Backcountry Mission Planning

Show Notes

On this episode of The Western Rookie Podcast, Brian chats with John Barklow about backcountry hunt planning, survival skills, and what success means.

John is the founder of Knowledge from Storms, an online resource full of incredible knowledge about back country activity. From skiing in the winter powder to packing out September Bulls, John is a wealth of information that could save you lots of time and discomfort on your next back country adventure! John also just released an Outdoor Class course on Back Country Mission Planning. You can use Code BARKLOW to save 20% on your outdoor class yearly membership and get access to all the great courses you heard about in this episode! Also, sign up for John’s free newsletter at the Knowledge from Storms website to get great information sent directly to you!

Connect with John:



Outdoor Class


Connect with Brian Krebs
On InstagramTikTok and Online

Have Questions or Comments? Send an email to!

Show Transcript

[00:00:00] You're listening to the Western Rookie, a hunting podcast full of tips, tricks and strategies from season western hunters. There are plenty of opportunities out there. We just need to learn how to take on the challenges. Hunting is completely different up there. That person, 26, big game animals, you can fool their eyes, speak, can fold their nose, 300 yards back to the road, turned into three miles back the other way.

It's always cool seeing new hunters going harvest an animal. I don't know what to expect. If there's anybody I want in the woods with me, it'll be you.

Welcome back to another episode of the Western Rookie Podcast. This is your host, Brian Krebs, and I'm very excited about today's episode cuz it is going to be packed full of very applicable, experienced tips and knowledge from, I would say, someone that spent the better part of not only his career, but also his life gathering experience and [00:01:00] knowledge.

And that's John Barklow, founder of Knowledge from Storms. Recent, I don't know, is it author or producer of an outdoor class series on backcountry mission planning and you've got some industry experience as well. So how are you doing today, John? I'm doing well, Brian, and I appreciate your reaching out man.

Yeah, I'm glad that we are able to set this up. I know you're a busy guy. And I know that's probably doesn't get any easier the farther into the year we kit. So it's good to do this now. Yes. Your timing was good. Let's just put it that way. Yeah. Soon we'll be getting into, already it's summer and soon we will be getting into some of those really early season trips, and then that rolls right into, the full season.

And then I suppose you're busy with trades shows most of the spring. Yeah. Yeah. This is a pretty good time right now. We're we still have a black bear season out here depending on what part of the state. I'm in Montana till mid-June. I didn't get out after Turkey. It's not really a passion of mine.

But yeah, it goes from there right to a bunch of events, retailer [00:02:00] events fundraising events with Rocky Mountain, elk, et cetera, tack events. And then by mid-August we're antelope, punning, archery, antelope, punning. And it just does not slow down until probably December 1st ish. Yeah. Take a break off for the holidays maybe.

I have a couple hunts peppered in December, January, and then it's in the show season. Yeah. So it just rolls. How many of how, before we get really into the meat of the episode, how many of your trips are John's vacation trips and how many of 'em are John's business trips? Yeah it's an interesting, it's a great question.

It's interesting you say that. A buddy of mine who lives in Alaska, good for hunting, buddy of mine, he was down here a couple years in a row hunting antelope, and so he'd, we're just hanging out and. He's man you never take any time off or you never take a day off.

And I'm like, what are you talking about? And he's you're constantly working. I'm like, what do you mean working? He's working on like hunting gear and [00:03:00] stuff like that. And I'm like, dude, this is just my life. If I wasn't getting paid for what I'm doing, I'd be doing it anyways just for my own personal, and I did right for my own personal satisfaction.

So it's hard for me to separate, but if you're asking how many are a year are, sick of sponsored, I would say at the most one, most of them are my own. Okay. You're just leveraging them to maybe test out a new idea or a product you've had and you're like, you said you're going hunting anyway.

You got this new piece of gear you'd like to get in the field and feel it for yourself. And so you might just bring that along and that's where your buddies you're always working, you're always in that work mode. But this is. Our own trip. Yeah. But it's, I, we say work with quotes, but it's not like I'm gonna go elk hunt and not bring my latest and greatest, idea into the field.

And I would, I'm a very hands-on person, so I would rather test it first before I gave it to, somebody who was going on their own hunt or a guide who potentially could [00:04:00] compromise their safety or a client's success. I have to try it first and obviously I'm not doing it cuz I don't believe in it, so it's man, I can't wait to get in the field and try it.

Yeah. But that's often why I'm not, you don't see me post a lot about my own personal hunts one cuz I, I don't really. Think they're all that relevant, but two, because most of the time I'm wearing things that I can't show people for sometimes years. So yeah, it's it all morphs. But I would say sponsored hunts is probably, on, on a good year once a year.

On a good year, maybe twice, but it's been about once a year for the last couple years. Yeah. And that's still, the, that lifestyle, oh, it's great. Was the dream of a lot of people that have that dream. And it's amazing to be able to do that. And that was, we were talking about elk hunting before we started recording, but just, setting realistic worldly expectations for really what is success in the West.

And I think elk is the, I would say in my own mind, it's the champion of Western hunting. It's the, it seems like that's the one, there's obviously other [00:05:00] animals that are a little bit harder to, get tags or bring home, but it seems like elk is the big one. And you've got a lot of experience being, big part of the big game team at ccca, your knowledge from storms, all the connections in the outdoor class, all that stuff.

Where do you, what do you define as a successful elcon? Yeah. That's another really good question. I would, I'm not gonna cop out, I'll answer your question, but I think that the answer changes as the person evolves through their experience. I don't wanna call it a career, but as its just grow as an outdoorsman.

I put my own limitations or my own expectations on certain hunts and elk is always elk is always my number one priority. If everything else falls apart and I can't do anything, I can't get time off, whatever the case may be, I have to go elk hunt at least in Montana, right?

So that, that [00:06:00] is my number one focus. So I've got certain expectations for me at this point in time having killed some bulls that, I wouldn't necessarily recommend to other people to include friends of mine, some of which have, who live here or I even work with.

But to me ultimately the way I define success if I come home with an elk or not, is I want to do what I call play the game. And what I mean by that is I want to go out, I want to find my target species, and I want to have the interactions that I'm looking for with them. So be it if I choose to call or I choose to stalk, I want to find elk.

I wanna find some type of target animal or animals, and I want to have that interaction with them. So at the end of the day, if I don't get a shot like last year in Montana, I had an awesome hunt whole season. I didn't kill a bull of Montana. I killed one in Utah, but I got to play the game in Montana multiple [00:07:00] times.

Had more calling interactions than I've ever had called some elk in for friends. To me, that was a huge success. That was a great successful season for me. Even though I didn't personally kill, my own bull of Montana that year. That's a really good way to put it. And I think that's, if we, I think that's how we would view it too.

When we go on these archery hunts, last year we were just west of you archery hunt in Montana, and we got into a big herd one evening, and they're elk were, the bowls were bugling, there were satellite bowls. This herd was a lot bigger than we were intending to get into, right?

Usually that second, third week of September, You're looking for like a bowl maybe 6, 8, 10 cows. This was, more like 40 elk, multiple satellites, a couple rag horns, one dominant, hurtful. And man, was it wild? That was an incredible experience and it really defined the hunt. And then we, we popped a tire in the middle of a thunderstorm and had a bunch of other issues going on.

And that really, we didn't end up bringing one home either, but we counted [00:08:00] it a successful hunt. Cuz like you said, we were in the game, we were there, we, things could have gone a different direction and we could have brought home an elk very easily. Yeah. Yeah. The cool thing about hunting is o obviously there's rules and regulations that are mandated by say, the states.

We also have our own style that we bring to it and our own Definition of success. I've got an article coming out in my next newsletter about this, style matters. But I think we all have to define that for ourselves. And I, again, that can evolve, right? So I think one of the classic mistakes, my opinion that people make to include some friends, who have hunted 7, 8, 10 years now in the west for elk archery and they've yet to kill an elk period, let alone a big elk, right?

Or whatever you define as a big elk. And when you talk to 'em, they're like, yeah, man. Like I had an opportunity to shoot like a, and everybody throws a number out there, which is almost inevitably [00:09:00] wrong. Overinflated for sure. They're like, Hey man, like I had a five point come in, right?

Or I had a six boy point, or I had a three 20 bull come in and I'm like oh my. Yeah. And they're like, yeah, I passed because, I was hoping for something bigger, or I heard another bugle and I wanted to see what it was. And I'm like, that's cool. Like that. That's cool. That's the cool thing about hunting.

But I also, because they're friends of mine, tell them in the next breath that they're idiots, right? And what I mean by that is you've never killed an elk. Be it a cow bull you've never killed, maybe something, an elk with your bow whatever the case may be. Or you've never done it on public land, or you've never done a solar what, whatever the, the definition of that hunt is.

And I'm like, bro, You need to get reps under your belt. You need to kill your first elk with a bow before, in my opinion, before you start putting a number to it, right? Or before you start applying more metrics that makes it more difficult than it already is because it's incredibly difficult, right?

And so I've killed some, I've [00:10:00] killed some good bulls not great bulls, I mean everybody's definition. But I've killed one great bull and some really good bulls. But I was telling you before we jumped on air, I've also killed a heck of a lot more rag horns. I've walked away from seasons without an elk, right?

