Elk Hunting for Flatlanders

Show Notes

On this episode of The Western Rookie Podcast, Brian talks with Aaron Hepler about living and traveling from flat eastern states to go elk hunting!

Aaron is experiences outdoorsman, writer, and deer hunter from the eastern United States, and recently tagged out on his first archery elk – a dandy 6x6 bull! Aaron and Brian talk about some of the challenges of hunting elk in high elevations when you live closer to sea level, and all the things that go into a successful elk hunt, and ofcoruse, some of the things that make an unsuccessful hunt! Click the links below to check out more of Aaron’s story.


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Show Transcript

Welcome back to another Western rookie podcast episode. This is your host, Brian Krabs. And today I have Aaron Hepler [00:01:00] on the phone. I just got back from Colorado archery elk hunt, and we're trying to talk a little bit about it right before we started this podcast off, but both Aaron and I are Flatlanders maybe you might have a little bit more hills and smaller mountains where you're at, but I'm from Minnesota.

You're from the east. Both places are a long ways from the West. And so I thought that'd be a cool episode to talk through on the Western rookie, because so many of our listeners are from either the Midwest or the East. And they're looking at what is it, what goes into a Western hunt?

Where do I start? How do I get there? Travel plans, picking a state, picking a unit, all of those things. And you and I are on the same page as far as all that goes. And so it's going to be a pretty great episode. And that's why I wanted to have you

Aaron Hepler: on here. Yeah, I think it's it's probably a really good topic for boat.

Like you said, you're we're flatlanders. I'm not I do have some rolling hills around here, but I think this is a perfect topic cause it's definitely fresh and fresh in my mind. I went on my first Western, like actual Western hunt last year,

Brian Krebs: and is that the elk that's over your [00:02:00] shoulder there?

Yeah, that's

Aaron Hepler: him. He's that's a,

Brian Krebs: that's a beauty.

Aaron Hepler: Yeah. I was pretty excited, but there were a lot of things that went into to picking a hunt like that. And I think we'll dive into the weeds on that.

Brian Krebs: Yeah. So for the listeners, you showed up a picture of a, you got a European mount of a beautiful six by six bowl, plenty mature.

I think everybody from the East would probably shoot that bowl, unless it's a. Once in a lifetime unit in Arizona, potentially, but it's a great bowl. So that's the credibility piece, right? But for the listeners, you grew up hunting and fishing, I assume. Just like most

Aaron Hepler: people.

Yep. Yep. I'm a 35 and I've been hunting. Fishing my entire life and hunting since I've been 12. Cause that's when you can start hunting NPA. So

Brian Krebs: perfect. So just like me fished my entire life. I maybe started hunting a little bit earlier. I think my dad let me shoot a doe at 11. Yeah. You could do like a sponsorship hunt or something like that.

Mentor hunt started pheasant. I think I shot my first pheasant on my [00:03:00] 12th birthday. And then I didn't really start Western hunting until after college. It just wasn't feasible for a while. It's you can't bring a 14 year old on an elk hunt, right? You can people do it. I'm sure now that I said that I'm going to get a ton of emails and DMS Oh, I bring my nine year old.

And we had Sean Curtis on the phone. He brings his entire family for opening weekend archery elk. And he has shot, I think he shot a bull with his. Infant child in a backpack harness.

Aaron Hepler: That's no simple feat there. No,

Brian Krebs: right. But when you're coming from the East, it's thousands of dollars between tags, gas money.

If you're going guided way more, and now we're going to do this for someone that's just like barely a hundred yet, like 12 foot 15, it's a little different. It's a little different economy. So I didn't start, once I got old enough, then I'm busy with sports. I'm busy with high school. Graduation college.

It's really hard to skip. Calc three for 10 days. And so I didn't go until I started my career. So that then I think [00:04:00] this marks the eighth or ninth elcon I've done. Okay. 16, 17, 18, 19. Everyone's gonna watch me counting my fingers. 20, 21, 22, 23. Eight. Yeah. Nine. 'cause I did two in 2019. So I've done nine elk hunts one by one all the way through.

I'm at two for nine. That's my So you're,

Aaron Hepler: you're you're almost not a rookie anymore, huh?

Brian Krebs: I'm barely out of the rookie status enough to host the Western rookie podcast. Perfect. I'm close enough that I can jump on either side of the fence and not be a complete. Hypocrite, right? Exactly.

If I, we, so we just did one with Jason Phelps and it's like, all right, I'm jumping on the rookie side of the fence for this conversation. And then I'll did one with a buddy who I took him on his very first ever punt West of the Missouri. And so then I'll, I dive off on the other side and, play the mentor role too.

Yeah I'm not fresh out. But I'm also, like I said, I'm only, I'm two for nine on elk, which is 22 and a [00:05:00] fifth percent. Yeah, that's pretty

Aaron Hepler: good, yeah, which

Brian Krebs: it's good except for the fact that both hunts were back to back. There were rifle hunts and so then I'm 0 for 7 with my bow. Okay,

Aaron Hepler: which really.

Now are you hunting like the same area every time you've gone or are you checking out new stuff?

Oh, hey,

Brian Krebs: we have an issue. My road board start. My road board flipped out on me. Good thing I caught it early enough. Let me I'm going to restart my road board and put a new card in it. Yeah. And then we'll just get going again. Unfortunately, no, no problem, man. Better than 60 minutes in.

All right,

we are back. Sorry about that guys. We had a brief technical issue. That podcasting. My podcasting. My podcast board had an error, so we paused quick and got it all back up and running. But yeah, we're talking [00:06:00] just about how tenure with elk hunting, two for nine doesn't sound that bad.

But when you break it down, two for three on rifle hunts zero for six on archery. And then we're talking about like units and that plays a huge role in it too. So the other part that I feel that adds into it, one of my rifle tags was a once in a lifetime in North Dakota. Phenomenal unit, 50 percent success rates, giant bulls, shot a beautiful bull.

The next year, I went to buy a Colorado point, noticed I had five. So I bought one, next year I went to buy the second, and I had five. It was right when they transitioned their system. We had issues with our elk group that year, we were trying to go to Wyoming. We had seven, the group app is six, limit to six.

I was in a wedding during my best, one of my best friends was getting married during elk season, so everything together, I'm just like, yeah he doesn't hunt yeah, so I everything put together, I'm like, hey, you know what, this is just all the cards are aligning for me to just do a rifle Colorado hunt, burn these five points before [00:07:00] they find out they gave them to me, and then that alleviates the wedding and the group party size issues, and so that was another yeah, five point unit in Colorado is not amazing, but it's certainly better than over the counter in Colorado.

And so I shot at a 6x7 in that unit. Then we did General Montana with a rifle a few years later. We went 2 for 5 in the group, but I didn't personally shoot anything past like a 640 yard shot at a Raycorn, but that's just too far for me. And and yeah, so then the archery, I've been close.

Every year I've had an elk within 60 yards. Every single year I've had illegal elk within 60 yards just, and I've sent one arrow and the arrow hit a branch like two inches in front of my rest that I couldn't see through my sight housing. And my brother ended up shooting that elk after my arrow went off the side of the mountain.

Oh no. So when you start to break it all down, it's yeah, two for nine's not good. But when you consider this episode is brought to you by Steelhead Outdoors. From the moment I first saw a Steelhead outdoor safe, I knew I was gonna order [00:08:00] one. The ability to customize the color, the configuration, and most importantly, the ability to move and assemble my safe panel by panel makes Steelhead Outdoors the clear winner when it comes to gun safes.

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Those two were in pretty unique situations and the other seven hunts are the general units. You start to get defeated. And part of it is, like you said, we bounce around. A lot of units, we've hunted, I've hunted three different units in Montana. I've hunted two different units in Colorado. I've hunted the same, I've only hunted the, our favorite unit is Wyoming and I've actually hunted it once.

And yeah, we bounce around quite a bit and that doesn't, I think immediately it hurts, long term it probably helps. Okay.

Aaron Hepler: Just because you're learning elk better. I think you're

Brian Krebs: forced to learn elk faster. [00:10:00] I think you're forced to develop tactics that allow you to be more adaptable faster. And I think the extreme example of this, and you'll probably appreciate this.

If you hunt the same ground in Pennsylvania for whitetails every year, you've got your stance, right? Yeah. And you just go sit in your stand. Sometimes they walk by, sometimes they don't, but where are you going next time? Yeah. And it's because you're so familiar with that piece, you almost you almost refuse to adapt.

Cause maybe you had a picture of the buck in that spot in July or last year, or, for 10 years, dad shot a buck in this stand every year. So it's a good stand. And sometimes that's true in the Whitetail Woods but it's so easy to go just keep doing the same thing when you're in the same spot.

And so I think when you're out elk hunting, it certainly helps to know a spot. But it sometimes doesn't help you learn new skills as an elk hunter. Cause you're just relying on the things that you did last time that worked. And then if it doesn't work, you're like maybe it was just an off day. I'll do it again.

And now all of a sudden you waste two or [00:11:00] three days before you start to adapt versus going to a new spot. You're like, yeah, I didn't see any fresh sign within the last week. We're going to a different spot tomorrow. And I think that's that long term short term trade off.

