Hunting Packs BS Session

Show Notes

On this episode of the Hunting Gear Podcast, Dan is joined by returning guest Bob Polanic to talk about all things hunting packs. The guys break it down whitetail and western packs. For whitetails, the guys talk about how they use their whitetail packs for mobile saddle hunting, treestand hunting, and even on permanent stand locations. Pocket configurations, how much gear and extra clothing they plan on using, and where they like the straps to be located. The same conversation is had with their western packs, including a conversation about how much water they carry and if they like bladders vs. water bottles. Another great conversation about hunting gear and equipment that will get you ready for the upcoming hunting season.

Show Transcript

[00:00:00] Dan Johnson: Go Wild is a free social community created for and by Hunters. This means that unlike mainstream social media, your trophy pictures won't be censored. They're encouraged. As you spend time on Go Wild. You will earn awesome rewards such as gift cards, free swag, and big discounts on brands like Garmin and Vortex.

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Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back. I don't know why I say ladies, cuz I think the demographic of this podcast is like 97% men, if not 99% men. I tell you what, if you are a lady, Who listens to this Hunting Gear podcast. Do me a favor and reach [00:01:00] out to me on the Nine Finger Chronicles on Instagram, and let me know what you would like to hear on this podcast in regards to gear woman, women specific or just gear in general.

I'd love to entertain the the. 2% of my listening population for at least a couple episodes. But other than that man, we got a good podcast. Today. We're going to be talking about hunting packs. We break it down in this episode by white tail, more of your tree stand, saddle hunting type of environment.

We, we talk about permanent sets, we talk about. Mobile hunting packs and things like that. And then the second half of the show is dedicated to Western hunting packs. And so this whole episode I do with my good buddy Bob Polan. Now, Bob used to be on this podcast quite a bit and we used to talk all things hunting gear and equipment.

But on this episode, what we do is we [00:02:00] talk about our likes and dislikes, what we like to like, pocket configuration, zipper configuration straps where you like your pockets how big of a pack, how you use the packs how we use the packs so forth and so on. And so that's what today's episode is about, man.

All about hunting packs. Pretty pretty cut, cut and dry there. And for me I'll tell you this right now. I know we mentioned it just a little bit, but I feel like hunting gear especially packs I don't, I feel like you, you can get away with a junk pack or really cheap, non-functioning.

It's gonna function at some level, but as a white tail hunter, you could probably get away with a little bit more if you are mobile. Then you, that narrows it down a little bit. But Western packs, when you're out all day long, you, they need to be durable and I think they are. It's more important to have a good [00:03:00] solid pack.

That it just fits your body type well. And I think out west that's a little bit more important. Awesome episode today with Bob. Before we go ahead and jump into the episode, though, I have one commercial. That I have to do. And that is for the code, for Code Blue Sense. Now, code Blue Sense is brand new, a brand new partner, and it's my job to educate you on what they have.

They have cover sense, they have synthetic sense, they have scent elimination products. And the product, me personally, that I'm looking forward to using the most this upcoming season is the Rope of Dope. Let me pull that up here real quick. Since here we go, the Old Rope of Dope. The Rope of Dope is basically a mock scrape system that uses a licking branch.

They call it licking branch gel on it's [00:04:00] rack rub. And basically it's supposed to be like the pre orbital gland, that box rub on everything like in the licking branch. And so the rope is supposed to. Represent the licking branch and where they rub their glands on. And the reason I'm looking forward to it is cuz I'm gonna be doing a lot of mock scrapes.

I like, it's something that I've never done. I'm very interested in it. There's a lot of people out there who say that if you set up a mock scrape in the right spot, every buck in the area will come and visit it. And so I'm gonna give that. Theory attest this year with the Code Blue Rack Rub in the Rope Dope system.

As I start to, to mess around with it, follow me on social and follow me on the Nine Finger Chronicles podcast as well, where I'll talk more about how I set it up and things like that. But the cool thing about Code Blue is they not including their synthetics, but their real scent.

The cool thing about it is [00:05:00] one deer per bottle, one tarsal gland from one deer soaked in its urine, and it's from one deer. And so it's really cool how they do it, and it makes a lot of sense. So it's not necessarily a blend. It's a real deer, one real deer. And I feel like deer use their nose to communicate.

And so there you have a a pure. Individual deer that's in an area. And I don't know, I just feel like that's the best type of sense to have. If you want more information about Code Blue Sense and the OPE system that I mentioned today, go visit code blue and checkout. I have a discount code for you NFC 20.

And that will allow you, I believe, 20% off of, I got it right here. I believe it's 20%. Yeah. 20% off site-wide. So any products 20% off. So go take a look at that. Appreciate everything that you guys do. [00:06:00] Thank you for listening. Thanks Bob for taking time outta your day to do this. It's that time of year where we're gonna start climbing up in trees, so we gotta make sure we wear our safety harnesses, excuse me, our safety harnesses.

So good luck this upcoming season and enjoy this episode. 3, 2, 1. All right, ladies and gentlemen, it's been a while since this guest has been on the podcast, Mr. Bob Polan. Dude, how you been? 

[00:06:24] Bob Polanic: I've been pretty good, man. It's summer in northern Michigan and might be biased, but I think it's the best place to be in summertime.

[00:06:31] Dan Johnson: Especially with the pictures you're sending me of the steelhead. Those things are gigantic. I don't know what it is about this last pic set pictures that you sent me, but there's one of those steelheads just looks gigantic. 

[00:06:45] Bob Polanic: Yeah. They are. Some run salmon and steelhead are big, but yeah, it's just fun, man.

