It’s March. Let’s face it – when it comes to North American big game, we are doing one of three things – Looking back at last fall’s hunts, looking forward to next fall’s hunts, or hopefully planning a super sweet spring bear hunt. Whatever non-actual hunting thing you are up to now, you can curb your shakes by analyzing your current gear set and buying more. That’s exactly what I did last spring and it worked out great. Below are three essential pieces of mountain hunting gear I had never used before, but most certainly will again.
Black Diamond Whippet SKI Pole:
I’ve confessed my love affair and pronounced the benefits of trekking poles many times. The Black Diamond Whippet Ski pole is a next-level item – adding even more security, safety, and confidence on the mountain. Simply replace one of your trekking poles to make the ultimate mismatched set – or carry as a single. It is essentially a high-quality trekking pole with a small pic built into the handle. Works great for plunging into soft earth for increased purchase, or heaven forbid, stopping in a self-arrest scenario. Even if you’re conservative when it comes to sketchy spots (like I am), the reality is, we just sometimes end up in places we would rather not be in. I found it super handy, easy to pack, and relatively lightweight. And it still worked to erect my emergency shelter. I’m not saying it is a replacement for an Ice Axe, but it will be a lot better than your fingernails if you end up needing it.
Hell yeah, I said Pop Tarts. I was chatting with Remi Warren prior to heading up to POW last August for an Alpine Sitka Blacktail hunt. He has much more mountain-hunting experience than I – which is why I was peppering him with questions. While talking food options, he recommended Pop Tarts. They make sense. It’s no secret – Calories are key for any high-output, multi-day activity. Lucky for us, Pop Tarts are loaded with them, taste great (if you have a sweet tooth) and fall right in line with many bar-type choices more commonly associated with backpacking. Averaging more than 100 calories per ounce, they aren’t the only thing to keep in your pack, but do provide a welcome break from more standard choices. They do tend to crumble over time, so maintaining their structural integrity can be problematic. Now I’m not recommending them for your pre-hunt fitness regimen, but they are dang solid choice on the mountain.
The Razor HD LH Riflescope:
If you haven’t looked through one – look through one. Better yet, just get one and hunt with it. You won’t be disappointed. I’m that confident. Now I know I always sit in my “Vortex Chair”, but these scopes flat out rock. They are optically off the charts, lightweight and tough as nails. Essentially, they are the best mountain scope there is. They aren’t cheap, but when you consider what you are getting, they are more than worth the cost. They are the perfect complement to any mountain or sporting rifle. I mounted the 1.5-8×32 on a Kimber Montana in .308 for the same POW hunt referred to earlier. After getting my ballistic data and confirming it at the range, I was consistently using the BDC drops to make lethal hits on steel out to 540 yards. I ended up shooting a buck right at 200 yards. The target dot is super intuitive. Pin that baby in the pocket and your confidence is through the roof. The HSR-4 Reticle available in the 2-10×40 and 3-15×42 is ideal for those who want to get exact ballistic data and hold more precisely off their reticle for longer shots. I used the 2-10×40 on another deer hunt later in the year. I ended up killing a buck on that hunt at 80 yards, but it was nice knowing I could have executed shots at much greater distance. Any way you go, it will be a lethal combination.
Spring is a great time to evaluate gear, confirm what worked great, what didn’t and make additions. If you don’t currently use any of the items mentioned in this article, I suggest you consider them. They may just become some of your new favorites too.
— by Mark Boardman