Aaron Hepler: I think that's one thing that if you're an Eastern hunter, I think it's an.

What you have to practice on is white tails, right? So exactly what you're saying is not what I do because I can't hunt that way. I've, I grew up hunting, I hunted, I have a farm that I hunt. It's a good family friend of mine. And we have stands, we've rotated stands or move stands because all the deer started, moving, they're shifting, however, and I'll shoot, I shot a lot of deer out of the same stand during rifle hunting, but when I really started like diving into public land, hunting on my own I have areas that I hunt, but I almost never hunt the same spot.

Like I will sit the same tree one. I'll only sit one, a tree one time in an entire season. And. I think that's another part of importance of whitetails is that's different really with elk is [00:12:00] you don't really use trail cameras for elk. You can, but yeah, a lot of states a, they don't allow it and B, I think if you're relying on as far as whitetail hunting goes, if you're relying on your cameras only, you're never learning any, like you said, you're never learning anything new.

Like what new food is in you can see the sign and stuff anywhere you go, but this year there's berries this year. There's this year right now, there is acorns everywhere. Not it's, it hasn't really been like this for a couple of years now. So everything's really different.

So I think that you always have to keep learning. And if you're just putting your trail cameras on the same tree every year and hunting it because you saw a buck there and not really trying to figure out what he's doing outside of that. You're hurting yourself, but if you're if you're really adapting to the changing situation with whitetails it's not the same as elk because it's, the hunting is very different.

They're two different animals, but you can learn to adapt faster that way. So I agree with you with how hunting a new unit [00:13:00] can really teach you how the animal is using the landscape versus this is how this landscape plays

Brian Krebs: out. Yeah. Exactly. And when I said that, I meant, I've grown up with private farms my entire life.

We've probably got exclusive access to a few hundred acres, whether it's like in my last name. Like that size family or in the, the next umbrella up, and then you probably have partial access to equally that much still within the family, just like cousins. And, very blessed, lots of good opportunity.

Me and my wife just bought our own 40 here that we live on now. And so that's what I meant. It was like, you got your food plot, you got your stand, like my favorite tree, that stand hasn't moved since I started bow hunting.

Aaron Hepler: Yeah, a hundred percent. And I think sometimes when people that have a back 40 or something like that or like a farm, like you're talking about is it doesn't matter if you're hunting 10 acres or if you're hunting 10, 000 acres, you might have to do something a little bit [00:14:00] different based on whatever you're hunting.

So like you have, I have a stand that I hunt. Every year, there's one stand that I like to go to because the deer haven't changed pattern, but I think it's like, it goes with anything, right? Like we, I'm sure you like to fish. I like to fish. If you just stay doing, if you're fishing the same point again and again, and all of a sudden now you're not catching any fish, you got to figure out where they went.

And it could be because you're putting the pressure on them, or it could be because like, maybe waves made a new rock hump on it or something, a tree fell in the water, whatever it is, like you gotta. Change your situation and figure out what the fish are doing and not necessarily the landscape alone.

Yeah. The

Brian Krebs: one hack that I do think is universal and it really doesn't have as much to do with hunting as it does like mountaineering, when you're changing units, it almost takes a full day or two days to figure out where are, the [00:15:00] trail heads, where are the hiking trails, where are good looking valleys and units.

And I was talking like, I don't, we don't hunt from the truck at all. We spiked out on the, we slept on the mountain this year. One night and but we definitely do ride a ridge or top road and we'll look for, one to 10 miles in and say, yeah, that looks good. Like we shouldn't get in there, but to do all that, you got to spend time on these roads and the roads always suck.

And you're driving around, but that's like a one time activity. You do that for two years, for two days. Now you have the roads and the trails down pat, you have bigger areas. Now you need to get in there and pick them apart. And look for sign, look for, hear bugles and stuff like that.

But then also part of going back to the same unit is you start to learn little hacks. Hey, if we just dive off the left side of this Ridge versus the right side of this Ridge, there's no deadfall. We get in and out easier. We save time. We say, stuff like [00:16:00] that comes with building.

Longevity of experience in a unit going back to this. There's one unit we've hunted two or three times now actually two places we've hunted multiple times and we know where the roads are. So we don't even worry about that. And now we're starting to really get to that next level of understanding easy access routes.

That's a big one. Why tell hunters always talk about, and it's mostly with scent and pressure, but with elk hunting, it's yeah, that's a great unit, but we kill ourselves every time we go in there. We need to figure out a better way to go in there. Like I would rather walk three miles. On a green slope trail, then one mile on a red slope trail.

Cause that one mile out is going to kill me. And that green, I won't even notice it on the green. It'll probably be faster on the green as well. And that comes with hunting a unit a long time. And then you get into like, where are the elk this year? What's valleys are they using today? And that just comes with, that's the hunting side of it, where you just got to be a good hunt, elk hunter and be adaptable.


Aaron Hepler: I think it's probably probably hard for [00:17:00] an over the counter situation to like, people go and they'll say I didn't even hear now. I didn't see a track. I didn't see, so you have to be where the elk are. So that is, if you're doing the over the counter thing, like it, it would be helpful to go back to the same area to just figure out.

Where do they even like to go here?

Brian Krebs: Yeah, that's tough.

Aaron Hepler: A lot of it has to do with hunting pressure too, obviously in that situation. I

Brian Krebs: mean, we've got a group of about eight. Usually we fluctuate between six and eight archery elk hunters in our group. The group has been happening every single year since 2015.

I didn't go the first year. And and our group is, oh man, we're at, I think we're in double digit bulls. So you start adding up all that experience. It's we don't go anywhere now and not see sign, we're new spots, we're adaptable. We know what we're looking for. We're looking for [00:18:00] dark timber, black timber.

We're looking for a third of the way from the ridge line, a third of the way down the mountain, two thirds from the Valley. Yep. There's going to be traffic in these areas away from roads, away from pressure, food, water security, like it's a triangle. And in the, we can piece that together, but that being said, like my brother didn't see an elk.

He's the, he's killed four with his bow. He's, we have a little elk rating on our team. He's an E seven. Cause he shot three with his bow or three of the rifle and four with his bow. And he's I didn't see an elk this trip. We got into bugling most days. We heard elk, we saw fresh shine. I saw 19. He didn't see any.

So sometimes even when you're in the elk, you don't see one sometimes in the black timber.

Aaron Hepler: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I agree. And are you mostly doing like over the counter type stuff?

Brian Krebs: We like to, yeah, we like to go every year and we like a spot in Wyoming, but the Wyoming general is every three and now it's moving into every four years.[00:19:00]

So then we had to start going to Montana. We picked a spot in Montana. We absolutely hated it. Steeper than shit, super thick. We only had encounters with six elk. The whole week and we just decided, ah, not worth it. Then we went to another place in Montana, had better luck. We went two for four the first time we went there, but it's.

There's grizzly bears, and it's not like there might be a grizzly bear. There's a lot of grizzly bears. That's not fun. So I don't know we've gone back there twice We're probably going back next year, but with the plan was we'll go to Montana. It'll be like Montana, Wyoming Montana, Wyoming Well now Wyoming is every four years and now Montana isn't even a guarantee at two points for their general take so now It's all right Wyoming Montana something else Montana, something else, Wyoming.

And and that something else is what we're struggling with. Last year, it was over the counter Colorado, but Colorado has their muzzleloader season [00:20:00] right before peak archery. So that's tough. This year we did a draw a point unit and a low point unit in Colorado still have the same, a little bit less pressure, but there's still muzzleloader pressure the week before they weren't super vocal.

We might've gotten a little too early for Southern United States. I don't know, but it all just adds up. And so it's we like to go to, we'd like, we would love to go to an over the counter unit or a general unit every single year, like the general unit in Wyoming. We would never go anywhere else. We love that spot so much, but we can't draw it.

So we're stuck doing that. And what does that look like? Is it New Mexico? Is it random draws in Wyoming? And our group uses GoHunt religiously. That's how we're finding every unit we ever hunt is GoHunt. We look up. Herd populations, draw odds, pressure, now we're using Go Hunt maps in 3D to get a gauge on how steep is the unit.

Cause not every, we've got people that range from billy goats to boats on our [00:21:00] team. I'm on the boat side of the equation. I'm just not a fast mover.

And so yeah, it's tough. It's hard to find, it's hard to find something you can do every year if you're not going basically over the counter Colorado.

But then you. You really need to get in there, you need to spend time there, you need to go back year after year to figure out the unit and overcome all the challenges that Colorado has, like pressure, season dates, topography, it's a, there's a lot of things.

Aaron Hepler: Yeah. And you could do a Idaho, but they have that different, like you can't apply as a group there anymore.

Brian Krebs: So that's something we need to look into because one guy in our group has hunted Idaho and he said, you can apply for waiting as a group. I'm not quite sure we need to look into it, but yeah, that's a big concern if you can't do it as a group,

Aaron Hepler: there's a back, there's a back door. Yeah, I'll tell you about it then.