Run around a little river and. Catching fish that size. You're wet weighting, it's hot out drinking a few beers. 

[00:06:57] Dan Johnson: How what's a good steelhead? [00:07:00] If you hooked up to one and you're like, yeah, this is gonna be a good one. What's a good steelhead? 

[00:07:05] Bob Polanic: Oh, probably anything over eight, eight or 10 pounds.

Okay. You start getting north of 10 pounds and that's pretty good. Steelhead. 

[00:07:12] Dan Johnson: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I'll tell you what that looks they look fun to catch. Do they fight at all? 

[00:07:18] Bob Polanic: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Plus you're, so the steelhead, you're probably hooking 'em on eight pound test. And you're in a river, so you kinda gotta play 'em.

But yeah, usually you gotta, it's a solid five, 10 minute fight. And if the smaller the river, the more log jams and stuff like that you gotta navigate and not that's not, 

[00:07:34] Dan Johnson: That's a big fish. That's a big fish. Yeah. Yeah. What else have you been doing this summer, man? 

[00:07:40] Bob Polanic: Moved into, we built a house last year and we moved in October.

So this summer's been a lot of yard work. Okay. So getting a yard in, landscaping garden we're on a lake, so dock, and then we've been entertaining friends, family, all that good stuff. And then a ton of work as well 

[00:07:57] Dan Johnson: yeah. Yeah. That's yeah, I, dude, I wanna [00:08:00] build a house so bad. I want to build.

I see it in the back. You got like a big a-frame type or grand room, I guess they would call it as a real estate agent. Yep. But let me guess, a bank of windows that faces the water. Oh, yeah, 

[00:08:15] Bob Polanic: there it is. It's, oh no. Yeah, it's probably too bright, but Yeah. Yeah. There you go. 

[00:08:19] Dan Johnson: There you go. Heck yeah, dude.

Yep. That's money. That's money. Yeah, dude. What lake are you 

[00:08:23] Bob Polanic: on? It's called Arbutus Lake. It's up in Traverse City. Okay. It's really all my wife basically we're getting, we're nowhere near where we're gonna talk about, but no. I was in Iowa back in 2020, in November, and she found this lot and she started texting me about it.

And while I'm in a tree stand, I'm like, I don't, I'm not looking to buy a lot. Build a house like we're good. It's COVID is happening. You have no idea what's going on with the world and the economy and jobs and stuff. But yeah, three years later, here we are so clearly. Whatever I was saying to her, didn't didn't matter.


[00:08:59] Dan Johnson: That's [00:09:00] funny. Like when my wife texts me and I'm in a tree stand my response is usually just do whatever you want without me reading the text messages that she sent and it like, just real long text message. I'm just like, okay, do whatever. And next thing it's something that I probably should have read.

The text message. 

[00:09:19] Bob Polanic: I think when I was out there, I I said, we'll talk about it when I get home. And then when I got home, she was like, so I've been talking to a builder. We went and looked at the lot and figured out where we put a house, and I was like, that's okay. That's a bit, it's not what I said, but, okay.

So you're going. It all worked out, especially with the way like rates and everything have gone up and we got in way back in early 2021 when rates were still low. And we're still, housing market was hot, so we were able to sell our old house for a good chunk of change. No, it was, it all worked out, but 

[00:09:53] Dan Johnson: Perfect.

Perfect. Congratulations on the new house, dude. Thank you. All right. Thank you I tapped to you today to [00:10:00] come onto the podcast and talk about hunting packs and before we get it, start, dropping the brands that we like or that we've used in the past. I wanna start off with whitetail first, cuz that's something that we've both grown up on.

And then we're gonna transition into Western packs. I do a lot of mule deer hunting. You do your your. Yearly elk trip every year. And what last year did you go on one or two elk hunts? 

[00:10:26] Bob Polanic: I just went on one. I didn't have a tag last year, but my wife did okay. I just called for it.

But yeah, I've been going elk hunt for about 10 years now. 

[00:10:33] Dan Johnson: Okay. All right. So with all that said then, when we're talking about whitetails here whether it is in Iowa or Michigan or whenever you're hunting whitetails in whatever state, What are you looking for in a whitetail pack? 

[00:10:53] Bob Polanic: That's, that kind of branches off in two different categories.

So one is, if I'm self filming, I'm trying to look at [00:11:00] how I can pack in a camera arm the base that's up to the tree. Then also how I can strap like my outer layers to it for my hike in. That's only if I'm gonna film. So it's like the function of it if I'm not filming, which I've really gotten away from filming whitetail hunts the last few years.

So I've been going with a more like minimalist style more of like a waist belt, like a hip pack, basically. Okay. And mainly just looking for it to, the main thing is. With both of 'em, it doesn't matter. I want 'em to be quiet. And then I want to be able to have some of my key items easily accessible.

And I'm always, I always really focus in on how I can strap either my outer layer to the pack or if I'm doing if I'm doing a running gun hunt, it's. I'm not always necessarily worried about strapping the tree or the sticks to my backpack, but definitely wanna be able to strap the tree [00:12:00] stand to my backpack.

[00:12:01] Dan Johnson: Yeah. And so you're talking about when you're trying to get when you're trying to get mobile. 

[00:12:05] Bob Polanic: Yep. Okay. Exactly. 

[00:12:07] Dan Johnson: All right. All right. And so let's talk about that a little bit. I know in Michigan you have more of a permanent tree stand set up. Am I correct?