I consider them almost I consider every season I can think of, they're all successes, right? Yeah. Me killing a big bull or not is not necessarily my definition of success. Like I said, I wanna play the game, but if you've never killed one, or you're coming from, Pennsylvania, or I'll pick on my home state.

If you come from Ohio out west of hunt elk and you've never been out here and you've never seen a big animal, you've never heard of bugle or you've never, all these things, I think that you should take your f the first reasonable opportunity at a legal animal, target animal that you can, and I think that will help you get those reps and build that experience level so that if and when you get that, 3 26 by six [00:11:00] herd bull coming in you, you're not as rattled because you've got some reps under your belt.

Yeah, I was just gonna say almost the same thing. I've been fortunate to take two rifle bulls, but when it comes to archery equipment, I've been a part of a lot of 'em. I've watched my brother shoot three right in front of me, but I haven't yet done it. And I'm still at the phase where I would shoot any legal elk.

Maybe not a calf, because yeah, like I'd maybe try to get like a cow, but if there's a calf, there's usually a cow in the game too at, in September at least. And yeah, I'm rag horn, if it's illegal to shoot spikes in whatever unit we're hunting, I would shoot a spike, shoot a cow, and I'd really strongly encourage someone that's coming from Ohio or my home state of Minnesota, they've never done it before.

Like even if it is a rifle hunt, I shoot an elk who it's okay to be done on the first day or the second day of your first hunt. That's amazing. How many people. Do you know that went out and shot their first elk on their first day of their first season? I don't know any of them.

Yeah, it the cool [00:12:00] thing is it's a very personal thing. And like I said, within the rules, and regulations of the state everybody can define their own success, right? And they can make whatever adventure out of it they want. But I just think that, when you see somebody who's 7, 8, 10 years in and they haven't shot anything yet, but they've had opportunities a lot of times those are pretty disappointed hunters.

And I think that they're passing up opportunities to, one, gain valuable experience, confidence in themselves, confidence in their setup. I'm talking archery here, but it could be rifle. And the other thing is, I realized this a long time ago when I was, going into the ninth inning on a hunt. And hadn't killed a, an elk that year.

And it was gonna be like, that was it for me if I didn't kill one and ended up killing a, a rag horn. And I realized that the meat was more important to me than the horns were, and that I was gonna be really disappointed and pissed off if I didn't kill an elk and have elk meat in the freezer that year.

And it could have been a cow [00:13:00] that walked by, I was gonna shoot it. But, that's when I realized for me personally, like that was important. I just think that, to each his own I'm not judging, but I think that I get people all the time reach out to me on social media and they're like, Hey man here's my first whitetail with the bow, or here's my first elk with the bow, or here's my first, black bear, whatever.

And then inevitably it's dot. It wasn't that big or it wasn't that old. And I'm like, Do not ever apologize for what you kill ever. Yeah. It, yeah, it's not gonna play great on social media, but honestly I think probably more of that needs to be on social media so people understand more of the reality and not just posting, our greatest clips from our hunting life.

That kind of, it paints the wrong picture of, what we're trying to do. You come e even when you live here in Montana, in Idaho, in Colorado, and you go out on public land with a bow or a rifle, but, I'm generally at bow hunter and you pursue elk [00:14:00] like the odds of you being successful are so slim.

But when you, even when I live here, you come from back east and you've never been here, or it's an area cuz you keep going to a different area every year. Man, it is p h D level hunting. And I don't think people understand that. So if I were to come to, let's just say you had a farm, right? Or a piece of property to whitetail hunt, and I showed up and I had no trail camp picks, I had no idea, all I had was an OnX map and I had to go set up my own tree stands and all that.

My chances of success are far less than yours. Yeah. You're doing that and you're coming out the public land and gonna hunt millions of acres of public land. It just takes a while to figure it out. And I just think that people should understand that, not to discourage them, to actually encourage them that this is just gonna be a multi-year journey, and that's cool, and they should really embrace it.

Yeah, I completely agree. I think Randy, says it really when he says, I would [00:15:00] rather out hunt elk every year with an over-the-counter or a general tag than wait 10 years on a limited entry. Because that I, I would, that experience you gain along the way is the entire, that's the entire difference.

Yep. Yeah. Yep. Yep. I grew up in Ohio, like I said, self-taught archery, hunter for whitetail. Again, you want to talk about another really difficult pursuit, especially self-taught. And I was miserable. I never killed one. In my adult life I'd go, I'd travel back east and go to these different places cuz I, I loved a whitetail hunt and I still wasn't finding success, trying to pick three days, five days, whatever, even seven days.

And then finally when I said, you know what, I'm gonna either, lease a piece of property with some buddies, or I'm gonna, chalk two weeks on my calendar and that's the time I'm gonna spend. Inevitably, that's when I started finding some success with Whitetails because, I was out there for, generally speaking, it took me 10 days to [00:16:00] kill a buck.

It wasn't like trying to kill the biggest buck in the woods, but, at least a somewhat mature representative species. But that's what it took. And it took years and years and years and years for me to get there. And it, listen, it took the same thing for elk, but nobody wants to talk about that journey.

They just show like where they are in the here and now. Yeah. And it just doesn't show the, the full picture sometimes. Yeah. I think that's a really good way to put it is be prepared for the long game and you will find success along the journey. Like you said, it's not really a career, more of a journey and every year you get better.

Every year you learn some things. Oh yeah. You pick up skills which is really, that's the back country mission planning and the knowledge from storms. It seems like that's what your brands, your personal brands are all about is acquiring skills and knowledge that are gonna help you get to that success one day.

Yeah. And to me that's the fun part, right? Yeah. It's like building that and Enj enjoying that journey and just figuring it out as you go. And that's like the evolution or the journey, of the [00:17:00] outdoorsmen. And, a lot of it is just trying to figure out different animal species and like how they react and what terrain they want to be in.

And it's I've hunted a lot of mule deer and I've killed some decent mule deer, but, I went down to hunt in Arizona several years ago in January with some like incredible mule deer hunters. And I felt like an absolute rookie first day, first year mule deer hunter. I couldn't, as a matter of fact, if.

They weren't there. I'd still be sitting on that glass and knob looking for a buck. Like I never did see one. The guy's like even letting me look through his binos. He's you see it? And I'm like, nah, I still don't see it, man. And he is like, all right, I'm just gonna tell you where to go and get a stalk in.

And it was just, the terrain was so different, and where they lived was so different and how they acted. And but that's just a cool part where you take that skill and put it in your quiver and you're like, man, next time I go to the desert and hunt meal there, I'm gonna be that much better. Yeah.

Yeah. That's a good way to put it. You just keep learning things and you never really know when you'll pick that [00:18:00] skill back up. Maybe you get into a different part of terrain in Montana and you're like, Hey, this kind of is a little bit of the same stuff I was doing in Arizona.

Yeah. And I remember what we were doing down there. Now I'm gonna apply it to this situation, or it's a little different. I can tweak things about it, but it's still, the base is the same. Yeah. And that's where I wanted to ask you. So you've done, looking at your website, two decades of teaching special operations forces about survival skills and capabilities, knowledge, experience about the backcountry. So you got a lot of professional training. Obviously SCA is also professional in a way too, but Yeah. Probably some of the world's best survival experts are in that group of people that you were working with on the special operations side of the business.

Was there a black and white transition from training that group of people to retiring and moving directly into the, like the hunting and the woodsmanship. Genre or was there more of a slow, gradual [00:19:00] transition to what you're doing today? Yeah. It definitely wasn't black and white.

It was it was a little more gradual. I, I teach we'll say I taught during the week, right? Wasn't actually that way. But, I would teach and then I would take some of what I was teaching, or quite frankly, I learned a lot from students as well. Sometimes you learn what not to do.

Sometimes you learn what to do. Yeah. Sometimes you learn a different way of communicating a skillset or a capability. But, and then I would go cuz I was up in Alaska at the time that that, that was, some of that was going on. And and I'd go hunt, right? And then I'd apply those skills and I'd learn something and sometimes I'd learn a skill to take back to teaching the guys.

And sometimes I'd learn a skill from the guys that I'd take to hunting on my own. And then as I, retired and made that transition, in my mind it was black and white and crystal clear. But it has been a bit of a journey. And so what I've brought, if anything, to the hunting industry for my decades of experience I in the military [00:20:00] was

trying to be what I call a student of the game or trying to dig in and understand the why behind things and truly learn and understand how to apply a skill or why something works to truly build a capability within a person. And so if I understand. If I understand how my body loses heat, then I can counter those forces to stay warm.

And so I understand that I taught that we did exercises to reinforce that point. We'll say okay, where you're cold, wet, and miserable and it's like, all right, now you're gonna figure it out for yourself. And wh what I see, and it's not, I'm not saying it's wrong, it's just, it's it's just natural is in the hunting world.

When I come into, when I came into the hunting world, I would see this extreme focus on, man, here's how to shoot your bow man. Here's how to call the elk man. Here's how to, dope in your rifle and shoot a thousand yards, or [00:21:00] whatever the case may be. And that was awesome. Or hey here's the latest and greatest exercise program to get in the gym and be a stud when you go into the mountains.

And I'm like, cool. But that person doesn't know how to dress themselves. They don't know how to feed themselves. They don't know how to run their stove. They don't know how to navigate. And so it's like all those kind of accessory skills are useless if you can't put yourself in the environment and then live there and stay there in, with some kind of with some kind of comfort, right?

