Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Season by the Numbers

Now that the main part of my season has winded down I really want to take a moment to reflect on the events and the time put in this year. I decided to put some of my season into a form of numbers. I have also put together a couple of videos to share in this post. Enjoy!

Since this time last year I have put in around 200 days in the field between hunting and scouting. That only left 165 days for fishing.

My longest straight go was 96 consecutive days of hunting – No Breaks just straight hunting! Actually it would be 122 days but there were a few travel days in there that broke up the consecutive hunt before the 96 days.

I think of it like this. How many people are lucky enough to go on a 96 day hunting trip? Actually how many people could survive a 96 day hunting trip - no break? I am not talking about walking to a whitetail blind every day either, although that was done on some days. Most of the time was spent pushing it in steep mountainous country. I don’t care who is with me, if you tell me you want to kill an elk I will push you to do what it takes to get one.
I held 7 big game tags this year including- Nevada Mule deer, Montana Whitetail, Montana Elk, Montana Antelope, Montana Wolf, Idaho Bear and Alaska Dall sheep. Out of the seven tags I held I filled 4. For me this was one of my harder seasons but that is how it goes sometimes. I had two bad archery misses that will haunt me for a while but it happens. The way I see it is things, can and will go wrong, but when the dust settled and I look back on the season everything worked out. This year I had my share of trials in the field but I also had some great tribulations that will forever trump the rest.

I made some amazing memories this season outside of the harvest. Every trip I took was a blast and for me the experience of the trip is what counts. If you plan on hunting 100’s of days a year you better be in it for the experience, otherwise you will end up miserable.

I took my video camera on every hunt. I used my Canon HF S200 and my GoPro. I was able to capture 12 kills on video as well as quite a few misses and tons of other animals.

 The coolest thing I filmed would have to be when I captured a Dall sheep ram and a Wolverine in the same frame. That was the first Wolverine I have seen in the wild. I also captured a grizzly bear which was cool. Some of my favorite shots actually came from the GoPro. I am not just saying this because I sell them on my site. I am saying it because you can get some crazy shots. I filmed my brother Jason and myself inflating a raft and carrying it to the Missouri river where we paddled across so he could try to hammer a Monster bull elk. It turned out cool. Here are a few shots to tide you over. This is not even a fraction of the footage I got this year but it has a little of everything.

Since the beginning of my fall season to the end I lost 20 lbs. This is fairly typical of a season for me. When you burn more calories than you can physically take in, you lose weight, period. I was not out of shape before the season but there is nothing like hard work 24/7. I actually got sick of eating about week five. I eat healthy, no crap food, because I feel that good food builds a good foundation. I will be spending the off-season (if there is such a thing) trying to bulk up for my next go. I still eat healthy, run every day, and lift weights. It is important to build my strength back up before the major mountain hunting starts again in March.

The most elk I skinned and quartered in one day was three. We actually got my first triple- three guys and three bulls out of the same herd! It was cool, but it was way back in with well over 2000 ft. elevation gain to the spot. The day we killed the elk the winds were gusting over 60 mph and it was near zero degrees. Cold and miserable does not even begin to explain the circumstances. If you have ever killed an elk in a nasty place and had that feeling that this is going to be some serious work, imagine that feeling with three elk on the ground.

Fifteen was the most wolves I called in during a single day. I actually was surrounded by them while trying to get one with my bow. It was the largest pack I have ever seen. I actually think two packs had converged and I was caught in the middle. I howled in a group of six black Wolves. Then there were another six in a different pack below us. The lower pack started to howl and the two packs converged as I tried to cut them off. I got 30 yards to a few but could not get a shot with my bow. Later on more single wolves moved in as I barked and howled getting all the wolves to go crazy. I chased the wolves for about three hours straight howling back and forth. It was one of the coolest things I have ever experienced to be in the middle of wolves like that with a tag in my pocket and a bow in my hand. I know I will probably get the most response for this part of the post, with people saying, “Why didn’t you shoot them with a rifle?” This was actually during the wolf archery only season. If the rifle season had been open I could have taken my pick of the pack.

The heaviest pack I carried was 178 lbs. It was actually the day of the triple. My brother Jason and I each packed a whole elk in one trip. We both loaded up our frames with half a boned out elk. We had the other bull hanging in a tree bone in to get out later (the third elk was split between three other guys with packs). The weather was so nasty as we started to leave, Jason and I figured why not try to get some of the hanging elk a little way out if we can. We put the other straps in our pack, lashed the bone-in hind quarter to the outside of our packs and drug the other bone-in front shoulder behind. We both had an entire elk each. Half was boned-out the other half bone-in. Like a couple of idiots who wanted to prove how tough we were, we each carried the whole elk out in one trip to the truck over two miles away. Keep in mind that my body weight at that point was about 156 lbs. When I got to the truck I was really glad I did not have to go back for another elk, even though my whole body ached.