[00:12:15] Bob Polanic: Yes and no. There's a ton of public land in northern Michigan and I bounced around on that quite a bit, but that depends. There's I've used a couple different packs that are really good for hauling a tree stand. And I've, I don't have those packs anymore, which I'm disappointed.

But the main one was like, I think it was like the ska tool bucket. Yeah. And that the bag separated from the frame. And so you could put the tree stand right. On your back, basically. And then strapped the bag. So it was the frame and the bag sandwiched, the tree stand together, and it kept that weight really nice and close.

And I, I typically use just like a, I don't know, 11 or 12 pound old, the old lone wolf. The smaller one, the as aside. Yeah. Yep. But I got away from it because [00:13:00] a lot of times I find myself just carrying my tree stand and my sticks. In one hand and then my bow in the other.

And I always, it doesn't matter, morning or night, whatever it is. I always wanna walk in with my bow in my hand. I see a lot of guys walking into their tree stands with, they're both strapped to their backpack, and I'm like, what the, you're just, there's a big opportunity that you might miss if you pop up a Oh, yeah.

A target buck or something like that 

[00:13:26] Dan Johnson: yep. Perfect example of that came from 2020, I believe, when. I was walking to the tree stand and one of the target bucks was in this little draw on the field edge rubbing a tree, and I noticed his head coming up and down. And so I had my bow strapped to my backpack, strapped to trees, like with a tree stand.

My release was in my pack as well, cuz I was just walking through the middle of a ca. [00:14:00] My plan was to walk through this middle of this cattle pasture to get to where I was gonna set up. So I had to slide the I still to this day, don't know how it, I didn't get busted. Slid the backpack off, unbuckled the strap.

Had to take my bow out move my tree stand so I could unzip the top part of the bag to get my release. Hook it on, knock an arrow, walk. I don't know. So I, I just kept walking and my scent was blowing right at him. And then I had this gigantic I think it was an oak or a cottonwood, I can't remember, big tree, that I was able to walk up right behind, into 20 yards and ended up, or he was between 20 and 29 yards.

And I, so I was like 25 yards. And so then I shot him and luckily I got him but I'm, man, it was It was a scary moment, so that my friend also is why I have my bow out every time. 

[00:14:57] Bob Polanic: Yeah. Yeah. You just don't, you just don't know. All it [00:15:00] really takes is about eight seconds to kill a deer.

Yeah. So you gotta be ready. Yep. 

[00:15:05] Dan Johnson: Yep. Absolutely. What kind of pocket configuration do you like? Or I guess the inside part of it. What do you like? I. 

[00:15:15] Bob Polanic: If I'm going with an actual backpack some internal pockets that keep my gear, like whether it be a grunt tube, rangefinder, maybe some snacks or something like that.

I want it to keep it towards the top of the pack. Yep. I don't like when I have to reach in and dig all the way down to the bottom of my pack for whatever I'm looking for in the middle of a hunt. It's just, it's more noise, it's more movement. If I can keep it all right there. I've had some pretty good ones that have a built-in pocket in the lid.

So it's not like a, it's not like a school backpack that like fully unzips, but they, I think everyone knows some of the more recent style hunting backpacks, but they have a, they have the lid that comes up, but usually that lid has a. A double, like a zipper on the outside and a zipper on the inside.

Yep. So you can get to whatever lot of times, carry a, a beanie in there or whatever it [00:16:00] might be. But that's just I'm not real big on or not real worried about the the main pocket inside the bag because if I'm using a backpack, I'm using it because I'm self filming and I'm, I usually have a, like a serial like Tupperware that I put in the back to help hold the hold shape of the backpack. And also that's where I put my camera in order to protect my camera so it doesn't get, Mike doesn't get busted off. 

[00:16:29] Dan Johnson: When you're stuffing stuff in and taking stuff out. 

[00:16:31] Bob Polanic: Yep. And then, yeah, I really do a backpack that has like a good waist belt on it, and that has pockets on each side of the waist belt that are right on your hip. A lot of times I keep oh, SD cards in there and spare batteries and a SD card reader that's and a headlamp. That's what goes in those side pockets.

And just easy access if I'm grabbing a SD card off a trail camera. I can just quick swap it. And I always keep, [00:17:00] eight lithium batteries on me just in case I come across a camera that's dead or whatever, 

[00:17:04] Dan Johnson: yeah, man, that, that makes that's a great point. I, here's I love the pockets on the belt as well, but I utilize those pockets on the belt.

So my goal ultimately is to keep my backpack on. So I'll drop. If I have let's say how I used to do things or how I have been doing things. If I have a tree stand and on my back, then I will take my pack off, take the stand off, put my backpack back on, and I carry my sticks on an a bow rope.

So the bow rope, okay. Or the, on the, a bow holder. That goes over my shoulder and I put my climbing sticks in the bow holder. And then, so all I have to do when I get to the stand is take my pack off, put my pack back, or take the stand off, put my pack back on, buckle up, and then put the take the container, the sticks out of the bow rope, and then [00:18:00] start putting those up without having to take my backpack off again.

So then when I get to the top, and I, I step onto the tree stand. The first thing I do is buckle in. The second thing I do is reach into those pockets and pull out my bag holder. I screw into the tree and then I screw in my bow holder into the tree, and then I pull up my bow and hang it. And then I take my pack off and hang it.

And so I am do you hang your pack? With your back, your the back of it To the tree or front To the tree. 

[00:18:37] Bob Polanic: Back of it 

[00:18:38] Dan Johnson: To the tree, yeah. Okay. Yep. Yep. And a lot of it depends on what way the lid opens on some of, correct. Some of these, I believe it's the the man what's the company I'm thinking of that we both use?