As an example, you can have the greatest gear ever and you could be the best shot and you could bugle as good as Corey Jacobson, and you could have OnX on your phone and you come out to Montana. And the altitude's gonna kick your ass. And then because you haven't hiked enough, three miles in your feet are gonna be blistered.

And then you're not gonna know where to get water, or you're gonna get water, but you're not gonna know how to filter to purify it. So then you're gonna have the shits, and then you're gonna have [00:22:00] altitude sickness is gonna push you outta the mountains, and you're never gonna be able to apply the skills that you spent so much time and effort and money on.

And so I call 'em somewhat of the intangibles or the care and feeding of the hunter, where it's man, there's so much more to this. And that's the fun part to me, because those are all skills that while we're shooting our bow, why we're in the gym, right? Why we're buying the gear. We can go and train.

You could go train in Minnesota, right? I could go train in Ohio and. Build those skills to now they all come together. And now when I go into the mountains in Montana or Colorado or Wyoming or wherever I choose to go, I have a better understanding of, how to live in the environment to give myself the best possible chance of applying those kind of cooler high speed skills, right?

Of shooting, of calling of loading up that pack with elk meat and hauling it outta the mountains. But without that you're [00:23:00] really, your chances of success go even farther down the than they already would be. Like coming out the public land with a bow in your hand, trying to find a big bull.

Yeah, we were talking, there's certain, things about hunting culture that have really romanticized the backcountry hunting and rightly it's amazing. But those it is mentioned, those are some of, maybe the aspects of preparing for a mountain hunt that have been romanticized, shooting the bow, buying new gear and putting 200 pounds on a pack frame to show that you're ready to pack a bowl out.

And there's aspects like you said, that no one ever thinks about. Have you thought about how you would start a fire if it's raining? Cuz a lot of hunters can start a fire when everything's perfect. You've got nice dry wood. It's not windy, it's not raining. You can, most people can get it done.

What are you gonna do if rain, but that'ss. But that's not when you need a fire. Exactly. Exactly. You want the fire when it's dark and cold and you're wet and shivering and you can't get back to Camp cor. Correct. [00:24:00] That, that's where the knowledge from storms comes from. Is knowledge acquired through difficult times.

Knowledge acquired from myself, from failure. A lot of failure. A lot of trial and error. A lot of doing it, but. Barely getting by or getting by on luck, right? And then not being satisfied by that and coming back and going, all right, I know now that there's conditions, there's certain conditions, I'm not gonna be able to build a fire.

That, that insight alone could potentially save your life, right? Because instead of stopping to try to build a fire with this false illusion, I'm like, damn, I just gotta put my puffy jacket on and my rain gear and start hiking back to camp or the truck, or whatever the case may be, or get under a tree and seek shelter because I, it's just not gonna work, right?

I'm gonna expend more energy than I have to not achieve the objective. And yeah. So there, there's a [00:25:00] lot there. But that's but those are things we can train in the off season. Those are things we, we could train right now I taught a course for some folks, it was like, just a refresher for some, but for some, they'd never done it.

A fire class for Sitka, a couple weeks ago, and it was a cold, damp, Saturday morning and it's like, Hey, we're gonna, we're gonna figure this out, cause to train in what I would call permissive conditions all the time, doesn't. It doesn't really show you your true capability.

It's like going and shooting your rifle or your bow in calm conditions or off a bench, or only standing on a flat range, isn't going to really prepare you for when the bull walks below you at 20 yards deep down in this hell hole. And it's a 30 degree down angle, and you have to figure out your arrow trajectory through brush.

That's not the time to figure it out. The time to figure it out is with your buddies shooting in the quarry, right? Shooting at the ski hill, shooting at the, the local trailhead or wherever you can figure it out, right? And that's where it becomes this year round pursuit where you never really, you're always thinking about it, but [00:26:00] you're always like doing something to make yourself better.

That's what we did in the military, that's how we got so good. And that's where you get true capability. And I think that's what I've helped hopefully bring to the hunting community is Hey man, there's more to this. And some of it isn't as quote, Cool. Or high speed is some other stuff, but it's but it's super vital to your success over time.

Yeah. And you said something on a Randy Newberg podcast that really hit me. It, it was so like simple, yet profound that I haven't thought about it and it really stuck with me. But you said knowledge doesn't weigh anything. Yeah. And I so nobody's ever said I've said anything profound, so I appreciate that.

But I got that from, I got that from a mentor of mine, right? And he told me, he's Hey bro. He's at the end of the day, knowledge doesn't weigh anything. All it takes is time to acquire. And that's where that statement alone, what that did to me, and even when I say it [00:27:00] right now, all these years later, it gives me a calm or a patience.

And what I mean by that is it's Hey man, calm down. Take a deep breath. You're gonna get there, it's gonna take a little more time to achieve whatever level. Cuz we're always trying to, IM improve, right? And it's enjoy the journey. But at the end of the day, when your back's against the wall, when the chips are down, when you're trying to figure it out, it's not necessarily, if ever in some regard, the wizbang cool piece of gear, say some of which I make right?

That's gonna save you. It's the knowledge in your head. And none of that weighs a thing. Yeah. And so you can take all that knowledge with you into the environment on that hunt, whatever the case may be, and figure out how to apply it with what you have, kind of MacGyver, right? And over time, the more experience you gain and the more knowledge you have, the more capable you become and the more deadly you be, you can become in in this case, say the Oak [00:28:00] Mountains, right?

Yeah. I was, it was funny because I was, I listened to that episode on a way back from a work trip. Big conference and I had a friend that lives in a different city, but we worked for the same company and he was talking about doing this backpack trip with his family and he was weighing every single piece of gear to make sure that they had a pack that his wife could handle and all this stuff.

And he's a great outdoors man. But it was funny because I heard you say that five hours after me and him were looking at his list and it's he's yeah, it's gonna be like 60 pounds for this backpacking trip. And I'm like, that seems heavy for a three day trip. And we were looking through it and then you said, yeah, knowledge doesn't weigh anything.

And it just, I laughed because it's so true and I had never really thought about it that way. The more, maybe the less you need to carry. You don't have to plan for every unknown because there's less unknowns. Yeah. Yeah. I think there's a trajectory for all of us in our journey right in, into this in, just into the outdoors.

And I think that, we all start. I'll certainly [00:29:00] speak for myself here. I don't have a lot of knowledge. I've got a ton of enthusiasm. Yeah. I try to buy gear and equipment as a crutch to shore up my lack of experience, right? And some of my doubt and some of the unknown. And so I go in and I'm overburdening myself with gear, right?

Because I gotta have this to solve this problem. I gotta have that to solve that problem that is completely natural. That's where I started, right? And then as you get experience and you start, cutting the toothbrush in half and all this stuff, and go I've never used this before. I don't really need it.

Now you get to a point where which I think is the most dangerous part of the journey, is where you get to the point where we're cutting every single thing and shaving every ounce and weighing everything. And scrutinizing an ounce here and an ounce there. And if something does happen, You probably don't have enough experience to really get through with the limited resources you have, [00:30:00] but you're not really smart enough yet to know that or understand it.

And then eventually you get to a point where you kind of land in between there, right? Where you're like, I now I've got knowledge, now I've got experience, now I've got confidence. And I know that to bring just so minimal amount of gear is really potentially risking my success or potentially my safety.

And if I choose to go there, that's a conscious effort where before it necessarily wasn't. But I also don't need all this gear here to burden myself with the 60 pound pack and have to have everything, do every specific thing. I can land here somewhere in the middle which is a moderate weight.

But with this vast amount of knowledge where I'm like, oh, you know what? I became separated from my pack. I could still figure it out. Oh, my buddy's lost. I can figure it out. Oh, we got a bull down. We now to sit on it and wait till morning. Yeah. We can figure that out. Yeah. And I think that's where we'll all eventually end up, [00:31:00] but there's an extreme in the middle before we get there.

And and everybody's got their own personal style and their own assessment of risk. And, sometimes depending even on my partners right or an environment that I'm not as familiar with or haven't been in for a long amount of time when I start out in the winter on my trips, I probably carry a little bit more than I do by the end of the winter when I've been out there a little bit and gotten, back in the groove, so to speak.

But ultimately, The knowledge doesn't really cost anything but our time. There's maybe a little bit of money involved, but at the end of the day, it weighs nothing. And that's when you truly like, feel confident man, I can go out there, I can figure this out. If this happens or that happens, barring something, just like act of God kind of thing it's gonna be okay, and we're gonna have a great time, hopefully find our target animal and at least walk outta here with a smile on our face. Now, it's not gonna, you're not gonna have a smile on your face when you walk out. You'll have a smile on your face two weeks later when your body heals up, but yeah, [00:32:00] it, I maybe, I, we haven't shot bulls in terrible spots yet, but I, man, I love packing one out.

And it's, I'm a big guy. I'm six two, somewhere between two 50 and two 70 depending on the year. So you throw a rag hornback quarter on my pack and it's a smaller percentage of, body weight edition than Sure. Yeah. Like a small guy. And so it feels really good. And man, there's just something about that where, that weight is the, is like the price you pay for a memory in a way.