Brian Krebs: Yeah, you got it. We got to figure that out and it's also in December So you if you're gonna go to Idaho you make a hard commitment to go to Idaho It's not a backup plan. It's a pre plan,

Aaron Hepler: right? I am I so I [00:22:00] write a little bit for Exodus trail cameras and actually Chad Sylvester Okay. He's the owner of Exodus.

He's out there. I don't, I think, I don't know if he's back yet or not, but he texted me last week. He's out there. And they actually drew, I think it's four or five, five in their group that are going, and they all drew the same the same tag. And so I think they took whatever it is, like four percent of the tags in that unit.

Oh, really? Yeah, so he, they figured out a way to all be able To draw together.

Brian Krebs: Yeah, and you can it's all over the counter. So it's but Idaho's so here's a I'm gonna go on a little rabbit hole Vendetta, so it's Steven Ranello on meat eater has said one of his ideas for retirement Like his golden years pet project would be going around all the states And just commonizing the Blaze Orange requirements.

Are we wearing hats? Are we wearing vests? Are we doing both? Are we doing [00:23:00] none? I really don't care. I just want them all to be the same. That's what he said. I would like to go through every state and say, Hey, I'm gonna bring your guys website up to the 21st century here. Because they all suck every single one

Aaron Hepler: of them.

Oh, yeah. Yeah, you can't dude I talk about that all the time because you can't find specific details like can't find details

Brian Krebs: You have to look up arbitrary numbers to log in. It's like why can't I just make it login? Like emails are already unique. You can't have the same email On two different people.

Aaron Hepler: And there's for example, one, one pet peeve of mine is like in PA, it doesn't say if you, so we have a pretty long black bear season in the fall, and it doesn't say if you can or you can't pack a bear out of the woods, but they want bear shot. So there's people that will hunt close enough to the truck that they, or, private land, whatever can get the bear out.

But if I'm going to go two [00:24:00] miles into the woods, I'm not packing out a bear. That's over. I'm not dragging a bear that's over 200 pounds. There's no way I'm doing that. Now, I actually contacted the game commission and say, Hey, this isn't if you look in the book, it looks like you can field dress a bear and then you have to bring it to the check station.

It doesn't say if it has to be intact or whatever it is. So I ended up like contacting like one of the heads of the game commission. And he was like yeah, you can pack a bear out. And I'm like I talked to a game officer before he told me that I couldn't. And he's no, you absolutely can.

It has to have you have to have the skull. You have to have you wouldn't get a live weight obviously, but you have to have this, basically you can leave the spinal cord and the rib cage and you can pack out the rest. However, there are like. There's no actual law for what you can or can't do.

So I carry that when I'm bear hunting, I carry that email in my pocket. Cause I know somebody is going to give me a hard time.

Brian Krebs: And it's not on the website and [00:25:00] it's the same with these apps and these systems of like Colorado, it's E. The number for the unit and then the number for the tag type and then the number for something else.

And then there's a letter for the sex and it's Jesus you had to look all this come on. I go on my GoHunt membership and they've got every transaction I've ever made with them, everything I've ever ordered from them, every day that I've ever bought anything and all I do is sign in and Google just signs in for me.

Yeah, I just go to the website and they're like, oh, hey Brian, how you doing? Like, why can't that be how you apply for a tag? Oh, hey Brian, we noticed it's, April and for the last 20 years, you've been going to the same over the counter unit, Colorado. Would you like to go again this year? Yeah, sure, done.


Aaron Hepler: know, and so I get that not every, I get not every state agency can share a common website, but like Things like orange requirements would be nice because the reason I went on

Brian Krebs: this much Yeah, the reason I went on this tangent It's because there's a lot of stories out there in [00:26:00] Idaho where a guy will be there at 7 59 and he's clicking refresh eight o'clock.

Boom. He's in he clicks buy website crashes and he's What the heck and then someone logs in sleeps in logs in at like 8 37. They're like, oh, hey There's tags left because the website's back up That guy still crashed and locked out. The other guy gets a tag. He's what the hell? I was here on time.

And this guy slept in. And he got the, and so that's what I'm saying with these whole ancient websites. They crash all the time. There's always issues with Oh, the application didn't work. Or we crashed. Or we, a bunch of people didn't draw that we're supposed to draw. So now we gotta give them tags to make everyone happy.

But then we're, 2, 000 tags in surplus that we weren't supposed to give out. It's all these issues. And so I just, I would love to revise. and optimize the draw system. I would have every state, if they couldn't get along, and if they couldn't play nice, and just pick their dates, I would say, alright, then we're doing it a different way.

You're going to bid on your place in line. Whoever [00:27:00] bids the most and puts it into this, side pot that I've, I manage for free, and it all goes to wildlife on a federal level, so no one can complain. But we're gonna bid and whoever pays the most gets to be first and your app opens on January 1st It closes on the 15th results are on the 21st The next state is like the 21st it closed, and it's so that way, you're like, oh didn't get anything in Arizona. Let's do New Mexico. Oh didn't get anything in New Mexico Let's go to Wyoming But now you have Wyoming We're know what non residents have to apply by the 31st of January and we don't find out till the 31st of May So we basically have this big question mark out there the entire app season of, should I apply for anywhere else?

What if I don't get drawn? And it's just silly. I feel like every state would see an increase in app dollars, which goes towards their fundraising, right? Cause you don't get a refund on your app, whether it's 5 or 50.

Aaron Hepler: And like PA sucks for that too. Cause we have we have a.

Small huntable elk population [00:28:00] and you can put your, you can either just like anywhere you can just buy a preference point for the year, not plan on applying. You're not going to get drawn, which you basically, if you plan an elk hunt anywhere else, you basically have to do that because now they, they made it a little bit better this year, but you can apply in February and then the draw is this year was July 31st.

So if you draw and you have an out. PA is like a one like you're not you're probably not gonna draw an elk tag in PA again Is it I mean, it's randomly once in a life No, you could draw a second there are people that have drawn a second time because it's a random draw You just have to wait.

There's a five year wait period after you draw one. Gotcha. Yeah for a bull, but if you basically if You can either put your name back in the hat and say, hopefully I draw next year, but you could wait another 10 years to draw, you never know.

Brian Krebs: Yeah. [00:29:00] That's, draw strategies, lottery, like lottery systems.

That would be, what I've already described to be a pipe dream, but if we could commonize like every state, so New Mexico, no point system. Just yeah, straight odds, Idaho, mostly over the counter, but where it's not, it's just straight odds. Colorado, pure preference, no random, no bonus.

Montana, pretty much pure bonus. You have to draw your general. And then after that, it's bonus. So what the guy with one point could draw or the guy with 20 years and 401 points could draw. And then Wyoming is like the both option where you have, Preference, but 25 percent of the tags are in a random bucket.

It's just like bonkers. Like how?

Aaron Hepler: Yeah, I actually, I PA system is not terrific, but I like it. Cause I think, the guy that's put in for the first year could draw, or the, like you said, the guy that's been doing it for 15 could draw. I like.

Brian Krebs: I like systems that allow everyone a chance but give a [00:30:00] little bit of a tailwind to the people that have committed.

And so that's why I like, like squaring bonus points. Yeah. And then I would probably do a cooler, a period, like a five year, I would probably designate, now we're talking like I'm the king of the world, but you look at a unit, and I would say okay, the game and fish, or the biologists, or whoever is in that agency for the state, I say, you guys come out with a plan, and you guys pick which units are opportunity units, and which units are limited entry units.

Yeah, let me know. And if it's a limited entry, if it's designated as a trophy management unit, then we're going to put a cooler on that. If you draw that on the bonus system, you can't draw again for 5 years or 10 years. Maybe the, maybe there's different scales. Like it's a first degree limited entry, so that's 5 years.

But if it's like a third degree limited entry, that's 15 years. Like you're not going to the northwest corner of Colorado every year because you got lucky. Yeah, I think that's a great idea. And [00:31:00] so but if it's an over the counter, like if it's a if it's an opportunity unit Maybe that's just over the counter or maybe that's just straight odds.

No points Some of them are going to be running 100 percent because they don't have enough apps. Some of them are going to be running 10 percent a year because they get more apps and they're on that verge of becoming an LE. But yeah, that would be awesome if you could commonize all of those things. I just, I don't see a downside.

I'm sure every state would say this is why we can't do that. If you hire my company to manage it for you, so you can, you don't spend your own resources on it, you don't spend your own people on it, you're not on the hook if it crashes, it's not going to crash because you have tech people running it, not, wildlife biologists running it.

There's so many things that are just so inefficient. Every state's going to see more apps because they can tell I want to apply in New Mexico, Wyoming, and Montana. Great. They're all separate seasons and you'll know the results of the first before the next is due. Which is ideal. Yeah. Yeah. That's hard. Cause some states don't allow refunds.

Aaron Hepler: [00:32:00] So yeah, I don't know what direction you want this to go. I don't, we can, we, you, we want to talk about your, you just got back from Alconia. Yeah.

Brian Krebs: Yeah. We got back. It was a new unit. We had Steven Walker, who was a previous guest on this podcast, lives in the area.

He hunted that unit quite a bit. I went shed hunting with him this spring. And so he super nice person. One of the nicest people I've met in person as a, through this podcast. He told us where we could camp. He told us places to hunt. He shared pins of where he shot bulls with friends. He's I don't hunt this.