MIS Mystery Ranch. The Mystery Ranch opens up away from the back. And leans forward. Yep. The tree house has in the past, and [00:19:00] so I hang and that's just real easy access. Anyway, with that said, I'd like my bag top to open up away from the back and opens up forward. Now, when it comes to pocket configuration, my favorite thing, or what I like to use is two pockets on the outside.

One I can stuff a water bottle in. And then, yep. And then the other is I don't know. Sometimes I might not even use it. Maybe it's where I stick my gloves or maybe, cuz I don't like to wear gloves unless it's really cold out. So maybe I'll put gloves in there. Or maybe I'll put, if I'm saddle hunting, then I'll put my, I'm strapped into the tree, but then I'll put my tether rope in there, just grab it and put it on.

Yep. So there's that. But then I personally st to stick all of my stuff in the big compartment of the, so usually let's say if I'm going to a tree stand, I, and it's [00:20:00] really cold out, I'll have my bibs strapped to my tree stand. When I'm in that process of taking off my stand that is usually.

When and I'll set the tree stand up, and then I'll come back down. I'll put my bibs on, put my pack on, then climb back up. That's the got it. When it's cold, then that's what I do. But all my other layers, i stuff in there like my puffy jacket or my outer layer, all that stuff gets. S stuffed in the bag in an order that I want to take it out.

So I run into S too. So the first thing that I do is pull out the, and it's on the top. As I pull out my s I screw it into the tree and I start to run it. Then I'll obviously be hooked. I'm hooked in the whole time. That's the first thing that I do. And then I will pull out my puffy jacket. Put it on, hang it up, and I get to the tree stand, let's say, for a morning hunt or for an afternoon hunt, [00:21:00] fairly like I'm there early before most of the movement starts.

So I feel pretty confident and comfortable just slowly layering throughout the entire hunt so that by the time the sun comes up, I'm ready to go and I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna have any issues. Or same thing with an afternoon nine. I've been surprised before, but I like a big. And then on the top pocket of the lid is where I keep my grunt tube, my release, any additional hand warmers.

If I like you, I also carry some batteries, some SD cards. So if I walk by a trail camera, I can check it. But other than that, man I'm just like, Let's see. I'm trying to think of what else I have to have in the purchase of a backpack. Oh, and that would be horizontal multiple horizontal straps that run across the back of the pack to hold my tree stand if I wanna put my bow back there.

On a already preset stand or on [00:22:00] a preset sa saddle location. That way I can strap anything that I want to. If I'm using my e-bike, I'll strap my bow to the back of it, I'll strap my saddle platform to the back of it. But outside of that man, my, my whitetail pack is very much. Minimalistic compared to my western approach.

[00:22:18] Bob Polanic: Gotcha. I'll I'll just quick touch on a couple things cuz my process is a, is similar, but it's just a little different. And real quick to, are you running the newer mystery ranch tree 

[00:22:29] Dan Johnson: house? Nope. I'm running the. The older one without the, let me ask you this. Have you, do you have that new one?

[00:22:37] Bob Polanic: I do. I actually helped design it and I like the original one better. Yeah, dude it fits better. It rides higher. It's, I don't know, it's, I never found it to be loud, but they made some improvements but they made, they. I don't know what size bag the original one is. Let's just say it's a 20 liter bag.

Yeah. The new one, they have two [00:23:00] new ones and it's like they did a bigger one and a smaller one. And I was like, no. I asked you guys to just add some features, but the same size bag, you're right. No they were gonna they were gonna take that lid and they were gonna have that lid open. Basically if you had your backpack on, they were gonna have the lid basically open like at your back.

Yeah. And I was like, no, can't do that. Yeah. And then also they took away like the squared off bottom. This is all in the prototype. Yeah. They took away the squared off bottom, so when you'd set your bag down, it always fall over. And I was like, Nope. Nope. I was like, you guys are obviously western hunters.

Yep. You're not hunters. Yep. But I was like, you need that squared off bottom so that bag just stays up right on its own. It's gotta open up away. But, and then, yeah, they came out with the two different sizes and I was like, and yeah, so I run the bigger one because the bigger one has the BA has a waist belt, the small one.

I don't think it does. Yeah, it's just the shoulder straps. Yeah. And then they just came out with a nice waste pack that I don't have yet, but I'll plan on [00:24:00] running that cuz I like the sick has got a good waste pack that I've been using when I'm just, A quick run into a tree stand for a morning hunt or an evening hunt, and I don't need to bring a bunch of gear with me.

But as far as my process goes when I walk in, I get to the base of the tree and I try to go up once. Yeah. So I put the tree stand on my back, and then I put a rope to my bag and a rope to my bow. And then I've got my sticks secured onto, I wear a rock climbing harness. Yep. I have my sticks secured to my harness.

So it's just boom, three, four sticks up. Tree stand. I get on a tree stand. I've always got, I'm using my. Lyman's belt. I use that as my like my tether. So I just get that all hooked in and then boom, pull my bow up, arrow knock. Yeah. Screwing a bow arm, whatever, screwing a hook for your bag.

And then, but first, first thing's up is the bow arrow knock, release on. So anything happens, I'm ready to go. Which actually saved me this year because I hunted a farm for [00:25:00] about. 90 seconds in Iowa and I was able to fill my tag because I pulled my bow up and knocked an arrow first instead of doing anything else.

So about, and then I bring my bag up and then I throw on my outer layers and stuff like that. 

