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Rugged Backcountry Hunting: Challenge vs. Reward

An off-grid hunt isn't easy. But the rewards are worth the effort, particularly if you plan and gear up accordingly.

Rugged Backcountry Hunting: Challenge vs. Reward

That first step past the trailhead is a thrilling one, as it opens up a world of possibilities for backcountry hunters. It can also be daunting for new hunters or those who haven’t gone far off the grid in pursuit of deer, elk and other iconic game animals that live on the millions of acres of public lands open to hunting. But, as much of a challenge backcountry hunting can present, it’s worth the hard work.

The key to backcountry hunting success is ensuring you have prepared for the challenges, and that covers everything from your state of mind and body to the state of your gear. The military has a saying:  Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance, and smart hunters would do well to start every backcountry hunt with a solid plan.

Start by doing your research on where to hunt and what licenses or tags are available. While many trophy areas are limited to license draws, there is still plenty of opportunities for over-the-counter tags. Licenses for anterless-only units or seasons are easier to come by, but these hunts can still offer the same kind of adventure and experience as hunting for a trophy bull or buck.

Use the off-season to prepare you mind and body. It helps to define success: be okay with the possibility of not punching your tag and be sure to take in every moment of the wilderness adventure and you’re guaranteed to come away from the hunt satisfied, no matter what the outcome. Backcountry hunts are physically demanding. There is no one to help you except your hunting partners. So be ready for tough climbs, cold temperatures and difficult pack-outs when you finally have that elk down.

Give every piece of equipment a critical eye before you lug it into the backcountry. And just as important, know how to use your hunting gear and be competent with it. Packing the wrong gear is one of the quickest ways to end a hunt in disaster. Here are a few suggestions for gear that’s worthy of carrying on tough backcountry hunts.

Worldwide Trophy Adventures

Worldwide Trophy Hunters

This is not a hunt for the next world-record, but rather an incredible adventure that you will never forget. Success rates exceed 80% on nice mature mule deer scoring between 150 and 160 B&C. Larger bucks can be taken. Obtaining a tag, for this reasonably priced mule deer hunt, does require a drawing (mid-March application deadline). Book your hunt with WTA TAGS or call 1-800-346-8747.

Price: $3,950

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HuntWise – The Ultimate Hunting Toolset


In remote regions and rough terrain, the HuntWise app offers the ultimate hunting toolset for navigation and mapping in the backcountry. Built for multiple digital platforms: iOS, Android and Desktop. Click here to learn more and to setup an account.

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Fenix TK26R Multi-Color Flashlight


The Fenix TK26R is a tactical flashlight packed full of features. Not only do you have five modes of white light, but you also have an independent red and green light. Powered by one included 18650 battery, this light can blast a maximum 1500 lumens 1148ft (350m). Features include three independent switches that control all the lights functions, plus strobe, a battery level indicator and strike bezel. Built tough from premium aluminum, this tactical flashlight is also waterproof and dustproof. This exceptional tactical flashlight is perfect for use in law enforcement, hunting or search and rescue activities.

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Kenetrek Grizzle Pac Boot

Kenetrek Boots

Hunters and workers alike will call the new Kenetrek Grizzly boot their everyday-all-day boot. Made with old world craftsmanship using the finest components available, these boots are really made for outdoorsmen who demand the most from their footwear. Snug fitting leather uppers made of the finest heavy-duty 6-ounce oil-tanned leather feature the Kenetrek snug-fit lacing system with the Power D-ring that secures the ankle area of the boot for maximum support. Removable 6mm liners have three layers of materials quilted together. Cambrelle is a durable and excellent wicking material, then 400 grams of Thinsulate Insulation provides warmth without bulk, and finally 3mm of wool felt for insulation even when damp. These liners are more durable and much less bulky than traditional felt liners. Quality hand-made natural rubber bottoms with supportive steel shanks are scent free and waterproof. The high traction K-Talon outsole utilizes the finest rubber compounds found anywhere to give you the grip, durability and support you’ll need to climb anything. The deep relief and open tread pattern give serious bite in snow, mud or dry ground. The Grizzly is available in 10-inch or 13-inch heights and can be completely rebuilt when the bottoms wear out.

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Kryptek Njord Jacket


Designed to be quiet and warm. The Njord collection is 100% windproof and highly water resistant. Built with Kryptek's specially bonded, super quiet brushed tricot with an extremely warm high pile fleece backer for extra warmth. We used a 10/10 lamination between the two layers to keep the wind and water out while keeping you comfortable during the late season.

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Leupold BX-2 Alpine 10x42mm Binocular

Leupold BX-2 Alpine 10x42mm Binocular

Some consider a good set of 10x42 binoculars the sweet spot. Enough magnification for clear identification but still compact enough to take everywhere. Whether it’s your first set of binoculars or your 50th, your glass needs to give you a bright image, feel comfortable in your hands, and be able to take a beating. The BX-2 Alpine binoculars check all these boxes and more. With our Twilight Max Light Management System, this set of binoculars will out-perform everything in its class when it comes to seeing more in less light. And backed by our full lifetime guarantee, you’ll be wondering why you didn’t have to pay more. $324.99

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