• I support your decision – and I’m sure the guy you spoke with has already brought this up – but consider that you’ve never (I don’t think??) packed an elk out on your back, correct? If you were doing this alone, I’d strongly suggest not doing the backcountry base camp, but there are going to be two of you if I’m not mistaken – and because of that I think you can make a go of it. It is easy to forget what it means to pack an elk out if you’re five miles from your vehicle – if you’re by yourself, that means 5 miles to the truck (1 load, say head and backstrap), 5 miles back, then 5 miles to the truck (two loads, let’s say one hind quarter), 5 miles to elk, 5 miles to truck (three loads – other hind quarter), and finally, 5 miles to elk, 5 miles to truck (front shoulders, flank meat). 35 miles – 20 of those with 70-80 pounds on your back…September being warm, usually – meat spoilage is major concern. But with two people – changes the game totally. Good on you for at least reconsidering, but also good on you for sticking with the original plan after processing the new information. You’re going to get a more full experience by base camping in the backcountry – but with that means more difficulty mentally, physically, and logistically. This is gonna be an awesome year to follow your blog. Sorry for the way too long comment.

    • SoleAdventure

      Tom, thanks for brining this up. You are correct – I have never packed an elk out on my back. I originally began planning this trip as a solo hunt, fully knowing that I would need assistance to get an elk out of the backcountry. Now that there will be 2-3 of us, I’m confident that we can get it done. That isn’t to say that it will be easy, but it is possible. Thanks again for sharing!

  • I did my first elk hunt last year as DIY. IT was officially the hardest hunt of my life! My brother and I were lucky to have horses for our hunt but we still did a backcountry camp. Each day we hiked and hiked and hiked in search of elk. Up and down the mountains in Colorado. Regardless of where you camp, it is tough work!

    • SoleAdventure

      You are definitely right, Sean – scaling the mountains for miles each day is going to be difficult no matter where your camp or starting point is. Did you enjoy having the horses?

  • I agree with Tom! Packing an elk out of the backcountry is nothing to mess around with! I’m fortunate to hunt with a great group of friends and there is usually 3-4 of us each time we go out. So there is always plenty of help when it comes to hauling meat. We also know of a few ‘honey-holes’ as you’ve mentioned, so base camp style hunting for elk is our preference.

    Have you thought about getting a hold of someone who has pack horses? I know several guys who go deep into the backcountry each year (and have arrowed monster bulls), but they are realistic that they aren’t going to pack the bull out on their backs if they are 5+ miles from a road (and that’s as the crow flies). They bring radios and call in their coordinates when they get a bull down. After gutting, and hanging the meat, they then wait for reinforcements to come help get the meat out. Just something to think about. I’d hate to see you lose your meat.

    • SoleAdventure

      Yes, Emily, I have definitely considered having a packer on stand-by. That was my original plan when I thought this was going to be a solo trip. Still, with 2 or 3 guys on this trip, I will probably keep that option open just in case.

  • Philip Peterson

    Glad to hear you are doing a backcountry base camp, best way to get the full experience. Though like Tom stated, do not underestimate what it is going to take to get all that meat out, without it spoiling. I am really enjoying your write ups on this upcoming adventure.

    • SoleAdventure

      Thanks, Philip! I’m really enjoying this process, too – especially since I have so many great folks contributing and helping me along.

  • Bryan Amundson

    My hats off to you, you will never regret a hunting trip to elk country. My only advice to you is be flexible. By that I mean don’t over commit to one area or spot for your spike camp. If you get in there and hunt for five days and find no elk, well then you just had a nice little camping trip in elk country. It’s my opinion that one good day of elk hunting beats five days of bad elk hunting. I know you and your group will put in the time and effort to scout from home and that should put you in some good elk country. Just remember you can’t plan for the unforeseen. What I mean is don’t confine yourself to one basin or drainage. Heck I would have a plan for a whole other OTC unit in mind, just in case. You never know if you are going to run into other hunters, no elk, there is a fire over the summer, or a host of other unforeseen issues. It’s always nice when plan A works out, but there is nothing worse than not having a plan B. I’ve been lucky to hunt several places in Colorado with both bow and rifle, but I am always looking for another good spot. You never know when you are going to get to your hunting location to find things not how you had anticipated.

    I wish you guys the best of luck this fall, it will be a trip to remember for sure. Can’t wait to hear more about your plans.

    • SoleAdventure

      Thanks for the tips, Bryan! I agree. I could scout and confirm my plans with those that are knowledgeable about the area, but things change year-to-year, and elk aren’t always where they “should” be. If I’m not seeing, hearing, or smelling elk in the first few days at my “A” spot, I’ll definitely be moving on to plan B. Thanks again for the help, and thanks for reading!

      • Tyler Dominguez

        It looks to be another wet archery season if the patterns hold up as they did last year. I was in the gmu next to where you were hunting last year and we camped often above 8500 feet and we got rained on almost every day. Hopefully it’s cooler as a result. The meat we packed out 3.5 miles with my partner and his girlfriend wasn’t the best tasting meat and this was a younger cow. I shot a smaller Bull but we shoot traditional gear and shoot the first legal game we have a tag for and it’sa lot of work but extre mely rewarding. We spike camp and by next season I’m buying and training pack Llamas. There are services where you could rent Llamas which are much more manageable than mules and take a little less knowledge than riding and packing with horses. Keep up the good work Mark and welcome back!

        • SoleAdventure

          Thanks, Tyler! Llamas do seem like a great option; I’ve been interested in them since I saw Steven Rinella and his brother use them up in MT.

  • Jerry

    Are you guys not able to take quads with you? Makes a big difference I would assume