Alex Templeton has plenty of experience out in the field and she gives us the rundown on must-have gear for those who are gearing up for hunting season.
I grew up in the whitetail hardwoods of NW Missouri and for as long as I can remember, I’ve been deer hunting with my dad. What started as a hobby has blown into an all out obsession for me. The more I hunted, the more into it I became and soon I began bow hunting around the age of 18-19. I was very comfortable hunting whitetails and felt like I had a good idea of what I was doing, especially once I started taking the gear I was using more seriously. I started buying more technical clothing, warmer boots, better bows, etc. I found that when I was using this type of gear, I was able to hunt longer and make more of my time in the stand.
Fast forward to 2015. I got the opportunity to go on my very first elk hunt in Colorado. As I had mentioned, in the whitetail world, my obsession with gear had already began. However, on this first elk hunt of mine, I did not go as prepared as I thought I was. My clothing didn’t fit quite right, I didn’t wear the right boots; basically I didn’t bring the tools necessary to help me be successful… and to no surprise, I came home from the hunt with my tag still in my pocket. A few years later, in 2018, my dad and I ventured to New Mexico for my second archery elk hunt. This time, things were different. I did some research, talked to people with more expertise than I had, and took what I found to be the best gear along with me. I was able to hike longer, I could shoot further, I had better tools and equipment. My time and efforts were rewarded and I tagged my first archery bull elk! I was lucky enough to draw another elk tag for this coming September and have every intention of making the most out of my week long hunt chasing elk during the rut. I wanted to go through and touch on 6 things I didn’t do my first time around elk hunting that had a direct impact on my success in 2018.
1. Properly Fitting Clothes
It’s no secret that hunting is a male-dominated sport. Thankfully, companies like SITKA Gear have been creating and designing technical hunting clothing for women since 2017. This is the brand of gear that I wear for all my hunts and specifically rock the Women’s Big Game line on all western/spot and stalk style hunts. SITKA Gear is designed to be worn in a layering system. With cooler temperatures in the morning and heat throughout the day, it’s important to layer properly to get the most out of your gear.
2. A Reliable Tool
Something I didn’t do last year that I regret, was not carrying a proper tool while hunting. I am very reliant on carrying a Leatherman on me at all times while at home, and found myself constantly reaching for it while elk hunting. Not having a reliable tool left me feeling unprepared incase I needed to work on my bow while in the field. I also needed a saw several times to quickly and quietly create a makeshift hunting blind. I’ve found that the Leatherman Charge + TTI has all the necessary tools making it a perfect addition to add to my pack.
3. Good Glass
This one speaks for itself. If you can’t see them, the chances of successfully tagging whatever animal you’re after are slim. Countless times in Colorado, my binoculars failed me. I couldn’t pick out a bull to save my life. I believe good glass is worth its weight in gold. The BX-5 Santiam HD 8x42mm binoculars have been a game changer. I keep them in a bivy on my chest and lightly scan and glass and follow up with looking through a spotter if needed.
4. A Proper Pack
Included along with the SITKA Gear Women’s Big Game line, came a newly designed pack. Before, I was left with sore shoulders and a hurting back after not carrying a pack designed to actually fit my body. The Mountain Hauler 2700 is functional and keeps me organized with well designed pockets and compartments. It boasts 2700 cubic inches of space to hold everything I need and weighs in at 3.5 pounds.
5. Adjustable Sight
I’ve been trying to master the art of bow hunting for several years now, and I’m no where close to having all the answers, but I can tell you that my archery game went up several levels once I switched up my sight. I went from a traditional fixed 5 pin sight to a Spot Hogg “Tommy Hogg." It’s a fixed-pin sight, but the sight housing “unlocks" and can be slid up or down to shoot at different yardages. The bottom pin then acts as a “single-pin" sight. This allows me to shoot at further distances than before. I can absolutely say that I would have not filled my elk tag in 2018 without a sight with this capability.
6. Hiking Boots
I cringe when thinking back to the boots I wore in Colorado in 2015. They had zero ankle support and weren’t waterproof. My legs and knees would ache after hiking up and down the steep terrain. I didn’t take into consideration how much this would affect my hunt. I could have easily twisted or broken an ankle and found myself in a terrible situation. Now I wear boots designed for big game hunting. Last year in New Mexico I wore the Danner Wayfinder which is designed for the female hunter. When I head back to New Mexico next month, I will be wearing a new boot. The Lacrosse Windrose.
I hope that reading about my mistakes was not only helpful, but encourages every hunter to do research and find gear that can work for them. I will be documenting and sharing my September elk hunt on my Instagram page so head over and follow up with any questions and stick around to see my hunt go down!
– Alex Templeton