The archery season finally kicked off for me. My original plan was to make it out on the 15th, which was the opener, but I had some commitments come up that I had to attend to first. The morning of the 19th rolled around and I was out in the field.
I immediately found some antelope on a state section. I parked on the shoulder of the road and the antelope headed the other direction. I went farther down the road and began my hike to where I though the antelope would head. While heading to the area I wen to cross a creek bottom and took a spill as I lost my footing. I landed on my pack and my water bladder burst and lost the majority of my water for the day. I cleaned things up and continued to pursue the antelope.
I finally made it to where I expected the antelope to come. I dried my equipment out the best that I could. After waiting for a while I headed back to my vehicle. As I headed back I continued to try and locate the antelope. Finally I saw the same buck, but he was now bedded on private ground. While waiting to see what the antelope were going to do from their new position I received a phone call and had an emergency at home I had to take care of. I never made it back out for the day, but was looking forward to getting back out when the opportunity came.
I wasn't able to make it out on the 20th as my family and I are getting ready to make a move to Helena, MT in the next couple of weeks. I did however make it back out on the 21st. I again headed to the state section and found a couple more antelope. I set out again to see if I could stalk within bow range. The antelope eventually left my sight and headed further onto private property.
The morning was short and filled with unsuccessful sighting of antelope I could hunt. The season has started out slow thus far, but you never know when the right day will come and it's time to fling an arrow. This season will definitely test me as there will be fewer days this year to hunt for me than in years past. Life sometimes throws curve balls your way and you just have to be patient and take the right swing and things will come together.
Antelope opened on the 15th, which will be followed by archer elk and deer opening on Sept. 7. The anticipation is killing me, but I'm just glad the season finally got here. I look forward to keeping everyone updated on the season as days go by. It will go fast and then there will be the wait until the next season, but each season brings so many more memories.
I recently made a trip out after antelope and tried the new iPhone app called onXMaps. It is created by Hunting GPS Maps and offers the same maps you can order from them for $99 per chip for a much smaller cost and the luxury of not having to purchase a new GPS if you already have an iPhone or iPad. The quality of the map was amazing and easy to use. It is an app that can turn your iPhone or iPad into a GPS. I was able to use my phone in the field mode, which allowed my maps to continue to be used even without any data or cell phone service.
To use the field mode you simply go into the settings on the Hunt onXmaps app and turn on the field mode. The key is to find a wifi connection for your iPhone or iPad and cache maps of the areas that you plan on hunting. Make sure and do this before the hunt. Another reason to make sure and do this wifi connection is because if you don't you may run over your allotted data for your cell phone plan. Once your maps are cached you now have the ability to access those maps while out in the field without any service. While in field mode you can't click on the individual landowner and gov't areas to see the data, but you can still see the names on the maps that are cached.
One of my favorite features of the maps is that you can view them in an aerial format, and it is clear enough that you can depict specific trees or other landmarks to show you where the boundaries are without walking over to them or trying to tell by topo maps. You also have the ability to use markups where you can mark trails, take photos, and use symbols such as where your camp or vehicle is at. I have an older GPS and the new app offered by Hunting GPS Maps is as up to date and on the cutting edge and it is a must have.
The only drawback to the app is the battery life that your phone has. It won't drain your phone in a couple of hours, but you aren't going to have the same battery life as a GPS. I was aware of this issue and simply made sure to throw my GPS in my pack as a back up. Another way to solve this issue if you don't already have a GPS is to look at investing into a backpacking solar panel. By the time you pay for the app on your phone, which can be purchased straight from the phone for $35 or $30 from the Hunting GPS Maps website, and a solar panel you are set to go at a much lower cost. Keep in mind that it is a yearly subscription and not a one time fee. You may not be able to cache the entire state you are hunting like the chip offers, but have the ability to cache specific areas and hunt areas already planned out ahead of time. Again these maps allow me to hunt individual sections and half sections and have the confidence to know exactly where I'm at and hunt more areas than ever before.
This app is a must have as I stated before and something that once you have will wonder how you ever hunted in the past. These maps give you the ability to access areas you only wished you could access in the past. The only negative thing I have found with the app is the battery life, but that was known before I even went out with it. Again as I stated that is an easy fix with a simple investment into a solar panel. If you are unsure if this is something you will enjoy simply create a profile when you get the app and you get a free trial period of 7 days. In my opinion you will love the app in the first few minutes you try it. I can't say enough good about the app or the maps and they are one piece of equipment that is vital to my success in the field.
The one piece of Sitka Gear I wear more than any other is the Jetstream vest. I not only wear this during hunting season, but pretty much everywhere I go. I love this vest and is a very essential piece to my Sitka Gear system. There has been countless times where I have been hiking in cooler weather where I only need my core zip t and when I stop to take a break or glass for a bit it can get a little chilly. This is the ideal time to throw on the vest as it keeps your core warm, which in return will keep you completely warm. On those colder days I will layer with the core zip t and 90% jacket. Sometimes it just isn't enough and again this is where the Jetstream vest fits in great. It works great as both an outer layer over the 90% jacket and inside of it. For even colder days I use a Traverse zip t over my core, which keeps me out there longer. The more time spent in the elements means more chances at filling tags. I also love the fact of not having a bulky sleeve and still having the capability of warmth. The Jetstream vest is cut to form fit, which keeps the bulk out of the way. It can make a huge difference when in thick cover trying to shoot. It's tough to beat the Jetstream vest for versatility. There isn't a trip out hunting I go on that my Jetstream vest stays home. Right at 1 lb it is lightweight and easy to pack along.
The vest comes with 1 chest pocket and 2 side pockets, which is just enough to place gear you need available yet not too many to where you are searching for things. It has a soft outershell with a fleece lining. It is made to keep you warm from the wind and does a great job at it. Every piece of Sitka Gear serves a specific purpose and without putting together a system you are truly missing out. I wrote earlier in review of the system I have put together suggest by the system builder on the Sitka site and it has worked wonders. Sitka Gear just re-vamped their website and offers lots of videos and information to any questions you may have.