Personally anymore, usually someone comes out, I might bring them there, but typically I'm going on the other side of the unit. We have meals. And so we go in 10 miles. So I'll tell you everything. And we're like, great. So it's okay, it's a draw. So we get rid of some pressure.

Yeah. Got inside information. He showed up the first full day of hunting to hunt with us. And he brought me two sheds that he found. He's Hey, I heard you bought a shop. You're talking about wanting to hang up a dead head at your shop. It's not in the dead head, but it's a [00:33:00] match set. You can hang these up in your shop.

And I'm like, dude, you didn't have to do that. Came hunting with us. He was the one that called in the first bull of the trip to 58 yards. I just didn't quite have a shot. I could only see his like midsection and rear. I couldn't see the front shoulder. And it was 58 straight uphill. So it was probably more like a 75 yard shot and that's just really far.

But yeah, so we got in one thing I wasn't used to in Colorado is the daily rains. Where we were, it was basically daily rains, which really sucked like mid afternoon. It just rained every day. Yeah. It was steeper than we thought it was going to be. It always is steeper than we think, but it was like steep, steep this I've hunted some stuff that really isn't that bad.

This was bad. And the elk of course, love to be right in the steep stuff. They'd find like a little bench like a four by eight sheet of plywood. That's just flat enough to bet on. And that's where they were betting. So we had to be in the steep stuff. Yeah, but yeah, we got on fresh sign relatively fast I think everyone had a [00:34:00] we had at least a bugle or a play going every day But it wasn't hot heavy like we were everyone hopes it to be They didn't seem super call receptive, but they just got done getting pressured from both archery and muzzleloader.

Muzzleloader ended like our first or second full day of hunting. And so it was just a tough unit. We back, we've been wanting to spike in and hunt for a long time. And the only guy that really. Brought it up and wants to do it the worst wasn't on this hunt He went to Wyoming this year. And so we all did it despite him like how we finally did it You know, yeah sure you guys you do it the year.

I'm gone, but that went really Everyone's gear performed pretty good on that Was a little heavier than I wanted to carry around all day, but water filters worked tents worked And so yeah, it was just a really hard unit and it's a far drive for us And you're probably laughing like, Oh, tell me about it, huh?

Far drive from Minnesota. I'm over here by New York. But yeah, it adds up though, because it, we were thinking about the way back. Everyone had to be [00:35:00] back to work today, but if we were to hunt Friday and shoot something late Friday evening, which usually for our group, for whatever reason, it seems like it's always evening, excitement, evening activity, like we never really get anything going in the morning too much.

Really? To be fair, we're not like two miles in before the song gets up either ever. So maybe that's why. But you start looking through it. It's okay, if we shoot something Friday evening, it's, Saturday morning at a minimum before we get the elk out. And then it's like Saturday afternoon by the time we get camp packed up and get out of there.

And then it's basically two days of driving to get home. So we're now we're in a position where we have to drive all night long and people have to go to work on Monday with a 36 hour stretch of. Being awake. And so it

Aaron Hepler: sounds like a 105 degree fever. And I can't go to

Brian Krebs: work. Some people, I can, I have flexibility.

I have vacation. I can be, sick or whatever, but some people [00:36:00] they're like, I pulled every string in the book just to be able to go I can't. I can't do it again. One. Yeah, so We're just like and we weren't on at that point. We exhausted our best spot We weren't really on hot and so we all talked about if it was going nuts and it was screaming and we were having The we just shot two today and we're having the best holler ever we Roll the dice and pay the consequences of driving all night long, but right and they're just not going we burnt our We just spiked in for two days and hundred the third day in a row on the same spot.

That was our best spot It's you know We were calling each other in because we were like the sign was also localized that we ended up calling each other in twice Yeah, and so we're just like we're frustrated at that point Everyone is ready for a bonfire and a sleep in and hit the road Yeah,

Aaron Hepler: I'm sure it gets that way towards the end of the week.

Brian Krebs: It does. It's, and we didn't take any off days. Sometimes we take an off morning or an off afternoon, go to town, get a cheeseburger and a shower, come back out, [00:37:00] refreshed and recharged, but we didn't do that this year. We went basically seven and a half days straight. And then we're like, yep, I had a good hunt.

And everyone on our team is I don't come out here and judge my success by the number of antlers we shoot. It's, time in the woods with buddies. It's really a, it's a friend thing. Yeah.

Aaron Hepler: Most of it's just the experience. Yeah.

Brian Krebs: One guy shot at an elk. He had a great experience. They had three bulls working.

One came in, he drew back. He, as he was drawn back, he was, he's one of those people that he talked to how he drops his pin into his target. A lot of target archers come down. I think a lot of bow hunters might just. Draw and put it where it needs to be. But target archery is very common to slowly drop your pin where it needs to be, because it's so hard to lift your bow up.

It seems, I don't know why. And so as he was dropping it, he remembered his 40 pin just hit the back of the elk at 23 yards and he would put his finger around on his trigger. But the elk walked out and saw him and did the whole and it sounds like what happened is the elk went, [00:38:00] ah, and the, and he went, woo, and accidentally punched his trigger at the same time and sent his arrow right over its back.

Oh, no. Yeah, just got startled. Which happens. Everyone in our group has missed an elk except the new guy we brought this year. Then he is okay, I can recover. Grabs an arrow, knocks it, gets ready to draw, realizes it was a grouse arrow. So he threw that arrow down, got ano and just con it's, but they were in it.

They were in it. And so he had a great experience. That's awesome. Yeah. I'm like, yeah. I don't know if I'm gonna be bringing grouse arrows anymore. I might bring a grouse tip and put it in my pack, but all the arrows in my quiver are gonna be elk killers.

Aaron Hepler: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That's an easy mistake to make.

Yeah. Especially when

Brian Krebs: you're having your quiver. Yeah. I don't know. I pretty anal about my equipment. Like I always grab the best arrows in the front. That's the one I grabbed first. I don't like, Oh, this time I'll grab this arrow.

Aaron Hepler: I'm the same way. All my arrows [00:39:00] shoot the same, but. I have the one that I want in front first.

Brian Krebs: Yeah. Yeah. I'm ready. I want to re fletch all of my arrows. I just had Kyle Davidson from DCA Custom Archery on, who I think is actually out towards you. But he's got a patent on a new vane that he developed. And he is an R& D engineer for... Some Delta, I think Delta like consumer faucets and goods, but he did like all kinds of modeling and dynamics of like aerodynamic testing and radar simulation and said this is the best shape I can come up with lowest drag.

To guide your arrows. And I'm like, Oh, perfect. I'm going to refletch. But yeah, no, the Elkhunt was good. It was fun. Great times as always. But it was tough. I made a couple of gear changes this year that I really liked. I don't have high performance rain gear. I have very bottom [00:40:00] entry level rain gear.

Yeah. And so it's heavy, it's thick. It doesn't breathe well, despite being Gore Tex. It's old. It's probably starting to be a little suspect on waterproofness. And so I'm like, you know what? I'm going to ditch it. I'm not bringing it. I didn't carry it a single day despite all the rain. What I did instead is I brought the Alps rain fly tent.

I don't know if you've seen it. They're like basically 10 feet by 12 feet. You stake them down and you just crawl underneath and ride out the storm. And I'm like, this is way better. It's half the weight. It's a hundred percent effective. Like you do not get wet underneath it, right? And two or four people can sit under it.

So it works for like multiple people. It's like, why don't we just do this? And hey, I'll bring my rain fly. You bring your backpack stove, we got equal weight and neither one of us has to carry your in gear. Now the only thing it doesn't work for is if you wanna hunt through a just rainy day, right?

Then you're, but if you do that, you're gonna get what? Anyway that's my opinion. Yeah,

Aaron Hepler: yeah, I agree. So it doesn't matter how much rain gear you have, it's gonna go down your hood, or go down your sleeves, or down whatever it is.

Brian Krebs: [00:41:00] We just, I just rocked gators. Grass was a little wet, rocked gators. My boots only got wet one day when we had to cross a river.

One of our guys fell in it. On the way out. So he had squishy boots and then he had to switch up. One of our guys crossed a downed log that went here comes the river, hits a waterfall, at the cusp of the waterfall, there's a log going across. And the waterfall is only like I don't know, 12 feet in the air.

So it would have been one hell of a jump, but you would have survived. You walked right across that log. I'm like, okay, I'm not that, I'm not that risky. I'm going to go back up 100 yards where it's nice and flat. Got a couple of pebbles to walk through. Yeah. So I did that version of it but yeah, no, it went pretty well.

All things considered, no major issues at all, really. The truck got a little hot pulling the trailer out there, but other than that. Went off pretty much without a hitch. We're all kind of thinking about what next year looks like. I think we all decided this isn't the unit for us. Yeah.[00:42:00]

Just value for input it's so far. And we just didn't see, we saw more than we saw last year in over the counter Colorado, but just not enough to justify the it's 19 hours, Google maps, but with the trailer and the mountains and rest stops, it turns into 22 to 24 pretty fast.

Aaron Hepler: Yeah, last year when we went, we did, it was, we actually drove we left at night.

