Written By Muley Freak Contributor Kory Tams
Spring fever is bursting around the country. To cure this fever you need to act now. Don’t wait until May, June or July to hit the hills. Acting now can put you leaps and bounds ahead when the fall comes and it is time to hunt.
Chase a Spring Critter
If you’re lucky enough to have this option, it’s a great motivator to hit the mountain. Spring turkey and spring bear hunts have become quite popular over the years. I believe the main driver of this can be the restlessness that comes from a long winter.
While scouting a new area you’d like to hunt big game, research turkey opportunities or check the availability of bear tags in that unit. Tromping around the woods you’ll hunt six months later will yield great information. You’ll come across last year’s rubs and scrapes, and wallows and beds that can save you guesswork when fall tags are ready to be filled.
If you don’t have spring hunt options, take your fishing pole or fly rod. Most of us prefer to camp near water when the elk bugle and the mule deer shed velvet, so toss a fly and stay awhile. If nothing else, you’ll know where you can catch a fresh meal when the backpacking meals run out.
Find More Efficient Access
How many of you have broken your backs getting to a hunting spot only to find an easier route later? Take the opportunity to get an early jump on the year. Instead of making one single trip in, make two or three. If you can shave distance and leg juice, make it happen.
Something to keep in mind however, is the forest road access. Some states and even counties will restrict access to vehicles during the spring months only to open them up when the conditions permit. Keep a keen eye for vehicular access and check the dates of closure. There’s nothing worse than thinking you have the mountain to yourself only to hear that low rumble of a two-stroke from the guy that found a better way in.
Fine-Tune Your Equipment
Letting the colder early months slip by means missing out on an equipment testing opportunity. You will never know if that 20 degree bag you just bought will be truly comfortable at that temp, and it would be worse to find out on a lengthy late season hunt.
The list could stretch for miles, from your base layers, pack system and rain gear to even cooking equipment. You need to know when rubber meets the road, your gear will perform. If nothing else, you’ll learn when a piece of your hunting kit is going to shine. Perhaps the boots you bought get too cold on one of your spring jaunts. Great, now you know that October may be the cutoff, and they will make early season a riot.
Shelters are a big check-box as well. Often, we don’t experience a hard-hitting storm during the summer months, enough to test our tents and tarps. Getting constructive criticism from a cold blustery April shower is worth gold, especially if your sleep system passes the test.
Condition Now, Not Later
Last but not least, the physical conditioning needed to chase fuzzy bucks and bugling bulls will always be better when you start in March instead of July. Your body will thank you.
During 2018 I made several backpacking trips into different wilderness areas, mostly for fishing and camping. That fall I felt more prepared than I had in a long time. For some reason, in 2019 I dropped the ball and did not make half as many trips into the elevation, and I can tell you I felt it. This year will be different, and I hope you agree.
Keep the trips simple too. Don’t over plan or deconstruct the unit from a screen. Take the time and enjoy the wakeup call of the early months. You’ll feel more in-tune with the unit you’re hunting and more grateful of success at seasons end.