[00:25:14] Dan Johnson: So wait a second. Did you have your pack and other stuff on the ground when you shot your buck? 

[00:25:21] Bob Polanic: Yeah, dude, I was I was, it was one 30 in the afternoon and I had been letting my buddy hunt this one chunk of timber that, that he normally hunts and I hunt a different farm, but he was I don't know.

He wasn't really hunting it that hard. He had slept in that morning and I was like, and it was, it's November 15th in Iowa. I was like, yeah, okay, so I'm gonna go hunt that. I don't care what you're doing. Got in there, hung a tree stand, got up, it pulled my bow up. Bag still on the ground and it's all hill country.

So I'm actually first time I'd ever used milkweed. Yeah. I'm throwing milkweed. And it's all floating around. And I'm like, oh, wow, Mike, [00:26:00] that's really taking my scent where I didn't think. And I look over to my, I'm looking to my right with the milkweed. I look to my left and at 60 yards there's a buck, a shooter buck coming.

And I was like, holy shit. And I like, look at my, I look at my hand. I'm like, I don't have my release on. So I had to quick grab my release. I barely got that on one motion. Pulled my bow off. The bow hanger came to full draw. He stopped at 10 yards right where I walked in, and I just absolutely shoulder punched him, quartering at me.

And he didn't go, I don't know, a hundred yards. I just knew he was dead. Yeah, I mean it was through the top shoulder came out his opposite. Opposite armpit and. It's, yeah, it was good stuff, but literally was in the tree for 90 seconds. Okay. So I, and I got to go back to my buddy and I was like, told you it wasn't that hard.

I just had to be there for 90 seconds and kill deer. So little smack talk was always good. 

[00:26:50] Dan Johnson: Yeah. You brought up a great point there though, and I don't want my backpack to fall over either when I set it down, right? I want it to. [00:27:00] Stand up so I can dig into it. Especially if I wanna set it on before I hang it up.

If I'm digging through it, I, and I set it on the seat of my tree stand. I want it to stay there. Yep. So that, having, I'm a huge fan of having some support and there are, specific brands out there that have in not necessarily in an internal frame, but the way that the corners of the pack are designed, it.

It collapses in a little bit, but it doesn't fully collapse all the way. Yeah, 

[00:27:30] Bob Polanic: that original tree house is a really good bag. That's still my favorite. Yep. Yep. They, they did make some improvements on the newer ones. I know a lot of people weren't a big fan of the camel pattern, but during the, during November, that camel pattern, it's a lighter camel pattern.

So if you're in a, you're in trees with no leaves, pretty much a lot of daylight's coming through. So I think it does kinda work well. I think that's the same thing with that with ikas like elevated pattern, I think that's way more, that's, it's beneficial to have that pattern.

When you're hunting in [00:28:00] November with no no leaves and you're trying to break up your outline and not get Skyline amongst all the branches and stuff like that yeah. But yeah, like then, like Mystery Ranch did come out with two new packs. I think one's another smaller treehouse and then one's a waste pack, yeah, it'd be interesting to see how those work out. And then I know. I used that Sika tool bucket or something like that. And that bag always collapsed on it itself. 

[00:28:25] Dan Johnson: Always. Yeah. I had one too and then sold it. 

[00:28:28] Bob Polanic: Yep. Same. But I loved it for hauling tree stands. But then it did get a little old.

Always had to like on Yeah. There was just a lot of buckles when you were using that. Yeah. Ticket 

[00:28:37] Dan Johnson: bag, yep. Yep. Yes. So I agree. What, talk about the fabric a little bit on that mystery ranch too, because some of those mis like that mystery ranch pack, I feel like the, there would be a lot of cockers, that new one.

It's like that fleece lining or it's a soft, yeah. Now the guy, I think the guy, when I was at the ATA show this year, he talked to me a little bit about it.[00:29:00] And I think it's designed. To not like it's n it will collect them, but you can pull them off easier than, let's say, like a normal fleece. Cuz normal fleece is like the fibers are looped in and they're not straight fibers.

Yep. So that's what causes them to like the Sitka pants that everybody has, that if you walk through beggar's lice, that it's gonna be there for the rest of its life. 

[00:29:27] Bob Polanic: Yep. Pretty much. No, you're absolutely right because they're just strands that with just dead end strands. You can just, I have a bur PA and I think you recommended that to me many years ago and that thing has saved so much of my gear.

I actually keep it in my backpack. Yeah. Oh yeah. You just, you can just wipe it right off. It's not okay. It's not a problem. It is. I will say a bag is silent. Yeah. 

[00:29:48] Dan Johnson: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Anything else that is a necessity for you on a white tail backpack?[00:30:00] 

[00:30:01] Bob Polanic: No, I think we nailed it all. You said like the horizontal straps. I also like vertical straps on the bottom of the bag. 

[00:30:08] Dan Johnson: Oh yeah. Yep. If you want to carry like a big coat. Yep. Or something on the bottom. Yep, 

[00:30:13] Bob Polanic: I got it. Because I've even put like mini sticks on that. I'm a bigger dude, so I don't have, if, if I've got a 17 inch stick, it's not much wider than my ass, basically. Yeah. Yeah. So I don't, it doesn't get hung up on much. But yeah, that's I, it's really just gotta have a good waist belt. To help support that load if I'm hauling a tree stand or not.


[00:30:35] Dan Johnson: So do you like on the strap that goes around your waist do you like the ability to pull both sides? Even, or do you like a one buckle where the adjustment is always on one side? I 

[00:30:51] Bob Polanic: like the both side. Yeah. Cause you can just it's just nice and easy to just cinch it right down.