We left at 8 PM, drove through the night and it was a 24 hour 24 hour drive. I don't think I ever have to do that again. And the guys I went with were like. We don't ever have to drive through the night like that again, like you only have to sleep one night and then you're just two 12 hour days, or whatever.

Yeah. Like you said, by the time you're done, it's 13 hours or whatever. But

Brian Krebs: we've done both. We prefer to sleep, especially on the way out, I think, because you're going to be tired and exhausted all week anyway. The last thing we want to do is show up and we're already exhausted. [00:43:00] Yeah. Like those other guys.

Worked all day. We went out in two trucks. Our truck left earlier. We slept. The other truck left at 5, drove straight through. So they got up, went to work, drove all night long, and then scouted and went to bed the evening of the next day. And probably slept like shit, too. So they're up for 36 hours, and then we're gonna start

Aaron Hepler: the hunt.

We actually got into town a day early. So we left at 8 p. m. We got there at 6 p. m. the next day, because it was two hours, two hours ahead or whatever. Or behind. And So then you slept before you really did anything. Yeah, we slept and then we actually just like nuts around the next morning and went to the trailhead.

So we actually did One of the, one of the things is like a new elk hunter or new western hunter. Do you know who Tony Peterson is? He writes for Meat Eater. He does all their whitetail stuff with Mark Kenyon.

Brian Krebs: I don't, not personally, not personally for sure, but

Aaron Hepler: so he actually does a wire to hunt podcast as well.

Okay. [00:44:00] But he was all I'm buddies with him and he's always dude, you don't go on an elk hunt. On your first, like out of state trip. I did some, I did white tail hunting out of state and that kind of thing. And I haven't known him for, I think it'll be four years now. And he's always given me pretty sound advice.

He's no ropes, like he's written for every major hunting publication for a very long time. And I always always take his words as. Ultra importance when I'm thinking of this kind of thing So I like I saved the elk hunt thing for a couple years and we talked we planned more we did the gear thing and we're all like i'm a i'm an intensive care nurse and I was planning on going with some of my friends from work one was in nurse practitioner school and the other one's a physician's assistant And one of them's actually a pulmonologist that we work with so it's hey some of them have limited time and what's the best option to do?

What state would fit us the best? We want to do a, we don't want to do straight DIY, but we actually ended up settling [00:45:00] on Not an over the counter unit. It was a draw unit. And so we planned it for a couple of years and did a drop camp, which is, yeah. They're pretty budget friendly, like I think we spent, I think it was like eight grand, we split it four ways and the service is great, right?

You still have to have plenty of gear, but as far as getting to where you're going, that's already preplanned. The guide service that we hired, they they pack you in on horses, they drop you off at a camp that they have and on public land and, Texas when you get one kind of thing.

So you already have a packout plan cause you don't. So you get to carry a smaller pack. You don't have to do the whole, and I would have liked to if I ever did that particular hunt again, I would spike on my, like I would bring stuff to spike A little bit further from our own camp.

Cause we ended up like coming I think it makes you a little bit complacent cause you stick to the camp, like we would come back and eat lunch or, that kind of thing.[00:46:00] But I think the, for the doctor that we went with, like he had seven days. Like he could not get off longer than that, and we, the other three of us could take, I think Max, we could, I think one person could take nine or eight or nine days. I think I took 20 days off. I deer hunted when I got home. Yeah. But I think that it was like a really good experience for our first time out. The only one of us who had ever elk hunted before was the pulmonologist that we went with.

He was in his mid sixties, so he's been elk hunting for a long time and, he prefers like New Mexico and he's hunted that a lot. I think that it was a good, as far as a drop camp goes, I think it was a really good way to learn something, right? We still got to do, we still got to do it on our own, but we got A, the guides don't put you where there's no there's no elk they don't really tell you like, Oh, Hey, go hunt this spot. And that's where you'll kill one. They're like, Oh, we've been this is, this [00:47:00] mountainside is an area they really prefer to graze. And then they'll give you hints like, Hey, it was weird how they were this area was a burn in, I think, 2019.

What state was it, by the way? It was in Colorado. Colorado, okay. Yeah, Northern Colorado. It was burned in 20 20 19 and 2021, and they said really since that time the elk come up to feed in the evening and go down to feed in the, or go down to feed in the evening and up to feed in the morning.

It was odd Oh really? Or they would go down to bed and up to feed instead of other around. Oh yeah. It was weird how they were using thermals and stuff like that, but they helped you be like, Hey, like this area, they're coming up in the afternoon or going, whatever that, that kind of stuff.

And Hey, we've had guys have success in this area before two weeks ago, we glassed this now we actually did a there were a few reasons that we picked the dates that we did. One was, that, that first week of BOSI or the first, two weeks of two weeks of the [00:48:00] season, there are archery.

And then the second week is muzzleloader or whatever. Yeah. And we ended up going the week after it was I think we got there September 22nd and we hunted till October 1st.

Brian Krebs: Oh, so you hunted fourth week of September. Yeah.

Aaron Hepler: Yeah. So I had gotten advice from Tony that was like, Hey man, like I've hunted Colorado, all the different weeks of the season.

Tend to like that week the elk are still bugling and not a lot of people are hunting because it's not like the it's Not quite like the Jurassic Park that everybody dreams about when they go out there, like you still hear bugles, but You gotta you really have to hunt them down after you find them because then they're all with cows kind of thing yeah But I thought the drop camp was a really good way To a, it wasn't very expensive and be shortened a learning curve.

I don't know, they didn't, they don't actually have their bow hunting percentages listed, but I think they had a 25 percent rifle [00:49:00] success rate. So it wasn't, it wasn't too bad for a public land piece. And it was pretty remote. There's a lot of. There's lots of public land everywhere in Colorado when you get on a big chunk, but it was a lot of room to move,

Brian Krebs: Yeah. And I suppose by doing the job camp, you'd get away from a lot of pressure. I'm sure you guys weren't seeing terrible amounts of hunters

Aaron Hepler: back there. We saw one headlamp in the middle of the night. On like the fourth day of the hunt,

Brian Krebs: which, and in Colorado in September, like there's still a lot of non consumptive users out there, right?

We saw hikers, bikers, mountain bikers, four wheelers, loggers. We saw somebody cut firewood. We saw construction workers. A lot of jeeps just driving around. We did not see, I think one group saw, ran into one group of hunters, but they were on the trail at the time. Like they were coming out the trail, we were going in the trail.

We never saw anyone other than our own group while we were

Aaron Hepler: hunting. We, so we did run into some hikers, but it is a, [00:50:00] it was a wilderness area. So you couldn't, everything's primitive. If you go in there they couldn't even bring a chainsaw in there. So they would,

Brian Krebs: whenever they were, you could probably bring like a pedal bike, but not an e bike type of thing.


Aaron Hepler: Exactly. And now we did see like hunter, we saw hunting pressure around the trailhead and the main roads that you could drive into the, on the public land and somewhere, I think somewhere mule deer hunting and stuff like that, but nothing back where we got into. And honestly, it really wasn't that far in, like we were only.

I think we were only seven miles from the from the trailhead, but it was a lot of like up and you were up and over a ridge and then up and over the next one. So it was a good, it was a pretty good hike. I would say the train isn't too bad, but we were hunting. Our camp was at 11, 000 feet and you're hunting mostly around 10.

Okay, and yeah that was hard for the first time out, right?

Brian Krebs: I've been up there twice and both times sucked. We were yeah

Aaron Hepler: You [00:51:00] were sure like if you got down around 9, 000 It's not that bad when you're at 10 and above you are short of breath a lot Especially there's no way to you can be as fit as like I hit the gym a lot you can be as fit as a fiddle man, and There is nothing that prepares you for that.

We have

Brian Krebs: a guy in our group that has a degree in exercise science and physiology and kinesiology. Yeah. And he's there's something that physiologically changes in your body. Like your lungs physically change when you live in the altitude. And it's like Stephen Walker. For example, he's not a small dude, like he is six foot two, six foot three, like a full framed guy.

He's not six pack, but he's definitely not overweight. He's just a guy, but he's a big guy, like big bone dude. Yeah. And he was putting everyone in our group to shame. And 140, 170, billy goats compared to me and he's he the funny [00:52:00] thing was we're kiking out and the trail was just brutal So some of us that were going slower were taking lots of breaks and to the guy that fell in the river is like A billy goat.

Yeah, and Stephen Walker was obviously a billy goat And so the guy that fell in the river was like, hey, I'm just gonna keep going because I'm not tired And my boots are soaked. I just want to get them off and start drying them off And so Stephen's like sitting there, like you can tell he wants to go, but he wants to be polite and we're like, Stephen, if you want to go, just go with them.

And so Stephen runs up the trail to catch up to the guy and then hikes with them. And the guy's yeah, I took one break because I needed to, my lungs were burning. Stephen didn't need a break. He just started talking. Yeah.

Aaron Hepler: It's definitely like.

Brian Krebs: And it's cause he lives there. He lives, his house is literally at 10, 000 feet.