To me I actually enjoy a torturous pack out. It is what makes western hunting truly unique. It makes the kill of the animal just the beginning of the adventure. Call me nuts but some of my best memories are when I am packing meat and hides off the mountain.

That is my vertical elevation gain while hiking and training. 465,000 vertical feet up! This stat does not include the down. I could have summited Everest 16 times over the course of the fall season. I had to do an estimate but I kept it conservative. I though back to all the hunts and tried to add up my elevation gain for each day. I use a gps some weeks just to gather stats but not every week, it is too much of a pain in the butt. I do however have a pretty good gauge of how far I can go in a week with each client. I also know about how far I can go on my own. My best elevation gain on a personal hunt in one day was just over 8,300 feet. It was the day I missed my Nevada Mule deer. I was whipped, especially since I ran from where I spotted the buck to the cliff above him before he feed off. Without training hard this feat would not have been possible.  This stat is just elevation gain and does not include the miles upon miles put into hike that elevation. I wore the Schnee's Granite boots and they really held up. I would bet that I put more miles on a single pair of boots in one season than most people would in a lifetime. Some of the mountaineering style boots are pricey but a pair of every day hunting boots just won't hold up.

I will say that one of my favorite pieces of gear for tracking my elevation is my Sunnto watch. It tells me the elevation and I can even log my elevation. I wanted to keep track of my elevation on my Alaska hunt but forgot to stop the log when we got on the bush plane to change camps in the middle of the hunt. I am notorious for that. Oh well. I got a good idea of how far I went each day by watching my altimeter.

The hottest I ever saw the temperature get while elk hunting in the end of September. It actually hit 100 degrees in the breaks while we were on my brother’s elk hunt. We still found a giant bull but 100 degrees is insane for peak rut. The bulls screamed all night and slept all day (aside from early morning activity). I think this year was the hottest peak rut I have ever seen.

Fires in the area I like to hunt elk in Western Montana only magnified the heat. We still had a great archery week during peak rut. The bulls need to breed no matter the weather. I think people often forget this. Just because it is hot does not mean the rut won’t happen. It just means the time it is going off change. If there is a full moon you can count on the rut happening at night. I really like years like this year when the peak rut coincided with no moon.

All in all, another season down and I guess it all adds up.

200+96+7+12+20+3+15+178+465,000+100=One Great Year in the Field

If you have not subscribed to Follow the Hunt please do! I have some great stuff planned for this next year that will coincide with episodes of Solo Hunters TV as well as with articles for Western Hunter Magazine and Elk Hunter Magazine.

If you enjoy this blog feel free to friend me on Facebook.

Remi Warren


  1. I don’t care who is with me, if you tell me you want to kill an elk I will push you to do what it takes to get one.

    I remember feeling like I was going to throw up and die while you were looking at me and saying we have to go up another hill! But you got me a bull because you pushed me beyond what I would've done by myself. Great post!

  2. this really is a great post remi, keep up the good work. I got my first elk this year thanks to you, and it truely was the most fun hunt I have ever been on.

  3. Remi, I enjoyed reading your blog, A Season by the Numbers. Thanks for sharing the hunt and the adventure.

    I smiled reading 178 and what you wrote, "To me I actually enjoy a torturous pack out. It is what makes western hunting truly unique. It makes the kill of the animal just the beginning of the adventure."

    It's all true though. Packing out an animal you've killed on your back is rewarding and an accomplishment.

    Happy trails,
    Kevin Root

  4. This is a great post! It always amazes me what guides go through to earn a keep. There are lots of people out there who dream of a life like this but very few who could actually pull it off!

  5. I always love hearing about other peoples hunting stories. I founded a webpage where people can share their own stories and upload their own hunting videos to tell the world how cool it really was. www.whatsepic.com There are a lot of really cool videos on there right now.

  6. Great story! I love to see the videos of the hunts. Great work!

  7. Hi,
    Your article is so unique and very good topics. Your story is touch the heart. I like the video most. Thank you for your nice hunting story sharing.

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  10. Thanks Remi, I enjoyed reading your blog, A Season by the Numbers. Thanks for sharing the hunt and the adventure. It's all true though. Packing out an animal you've killed on your back is rewarding and an accomplishment. Hope we will get more from you.

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  14. Great post. Thanks for sharing the hunt and the adventure.

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