So I like it. I like to say those are, I like to say those are good problems to have. Brian. Yes. When you're sitting there bitching about how to get your elk out of the field, we should all take a step back and go, wait a second. We're bitching about we killed an elk and now we gotta figure out how to get out the field.

Those are good problems. Yeah. Like those are good problems. Those are great problems to have. That's the problem you planned for. That's the whole reason. That's the whole reason. That's the whole point of being there. Yeah. The whole reason we drove across the country was to have this problem. On the flip side, last fall we [00:33:00] had a different problem.

We got back to our ranger late. It was the same night we got into that big herd I told you about before we started recording and had a great evening. But we're on the other side of this ridge at nightfall. So we get back. It's dark. And the road that we are taking with the Ranger, I think would I don't think Polaris would allow their employees to do vehicle testing on that road.

I don't think HR would allow it. It was that bad. Wow. It was terrible. It's the worst road we've ever taken. If it starts to rain at all, it's a non-starter because it's so steep. There's nothing stopping, there's not enough traction. We're coming down it, we got a flat tire, bad flat, like not a slow leak, but a, this, the rubber would eventually get ripped off the rim.

And so we park it and we're like great, we don't really have all the tools we need to fix it here. I don't really want to pack a tire out, but it's just me and my brother on this trip with one, utv. So we're not, we don't have a ton of options. And then we look up and a thunderstorm is rolling over [00:34:00] the mountain at this moment in time.

And so it's oh my gosh, what luck. And so now we're faced with this decision. Do we follow the roads back to the cabin, which is three times as long, but it's a guaranteed path. Or I start looking at my phone, I'm like, Hey man, I think we can cut this corner. We'll save two river crossings, but we're gonna drop off the face of this ridge in the dark on a, it's, it is steep.

I think we can do it, based on everything we've done. I'm pretty sure we can do it, but it will be steep and it will be new. And so we're like him and Han, we'll look at the thunderstorm. We're like let's give it a try. So luckily we had, flash covers, right? You got, we got the sick of just the lightest weight flash, rain cover, and then the pack covers.

We threw those on quick and just start bombing off the mountain. Sure enough, we mean we got back. You mean nice to cut a third of your travels off to have that confidence to say, no we can do this in the dark, we can go this way. Yeah. Like we were looking at our map or using the tools, contours, 3D mapping to, that's [00:35:00] the kind of knowledge where you have it.

Like you said, it brings confidence in what you can do and what you can't do. Now if we looked at that and we saw a rock cliff with really tight contours, we're like, yeah, I don't think that's a great. New path to cut in the middle of the night, right? Yeah. Yeah. No, that's an awesome story. So you had to go back the next day and fix a flat on that steep hill or what?

Yeah, we had to, we found, you might, you probably wouldn't know him, but we met a guy named Dwayne Sessions who is he was a guy and he was hunting and he's pretty good friends with Brian Call and those guys. And he and his brother had two, four-wheelers. And so we asked him if we could, hey, can we borrow a four-wheeler?

And sure enough they were great people and allowed us to b basically borrow a four-wheeler for a day cuz we had to go up and get it and then we had to go to town and fix it and then we had to go up and replace it. So that took a day outta hunting, which is a real bummer cuz it was the right day.

Next day after we got into that big herd and you had to, leave the EL alone and go fix some stuff at camp. Yeah. Yeah. Such as life. Awesome. Great story. Yeah. In the end, we didn't [00:36:00] get any issues with the thunderstorm. Obviously. No one got injured on the way out in the dark. Those are the big things that matter, right?

Losing a day of hunting is neither really here nor there at the end of a lifetime. Yeah. I think, it's again, teach his own, but I, to me it's like you, you gotta come home safe. That's non-negotiable. Yeah. And what you do in between to, to make that happen is, k kind of where the, the question marks lie.

But yeah, it, but like you said, the confidence you've got now one, you clearly knew how to read a map and read contour lines, which is important. Like those are important things, right? Because if you didn't or you don't, and you're just looking at aerial imagery, satellite imagery, and I've talked to guys some of which are experienced and weren't running contour lines, like they get themselves into some real messes, and it can happen even if you are looking at contour lines, but the chances of it happening, if you don't understand how to read maps, like it just becomes exponential.

Yeah. And it's a skill that, that a lot of [00:37:00] people, like where I live and all of our farms here in Minnesota, I don't know if we've got a combined foot of elevation change on all of our acres. It is flat. And so likewise, every article you read about how to hunt whitetails, they always say, find a ridge.

Find a draw. That's out next option, Uhhuh. And so that's not a skill you grow up learning or using. There is no contour. Does the fastest route is A to B, draw a line, walk that direction. And that's not true in the mountains, right? No, it's usually the opposite. Usually you gotta go around something before you're done.

Oh yeah. Yeah. And and that's one thing I wanted to maybe pivot towards a lot of your skills and your classes, like the outdoor class, right? Back country mission planning and knowledge from storms. I think it's applicable to the entire range of experience levels. For the western rookie, right?

For someone that is from our, like my hometown of, or home state of Minnesota, or someone that's from the Midwest that wants to go out and do their first western hunt, probably not going to do a, like a [00:38:00] backpack back country hunt, right? That's really not where most of us begin. We usually begin with some sort of a base camp and a day hunt.

But doesn't mean that you don't need any knowledge or skills, right? There's still a lot of things that apply. If you were gonna speak to that hunter, what were, what would be like some of the things you would want to make sure that they have in their, in their knowledge toolbox just for the day hunt.

Yeah. So the first thing I'm gonna say, I'm gonna give you a secret, and this is a big one. I'm not BSing you. The vast majority of guys that I know, some of which anybody probably on your show would know name-wise, that are highly successful every year are not backpack elk hunting. Okay.

It's not often. It's not the default. Style. And it's not often the best method, especially if [00:39:00] you are coming out from somewhere and you're going to a place unknown. Yeah. Because you have to cover a lot of ground to find elk and to be able to hunt those elk. And if you spend an entire day and a hell of a lot of energy and emotionally deplete yourself to get eight miles in Right.

Or six miles in, or 10 miles in someplace, and then find, there's no elk there, it's one gonna demoralize you. Or two you find an outfitter or other hunters and you're like, shit, what do we do now? And then you're gonna spend three days cuz you're stubborn trying to figure it out.

Then you're gonna realize you're not gonna, there's no elk here. And then you're gonna hike a day out and you've just killed five days of your hunt and you haven't, you've covered one small portion Yeah. Of your probably entire hunt plan. Whereas I would say, go find the [00:40:00] elk, stay mobile, have lots of areas to, you can go in and cover a couple miles easy.

Oh yeah. In the day, come back to a fixed camp and then say, okay, are you know, are we good or not? Are there elk care? Are there too many people? Are there not enough people? Do we stay a couple days? We've we're managing our energy. That's probably a better course of action to at least start.

Yeah. And then you're like, you know what, this is it we're punching in with a spike camp and we're gonna live four miles off the road and we're gonna live there for three days and we're gonna, we're gonna see, we're gonna give it our best shot to make this happen. Cuz this is the area now. Yeah. To do any of that.

I think it's critical. And back country mission planning talks about this. And this is based on a lot of experience, not just with myself but others is you need to factor in a few things and you need to figure out first Google Earth is an [00:41:00] awesome tool, but nothing is the same when you get there as it looks on Google Earth, right?

And so Mark Levie has these awesome ees scouting courses where he talks a lot about that. But the reality is you can only cover a small portion of a hunt area on foot in any given amount of time. And so we tend to get a little overzealous, like when we go to the buffet, right? And we start putting more and more on our plate.

I can eat this, I can eat this, I can eat this. It doesn't really take any effort until you get there. And so I would say, be realistic. Understand what the altitude is in the area. Because altitude is going to be a huge thing right. In Cal Colorado. People get in trouble all the time every year to include very experienced people and friends where they go there and they're like, oh, I'm coming from to your, I'm coming from Minnesota.

Yeah. There's, I'm hiking bleachers at the stadium, and it's 300 feet above sea level. And I'm gonna drive to this awesome trailhead I found that's got everything elk need. It's at 8,500 feet and you [00:42:00] get out and you've been doing your, mountain Tough Fitness, which is an incredible program.

And you throw the pack on your back and you realize that a mile down the trail, you've kicked your own ass. And you can't realize why you're feeling poor, why you can't breathe, why you're, why your back aches. And it's because you're hiking up a hill longer than you've ever hiked uphill in your training.

You're at an altitude that takes a while for your body to acclimatize to. And you just can't physically move as fast or as efficient as you did when you were just flying over all of it on Google Earth, right? So you have to figure out your altitude, and then the next thing you need to do is you need to understand how to read topographic lines or contour lines on a topographic map, right?

So you can go, okay, you know what, this is a, i, we can hike in on a, a moderate grade or a moderate trail. And, I told this to a friend the other year, he's we want to get to a place here five miles in. And I said, awesome. I, he says, but we just can't ever do it.

[00:43:00] It's just so tough to do it. And I said, have you ever considered just taking two days to do it and hunt and kind of hunting your way there and go, Hey, you know what, let's go in two miles or two and a half miles and we'll stop at a good water source and we'll set up camp and maybe hunt there, and then maybe the next morning, see if we hear any bugles and then pack up and.

