Sleep In The Dirt

The Hunting Season Suck

Essays From the Field
Photo: Brandon Confer

If you’re lucky enough to fill your tags and harvest your own natural source of protein, that means you’re out in the dirt working for it. It’s not an easy overnight hike for fun, hunting involves meticulous gram counting so that when you pack everything in, you’re taking into account packing everything out – including a year’s worth of meat if all goes well.

Backcountry hikers and campers know that weight matters, and for hunters it’s no different. In addition to the weight of your pack with your tent, bag, pad, food, and stove, you’re also carrying the weight of your hunting equipment, and layers of clothing necessary to survive the extreme temperature fluctuations from sunup to sundown throughout the hunt.

Photo: Brandon Confer

Hunting can be one of the most irritating, frustrating and physically demanding things you can put yourself through, but man I cannot get enough of it. As a college wrestler, I learned the value of hard work and determination, to do what it takes to get the job done. That combination of physical preparation and mental toughness is exactly what is needed to get through some of the suck that hunting brings. Sorry to be discouraging but for me, personally, when I embrace the suck I can ease up and focus on the fun aspects of hunting.

Some of my fondest memories are from the times I was in my greatest misery. I actually enjoy telling the story of sweating through a nasty uphill hike one day and putting on frozen clothes early the next morning. On my last archery hunt I was chasing elk in the backcountry for a few days on end. We were missing our wives and kids, and our warm, comfy beds at home. We had a 65° temperature swing in 24 hours, giving us hot days and 14” of snow overnight, all in one hunt. By being prepared and having the right gear, we were as comfortable as possible, however there is always plenty of discomfort when dealing with the elements.

These rough conditions are what push most folks out of the mountains, and that’s why we prepare for the emotional and physical rollercoaster. As bow season comes to a close, the woods start to quiet. The initial adrenaline rush and major hype has waned and only the determined hunters with unfilled tags remain.

Photo: Brandon Confer

The highs of hunting are what keep bringing me back to it each season. Beautiful mornings and evening solar activity, watching animals do their thing in the wild, the colors of fall and occasional close encounters are what keep me in the woods. The lows can feel extensive in the moment, but the highs far outweigh them and cannot always be put into words. The act of hunting is my therapy. It provides a wave of calm as I listen closely for a nearby bugle and sleep silently under the cover of night. Hunting does not always result as intended, but it always brings me back down to earth.

Clint Whitley is back from his latest hunt and shares his in-the-moment highs and lows on his latest podcast “Elk Season 2020”. He also shares his gear list – what he brought, and what he wishes he had brought, including some key Big Agnes gear items at 13:00. Check out the Colorado Hunting Hub hosted by Clint Whitley below:

In case you missed it, read Clint’s last blog “Camping Gear for the Hunter” including five tips he shares while prepping for hunting season. 

About the Author: Clint Whitley is the podcast host of Colorado Hunting Hub. Alongside many hunters in CO, he is a transplant from South Dakota. Clint grew up hunting and has enjoyed learning how to hunt in this state. He is an outdoor educator as a primary career with a passion for sharing his love of the outdoors with those who want to listen. Sparked by the pandemic, this podcast has given him the platform to do just that.

Follow Clint on Instagram: @co_hunting_hub

Find Clint on Facebook: @Colorado Hunting Hub

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