Hunting in mountain terrain is such a rush, success almost becomes irrelevant. As a 16-year-old boy, my grandfather treated me to a sheep hunt in the Yukon wilderness. One day, Billy Hall, my Indian guide, singled me out to climb the highest mountain in the area and for a few hours I felt like a deity looking down on earth. At one point an eagle flushed from a bluff below and circled repeatedly below me. “Dear God,” I thought, “I’m looking down on eagles.”
Mountain hunting may be a natural high, yet it presents special challenges that require thoughtful preparation. First and foremost, be in shape. Mountain hunting will tax your lungs, muscles, and stamina. Weather often changes quickly or even violently; you can leave camp to bluebird skies and suddenly be hit with a thunder- or snowstorm. If you get wet and cold in the high country, hypothermia can be fatal.
Layering is the key to comfort and safety in the mountains, and these four elements are essential:
Base Layer: Popular products include Scent Blocker Trinity 1.5 Performance, Under Armour Scent Control HeatGear, and Moreno wool. You want a garment that provides some warmth, wicks moisture and retards human scent. If your base layer gets soaked from perspiration, you’ll feel cold.
Mid Layer: Ideally, this can be an outer layer in fair weather and be worn open during midday. Down is light, compact, and very warm, yet won’t breath or insulate if wet. Under Armour‘s Storm garment has Infrared technology that reflects and retains your body heat, along with Permaloft for added insulation.
Outer Shell: Depending on the season, this final layer can be lightly insulated or just water and wind proof. If that sudden snow or rain storm pops up, this is your lifeline, so select a good one. Browning offers their Hell’s Canyon line, which is scent controlled and completely water and wind proof, with all zippers and pockets taped to keep the water out.
Transport System: Unless you’re in extreme cold, wearing all three layers defeats the purpose of the layering system, and a backpack becomes critical. When you leave camp in the morning, if you’re not cold, you’re wearing too many clothes, and the excursion of walking and climbing will soon build perspiration. Walk in your base layer shirt if you can, and add insulation as needed. Easton introduced a full line of packs that are new for the 2013 season; check them out at cheaperthandirt.net.