And get to where we want to ultimately get, but maybe take two days to do it. And then you're acclimatizing and you're breaking that, that up because we always overestimate how quickly we can hike over terrain, especially if we haven't done it before. Yeah. So I like to say just for planning purposes, if you're on a trail like no more than than two miles an hour, like no more.

That's fast. And honestly, off trail it's one k an hour. I normally talk in kilometers, so two, two k an hour on trail, one k an hour off, so that's a thousand meters off trail and a and [00:44:00] 2000 meters on trail. And you want to make sure that if you do that for planning, you're like, oh, you know what?

It's gonna take us eight hours to get there. How about we just stop at four hours and hunt wherever we may be at a good water source and hunt because. You may be hiking past. This happens to me. I'm not the smartest guy all the time either. You may be h hiking past some amazing hunting opportunities that everybody else hiked past too.

Yeah. Because everybody feels like you're not a cool guy if you don't get at least past the three mile mark. And it's what about the two mile mark? What about the four mile mark? And that way you're able to pace yourself, which I think is hugely important, is pacing yourself with your energy expenditure.

Again, especially if you don't live at altitude. If you don't live in steep terrain, if you haven't had a pack on your back. All those things factor in. And so it's again, the patient's part of it. Be patient, take it as it comes. Be willing to modify your plan. [00:45:00] Yeah. And not be sole focused like I am.

Oftentimes it's Nope. Gotta get there, gotta get there, gotta get there. And I'm like, Hey man, I'm, this is my head. I'm talking to the, to myself and my head. I'm like, Hey, bro, calm down. Settle out. It's okay. There's no time clock out here. There's no rules. It's all up to us. Just take it as it comes and figure it out.

And when we do that, and we're not looking at this as a sporting event, but we're looking at this as this amazing of opportunity to be in nature. That's when we slow down and go, oh man, I, you know what? I just saw some fresh elk sign. You know what? I, we just walked by a rub. Like maybe this is a good area to just camp out downwind and see if we hear anything tonight.

A all that comes. And understand your altitude, understand your rates of movement, and understand how to read. And make sure you have contour lines on whatever map it is. Probably digital, right? Yeah. And just realize what they mean so you're not putting yourself in steep terrain or you're not saying, oh, we're gonna start at this trailhead, and it's straight up for 4,000 feet.[00:46:00]

It's just probably not gonna work out very well. Speaking from experience. Yeah. I could add my speaking from experience to that same thing. It's it, whether it works or not, it's never fun, right? So right up the bat, it's never fun. It's never gonna be fun. And most of the time it's not gonna work.

So I, it's just like a, it's not a good bet. It's a lot of the things that you do out there. It seems like you're making consecutive, small bets on your success. Is it gonna be better for us to sleep here tonight under the stars? Cuz we're close to the elk, but we're not gonna be as comfortable.

We're probably gonna be a little hungry. Probably gonna be a little chilled. Or is it gonna be better for us to walk out, get back to base camp, have a good dinner, probably sleep a lot better, not be cold, and then we'll just wake up early and hike in again. Those are all kinds of different decisions and every situation will be different, but that's what I really think about a lot is this worth sleeping on the mountain for, or would it be better to just go back to camp, be comfortable, sleep well, and walk a little bit longer in the morning?[00:47:00]

Yeah. And it, you're always weighing risk versus re reward, right? So sometimes it is worth, yeah, sleeping out and bing up, right? Or, bring in the bivy sacks or a tent. But you also have to weigh, okay, what else am I gonna bring? I'm gonna bring the tent, I'm gonna bring the stove.

I'm gonna bring the fuel. I'm gonna bring more food. And is that amount of weight I'm gonna carry for the one night based on whatever experience you have? Is that worth it or is it worth. The extra two miles, three miles round trip with a very light pack to go back to camp, do what you just said, and then be back here at first light.

And I, I think people we tend to get real tunnel visioned on certain things based on, what we see in, in, in print and digital media and stuff like that. It's oh, this is the only way to do it. And the reality is, man, outside of the state's rules and regulations, there are no rights and wrongs.

It is completely and utterly up to you. And you have that freedom to do that, and like my friend who I've [00:48:00] been just slowly talking to over, over a course of years, it's now what he does, he's coming from Ohio, is he drives to his trailhead, I think it's at say, eight ish thousand feet.

He plans on when he gets there, he's hanging out, camping right there. In the truck and hunting around the truck for a day. So the rest of that day, maybe the next morning, right? Yep. That helps him acclimatize. And he hopefully, if there's elk there, he sees him, but he doesn't want to walk past him.

And then if he wants to go five miles into that ridge, ultimately he's okay, now I'm gonna put my pack on and I'm not gonna set my sights on getting to the five mile mark. If that happens, fine. But you know what I'm totally fine with, and I've already identified a potential campsite with a water source where I'm gonna stop at the two to three mile mark and I'm gonna camp there, which is a little higher in elevation.

I'm gonna, again, acclimatize to that higher elevation, [00:49:00] not burn all my energy the first couple days, cuz this is a, maybe a week, 10, 10 day long hunt. I'm gonna make sure that there's not elk here. Yeah. And maybe I, maybe I choose to stay here three days because the opportunity's so good.

And if not, You hunt the next morning, and then you slowly push up the additional two, three miles to your ultimate camp, and then you end up hunting there, right? And then you haven't just completely burned yourself out because it, it's what of what people often don't talk about.

And, Snyder's talked about this. I know, but very few people I've ever heard talk about this is you're pacing yourself and you're not just pacing yourself as far as like how quickly you can get there, but that's really tied to an energy expenditure. And it's like, how much gas do I have in the tank for a week of this, or 10 days of this, or even three days of this, right?

And based on my food, my fitness, and, my acclimation and all this stuff, like, how long can I do this and still be effective? And at the end of the day, remember, [00:50:00] hopefully the goal is we've been talking elk hunting, so let's just say to kill a bowl or to kill a buck is, quite frankly, once you do.

The real heavy work literally in figurative begins. Yeah. And now you gotta get that animal out, right? And so you don't want to be completely so depleted that you just got nothing left and you're like, hell, I'm not going down there to kill that bull. I just don't have anything left in the tank.

And it's you got, we, we need to manage our energy expenditure to make sure that we can do that. And I think by doing that, and again, I'm speaking, this is definitely something I have to tell myself every year. When I slow down, when I calm down, when I take in more things, that's when I really start to get tuned into the environment.

And I'm not hopefully walking by, opportunities and animals that I otherwise would've just had my head down and pushing right into that waypoint. Yeah I like what you said, and I like the way you said it with how long can I do this? What do I have in the tank? And it, [00:51:00] thinking back on a Colorado hunt, I went on a loan cuz I got the points I talked to you about.

I got some extra points because Colorado made a mistake. Hopefully there's a statute of limitations on that. So I got a tag and I didn't have anyone to go with cuz I was the only one with five points. So I went by myself. It was a second rifle tag and I, it was at like 11,000, 12,000 feet. Wow. So that's high man, that's really up there.

I didn't feel like it was high. I knew, I knew what the number meant. I knew, like 14 ERs is a thing that people try to climb to and I'm not that far away from it. Yeah. But the bay, the valley floor was so high it didn't seem like it was a huge mountain. But that doesn't matter for altitude sickness.

And so I hunted day one or scouting day one. Couldn't hunt. It saw a great herd, right? Where I thought I would want be so good. I found elk. I mean that, I was like, I'm doing this alone in a new state, in a new unit. And this is, one of my only October elk hunts I've ever done. And so I found elk great first, full day hunting, had high expectations, weather was really hot and windy.

Nothing [00:52:00] happened. But then a storm blew in a snowstorm. And so I made the decision to pull camp, get out of the mountain, go down to the, the valley floor down to town and just camp in the truck at the base of the mountain, cuz who knows, right? They were calling for 18 inches of snow in the valley.

Who knows what it's gonna be up here? So I slept and hunted outta my truck, basically scouted outta my truck, slept in the backseat for a few days. Finally, things start to clear up. Roads start open up. I get back up in. Where I wanted to be. And I glassed a giant herd up on top at that 12, 12 5, there was like 200 elk in this herd.

I couldn't tell for sure cuz I was actually driving out of the unit into the next mountain and then glassing back at my mountain top. And it was just a huge herd. And so I got in there, I scouted him about noon, got back up, started hiking in, then I started realizing I have problems. There's a, I have a few stacked up problems going on right now.

First of off, it's high, right. And I've never really had [00:53:00] what I think is altitude sickness. So I was gonna ask you if that's like a, everyone seems to do it different and react differently. Yeah, because I definitely noticed I get tired faster. I run outta oxygen faster, but then you just take more breaks.

I've never had the I don't know, systemic sickness issues like stomach and everything, just nothing feels good. But I'm getting tired and I'm like, dude, I'm making it like 50 yards uphill every time before I need a break. And there's 12 inches of snow that I'm postholing through, which doesn't sound like a lot, but it's just little things start adding up and they add up.

It's a lot of energy expenditure. Yep. And then my legs are starting to like cramp. The back of my knees are starting to cramp and I'm like, man, that's not good. So I'm stretching and they'll make it a little ways and I cramp up again. Then it hits me like, dude, you have not been eating enough.

