks heat from your body.  If you want to get hypothermia then cotton is very effective.

Any non-cotton clothing will work for hunting.  Check the labels.  Good things to consider for using on your first hunting trip is any ski clothing you have, those ugly turtlenecks at home on the ski slopes of the 90s are great, cycling clothing, sports wear, workout or running cloths, yoga wear, and as funny as it sounds a lot of polo shirts you may have gotten for free at a conference are non-cotton. Anyways, pile up all your non-cotton clothing and choose the most muted earth tones you have and gather up enough layers to keep you warm even when it is below freezing.

Once you have chosen your layers, run them through the washer without any laundry detergent.  The goal is to remove any scents and UV brighteners which are normally in laundry detergent.   Avoid putting them in the dryer with a dryer cloth for the same reason.  You can buy scent free detergents and dryer sheets from hunting stores or online if you are so inclined.


For rain or sun, you are going to want to have a hat with you.  This can be a baseball hat, brimmed hat, or toque.  It is really your choice, but trust me, you don't want to forget a hat.  If you have one that works well in the rain, keeps your head dry, and doesn't inhibit your hearing or vision, that's a winner.  If you are going to wear something bright orange, the best thing for it to be is your hat.
$12 hat from Cabela's


You'll need a pack that is large enough to hold all the clothing you are bringing with you, plus some other essentials.  If it gets warm, or if while you are hiking you begin to sweat, you will need to remove excess layers and store them in your pack.  It needs to be large enough to allow you to remove excess layers.

In your pack, you should have enough water for you for the day, a lunch, snacks, a lighter, toilet paper, and wet wipes.  I also highly recommend moleskin in case you get blisters and also a one of the many pre-made survival kits which can be purchased from any outdoor stores.  Being able to make fire is very important to safety int he woods.  I suggest buying a pack of lighters and shoving one in ever pocket of your pack.  Over time they'll go missing and when you want one they are always hard to find in your pack.  Having several lighters in there in various places means you are more likely to find one if you need it.

$70 at Cabela's.  Similar packs available at Canadian Tire for $70.

Head Lamp

You are most likely to see game at dawn or dusk.  As a consequence, there will be a lot of time spent hiking in the dark.  Most modern head lamps are pretty good.  Avoid the dollar store ones because they are too poor quality.  I have a Petzl and it is pretty good.  You can get this Tikkina for $25.

Available for $25 at


Everyone should have a basic knife.  There are lots available and they are all fine.  I really like the Leatherman Wave II because it gives me a lot of utility in a small package for survival situations.  Honestly, if you want a multi-tool, don't bother with the knockoffs. From what I have seen they are all crap.  Leatherman or nothing.

$125 at
The one other recommendation I have is to avoid knives that are camo or completely black just in case you drop it.  If you drop it you are far more likely to be able to find it again if it is silver or brightly coloured.  For a first knife, I recommend a fixed blade with no serrations.  They last forever, won't accidentally fold on you if the latch fails, and they are easy to sharpen.

A simple $40 on fixed blade Buck BuckLite Max knife is more than enough.

Compass and Map

A compass is the last piece of essential gear.  I am not going to explain all the nuances and skills required to fully use a compass here.  For beginners in the back country, here is the easiest way to be safe.  When you start hiking in a new area, use a map or the GPS on your phone to identify a geographic feature which crosses the whole area where you will be.  For example often there is a creek or road which crosses the area you are in.  When you set out for day from where you parked your vehicle, you know that the road runs, for example, north-south.  That day you have decided to hike a ridge that is on the west side of the road.  Therefore, you know that no matter what happens, as long as you head east, you will encounter the road eventually and be able to get back to your vehicle.  That day, in this example, east is your safe direction.

On the compass shown below, you would turn the yellow ring until the E for east is at the top, where there is a white line, near the hinge.  That is your direction of travel.  The red arrow for north would now be pointing left.  To travel east, hold the compass in front of you so that you can see the black line in the mirror line up with the middle of the compass.  Think about it like you are looking at the compass and its mirror as if it is a makeup mirror and you want to see your own face.  Now, while you can still see your face in the mirror, start turning your whole body around until the red needle lines up with the red arrow.   When the red needle lines up with the red arrow then you are facing east.  As long as you have the red needle in line with the red arrow and the direction you want to go is in front of you then you are going in the right direction.  It is important to practice compass navigation with the experienced hunter you are going with.  If you ever need to use your compass always trust it.  Compasses never show the wrong direction.  People get seriously lost when they stop trusting their compasses.

I hope this list helps give new hunters an insight into how to help make sure you have the basic gear to go out hunting with an established group or experienced hunter.  If you show up this well prepared for your first trip I am sure they will be truly impressed.  For my friends who I am trying to encourage to come hunting with me, if you can keep yourself warm, dry, and happy for the day, then you'll get invited again.  If there is one item you need, it would be adequate boots.

Well, that summarizes what you'll need for the first day to look after yourself.

In Part 2, we'll go over all the stuff you would need if you were going to hunt on your own, as part of a larger group that has the camping essentials, assuming you have your PAL and CORE at that point.