New for Field & Stream: “Pitch Tents, Punch Tags”

I have been published in Field & Stream.  I still can’t believe it, but it showed up in my mailbox, so it must be true!

The article, “Pitch Tents, Punch Tags”, is about camping strategies for hunting elk during archery season and features some great advice from Steve Speck.  Be sure to check it out in the September 2014 issue.

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I have to say thank you to the editorial crew at F&S for giving me this opportunity and teaching me so much along the way.  And this would have never happened without the supporters of this blog that inspire me to keep writing – so THANK YOU!


My 2014 Elk Hunting Gear List

In just a few short weeks I’ll be headed West, toward the Colorado backcountry.  This “style” of this year’s will hunt will be much like I planned last year – we are going to backpack into the wilderness with a week’s worth of gear, and have no intentions of leaving the backcountry unless we are loaded down with elk meat.  We will establish a “backcountry basecamp”, but will move to a different area of the wilderness if needed.

Gear selection is obviously critical for this type of hunt, and I get a ton of questions about what I bring for this type of trip.  I have posted my list for this year below, but to learn more detail about the philosophy behind much of this gear, please refer to these previous posts…

My 2014 Gear List

View/Download Spreadsheet on Google Docs

What’s New?

Elk Decoys: Tips and Tactics with Fred Eichler and Montana Decoy

“Should have, would have, or could have…” – We often think that way when things don’t go right in a hunting situation.  After last year’s elk hunt I was left wondering if I should have brought an elk decoy along.  On one hand, a decoy is something that I don’t want to worry about packing, lugging up and down a mountain, or struggle to setup “in the moment”.  It would only complicate things, right?


But, there are numerous situations where a decoy could be well worth the hassle.  And if you can find a decoy that is light, packable, and easy to deploy, then the hassle virtually eliminated.

I spent quite a bit of time researching decoys over the off-season and ultimately decided to go with the “Eichler Elk” from Montana Decoy.  This decoy is lightweight, extremely packable, incredibly simple to deploy, and it looks great!  Another great benefit of this decoy is that it comes with a DVD from the man himself, Fred Eichler.  The included videos cover decoy setups, strategies, tips, and instructions.

The Eichler Elk decoy package weighs 40 ounces, but much of that weight comes from the stakes/poles.  Thankfully there’s another way setup the decoy, which is not only faster, but much lighter.  Since we I will be hunting in areas where we’ll have plenty of trees, I am going to leave the poles at home and bring the included string and alligator clips (as seen in the video above).  The weight of the decoy and clips is only 16 ounces!

FREE Guide & Discount

If you want to learn more about how to use a decoy for elk hunting, be sure to download this FREE decoy setup guide from Montana Decoy’s website.  In the guide you will get…

  • 5 proven elk decoy setups
  • Tips from elk hunting experts
  • Advice on where, when and how to use elk decoys

If you’re in the market for a new elk decoy, use coupon code “ELKGUIDE2014” to save 15% off of any elk decoy from Montana Decoy!

Elk Decoy Guide - Sample Pages

Pursuing Something Greater

I celebrated my 30th birthday last week. I’m not in mid-life or existential crisis territory yet, but this new decade has caused me to reflect on my life – where I’ve been, and where I’m headed.

Every day we make choices – some big, some small – that shape our lives and influence those around us. These choices (even the small ones) matter.

Decision is action. Action is movement. Movement creates momentum. And momentum, when paired with direction, determines our life’s destination.

It all comes back to choice and decision.  What we chose to do, and whom we decide to become; that is the pursuit we call life.

In Pursuit Challenge

Along these lines, I want to invite you to join me in pursuing something greater than a successful hunting season this fall.

Pastor, author, and my friend, Zeke Pipher, has released a new book for sportsmen called, In Pursuit: Devotions for the Hunter & Fisherman. He has also put together a 90-day challenge for men to work through the book together throughout the upcoming hunting season – from September 1 to December 31.

In Pursuit Challenge

To learn more about (and JOIN!) the In Pursuit Challenge visit:

Decide to pursue something greater…

Food For Backcountry Hunting & Camping Trips

What food should you pack for a multi-day hunting, camping, or backpacking trip?  That’s an important question, and the answer shouldn’t be… “Whatever I can find in my kitchen right before I leave, or pickup at the gas station on the way to the trailhead.”

Last year I wrote a post entitled, Food for Backpack Hunting – Tips, Ideas, and a Lightweight Menu.  In that article I not only shared what I was bringing each day for my backpack elk hunt, but why I was bringing it.  I highly encourage you to read that post to learn about the key elements of Packaiblity, Ease of Use, Value, Edibility, and “The Magic Number”.

In that post I shared my meal plan, which I put together based on previous experience with backpacking trips.  But how did the menu work out for my elk hunting trip specifically?  Did I have enough calories?  Did any of the foods not work particularly well? What am I changing for this year’s trips?  Let’s answer those questions…

The Dietary Debrief

Overall, I was really happy with the food that I brought last year.  I looked forward to eating what I had with me, and felt satisfied and energized throughout the day.  I had more than enough calories (~2,900/day), and finished the trip with a decent amount of food leftover.  There wasn’t any particular item that didn’t agree with my stomach, or failed to be appetizing.  The strategy of packing all of each day’s food into its own zip-loc bag was perfect.  I loved the convenience of grabbing one bag per day for my daypack and quickly seeing what I had left to eat for that day.

What’s Changing

First, let’s take a look at my updated list for this year, and then we’ll talk about some of the specific changes…

View/Download Spreadsheet

New Numbers

I am bringing a bit fewer calories and have optimized the caloric density, so I’m saving a total of about 1.5lbs for 7 days of food.  The changes from last year to this year are…

  • Calories: Down to 2722, last year was 2915
  • Weight: Down to 1.45, last year was 1.65
  • Calories per Ounce: Up to 121, last year was 114

Modified Menu

Breakfast – Last year I only ate my planned breakfast of granola cereal on one or two of the days.  It was much quicker to grab a Probar Meal Bar for breakfast than it was to deal with adding (and sometimes heating) water to the cereal and dirtying a bowl and utensil. This year’s breakfast will be a Probar for sure; they are quick, convenient, filled with quality nutrients, and freaking delicious.  (My favorite flavor is Superfood Slam.)

Lunch – Almond butter, Wheat Thins, and Landjager = Perfection.  I’m not changing a thing here, except I am moving from Justin’s Nut Butter packets to PocketFuel Naturals Nut Butter packets.  They’re both quality products, but I like the larger serving and resealable packaging of PocketFuel Naturals better.

Dinner – I wouldn’t want to live off of Mountain House for much more than 7-10 days, but there is nothing better for a weeklong excursion into the backcountry.  I like to use the “ProPak” meals to save on space in my pack.  I’ll be moving from Snickers bars, which worked well last year, to Probar Base protien bars.  I love the Chocolate Mint flavor, and the extra protein helps get me after a the macronutrient levels that I’m after.  Not to mention, the Probar is made with higher quality and natural ingredients; Snickers, not so much.  I’ll also be adding some extra fat to my Mountain House meals by bringing along single-serving packets of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Snacks – The trail mix, jerky, and Honey Stinger Waffles are staying on the list from last year.  Last year’s Probar “snack” has become this year’s breakfast, and because I had more than enough calories last year, I’m not replacing it this year.  The Clif gel that I have listed with Breakfast will more often than not become a snack/energy shot for later in the day. The Nuun Hydration Tablets provide a light, refreshing flavor to filtered water and also help to replace electrolytes.

Let me know if you have any questions!