Backpack elk hunting is about as gear intensive as it comes. You need what you need to hunt well and stay comfortable on the ground at night, but you also must be careful to not overdo it. While you might not need to sweat each individual ounce as much as you might for a sheep hunt, you may end up wishing you did. Most everything that comes in with you needs to come back out, possibly in the same load as an 80-pound elk hindquarter.
While we don’t have space to go over the minutiae of everything I carried on my New Mexico elk hunt with Steve Rinella on MeatEater Season 10, Part 2, now available on Netflix, I do want to discuss a few of my most valuable and critical pieces of gear.
Phelps Metal Bugle Tube As you can see on that episode, my elk calling style leans pretty heavily on bugling when the conditions are right. I bugle to locate bulls and to draw them in for a fight once we’re in close. Both situations are aided by high-volume noise. That’s why I created and patented the first commercially-available metal bugle tube—because I wanted one.
Not only is this horn louder and crisper than previous offerings, it’s available with a flared mouthpiece for use with a diaphragm call or with our new EZ Bugler mouthpiece. That recent release is simpler to use and more comfortable for beginners than a diaphragm inside your mouth, but it also gets very loud and produces convincing, nuanced bull screams and grunts.
First Lite Corrugate Foundry Pant I’m not the first one to say it, but the Corrugate Foundry is the best all-around hunting pant ever. The ergonomic cut and bomb-proof design hit all the high points I look for to cover my lower half. For an early-season backcountry hunt like this one, I want to stay warm at night and in the chilly mornings but cool down in the heat of the day. Most of all, I don’t want to carry more than the one set of pants on my legs. With the burly fabric and well-placed side zips, the Corrugate Foundry Pants allow me to accomplish all those items while hiking hard for a week in the woods.
MeatEater X Argali Large Game M.O.B. Pack Game Bags Meat bags might be one of the items big game hunters overlook or fail to consider the most. Sure, the $14 four-pack of cheesecloth pillowcases will wrap your quarters and suspend them off the ground, but they will shred at the very sight of a stickerbush.
Argali’s game bags are a revelation for anyone who has suffered through inferior products in the past. The Large Game M.O.B. Pack (meat-on-bone) are big enough and serious enough to fit a whole quartered bull elk or similar-sized game, get it hung in trees, and get it to the truck. Made of durable, breathable fabric with draw-string paracord closures and webbing loops for hanging, these bags set a new standard for meat hauling capability.