Like these last three days you've had like maybe a thousand calories a day and you're probably not drinking enough water. That's where the cramps are coming in. That's where some of the exhaustions coming in. I get, it's a, it was gonna be a thousand feet of elevation [00:54:00] gain over a mile to get to the ridge, and then about two miles down the ridge at equal elevation.

So I'm thinking these are things I can do. I've done this before. That's nothing about, this is crazy yet. But by the time I got up there, I was in such a tough shape. I'm like, I can see the elk with my naked eye and I think I'm gonna walk away from 'em cuz I don't know if I shoot this elk.

I don't know how I'm gonna get it off this mountain in my condition. With only two days left of this hunt, I just don't see this working out in my favor. I thought of everything I thought about going to town and buying an otter sled and sliding it down the mo or building a travo or, I've thought of all of these options and it, none of them were looking good.

And so I backed away from the elk. I went down, I said, here's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna get a hotel tonight. The town's not that far away. I'm gonna get some good food. I'm gonna sleep good. I'm gonna come back tomorrow rested and better, better prepared. Sure enough, with my luck overnight, that herd moved about two and a half miles closer to the road.[00:55:00]

And then in the morning there was another group on 'em. They got within 200 yards on their stock. I don't know what happened. No shots were fired. There was a really nice bowl in that group. I was set up like in a situation where they beat me, so I was gonna let them do their thing, but if they shoot, this herd could run by me.

And so that's where I'm gonna set up. Herd moves off. Herd bumps off. They must have spooked. I saw where they went and I'm like, all right, I'm just gonna go get some lunch. I'm gonna make sure I'm back in position for where these, the, they went into a patch of black timber, like the, they didn't go over the next rise.

This is a shale face on one side and a road on the other. I would've seen them leave. So sure enough, I get back set up beautiful day herd feeds out at, in the evening. I get set up on a rag horn, last light, and as I'm about to touch off on a rag horn outta the corner of my scope, I see a really big third.

And I go, that's a bigger elk. And so I look at it and sure enough, it was the, her, [00:56:00] I don't know, herd bull. It was a six by seven in the two 80 range. Yeah. And that's the elk I got. And so it's just funny cuz a lot of the things you just talked about all stacked up and I made the decision to not go after 'em.

Turns out it was the greatest decision ever. Cuz now I shot my elk 700 yards off a road downhill to the road. And I even found an old gold mining trail that I could drive my truck up. So I had to sh shuttle the quarters about 200 yards and I had 'em load about 7:00 AM the next morning. That's an awesome story, dude.

Awesome story. Yeah. But it really shows there's like all the things you talk about are very real. I've experienced them. Everyone's gonna experience 'em and they can change so fast. They can. Yeah, you can in three days you can go from peak energy coming off of a Wyoming deer hunt. I'm in shape, I got everything dialed in.

Three days, it all falls apart. You quit eating, you get up higher elevation, you don't drink enough water, you're not sleeping good cuz you're in the backseat of your truck and the wheels just fall off. You take a day off, you rest, you recover, get some food. And then it just [00:57:00] so happened I lucked out and the elk got closer to me, but the whole thing changed.

And the emotional roller coaster on that hunt, maxed out on both ends in the span of about 24 hours. Yeah. That, so that's, really good decision making cuz you know, who knows what would've happened if you would've decided to push out that ridge two miles and shoot a bowl.

Who knows what would've happened. But to have that patience and to go, you know what, there's no there's no time clock. Obviously the season has a d a, a certain timeframe, I'm not in the best shape right now. Let me go recover. Come back here and then look how it worked out.

That's an awesome story. Yeah. And it would've been, it still would've been the right decision, obviously, if I didn't have that next day in the and get the shot opportunity, because it could have gone south so fast. Like you and that's one of the things where I think it's like it's okay to, it's okay to walk away from an elk if you don't feel like you can do it.

And for people to know that, like you don't, not everyone's gonna be the Cameron Haines of the world, that can make what seems like [00:58:00] almost any situation work, right? It's okay to be where, meet yourself where you are in your own journey, really. Yeah. The vast majority of us aren't right, when when you study people, they, get in trouble or get in accidents look at what's the SAR groups are doing to recover people like almost inevitably.

Again, taking out of the equation like a random lightning strike or a bear attack, like we normally are the ones that are be making ourselves that statistic, right? We make one poor decision and then we make another poor decision and then, we start getting run down or, we're not comfortable, say bing up overnight.

Cause either we don't have the capability or the knowledge. You're like, man, I gotta get this done. I gotta get this done now. And we make a third poor decision. And then ev inevitably things will start to, the wheels will start to come off the bus and, not, it doesn't always end in tragedy but it certainly could, right?

And we are the ones that, or the group, are [00:59:00] the ones that have continued to push that agenda and make poor decision after poor decision. And when you're not eating right and your mind's not working properly and you're not making those right decisions, and that's when things start start to happen.

And it's such. A difficult thing to, like the discipline you had to walk away from those elk. That had to be that like that's a applaudable because that's insane discipline to go. But I know that I know that I can't get this done right now and I have the opportunity to come back and I'd be better served do that.

Like more people probably need to do that to include me sometimes, to be honest with you. I will tell you, it sure didn't feel applaudable in the moment. It really felt like a failure. No, never. Yeah. And I'm sure everyone's felt that before, but it's man, I just, yeah, it's hard. It was a tough pill to swallow for sure.

And it didn't help my mood at all for the rest of that day. That's for certain. But yeah, you're right. You know it, it seems like when you hear a story and [01:00:00] people that when they recant the story or they tell it, I think of the meat eaters meat pole story. Have you heard the, their story of where they got that bear encounter in, I think it was a fogc where they Oh yeah.

Fog neck. Yeah. Yeah, the, they had the meat pole or the meat tree, and you hear 'em talking, they're like, that was mistake number one. And then they talk, and this was mistake number two, and then this was mistake number three, and that's when the bear showed up. It's like you said, it's usually a multiple things happen in a row to lead you to that risky scenario.

Yeah. Rarely is it one, rarely is it one poor decision, but Yeah. I've been to a fog neck a whole bunch of times, and. It's not a question of if, but when you're gonna run into a bear and then at that point it's how close or, what's the encounter gonna look like?

But that place is loaded with them. Yeah. It would be fun to go and they're aggressive. It would be fun to go, but I'd want to go with the right people. Yeah. Because I'm not that person and it [01:01:00] could be a great, it's a great adventure and a great hunt. Were they hunting elk or blacktail?

Yeah, they were hunting. It was an elk they shot. Yeah, I think they were doing a rifle elk hunt and they had six people and they, and luckily no one got hurt, but there was a, pretty, some pretty wild stories. Which that I wanted to end with maybe one final question for you. And it, I think it fits in cuz we we started drifting into this whole, this area of like when things go wrong.

And so what would you say is a. Are the requirements of a, the essential requirements for an emergency kit, whether someone is doing the day hunt with a base camp, or they're planning to sleep on the mountain and do some version of a backpack hunt. What would you say for someone that's new that maybe hasn't thought through all these scenarios or had all of these things happen to them, what would be like a way to maybe get some free knowledge without having to pay the price for it on things you absolutely need to have in your emergency kit?

Yeah, man you asked some really awesome questions and the reason I'm [01:02:00] smiling is because I've been providing seminars this winter three, several different places. Three wild Sheep Convention, Pope and Young Convention. And then I've done some out of the Sitka Depot store here in Bozeman.

But it's essentially around, the title is essentially like Mountain Survival, but Okay. It's far more than that, but to. So it's front of mind and I'm actually gonna record a video probably Friday on this and post it to my Instagram. But yeah it's an awesome question and something that I think is, needs to be talked about more.

I think there's some definitely foundational points to it and then there's some nuance where people can there's no right or wrong, in for some of this. It really comes down to personal preference, risk mitigation or risk tolerance and experience, right? But generally speaking, it doesn't matter if I'm going out for the day or I'm going out for the week, or I'm flying in for two weeks on some remote trip.

I am always bringing rain gear [01:03:00] and a puffy jacket. And so those that may not know what a puffy jacket is, it's a, those lofted jackets. Yeah. And there's all different kinds, right? And it's considered static insulation. And so the rain gear's obvious, it blocks wind, it keeps you dry, right? Yep. So at a minimum, if you had to put that on and crawl under a rock, it would keep you dry and block wind.

And so if you're dry and there's wind not on you, you're gonna stay warmer. And then what the puffy jacket does is that loft traps your body heat radiating away from you, gets trapped in that loft, and that keeps you warm, right? So when you're stop glassing or in camp or even sleeping at night in your sleeping bag, like you can wear a puffy jacket to help keep you warm.

That's the intent of it. And so with the puffy jacket and ring gear, if I do get Ben knighted, cuz you and I are trying to get back to camp, we killed a mule deer and we got stuck in some steep cliffy area. Yeah. And the best course of action is to sit down. [01:04:00] And just wait till daylight and not push the issue.

If we have those things, we're more inclined to sit down and ride the night out and not understand we're not gonna die. But if you don't have those, you're like no. It's a desperate situation. We gotta do this. And that's when I trip and fall and break my ni break my ankle, right? Yeah. So th those are the first two things.

So th there's six cardinal rules I have. Okay. So one is always bring a puffy jacket and some rain gear. I feel naked anymore without my kelvin in my pack for how light it is. I just, yeah. I feel like I really am like naked on the mountain if I don't have those things in my back no matter what the weather calls for.

