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My Top Gear Picks for Backcountry Elk Hunts

Here are several tools you’ll want to consider before hiking miles from the nearest road for elk.

After dogging elk all morning, I weaseled in amidst several screaming bulls. I crept toward one of them with the thermals in my favor. Then, he bugled and simultaneously appeared at 70 yards and closing. Moments later, I buried a broadhead into his chest from 14 yards away. He collapsed 100 yards down the slope.

Welcome to the Backcountry

My version of backcountry hunting looks a little bit different than it does for some bowhunters. I don’t tent it miles deep under the stars. I usually stay at a campground in my camper. I’m a full-time freelance writer, and contrary to what some misconceive about outdoor writers, I don’t take off from writing in the fall and hunt every single day. Yes, I hunt a lot, but I have just as many assignments to juggle during the fall as the rest of the year. I need Wi-Fi and my laptop to turn in assignments every few days.

Given this arrangement, I do day hunts for elk anywhere from 1 to 4 miles deep. I leave very early so that I reach a location I want to hunt at daylight. I hike and hunt as long as I’m in the action. Then, I hike out, nap and write. I hunt a lot of afternoons, too. It’s a lot of work and sometimes a hassle to hike in and out once or twice daily. But, I’m often hunting areas just beyond where most day hunters reach, yet miles shy of where horseback hunters or spike campers are hunting. Plus, I don’t have the hassle of a tent, sleeping bag, cookware and other essentials needed for several days at a time. My style, like the others, has pros and cons.

Now that you understand what my backcountry hunting looks like, let’s discuss some gear items that I value most when I’m miles away from the nearest road.

Continue reading the full article written by Darron McDougal here.


September 27, 2023

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Darron McDougal

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A 20% DEET Premium Controlled-Release Lotion will work well against mosquitoes, but Dr. Zimring says he prefers the 20% Picaridin lotion since it also protects against ticks, gnats, chiggers, and flies. (In both instances, he recommends Sawyer brand.)

Rachel Schultz
Editorial Director


Part of spending time outside means battling ticks, mosquitoes, and other biting insects. For this, Nelson swears by permethrin.



And out of the products we tested, Dr. Zeichner highly recommends Sawyer Products 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent.

Samson McDougall