[00:30:55] Dan Johnson: Yeah. Yeah. I like that too. Yeah. The only issue with. In my [00:31:00] opinion with the problem that I see, if I was gonna somehow be like to design a bag, there's so much extra length when you're trying to have a one size fits all type pack of Yeah. The extra straps that I have to tie it up multiple times to keep the slack from, I don't know, knocking at my knees or getting caught on something, 

[00:31:21] Bob Polanic: I just tuck it right back in, in between the waist belt and my hips.

[00:31:24] Dan Johnson: Yeah. So that's a good idea. That's a good idea. Yeah. All right. Anything else about Whitetails before we move on? 

[00:31:31] Bob Polanic: Not on the pack front. Okay. I can talk about Whitetails all day long. Yeah. 

[00:31:35] Dan Johnson: Okay. Let's get into your we will talk, we'll talk about our western our western packs now, because like for me, it's a bigger, I'll just say this, it's a bigger bag and I'm carrying more gear and I'm going in and out of it more throughout the day.

Would you, is that, do you do something similar? Are you using, are you're opening and closing it more throughout the day? [00:32:00] Yeah. Correct. Yeah. Okay. What do you look for in a western pack? 

[00:32:05] Bob Polanic: Durability. Something that's not gonna fail on me because I, if I'm going into the mountains for five, six days I can't have a zipper break, especially a main one.

I cannot have a strap break. That bag is, your boots, your bag, and your bow are like your most. Important things in my opinion. Yeah. On a western mountain hunt. Obviously your gear, rain gear, whatever like that, but that bag's gotta be bulletproof. I'm not really terribly worried about the noise.

Western hunting for elk is a loud, it could be pretty loud. It's not like any of those bags squeak or anything like that, but like with just brushing up against the fabric, stuff like that, I'm not terribly worried about the how loud it is. I do like it more of just because that durability and I don't want anything to malfunction on it.

I do a very simple bag. I'm not really interested in a bunch of organization pockets. Basically, the more organization pockets you have on a Western bag or any backpack, [00:33:00] the heavier it's gonna be, right? More fabric for the pockets, stuff like that. Not always terribly worried about the weight of a backpack.

But they typically come in around between six and seven and a half pounds. It's pretty standard across the industry. I know that's a kind of, it seems like the lighter the bag when you get heavy loads in it, the more uncomfortable it's gonna be. Yeah. But yeah, good waist belt, some of that can, I can, at the end, if I can put a hundred pounds in it and it's gonna suck, but it's not gonna wreck me.

[00:33:27] Dan Johnson: Yeah, man. I don't know how, like I'm not able to speak eloquently, I guess you would say, on how to adjust a pack and things like that because it's all feel for me. So I will say this, yeah, that. If you have a pack that does not ride, because I, man I've had multiple Western packs.

I think I've found a good one right now that I'm, I really like. But I'll tell you this, I if they don't, if it doesn't ride [00:34:00] good on your hips or it keeps slipping out and you have to keep tightening, tightening it, because I did have a. Three, and it wasn't in the mountains, so it wasn't crazy, but there was still a lot of up and down that we had to go through.

It was like three and a half, four miles pack out with a hundred pounds. But each of us had a hundred pounds of combination of meat in our gear, in our ba, in our pack. And hiked it out and it. The pack that I have now did a good job. It sucked. Trust me. I mean it a hundred pounds on your pack and your back sucked.

But outside of that, I don't, 

[00:34:40] Bob Polanic: yeah, I don't think it matters 

[00:34:41] Dan Johnson: what bag you used. Exactly. But I will say this, that I had a pack when I went elk hunting the first couple years. That really did suck even with the amount of. Just the gear that I was carrying in, and it was [00:35:00] it did not ride like the one, it wasn't adjustable like the one I have now.

It was durable, it was loud, but it just did, it wasn't comfortable. So the one I have now is much more comfortable, much more adjustment on the shoulders and the hips. And there's the padding on the hips for me. I like a lot of padding. And I like it to stay still. The hip belt has to have there's some cutouts that allow, it's almost like the cutouts, you can rest right on your hip bones your pelvis, and it just s snugs into place.

And so I like to wear my pack, especially even if it's, even if it's not full of gear. I still like to wear everything tight to me. 

[00:35:44] Bob Polanic: Yep. I'm with you. I had a similar situation the first couple years I elk hunted. I used, I forget the brand, but had a bunch of different organizational pockets and stuff like that, bunch of different zippers.

I had a zipper break on me during the middle of a hunt. It wasn't a [00:36:00] critical one, but still just I can't put anything in that pocket anymore. Yep. It was a heavier pack. And yeah the waist straps and the shoulder straps always just loosened up. Every, it was like, every like 20 minutes I was like tightening everything back up.

So yeah, I switched to another mystery ranch back. It's the Metcalf. Yeah. I've been running, yeah, I've been running that for the last few years. It's very comfortable as far as loading a backpack. I've heard, and from many western hunters you want the, your heaviest part of your pack, you want it to be in the middle.

So you want like your sleeping bag on the bottom or your puffy jacket's on the bottom, and then like your food or your main gear, your tent or whatever in the middle. And then some lighter stuff on the top again. Yeah. But the nice thing about that me half is, yeah, you can, that bag's like a, I don't know, 60 liter bag or something like that.

