And just like that, September is here and archery seasons are opening around the state. If you’re like me, you may be feeling a bit caught off guard – I was just getting the hang of June – when all of a sudden the leaves on the cottonwoods have a subtle golden hue and the morning air temps are suitable for puffy jackets, especially at elevation. Ultimately, these signals of fall and the realization that hunting season is here, leaves folks like us in a spot where the first couple days of archery season might have more to do with gear organization and hunt planning than the act of hunting itself. But hey, summer was a blast and this hunting stuff will come together with the help of a little last minute motivation. All things in their own time, as they say.
So, let’s tackle this together. I’m currently packing for trip up to my hometown of Cody. The reason for this trip is actually due to my inclusion in the wedding of two dear friends but, I’ll leave that part of my packing list out for now (if you need help packing for a wedding, I might not be your guy). However, immediately following the ceremony and celebration, I’ll be making dust down the road from the Mooncrest Ranch with sites set on a general hunting unit west of Cody.
Here’s what I’ll be bringing. Keep in mind, I’m usually winging this just as much as the other guy or gal so, most everything I offer up here is subject to change or alteration and should be taken as suggestion as opposed to “essential”. The biggest things for me are keeping it simple and enjoying my time hunting. Don’t overthink it and don’t make this a suffer-fest for no reason. The hardships and complications will come on their own, such is life.
Wearable gear from the ground up
- Comfortable footwear – Broken in and reliable
- Quality, moisture wicking socks – Socks make a difference and moisture management is key. I’ll usually bring 1 pair for every 3 days out there with maybe a causal pair to throw on at night in camp.
- Insoles – Spend some time and a little extra money here. Supported and stable feet are less fatigued. You recover faster and can hunt longer over more miles. Check out SuperFeet
- Durable, lightweight pants – For archery, there is an advantage to the comfort and scent reduction of merino wool. However, the durability of synthetics can’t be overlooked. User choice here. Check out the Obsidian Merino Pant or the Corrugate Guide Pant from First Lite
- Lightweight active top – I like longsleeve in this case. It’s going to be hot but, I’ll take the bug and sun protection of something like the 150 merino Wick Hoody over a short sleeve option.
- Lightweight hat
- Lightweight gloves
- Insulation – Optional for sure but, even in the early season I’ll pack a lightweight puffy piece for added insulation.
- Rain gear – Optional as well but, the wind/rain protection is a plus and this can even be used in replacement of traditional insulation for early season hunts.
Hard Goods, Safety, and Meat Processing
- Quality pack – A good backpack that can adapt to your different hunts and carry heavy loads comfortably, is invaluable. I’ve been using the Mystery Ranch Metcalf for six years now with no sign of it breaking down.
- Your bow!
- Water bladder
- Sleeping pad – Be comfy and sleep well out there
- Sleeping bag or Quilt – Early season hunts allow you to go a little lighter here, especially if you are already packing wearable insulation.
- Shelter – You can get away with no shelter in a lot of places in Wyoming during the early season. However, I almost always bring a lightweight option like the Hilleberg Atko and run it without the inner tent so it’s a simple, floorless shelter than can sleep up to two folks.
- First Aid Kit – Spend some time here and really think about the basics of what you’ll need. You can buy pre-made kits but, adapt it to your needs.
- Water treatment – I use the Katadyn Gravity Camp 6L and always have chlorine tablets just in case.
- Satellite communicator – Folks have been going into the mountain for a long time without the ability to communicate with the outside world. However, if you have the fund and do a lot of backcountry travel, it’s worth looking into something like the Delorme InReach.
- Bear spray – If you’re an archery hunter in northwest Wyoming, bring it, have it accessible, period.
- “Kill Kit” – Typically includes gloves, a quality skinning knife like those offered by Havalon or Benchmande Altitude, (optional heavier bladed knife for connective tissues), game bags, paracord for hanging meat if needed, tape or zip-tie to attach carcass coupon to animal.
So this is about having fun and enjoying ourselves. Therefore, bring some things that add to the experience and help keep you head in the game.
- Good Food – Something more than dehydrated meals and sports bars. Those things are great for easy and quick but, they won’t fuel you in the long term and they become bland real quick. Bring stuff that you’ll be excited to eat.
- Adult Beverages – There’s really nothing better than drinking coffee in the mountains, except of course sipping a good bourbon in the mountains.
- A Lightweight Camp Chair – If you’re going to be in camp a lot, it’s nice to have a comfy seat.
- Glassing Pad – A lightweight closed foam pad that is a luxury but, it’s really almost essential.
- Reading Material – Knock out some reading while in the backcountry!
- Lightweight Travel Target – Just in case that bow gets dropped or things seem off, you can double check it all before the critical moments of a stalk.
And there you have it. I hope this has helped you s much as it’s helped me wrap my mind around the first hunt of the season. If you have any questions or concerns, shoot me an email at [email protected] or give me a call (307) 899-5304, I’d be happy to discuss in more detail. Good luck to you all and have a ton of fun this season #livingwyowild.