Aaron Hepler: It would actually take you. Probably like medically it would take you about two weeks to start changing your body to that

Brian Krebs: stuff. There's three We've heard there's three phases. So the first phase is like two to three days Like if you walk up to elevation or you drive up to elevation, that helps a lot.

If you fly to elevation, you're [00:53:00] screwed. Yep. So it's two to three days. Then you have a two week window, but the physiological change that like is permanent is six months or three months.

Aaron Hepler: It's you actually, your body actually doesn't start making more red blood cells for two weeks.

Brian Krebs: So yeah, so that's probably the inner, that's probably the intermediate one.

And then there's probably something with like long, like efficiency, like oxygen transfer through your lungs to get to the red blood cells or something, but it's six months out before you

Aaron Hepler: get that one. And that actually is you. Yeah, that's your VO two max. So I did a lot of stuff on this. Oh, so

Brian Krebs: the VO two max is the long term

Aaron Hepler: one.

You can start changing it right away, but that's when you'll notice the long term effect of your VO two max changing significantly for you to live there is that amount of time.

Brian Krebs: That's the funny thing is cause Steven was like. I wish I could hike like I used to, I got COVID like a year ago or six months ago.

And ever since then, I like, I can't hike like I used to. I'm like, dude, you just hiked every one of us into the ground and you didn't even break

Aaron Hepler: a sweat. [00:54:00] Yeah. The that was one thing that I was always concerned about. Cause I know I didn't even really know that, when we were starting out oh yeah, I guess at altitude you might have some problems breathing.

The doctor, because he's a pulmonologist, he knew everything about this stuff. So he would tell us, and I've worked with that. I worked with that guy for about 15 years in the intensive care. And he's you gotta take, there's medicine that you can take. You can take Diamox to help you acclimate.

And basically what happens when you're going to altitude is you have a contraction alkalosis. So this medicine actually reverses that and it helps you excrete different electrolytes through your urine to make it easier to breathe. A lot of people complain about the medicine and side effects.

Like the two guys I was with waited to take it until we got there. You're supposed to take it like three days ahead of time for it to really make a difference. And they took it when we got to, got into town. So 5, 000 feet, they started taking it. And the [00:55:00] next day we were at the 000 feet. So the day after that, we're at 12, 000 feet.

Cause that's when the guides. Horsed us in and they're like, man, I don't feel good. This medicine's making me feel like crap. I'm like you might have a little bit of altitude sickness. You're probably a little bit of the altitude. They still, if they're going to hear me say this and be like, ah, that's not true.

I think it probably helped. I was still pretty short of breath. Like the first night that we stayed at the trip, we camped at the trailhead to wait for the guide. Yeah. And we drove into town on purpose so we could stay at 5, 000 feet for 16 hours before we went to the guide and yeah, so on so forth.

Brian Krebs: Yes, you're getting through that two day period or three day period a little bit

Aaron Hepler: faster. Exactly. But I remember like sleeping in my tent and having being like ultra short of breath, just rolling over in my sleeping bag. I'm like, man, I am so glad we're taking horses tomorrow because there's no way I could hike.


Brian Krebs: That's different though. Everyone can [00:56:00] get short of breath when you're not used to the altitude. Oh, yeah,

Aaron Hepler: and I get that you will get short of breath. Yeah,

Brian Krebs: you take about if you can run up At an incline for 100 yards at home. You get 10 yards in the moment it's but i've never been i've never had altitude sickness.

Yeah, like that's like a full on flu almost

Aaron Hepler: now you probably will have there's like different levels of severity of symptoms and it's pretty common to get like a mild headache and maybe a stomach ache for a little bit as long as it goes away or you can rest and it goes away. That's how you can tell that you're doing all right.

But if there's things that aren't going away and they continue to get worse, that's when you get into trouble. And I've actually, one of, one of the other intensivists that I work with actually, he did a residency somewhere in I don't remember if it was Utah or somewhere that had high altitude.

And he's actually taking care of a few skiers that had full blown altitude sickness and had to wear oxygen for years after skiing.

Brian Krebs: That's pretty bad. [00:57:00] I know we had one guy on that did a hunt at 16, 000 feet and he is a mountain guy, but it was over in the Middle East and he got it. Cause he's I've never hunted at 16, 000 feet before.

And so he got it called his doctor and his doctor's the only thing I can really do from here is you can go around camp and ask if anyone's got a little blue pill. Because what you need is a dilator like you need to dilate your blood vessels and your body will start to come back and so you asked around and sure enough someone had some Cialis and Gave him some and he started chopping him up.

The doctor's you only want this much you're young guy blah blah blah, so he did whatever he's two days I was back to Full health.

Aaron Hepler: That, so the dilator actually helps your helps to open up your pulmonary artery too, which helps oxygenate your lungs better, obviously.

Yeah. Cause we actually use that to treat patients that have pulmonary hypertension, like their blood vessels don't feed their lungs like they should. So what I

Brian Krebs: was going to ask you guys, like either you or the pulmonary, the pulmonologist, is that what you call it? [00:58:00] Pulmonary doctor. What would he say is I don't want to just take the pill Like what could I do all year long because I live at 1400 feet or 1100 feet.

I can't remember No, my farm is at 900. Yeah And so it's what could I be doing all year long to be increasing my vo2 max

Aaron Hepler: so anything like I actually used Myself, I used kettlebells a lot going into it. It's like a hipster thing to do. And everybody's swinging around and doing the crossfit.

That's okay. I go to crossfit too. Yeah, but it's it is actually a good way. Cause you're getting anaerobic activity while you're getting aerobic activity. Cause if you do one or the other, it's not really if you power lift weights. It's definitely not going to help your VO2 max and if you run alone, it's not going to you'll have probably better breathing techniques and your cardiovascular will be better.

So it is very important to get a higher level of cardiovascular exercise. But if you want to do both and build strength, the best way to you and the best way to [00:59:00] utilize oxygen is to incorporate both of those things into your. Into your into your exercise program before you go,

Brian Krebs: which is, you're basically talking like high intensity, full body circuit training.

Yeah, it's probably the best way to like complex movements. So you're using like multiple big muscle groups, but then also in a short time domain. So you're really spiking your heart rate and like getting sweaty is what you know what we're talking about. That's right. That's right. So is that just the best way to train vo2 max is just it is Burn your

Aaron Hepler: lungs up at home.

And I, I did actually, I wrote an article about this past spring. I'll send you the link for it. Since we're talking about it, but yeah, as far as I can find and find out that's the best way now, he actually did a few other things that I probably wouldn't recommend, like he he has a CPAP machine, and he actually used a. And he actually reversed some of the tubing on it and he used it as an oxygen deconcentrator at home. [01:00:00] So he wore like a face mask at home and actually deconcentrated the level of oxygen that he was breathing in and actually put his oxygen saturation. So an oxygen saturation of better than 90 percent is really adequate.

And you really want it to be 92 to a hundred somewhere in there. 92 to 99. But he actually put his oxygen saturation into the mid 80s on purpose for a couple of weeks before we went. He thinks it helped. Oh, I'm sure it does. I think it could help, because it's not the same as people say like those tight fitting face masks that you can wear while you exercise.

That just makes you breathe harder. It doesn't deconcentrate the you're not getting less oxygen. You and I are breathing 21 percent oxygen right now. Putting on that mask is only increasing your carbon dioxide level or making you re breathe carbon dioxide. Which is a part of it. But it's not taking away the oxygen concentration in the room.

So it's just making your lungs work harder and breathe harder. In a sense, [01:01:00] it could help maybe a little bit, but it doesn't really do a whole lot for you. I don't think it's gonna

Brian Krebs: help do anything other than make you realize how important exhaling is to anything. Exactly. You need to get rid of your carbon dioxide.

That's... You can't just go, right? Like you need to be blowing out almost more than you're taking in. 'cause you gotta expel all your carbon dioxide or else you're really

Aaron Hepler: not doing anything right. It's better to focus on, it's better to focus on training well and building your muscles and your cardiovascular exercise than it is to try to deprive yourself of of oxygen.

Now he, the way he did it was actually lowering the level of oxygen in the room.

Brian Krebs: Which was basically like the set the same as sleeping in a, in a. Atmospheric chamber or like the Colorado Springs, I've gone to the training, the Olympic training centers. It's yeah, we got like basically apartment rooms where we can adjust the altitude.

That's exactly. So we'll have our athletes sleep at 9, 000 feet artificially. And then they go to Rio de Janeiro for the games at zero feet. And they they're just like [01:02:00] high on oxygen because they're used to nothing. Yeah. That's right. And that's basically what he was doing, which I could see I could see it help you start getting through some of those early phases of altitude adjustment.

Aaron Hepler: Yeah, he really didn't have, too much of a problem. We all had a little bit of it, but he, I said, he's in the mid six, he did really well. And I think that in part, it probably helped him.

Brian Krebs: So this, my advice is going to be good for 75 percent of the people out there and it's going to suck for 25 percent and there's no way around it, but as long as you aren't last, you will be fine.