So you can pack that thing to the brim, hike in, get into camp, get all, get everything out of it, and then you can use it just for your day [00:37:00] for day hunting. And it, the way that the straps, the compression straps work, you can get that bag right down to almost like a 10 liter bag and it's very slim on your back.

And you don't, you're going underneath tree limbs and stuff like that, you're. Going in between trees, it becomes a very height to your body and, just, you're not rubbing it on anything, any, so it's a pretty nice bag. I'm, as I'm assuming there's several other companies that make a great, yeah, a great western hunting backpack.

[00:37:27] Dan Johnson: Yeah. We, same question, different backpack on a Western hunt. What do you like for pocket configuration or zipper configuration straps, all that stuff. 

[00:37:38] Bob Polanic: So mainly that bag and it's what I was talking about. It's got one big zipper on the side of it. And to me that's nice because if I need to access something at the bottom, I can just unzip it, but leave like it all compressed down.

Otherwise it's just one big opening on the top. And as far as, there's no organization to it, I think it's got. I've [00:38:00] got, it's got a wa water bottle slot on one side. Then I think I've got on the waist belt, I've got a pocket. And then I also have, my bear spray on the other side.

But and that's all in that that webbing or whatever. That's all hooked in. But otherwise I just organize everything in my backpack with dry bags mainly because I hunt in grizzly country. So I'm going to, when I come in, I'm gonna hang all my food in a tree in a dry bag, and then my bag's not waterproof.

So anything critical, I just keep in a one or two small dry bags. Okay. And I've got one that's My first aid kit and that's pretty small. It's got a lighter duct tape, it's got some stuff, some equipment for my bow, a new D loop the specific aand wrenches I need for like my site or anything like that.

And it's got, three extra batteries and then, just some basic first aid supplies. And then I think the other little small dry [00:39:00] bag, I don't even know what I can't think of what I keep in that right now. Yeah, and my, my food's all inches like Ziploc baggies yeah. I gotcha.

Which are essentially dry 

[00:39:10] Dan Johnson: bags so how, how do you use it? Are you packing up camp every morning and moving and then resetting it up in the afternoon? Or do you set up your camp once and then go out and then come back? 

[00:39:23] Bob Polanic: Set up camp once, usually hike in, I don't know, two to four miles set up camp, and then just use that as my base camp and just day hunt from there basically.


[00:39:31] Dan Johnson: All all right. For me, I carry now, hey, the other question is, do you carry a spotter in a tripod when you're elk hunting? No, 

[00:39:40] Bob Polanic: I hunt dark timber and yeah, so not a real need for it. I've. Not to get off topic, but starting to hear more and more successful elk hunters have moved away from the dark timber because you, I've had so many bowls within bow range and I cannot get a shot off because [00:40:00] it's too thick.

Yeah. So yeah, they're like, yep. Just, I've been talking to a lot of experience hunters and they talk more and more about. Hunting, some of that broken timber, some of those open meadows and stuff like that. Just because your shot opportunities are, your chances are just higher. For a good shot 

[00:40:17] Dan Johnson: opportunity.

Yeah. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. That makes a lot of sense. 

[00:40:21] Bob Polanic: But no, I don't have a spotter or a I ha I own one, but I don't bring it with me up on a backpack, a bitty hunt. Yeah. 

[00:40:28] Dan Johnson: For me when I go mule deer hunting, and I'm, that's how it starts every day, is spotter on top of a hill, glassing thou, thousands of acres trying to pick apart drainages and all that stuff.

So I ha my pack has to have a side strap and a pocket. So on one side I'm putting my spotter and my my spotter and my, that's already connected to a lightweight [00:41:00] tripod, and so I'm, I don't ever have to put it together. I just pull the whole thing out. And so that's strapped in. On the other side is a full Nalgene bottle of water, right?

So that's where I carry my water. Now, I also, here's a, here's something we didn't discuss yet, but I also carry a a water God, a platypus or whatever they're called. Yeah, water bladder. A water bladder in with a hose that comes out so I can drink out of it as well. Yep. So do you I the pack that I know, I think if you have the same one as me that has that in there, are you running a bladder?

[00:41:36] Bob Polanic: Yep. I just run a three liter bladder. I, I just bring, I might bring a small, like six ounce foldable cup. So I can, I usually bring like a mountain ops, like dry packet with me and I get, for the evening hunt, I usually mix that up. And let me tell you what a full packet and six ounces of water is.

Whew. That'll wake you up. Lot of, pretty strong, lot 

[00:41:58] Dan Johnson: of caffeine. [00:42:00] 

[00:42:00] Bob Polanic: A lot of caffeine and it's it's pretty sweet and it's super concentrated yeah. Yeah. I've had many times I've just this off topic, but many times I've taking those packets and it's just that powder and just pouring it in my mouth dry and then trying to, Wash it down with water in there.

Yeah. You start coughing out dust, basically, but usually gets, you usually get a pretty good laugh out of it, but Yeah. Yep. Anyway, so yeah I don't typically bring the extra bottle. Instead I bring the, it's a small Sawyer water filter with a small bag. Okay. So if I cause it's a three liter hydration bladder that I have with me.

Gosh, the first. First day or two, I ever alk hunt it. Man, I sucked that thing dry by like noon. Yeah. You know what I mean? Just Yep. Guzzling water. So you have to figure out how to pace yourself or if you're going to, if you are gonna drink three liters in a day and you're potentially gonna run out I just started bringing like the mini Sawyer and I just take a small 12 ounce bag so I crossed the creek or whatever.

I can just quick filter some water and can refill. 

