By Camo Candace, Faces of Hunters blogger.
Preparation is mandatory when accepting the challenge of an archery elk and mule deer hunt in Colorado. Although last year’s trip didn’t have any major missteps, I am still pushing harder than ever this year, making changes, and increasing knowledge.
I have intensified my exercise regime by adding a 12-pound weighted vest (easier than trying to wear my backpack). I also wear the vest while completing mundane life chores like laundry, cleaning, or dishes to condition my shoulders for the constant wear of my backpack in the mountains. Focusing on this area of my body is key due to my small frame and narrow shoulders. My legs are strong and last year those muscles are what carried me for 7 days without feeling sore and I continue to build and maintain them. I have also been sampling new protein bars and snacks to reduce food monotony in the mountains.
My husband and I learned a lot from our trip last year. We’ve purchased new gear, including quivers that will secure our arrows better and a spotting scope and tripod, to help address some of the issues we experienced in the past. I lost a few arrows to the grasps of the thick willows last year and I am hoping our new Tight Spot quivers will eliminate loss and reduce bulk. We also purchased a Vortex Razor HD 16-48×65 spotting scope, pan head tripod and an iPhone adapter to capture images with the intention of spending more time glassing this year.
In addition to new gear, we have invested more hours in researching the land. My husband pulled data for weather patterns, success rates, and feed routes of the animals for the last 5 years and we increased the detail of our topography maps and GPS. Reviewing this important information will aid us in our knowledge of the hunting area and hopefully increase our chances of success.
Finally, I am preparing for the moment of truth by shooting my bow at further distances, with my quiver on and in various positions. My comfort range increases with larger game but so does the awkward shooting positions. Without a blind or tree stand for consistency, creating real hunting scenarios is key to accurate shooting in the mountains including standing, kneeling, crouching, and with my backpack or weighted vest on.
Tackling the mountains of Colorado in search of elk and mule deer seems daunting, especially for this Texas girl who lives on flat land! But months of preparation and year round hog hunting has kept my skills sharp and my mind positive. I can only hope that luck favors the prepared and that we will drive back with our tags and coolers filled!