Yeah, exactly. If you're the slowest guy in your group, you're gonna have an awful outcome, but if you're not the slowest guy, you'll never be, you'll be like, yeah, I breathe a little heavy, but we're always waiting for Tim. And yeah, I love Tim, but we're waiting on him and he's over there. Yeah, and that's usually me.

depending on who we out cunt with and as soon as he recovers, you've been recovered for three, four minutes. You get a two X break. If you needed one minute, you get two minutes because you're waiting for someone that needs two minutes. If he [01:03:00] like barely recovers and you start again, like he's going to be the first to red line again.

And so that's why I said there's no way around it. Someone's going to be the slowest, no matter what, no matter how hard everyone trains. Now, maybe everyone trains like Cameron Haynes. And now it's yeah, nobody really needs a break. Cause this isn't that hard compared to how let's be realistic.

We're not, most of us aren't doing that.

Aaron Hepler: Yeah, man. And I so that was like the first, the beginnings of the major things that I was always concerned about, like the gear, like you learned that. As you hunt your entire life, you learn what works and what doesn't. Now, obviously there's things that are specific to like, yeah, I don't deer hunt in the rain, the same that I might deer hunt for elk.

So you might want something different. Like you talked about getting that the rain fly and that kind of thing, like that stuff you're going to learn on the fly with experience. But I think there was, some important takeaway, like the guide had a nice water filter. There was a spring close by the camp.

So we would fill five gallon bags of water and he had one of those nice like gravity buckets that had held like three or four gallons. That [01:04:00] was awesome. Cause then we didn't have to worry about it at camp. But as far as like hiking around you can bring like this gravity drain, it takes forever or pump or whatever.

I used one of those grail. I used a grail system, like the water bottle that you just squeeze down into the cup. And that Awesome. It takes eight seconds to push that thing down into the cup and you're good to go.

Brian Krebs: Yeah, you, I've seen those systems and depending on what size you get, you can filter like a liter.

Some of them are made to filter like a liter of water with one push. It's the same concept as a, it's a filter, right? It's a charcoal

Aaron Hepler: or a granite filter, right? So it's like a, it's like the bottle with the filter on the bottom, and then you have a cup insert and you just squeeze it down in there and it's, yeah, it's 750 mls of water.

So it's a three quarters of a. And you just push it down into the cup and eight seconds later you have almost a whole liter of water.

Brian Krebs: I have the little MSR that I just pull and it's the same [01:05:00] system. It just doesn't do as big of a push at once, but it's probably a little bit smaller too to and it screws into my nail jeans.

Aaron Hepler: Yeah. But that's the things like you want to practice with and get to know before you go do that kind of stuff. So I went through like the Sawyer systems and that kind of thing and didn't love them. One of the guys that I went with had this. Three liter bag that was a gravity drain and he was planning on put it up the night before and stuff.

And when we got there, like he'd used the thing a couple of times and he hung it up and it didn't work.

Brian Krebs: Yeah, we had one guy that used his and it broke. And since he last used it, it was broken. So yeah, we had to go back to our systems, but his was a little tiny thing too, like a small, like a micro filter.

Mine's like a full size backpacking filter. That

Aaron Hepler: MSR one is a good system.

Brian Krebs: And I had a bag that I bought a six liter bag that I could throw in and it's just ounces. But then if you find like a good water source by camp, you could just filter water like every other day. Yeah. Yeah. Fill up your backpack bladder, fill up that bladder, fill up a Nalgene.


Aaron Hepler: And I think that kind [01:06:00] of stuff is I think, when you buy gear I think it's important to just play around with it at home. Like you don't want to be opening up a package the day before you go and be like, yeah, this thing will work, cause it might not be what you want to use and maybe it's heavier, bulkier than you wanted, that kind of thing.

So I think

Brian Krebs: that was, yeah, I would strongly recommend if. If you're doing, maybe you can make it even general, more general, if you're doing anything that you haven't done before, try it before you go. Yeah. And it's as simple as if you've never booked a hotel go book a hotel, figure out how it works before you go out west and try to figure out how it works.

Yeah. Obviously that's an example, but if you've never base camp, like I've base camp so many times, like I just, I know what I need. I never test anything before I go. It was cleaned when I put it away. It worked when I put it away. I haven't touched it since. It'll be fine. But the spike camp was all new.

So I tested every kind of piece of it. I set my tent up in my yard. I set my air pad up. I set everything up. I tested the water filter. I've already been using the stoves, [01:07:00] backpacking stoves for years. I didn't test that. I know that works. Test it out test it in the summer go on a camping trip like sleep in your backyard If that's what it takes, but like you said no matter what if you've never set up a wall tent before That's not fun to figure out at night in the mountains

Aaron Hepler: no, and even things like so you talked about a stove like I have At home when I'm like whitetail hunting all in a whole day or like I'm backpacking in or something I'm using like one like I want some knockoff thing you can get on Amazon.

It's they're alright Whatever you they screw on to the top of a portable can of gas or whatever. Yeah what you don't know is in Colorado at elevation if you try to light your gas and It's like I had the coal the Coleman mix like maybe it was just propane I don't remember what the mix is, but it was Coleman gas, right?

Yeah. Trying to light that doesn't light. It's not good enough.

Brian Krebs: Yeah. There's different fuel types and it's both temperature and altitude can play a [01:08:00] role in it. But like high altitude in the winter I think it's like only white gas

Aaron Hepler: will work. So fortunately, like a cup we had some jet boil gas with us, which was fine,

Brian Krebs: Worked fine.

That works on other things, but maybe not like extreme altitude or like extreme cold. So you need to know, but

Aaron Hepler: that was not even, that was not something like my stove worked great, but I had no idea that was going to be a thing when we got there. So like we were trying to use our lighter to light it.

Brian Krebs: Yeah, like a butane lighter might

Aaron Hepler: not work.

Yeah not gonna work. So fortunately we did, they had, the camp obviously, they had a Coleman white gas stove and they had a little button heater thing and that kind of thing there at the camp already, but that's the kind of stuff you don't really... Think about or know and those are the kinds of things you should be thinking about because it's a little things They're gonna suck like if you can't make coffee in the morning because your stove you can't light your stove.

That's gonna suck

Brian Krebs: So I hate coffee. I love caffeine. I hate taste of coffee. Yeah, so I drink energy drinks All day long, like this rain. [01:09:00] One, today I had two, because it's a Monday after coming to Bafo Alconic, but I'm not backpacking a 12 pack of pop around. And but I do if I quit, I'm going to have a headache.

I'm going to have caffeine withdrawals. And so I just put a bottle of caffeine pills in my pack. And every time I got a little headache, I took a hundred milligrams of caffeine. I tried to limit it, because caffeine is also a diuretic. And you don't really want to dry yourself out when you're already dehydrated.

Aaron Hepler: It's a diuretic and it's a vasoconstrictor, so you get yourself with a double whammy. But if you are, you either need to wean yourself off like a month before you go, or you just need to drink a little bit. Like you said, you start, when you're starting to get a headache, the other thing, I guess the other, while we're talking about a little bit about that, like the other thing that helps with altitude is just ibuprofen because it's actually an anti inflammatory and that's part of what altitude does.

So if you're having minor symptoms from that, ibuprofen is part of the.

Brian Krebs: I don't think I had any steady state altitude problems. My brother got sick actually the morning after we spiked out for a little bit, but then he felt [01:10:00] better. Weren't really sure what was going on I had short term altitude symptoms.

Like we're walking up the steep red face slope and I'm puffing and puffing, they need to take a break, eat a sandwich. I'm, anytime we were horizontal, I hardly broke a sweat. There was days I didn't break a sweat the entire Elkhorn. Yeah. We started high, we hunted our way down, never broke sweat.

We actually did that the day I hunted with the guy that was in the best shape, which is funny. It's like I'm the only guy that's ever hunted with him and not broke a sweat. .

Aaron Hepler: Yeah I don't know. I don't think I had any, I didn't, other than being short of breath and, some minor headaches here and there, that would go away pretty quickly.

I don't really think I had altitude sickness other than I, I went blind in my right eye. Like permanently. No, I can see out of it now and I think, so my eye had Was a little like itchy or whatever, when we got into Colorado and then without telling the entire story, like I I, I shot my elk on the first day of our hunt before my eye went blind, [01:11:00] like immediately before my eye went blind.

So I shot the elk and, like I went to, when we were filling out, I went to fill out my tag and I like looked at my tag and it was, it looked foggy and I'm like, Oh, my sunglasses, I got like all humidity on or something. I flipped my sunglasses up and I was looking at the tag and I'm like, it still doesn't look right.

And I like looked at the doctor I was with and I looked at him with my left eye and I'm like, Oh, it looks good there. And I went, Oh, looked at him with my right eye and I couldn't see him. Like he just, I could tell there was a person there, just outline of a person. Wow. That's scary. So he like looked in my eye and he said that it was a stye.

But the outfitter was absolutely convinced that it was altitude. He's make sure he drinks a lot of water. Do we need to come get it? Like he was like, we had I had a Zoleo Zoleo device thing that you could text with or whatever. Oh yeah. He was like freaking out like, Oh, he's got altitude sickness.

So I don't think it was, I think it was a stye that like scratched my eyeball or something. But I don't know. Could have been [01:12:00] altitude. It took till five to come back. Yeah, that would be scary. I figured I was like I already can't see out of it. So I don't know. So I had the rest of the week, but

Brian Krebs: at least you shot yours before you were going to spar anything happened.

