Late season elk in this part of the world can mean snow on the ground and high winds. Storm fronts in Idaho and MT are always blowing in and out this time of year. That means your week of elk hunting can be well below freezing as the front moves in. Think hard crust, light snow, and wind. In between storm systems everything can be in melt with day time temps in the high 40's mud on your boots and everything is wet. With the winds there is always the chance of heavy snow or rain. The late season "gimme" cow hunt has turned out to be more than I bargained for on more than one occasion. Here is my gear list that has proven itself over and over. If anything makes it onto your wish list be sure to enter our big Christmas give a way for a shot at some store credit. Follow the link above sign into your account (or create one) and add what you'd like to see under your tree. Easy peasy.
Strategy - Its meat season and believe it or not, other hunters can be helpful. If I don't locate elk in a stalkable location as soon as the sun comes up. I set up on a likely exit route out of the timber. This could be a saddle or intermediate ridge located in between a likely bedding area and feeding zone. The toughest part is being patient in wind and cold and staying in an opportune zone. Remember the part about other hunters being helpful? This is where that can come into play. If you aren't confident in tracking the herd in dark timber be confident that someone else may be doing the same. We've all heard those shots ring out at odd hours of the day when seemingly nothing is moving. Stay in that likely travel route find the spot where you can cover country with your eyes and have the right gear to keep you alert all day.
Base and mid Layers - Late season I keep the chama hoody next to skin. Full zip for venting when it's time to sprint. The hoody fits under my ball cap and makes a huge difference. Labrador sweater and the Springer vest are essential. The full zips make layering on the go a snap, the breathability lets you get away with short sprints, and the insulation factor is incredibly comfortable. Allegheny bottoms or the Allegheny EXP's when I know I'll be sitting more than moving.
Outerwear tops- Uncompahgre Puffy is your best friend on this type of hunt. In fact its with me on every hunt. Stormtight Shell bucks the wind and adds an extra layer of air/insulation. This jacket makes a major difference and the weight is minimal.
Outerwear bottoms - North Branch Pants literally the best late season pant I have ever come across. Tough as nails, impervious to the elements. You can vent these bibs on the steep ascents and drop trow in the nastiest of weather and feel like you didn't really take any clothes off. Love these pants for late season.
With this system and a few jumping jacks to kick start the circulation. I can stay out all day and my pack remains relatively light. I do have a few extras like a thermos and at times even my jetboil. A chunk of closed cell foam can keep your rear toasty on the ice and your pack out of the snow.