I agree with you. And there's It's not worth talking about. The few times I might not bring the whole thing, but I'm always rain gear, rain jacket, puffy jacket, rain pants. Okay. So that, that's the first one. The second one is to [01:05:00] make sure you either stay dry or dry out every chance you get.

And so this kind of ties back to some clothing. I, you and I hike to the top of a ridge cuz we're chasing the sunrise to get to the top, to glass mule there when they're moving around before they get in their beds for the day, right? And so we go too hard, we go too fast and we sweat out our base layers, right?

We sweat out our clothing. When we get up there, what do I want to do? First thing I wanna do is put that puffy jacket on. It's gonna keep trap my body heat so we don't get cold. And the other thing it's gonna do is if you have a synthetic or wool base layer, it's gonna dry that base layer out right?

When I get back to my 10 at night. This often happened in Alaska where you're damp, even if you're moving around in rain gear, you sweat out the rain gear. I wanna make sure that I'm drying myself out, right? And so there's ways to do it. I don't bring extra clothing. Some people may choose to, but you need and at some point you need to dry even the wet layer out.

So you want to dry out and [01:06:00] stay as dry as possible cuz that way you stay warmer and more engaged. The next one is you want to have the ability to make some type of shelter. Again, going out for the day or going out for a week. You can still twist your ankle, break your leg, whatever the case may be.

And even though you got an inReach and you're like, Hey bro come get me. Your buddy's ah, dude, I gotta get off work. I gotta feed the dog. I gotta, fix the flat tire on the ATV and I'll be there in 24 hours. It's oh, okay, I got a puffy jacket, I got rain gear. I can hang out and I can make a shelter to protect myself.

Shelter is the number one survival priority you wanna seek shelter, okay. We do that first with clothing, and then second, we want to build some type of shelter. So obviously if you have your pack on your back in a tent, that's obvious. You may have a tarp you may have an emergency space blanket, right?

But you also may just have a knife and some parachute cord. And with that in the environment you're in, you're like, oh, if I have that, I can build an A frame, [01:07:00] I can build a leann to, I can build some type of shelter to get outta the elements with my clothing on and ride the storm out until my buddies come get me outta here.

Okay. So the ability to make shelter, so by no means am I saying we have to carry a lot of stuff, and this is where experience and gear kind of meet. The next one is mentally, psychologically, be prepared to spend 24 hours away from camp or your truck or your house, or whatever the case may be.

Hey I told my wife I'd be back in eight hours and if I wasn't back in eight hours to call the cops, right? And all of a sudden it's oh, I just killed the bull right at last light and now I'm gonna be 14 hours late. And now I'm trying to rush and do things I probably shouldn't to cut corners, right?

And it's no, I'm gonna be gone 24 hours. If I'm not back in 24 hours, then call the cops or search and rescue. What also that does is that psychologically prepares you for when we do get stuck in the rocks going, Hey bro, we'll just sit down. We're in no rush. We'll get [01:08:00] outta here in the morning, right?

We'll get outta here. We'll get your awesome deer back to the truck. We'll get to, we'll get to town, have breakfast instead of cheeseburgers. Whatever the case may be. Yeah. But that makes you slow down and help make good decisions. The next one is, I like to say, always try to improve your position.

I'll get back to the survival kit here in a minute. You always want to try to improve your position. So what I mean by that is we're sitting there on a glassy knob and the wind shifts and it starts to rain and we're exposed to the elements and we're just sitting there getting smacked in the face with rain and snow.

Either move your glassing spot or set up a tarp to protect yourself. You set up a tent right at last light. You wake up the next morning, you realize it's in a cold sump or there's water nearby and it's gonna flood your tent. You want to improve your position and move that. Or you get wet.

Cuz you fall in a creek crossing a log and you're like, uhoh, like it's cold. What am I gonna do? And this is where the survival kit comes in and you're like, you know what? I'm gonna improve my position by just putting on my rain [01:09:00] gear and puffy jacket and walking towards the trail head, which is only one more mile away.

I'm gonna build up my body heat, keep my cognitive function and get there. And an hour from now I'll be in the truck and I can sort my stuff out. Yep. So always trying to improve your position. And the last one, and I'm not as good at this one, and you talked about it already, not trying not to get as nutritionally and physically depleted and put yourself in such a metaphorical black hole that if something were to happen, You could not manage yourself.

So you went up on that hike, you ended up going down that ridge. You killed that bull slid off the steep slope. You went off the steep slope after it and avalanche occurred, trapped you up to your waist. And now you're like, damn, I am so de depleted. I can't dig myself out. I can't hike back to the top of the hill.

I have to go down the hill into a hill hole to get out the drain. [01:10:00] It like, what am I gonna do? I'm not thinking clear. I'm totally fried. And I did it to myself. I like to say we kick, we like to kick our own ass. Yeah. And so when you're building a survival kit, I really don't like the term survival kit.

I like the term contingency kit. I like the term possibles pouch from the mountain men. Okay. And what it is it's, it supplements what you already have. So as an example, if I've got, if I've got a signal panel, Or a strobe light or a whistle or a compass with a mirror in my optics harness, I don't necessarily need to carry an additional signaling device in my survival kit.

I could, I don't have to. Okay. But if I don't have it here, I want to have it there. Cuz if I do break my leg aircraft flies over, I can flash the signal panel or I can blow on a whistle if a outfitter's hiking past, within a couple hundred yards and I can't whistle cuz my mouth's dry, right?

But the ability to signal, I [01:11:00] think is huge. But you don't wanna be redundant. So I think the survival kit should have the ability to signal, okay, it should have the ability to make a fire. So that's generally a knife. So you can procure some wood and some tinder, right? Some prefabricated tinder. But again, if I have the knife on my hip, I don't need a second knife in my survival kit.

This is a kit that I wanna work out of. It's a tool bag. I wanna work out of it. So sh signaling fire, we talked about shelter. So that could be just some para cord, it could be a space blanket, it could be a tarp, something, anything like that. But the ability to do that, and that changes by environment you want to have the ability to acquire and purify some drinking water.

So let's say you got let's not do the the cold weather scenario, but you did the same thing that we just talked about. You went out the ridge, but there was no snow on the ground. Yeah. You killed that bull. [01:12:00] And you realize, damn, I've been outta water for eight hours. I am cramping like a mofo.

I can't think clear. I'm at altitude. My blood sludging, I'm starting to get altitude sick. I need some water. And the only water you have to get is the elk wall. Or the stream just below where the elk herd's been hanging out and you're like, if you drink out of that, you're gonna get Giardia.

Yeah. Which is the lesser of two evils. But if you've got some chlorine dioxide tabs, you're like, you know what, I'm just gonna dip my bottle, drop in a couple chlorine dioxide tabs, gonna purify my water, and I can drink all the water I need, and I'm gonna bring myself, I'm gonna bring my fuel level back up and I'm gonna be able to manage this situation.

So the ability to purify some drinking water and then having the ability to supplement that drinking water with some just real simple basic calories. So think energy gels, or energy chews, or, something like that because with a little water and a little bit of those simple carbohydrates.[01:13:00]

Your mind's gonna continue to think clearly and you're not gonna go so far into that hole where you continue to make poor decisions. Yeah. If you have the ability to, signal, make fire make shelter procure water, have a little bit of food, like emergency food, right?

You're gonna be able to manage the situation really well. And, and then that's the way I build out my survival kit. And then what in my survival kit, I actually have a little med kit, and my med kit is just, It's based on experience. It's based on your skills, but it's just basically built for common ailments.

Diarrhea allergies, cuts, bruises, if I'm, we, if we're hunting, are you capable of managing a gunshot? If you're bow hunting or you're capable of managing punctures and lacerations, things like that. But all that just goes in this little possibles pouch, and I'm constantly working out of it like a tool bag while I'm out there.

But if you have that and I carry mine in a fanny pack. [01:14:00] So if I'm going on a stalk and I'm dropping my pack or I'm leaving my buddy, I have that with me. So if I do get caught out there for eight hours, or, my buddy's Hey, I'm going back to camp. And I kill one at dark, and it takes him a, a bunch of hours.

He's oh, he is in reaching me. He's you know what, bro? I'll just come out there in the morning to help me. It's like I at least have the bare minimum. To survive and ride out the night with, again, puffy jacket, rain gear, those kind of things. That, that I can make it work and not be a statistic.

Yeah, that's a pretty in-depth. Sorry I'm a little long-winded sometimes. No, I would say it's a very, it's a very complete answer, right? It's this, there like the context around why you picked each piece as well is important. Otherwise people are like, ah, he said that, but I don't think it's gonna happen.

Like what you, you said about the I think the con context is always important. Yeah. What you said about that elk, like sure enough, if I did shoot an elk in that situation on that steep slope in the snow, he is gonna slide. [01:15:00] I wasn't, I didn't even think about that when I decided I probably wouldn't be able to get him out.

I was picturing dumping him in his tracks and I still wouldn't be able to get him out. Much less your scenario where he runs over the backside of the ridge. And slides, that direction's four miles to the next road. Oh, geez. Yeah, exactly right. Like the context really does matter. Yeah. Yeah.