How did you guys have like group wide success? Do you go one for four, four for

Aaron Hepler: four? We were one for four, but it was like, it was a pretty good hunt. So they said it's been harder since the burn, not because the elk population has gone down, but because the cover is harder to sneak around in. Yeah. Yeah.

I'm pretty sure you could, an elk could see you 200 yards coming in, stuff like that, like you're not hiding very well in there, but we. I paired up with a doctor every day and the other two guys paired up every day and really, we like, we heard elk every day. And I'm fairly certain only one out of the entire week that we were there we actively worked a bull.

The seeing them was not so great. [01:13:00] The other two guys saw, I think saw five or six bulls, four or five cows, and then one really big bull. And they almost shot a bull that was bigger than mine. They got, I think, 50 yards from it and then it ended up, wind changed direction and he took his cows.

But they said he was a lot, he was, there was a 300, like a 350 running around. Yeah. And they said he was, it was probably that bull from what I would have guessed their description. But we, we did, we did get to work bulls pretty much every day and we saw my bull and another, there was another six by six with my bull and then like a smaller four by four and we actually ended up, we actually kicked that one out of a bed.

We were like working around along a ridgeline where we had heard bulls in the morning and there was a creek and I could see a wallow across the other side of this creek and I remember being like, took a step across the creek and I was like, I smell one and the doc was like, how [01:14:00] could you smell when the wind's blowing the other direction?

I'm like, I'm telling you I smell an elk, I have that oh, they smell strong Yeah, and I remember being like I'm telling you I smell an elk dude And he's I don't know and he took another step and the bull jumped up. It was 35 yards away Bull jumped up and took off the ridge, but yeah, it was a good hunt, man.

Like we, the morning I killed, we went up to a glassing spot and really didn't have to go too far because there were elk, my dog's freaking out right now. There there were elk bugling all over the place. So we picked one and started working in that direction. And definitely definitely more of a herd bull.

He was like working, you could hear him get closer and then get further away. Like he was rounding the cows down or something. And we let him go and we could hear satellite bulls would like work one way and he'd work the other way. And they, so you're like seesaw calling them almost.

So we just kept working out the ridge line just to learn more about the area. And we stayed just [01:15:00] above or just inside the timber line. And We got to a, like a small open meadow, and there was a wallow in the middle of it. Looked like it hadn't been used maybe for a couple days. But I called at the edge of this meadow, like I bugled, and just got like a small bugle back.

Nothing, just a little it was later morning, I think it was like 8. 30 or 9 o'clock. And it was pretty close. So we're like, Oh, they're bedded. We can, we have plenty of terrain here. There's another kind of, it's not, it wasn't really a meadow down below, but it looked like a break in like the tree line and I will I didn't really want to go into it because I felt like it was too close to where this elk was and the doc was like no, he's for, he's further than you think.

And I'm like, I don't know. And we ended up. I was going to call the bull in for him and the thermals were working uphill. So he's we're going to get down along the edge. So we went down along the edge of this. It was like a 50, maybe 70 yard wide opening in the woods. And I got down [01:16:00] low and he was above me and put my pack down, knocked an arrow and I bugled and this thing just like.

No more snot bugle. This thing like full out And he came running out of the other side of the woods like I could see him immediately Just charging out the other side of this opening with another bull behind him all pissed off like hair up like coming, And he got to the edge of the thing and slowed down a little bit But still was like stiff legs stomping across, but he did not have any intention on circling me.

He was coming like he was just on a line.

Brian Krebs: Okay. So he forgot all about playing the wind and coming in smart. He just,

Aaron Hepler: he was like, nobody's ever been down here before, and he just like. I drew my bow and I'm like, he's going to be at, he's going to be at 25 yards. And because he was coming straight at me, I'm like, I'm going to, I have to shoot him and I have to take a frontal shot.

Yeah. So I wanted him to get pretty [01:17:00] close, but he got to 30 yards and then he was like, Oh, something's not, but then you could tell he was like, did the stop and something's not right. And the other one was like, what are you waiting for? You could see him in the back come on, and I felt like he. wise, like I've never seen an elk in that, in a hunting situation before. So I was like, eh, he looked like if I was thinking that's a whitetail, he's about to peace out, so I settled my pin and pulled the trigger and he was uphill, like it was just a slight angle uphill.

And I ended up hitting him square where he spoke, like I hit him through the hole in the chest, but the arrow was like angled upwards. So it ended up hitting him behind the shoulder blades in his spine. Like it went. Went through the hole in his chest and hit him in the spine and he dropped over and he was like squirting blood I was like, okay at least like it's a lethal like it's definitely a lethal hit but you could like there was a like a 20 inch 20 inch oak tree or no, I guess it's [01:18:00] not an oak tree probably whatever asked but Aspen or whatever the quakies there was like a 20 inch tree laying next to him and he was picking that thing up with his antlers just Like it was nothing.

I'm like, holy crap. So I did, I ended up shooting another arrow at him and because he was throwing his head around so much his antlers caught it and the arrow went who knows where. And then I shot him through the lungs and then he died pretty quick after that. But it was really, it was a really cool hunt, but then, I'm like, Oh man, it's the first day.

So I did get to, I did get to call and do all that. Cause the the doc I was with is, he's pretty good with a, like making cow sounds and stuff, but he didn't really feel super comfortable bugling and stuff like that. So I got to call for him for the rest of the week. I was a little unbalanced with the hiking with my eyeball like that.

But it was a lot, it was a really, it was a really great experience, but

Brian Krebs: there you go. Yeah. I would love to shoot one on the first day [01:19:00] and then not have to bring my bow every day. Cause I'm going to be out there anyway. It's whether I'm calling for someone else, which half the time I got to call for them anyway, and carry my bow, at least on the first day I can leave my bow at home and just call.

Yeah. Just chill in the back of the line and

Aaron Hepler: I think one of the things that we ended up doing wrong is like every morning there were still elk where we started hearing them, but like they, by the second or third time we were calling Adam, they were a little bit further away the next time.

And I think we could have just thought of that and hopped out in front of them instead of chasing them from behind every morning. I think that would have been a better idea. Cause once we got out to an area that wasn't, there was a strip that wasn't burned and it was full of elk, like there were beds everywhere, new, every day there was like new spots where they were fighting and you would hear them bugling there every morning.

And that's actually where they ended up having the encounter with the bigger bull. Oh, nice. It was a really great experience, but like I said, we ended up saving a lot of time because of it being a drop camp and you could focus [01:20:00] on some other things like, Hey, what don't I know about about going West, like all the simple stuff that we were talking about, like altitude and your gear and that kind of thing.

But yeah the other thing that I thought was was. Was pretty cool was it is a draw unit. It's not a I think guaranteed. It was it's two points I can't remember. I saw it on go hunt. It's either one or two points, but it did I think that also helped drastically Decrease the amount of pressure that's there because everybody's like i'm gonna do the over the counter thing because that's been you know Popular for a while

Brian Krebs: now, yeah, everyone does that as a backup

Aaron Hepler: choice.

Yeah and then you know in the last Basically since meat eater has really become popular and people just want to do more of it. Over the counter is just easy for everybody because you don't have to think about it. But I think that does help to decrease decrease the amount of pressure, not only because you have to draw, but because people aren't actively seeking those units all the time, like People from the east anyway.

Brian Krebs: Yeah, no, that's very true. Very true [01:21:00] So after the entire experience you had any plans to go back? Got any plans to do it all again?

Aaron Hepler: Yeah I think the next thing we'll probably do is I have I'll have five points for antelope in Wyoming, so I'm getting, get, I could probably draw a pretty good tag for that.

And then I don't I'll put in for I'll buy some points for Wyoming this year. One of my other buddies has been saving up for Wyoming elk for a while now. So I'll do that. And probably plan to hunt Colorado again in 25. Next year I'm planning to do like mule deer in Nebraska.

So nice,

Brian Krebs: nice. Yeah. That sounds like a couple of fun trips coming up. So good chance to keep going West. Keep Build an experience.

Aaron Hepler: Yeah. Keep bringing animals home. Yeah, this year's a little different. My wife picked up doing something different for her career. And and we have a foreign exchange student this year.

I'm gonna be a full blown PA whitetail nut this year. Yeah, there's nothing wrong with that either though. No, I'm excited. It should be a good [01:22:00] season.

Brian Krebs: Cool. I wish you the best this fall and on all those trips coming up. Notice looking down a little over an hour already just that wrapped up.

Yeah, two elk stories and Time flies when you're talking about

Aaron Hepler: outcoming.

Brian Krebs: But I'm glad you got, I'm glad we finally got to do this. I had to reschedule, but I'm glad we got you on the podcast. Great episode talking about just what it's like to head West from the flatlands of America.

Aaron Hepler: Yeah.

Thanks for having me, man.

Brian Krebs: Appreciate it. Anytime. Yeah. Thanks for being here, Aaron. We'll have to do another one after your next Western trip. Sounds

Aaron Hepler: good, buddy.

Brian Krebs: Awesome. Thanks for being here again, and thank you for listening folks.