If you happened to be lured in by the title of this post and think that you may find some great advice on building up your muscles for shooting your bow better, or learning to climb mountains with more efficiency, let me just say now - I'm sorry to disappoint you.
Girls, this one is for you - for all the lady hunters out there with amazing quad muscles due to spending time hunting in the woods. This muscle strength is not due to all the walking and hiking, but rather super muscle tenacity born out of the necessity of relieving oneself where a porcelain throne is nowhere to be found.
I honestly don't think the guys realize how easy they have it in this area. How many times have we pulled over in the truck at our final destination, and the men simply step out and turn the other direction. Problem solved for them. Not me. Every rut, boulder and crevice has been hit by our truck traveling down the dirt road, and with each bounce my bladder stretches and swells like a water balloon threatening to burst at any moment. Now in order to bring relief, I have to walk what seems like a mile because the tree line is sparse or the grove of aspen with it's twinkling little leaves does a poor job of providing any cover. Upon finding a spot where I can blend in appropriately, I then have to dig a little hole. Okay, you may be asking yourself here, why? Just go! Let me explain...
There is a little thing called gravity. When you have consumed a couple cups of coffee, the amount of liquid that can be expelled from one's body can be great. Therefore, it is important to not have to be adjusting the assumed squat position and dancing around puddles while trying to keep your scent free pants wrapped around your ankles, boots and anything tied to your pants from accidentally touching the river now flowing down the side of the hill. It is better to dig a little hole first. Comprende?
Then as your quad muscles begin to scream during the balancing act performance, you begin to wonder, "Did I find a concealed enough spot?" "Is my sun deprived rear end lighting up this hillside like the harvest moon?" (Have I mentioned my idea of camouflage butt paint before?) And as you move to adjust for the new tributary forming from the puddle below, some unseen weed has just poked you in the butt. And don't forget about the bugs!
I guess there is an upside to all of this squatting tribulation. Girls, when all the hiking in the wilderness brings about other urges than just bladder maintenance, we have great muscle tenacity for the job! However, it still may be a good idea to do a little pre-season quad muscle conditioning. I suppose you could just bring a home-made poop chair, but that may look a bit ridiculous strapped to your pack while hunting in the back country. Oh, and whatever you do - don't wear winter overalls with bad zippers. Have you seen the hunting scene from the movie New In Town? Enough said.
P.s. please don't go reporting me to the woodland police for going potty in the woods, but if you do, I may just have a similar response as this Texas judge.
It may sound like a good idea to simply wheel your game down or up the side of a mountain. It's not - don't do it. If you are ever tempted with the thought of using a game cart in the mountains, let me save you - stop entertaining the thought right now! Don't even think about it. It's a bad Bad idea.
Thanks to a member of our hunting party who thought it would be a brilliant idea to bring a game cart for hauling an elk off the mountain, we tried it once. It wasn't pretty. I wanted to chuck that thing right off the mountain by the time we were done with it. I was so tired and frustrated by the time we got back to the truck that I backed the truck into a tree. Yep! I still get harassed by my husband for that one.
Here is the story...
It was the fall of 2005 when the game cart folly incident occurred. We usually don't hunt a specific area during our hunting trip until the last couple of days because no one wants to drag an elk out of there and you can pretty much guarantee that an elk encounter will happen at the bottom which means hauling an elk UP the entire mountain. It is a place reserved for the last ditch effort and lovingly referred to as the DMZ. The above photo displays this area behind us. It doesn't look so bad from the picture, but one thing I've learned while hunting in the mountains... the terrain can easily fool you!
In the hopes of my first bow elk, I led the way in the early morning hours through waist high ferns, across boulder fields magnifying each bugle like a natural amphitheater and finally to the edge of sky high pine trees marking the entrance of the bottom forest. We were chasing the sounds of a bugling elk and closing the distance with each bugling episode. As we began to inch into the edge of the forest that swallowed up the wapiti, each step taken was absorbed by the soft forest duff concealing all noise and the closeness of something else present was made known by the chill on the back of my neck. With each step forward, I knew the moment may present itself in an instant.
With arrow nocked, feeling a bit like Pocahontas leading her men through the woods - all of the sudden the forest came alive! I was closer than I realized. I had probably 5 bulls scatter all around me!! And then the sound of... "Thud!" "Crash!" was followed by crazy repetitious cow calling. Todd had gotten a shot off. It was his first bull and the excitement caused his glasses to hang from his dazed face as he looked at us with an expression of wild-eyed adrenaline.
Then the moment of realization sunk in - we were at the bottom of the mountain in no-man's land staring at a 5x5 bull elk nestled in a bed of waist-high ferns. The guys were having so much fun watching me sneak around through the woods we didn't realize how far we really were into the forbidden hunting area. Not forbidden as in it isn't legal to hunt here - forbidden as in nobody should consider dragging an elk OUT of here.
It took us probably 12 hours to get that elk out and the first mistake was trying to use a game cart to speed the process. I made the first trip to the truck to retrieve the packs and GAME CART. Now, wheeling that thing down the mountain over the boulders wasn't a big deal and I actually thought we might be able to get the elk out in just one trip. (so wrong!) The first trip up the mountain with that thing took around four hours. Game carts loaded down with 200 lbs of meat do not roll easily through jungles of ferns and rocks and uphill slopes. At one point, I think Todd and I were actually carrying the game cart instead of attempting to wheel the Dang thing!
I'm honestly surprised that Mr. Elk didn't end up at the bottom of the mountain that day in a heap of tenderized meat and game cart wheels. So, let me tell you - if you are ever tempted to simply wheel your meat back to camp. Think twice and don't give into the sweet allure of the game cart. The best option if you don't have pack mules, horses or guides while hunting in the mountains, is a good PACK FRAME. Or you can always find a good wife who is willing to carry it out for you.
From the Draw
A website devoted to sharing bowhunting stories. From the draw in the mountains to the draw on paper, the moments live on.