Again, I think we need to talk about these things more often, and I'm not gonna tell you like everything I said is definitive, but there's a lot of experience there. And I think it's, we can all build our own kits to, suit our personalities and sit suit our environments and suit the way, we choose to hunt, the style we choose to hunt, or the environment we choose to hunt in.

I'll carry a small fishing kit in my possibles bag when I'm out here in Montana, right? Because, I know I'm often around a lot of lakes and streams that have fish. So if I gotta spend a night out, like I could throw a line out and catch a fish and light a fire and build a [01:16:00] shelter and be fat, dumb, and happy and get back to camp, the next day.

But I'm not necessarily gonna carry the fishing kit if I'm going to say, let's just say Southern Arizona in January to hunt COOs deer. Yeah. It's just a wasted effort there. But yeah, I like that you, I like that you didn't really say, these are the items I need.

It was, these are the situations I need to be prepared for. And those could change who you are, where you're hunting the season. Exactly. Yeah. Yep. And that you also called it like the possibles bag and that you say, I work out of it a lot. I think a lot of people treat their survival kit as the little bag.

I hope I never have to open. Yeah, and I just, again, fr from my experience and what I've done I think that, it's do not break seal unless, in a really dire situation. And then we don't work with those things and train with them enough and use 'em often enough.

It's like I said, I, I broke up my survival kit. We talked about this a couple weeks ago. I, I use my prefab tinder, I use my knife, I use those kind of things, and then I sharpen the knife and restock the prefab tinder and I know it's good to go. And I put some [01:17:00] more fluid back in the lighter and all those kind of things.

And so now I was good to go. And if we think about it, as a possibles bag or maybe a toolkit, then it's oh, I got diarrhea. I'm gonna get into my medical kit. It's like I'm not gonna have a separate medical kit that I have those pills in and not touch the survival kit. And I think it's important also that we all individually build our own kits so that I know if my buddy is stuck on the mountain, right?

Cuz you killed a bucket last night and I got bored and went back to camp to cook, beef stroganoff or whatever. I'm like, ah he's good. He's got his kit, right? Like he can manage himself. I'll get up there in three hours. I'll know he's probably got a fire going to keep the black bears away and I'll be able to find him and blah, blah, blah.

But oftentimes guys are like, oh, you got the survival kit. I don't need one. And I'll give you a classic case in point. And the only reason I'm mentioning this is because I did a podcast with Randy and Corey Jacobson. And Corey Wa was the one that wanted to do it.

And we specifically talked about his film, Alaska Elk, and those guys, his [01:18:00] experiences, Corey and Donny r like they made, Corey made the classic. Mistake. And it's like they've set up camp and they're like, oh, we see some elk and we're gonna go chase the elk in the afternoon. And it's only one mile away.

And then they kept moving and it's four miles away now. Then they killed the elk at last light, then they couldn't get back to camp and they had to keep the bears away. And then they didn't have puffy jackets, they didn't have rain gear. Luckily they found a tarp. They didn't have a survival kit.

They didn't have the basic necessities. And it wasn't like, Corey had nothing. At least Donnie had a few things and he self-admitted this. That's why I'm able to talk about it cuz it's, it was, it's public. You can go listen to the podcast. And we just went through the lessons learned and it's man, it can happen to any of us.

It can happen to me. None of us are infallible. But it's like, to think it's not going to happen to you is just completely naive and unrealistic. It's it, these situations are going to arise. The more time we spend out there, the greater the opportunity for these things to happen. It's a very dynamic environment that's not controllable, and so [01:19:00] we just need to make sure we're as prepared as possible.

When you're inexperienced, you tend to do that with a lot of gear. And when eventually you get to a point where you have experience, you do it with a lot of knowledge and a minimal amount of gear, but you still have that capability. And that's what ultimately is important, is that you're wide-eyed about it.

You understand it, you prepare for it. And then when it happens, hopefully nothing death defined, but when it happens, then you can react to it. And like I say, instead of becoming a statistic, you just have an awesome. Story to tell around the campfire to your buddies. Yeah. That should be a shirt for you is stories before statistics.

Nah, I love that man. Yeah, I love that. That'd be great. Right underneath the homepage of the knowledge from storms. So stories, not statistics. I dig it. I'll give you credit for that if I use it. Awesome. Man, just like that, we racked up an hour and a half of incredible experienced knowledge tips.

A couple stories [01:20:00] along the way. I really appreciate you sharing some of your knowledge with our listeners on not only what can go wrong, but also how to overcome those situations. How to work the problem, how to be better suited to handle, like you said, the it's the win, not if situations.

Yeah. I appreciate you having me on, man. I love to teach, I love to help people. I think we need more. I think we need more experienced people in the hunting industry providing that knowledge and experience to help people who either haven't done something, come out west or are new to hunting.

We need more people to do that. And I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to come on and talk about it. Yeah. And give people the opportunity to check out not only your website, but your outdoor class. The course and how they can really get, I would say, what's the full version of today's podcast?

Yeah, so I have an Instagram page at j Barlow. So my last name where I try to post a video a week of just some type of educational content. [01:21:00] I've got a website, knowledge from, where that's all free content education, my newsletter pre-trip planning checklist, you name it. Podcasts. And then I've also just got my first outdoor class done.

So backcountry mission planning. If you use the code Barlow, all capitals, that's 20% off. I think it's 30% off through Labor Day, but it's 20% off. You can get a full year's membership, not just in my course, but everything on outdoor class, Randy's courses, Corey's courses, Remy Warren's courses, but back country mission planning and it's a perfect time to talk about it because the whole intent of that is to help us all plan and prepare and train.

To have the best, most successful, safe, big game season we can this fall. So yeah, I appreciate that. And that's at outdoor, man? Yeah I'm at, I have outdoor class opened up right now, and the full price is 8 33 a month, which if I do my math rights, like a hundred bucks a year. Yep. [01:22:00] 9 99 99. Yep.

And so you're getting like, just your course alone is 16 full chapters? Yes. Yeah. And so I would say, if any, if you need to use anyone's course, if you use John's course, You will be happy to spend that a hundred dollars for the misery and the discomfort you avoid by using it. But also, like you said, you get Randy's, I think he's got the antelope course.

Cory's got an elk hunting course. His Remy's meal. Deer. So Cory's got all of elk 1 0 1 on outdoor class, right? He didn't get access to Randy's done a rifle elk hunting course. He's done an antelope hunting course. Remy's done a mule deer hunting course. Hank Shaw has one course out now on how to butcher and cook your wild game.

He's got another one coming out. Don't wanna spoil it, but he's got another one coming out. There's ones coming out from Mark Levie it's insane. Jamie Teagan's got a cooking course and I've got more courses on building, like [01:23:00] it's going to be the one stop shop for everything.

Outdoor education and Yeah. To me it's a tremendous resource. I'm a huge fan, as you could tell. Yeah. Not just cuz I'm on there, but I would take it, honestly, I would sign up just for Randy's Antelope course. Yeah. I think I'm going to have to because my wife just as in the final, she's in the final weeks of a two year pharmacy residency.

And she said she, she wants to go antelope hunting cuz I, I was watching a Fresh Tracks episode and Randy he had a guest and they did the hotel and he went and got donuts and they drove around and they found some antelope. Had a great time. And she goes, I want to do that. And so that's her view of antelope punting.

And I'm not the most experienced antelope punter, so I think I'm gonna have to get the course just to learn and take her on an antelope punt. I don't know of any other course in the world. On Antelope Pun. And so I'm super intrigued and I've hunted antelope for a long time and been, somewhat successful.

But that course alone is so unique to me that content is valuable. [01:24:00] I will tell you, I'll give you another quick little secret before we sign off, but to me, I think Antelope Punning is an undervalued pursuit out west that people would really find a lot of value in. Tags are easier to draw, far easier to draw.

Some are over the counter, depending on the state. They're far less expensive. You don't have need pack horses to bring them out. You hunt them all day long because generally speaking, there's a lot of them. And you get lots of stocks in and the success rate is far higher, especially with a rifle than any elk cunt will ever be in the world.

So I think it's a, I think it's a great opportunity for people and antelope, if you take care of it, I eat, you just don't let it rot in the sun, cuz oftentimes it's hot. It is some of the best venison you'll ever eat. I think it's funny you say that because every time someone asks me about hunting the West, I always recommend you should start with a rifle antelope punt.

It'll be the most fun way [01:25:00] to get into the West. It absolutely, there's I tell them there's levels of skills and to do a day hunt or a backpack hunt for big horns, you need 'em all. To do an antelope punt. You can start with nothing. You're gonna have fun. You're gonna see animals. You don't have to get up early.

You're not doing three hour hikes in the woods at night. You can get 'em out of the field easy. There's nothing about an antelope punt that a whitetail hunter from Minnesota couldn't take on and Absolutely. And it's type one fun along the way too, whereas the big horn hunt or the mountain goat hunt or the, the limited entry elk hunt in Idaho, that's a lot of type two fun.

Yeah. It might even be type three, but Yes. Which is just a longer buy-in period to get to start smiling. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Thank you John. Thanks for sharing and thanks for giving everyone a place to go follow you. Go check out your website full of great information and hopefully get an outdoor class and start their start their western hunting journey.

Yeah. Thanks again, Brian. Yep. And thank [01:26:00] you folks for listening.