[00:42:59] Dan Johnson: Yeah. That's a [00:43:00] fact, man. I drink, I. Even on the mule deer hunts where I'm spending a lot of time just being out in the wind and the sun will dehydrate you, and I drink a ton of water, so I'm bringing that Nalgene bottle that's on the side. I'm also running a bladder and I'm also has, I also have another Nalgene bottle in the bottom of my pack because I've ran out of water before on, on an elk hunt and on a mule deer hunt.

And the hike back to camp sucks. The hike back at the end of the day and you got cotton mouth and your body, you're basically pissing gravy. That sucks, man. So I would rather have more of that, more water than less water. So yeah, at the same time, I strap because of the style of hunting that I do.

I strap my bow to the back of my pack when I'm cruising. I'm not, unless I'm on a stock. I'm usually just glassing areas. Binos, binos right here on my chest. [00:44:00] Bow is strapped to the back, and then I'll take it off every time I need to get in. But on the top of it, On the top of the pack, I like to have a big compartment.

The cool thing about the Metcalf is it has two compartments and so one is a first aid kit for me, and the other one is a all my food for the day munchies like bars. I put a apple up there. Something. Oh, I know. Yeah. My, my snack little drawer, I guess you would say. And then the that opens up.

You get into the big main compartment, and then that's where all my layers are. So if it's a, if it's a cold morning and I'm glassing, I'll pull out the puffy, throw it on I or even a, another outer jacket, depending on how cold and breezy it is. And then I'm basically putting, I'm in that compartment.

The other cool thing about the Metcalf is that, I believe there's a zipper that runs vertically along the back that gets you into the main compartment without having to take the top off as well. Yeah, so [00:45:00] you can get into your main compartment and pull out my puffy, pull out my layers. Let's say my socks are wet or I don't know something.

I always keep an extra pair of socks in my bag as well. I always keep dude wipes in case you gotta go number. Oh yeah, go number two out there. They're biodegradable, so you can just leave them out wherever you wherever you go. And then it's just a matter of easy access throughout the day.

I have in my. Pack. I also keep some paracord for just in case type moments. I always have a knife. My outdoor edge knife with me in there as well in the top compartment with my first aid kit. My release usually stays on me the whole day, but this year I'm gonna be moving to a thumb release.

And not a wrist release anymore. So now I'll have that in a pocket or I'll have to find a good place for that. 

[00:45:53] Bob Polanic: Yeah, no, I some similarities, but, so that the lid you're talking about with the double zippers on the Metcalf? [00:46:00] When I'm day hunting from camp or whatever, I actually don't, I don't run that.

I don't keep that on. Oh, okay. I okay. Yeah. I leave that back at camp and the 10 or whatever. I think a lot of times that's what I put. Spare. Like I, if I go on a five day hunt back in the mountains, I think I'll bring two extra pairs of boxers two and two extra pairs of socks. And I always have a camera, I always bring a camera with me.

So then, so the other one, that other like tube on the lid, I'll basically put a lens or two in there. And then, yeah, that kind of just stays back at camp. And then, yeah, game bags, knife, all that, skinning knife, all that type of stuff. Anything you need to break down. And then you have layers. So yeah, pretty similar, but I just don't use the lid when I'm actually hunting.

[00:46:47] Dan Johnson: Hey, that's not a bad idea. Just more stuff. More stuff. I'll probably have to start thinking about doing that this year as well. Outside of that man. My, I, the durability is important because I'm taking it off and throwing it [00:47:00] on the ground and laying on it. Like when I glass, like I'm using it as a back rest a lot for when I'm, especially if I have the spotter up, I'm usually sitting up.

But if I'm just using my binos, then I'm leaning against it. Trying to get comfortable with a lot of support there. But outside of that I thought that I was gonna, I have a little my wind checker is on my Bino harness, so I don't need any access to that. But outside of that man I feel like I am, yeah, I feel pretty good about my, my my Western packs and how, what I currently have, and that's how, everything that we've talked about.

That's how I like it. I thought it was gonna be more complex, but it's almost simpler. Then 

[00:47:43] Bob Polanic: I think it's, I think it's simpler. Yeah. I think it's mean than my set up. Yeah, I would agree. And I, same with you. I mean you, when you're doing, you mentioned, you have your bow strapped to your backpack Western hunting.

I do that from time to time too. You're in wide open country your spot in stocking whatever and [00:48:00] I'm typically with someone when I'm elk hunting. So if my bow is strapped to my back, I can quick have him. Yep. Unstrap it for me, but yeah, I do always pack a spare release. Yep, that's a big one.

And then, yeah, I will say that with a headlamp, I always keep my headlamp in the pouch, on the waist belt. As soon as it's light out, I take that headlamp out. It's got three AA batteries in it. I take one of the batteries out and I reverse it. So I, if I, so it never gets bumped on, cause I bumped it on before in the middle of the day.

When I went to go use it at night, the batteries were dead and I couldn't, and I assume that was the reason, but I never had proof. So you gotta 

[00:48:36] Dan Johnson: get one of those black diamonds, they have a lock on the front where you just hold it down and it locks automatically, so then it can't get turned on, and then you just have to hold it down again, and then you can turn it on.

Because I've had that. I definitely, I've had that same thing happen, dude. And walking a mile back to your truck in the dark, using your cell phone as a flashlight. Yeah. Sucks. 

[00:48:58] Bob Polanic: Sucks. Yeah. Super annoying. [00:49:00] Yeah. Yeah. The other thing I'll say, just a tip about the water. If I had, basically when it, when night falls and I'm starting to head back to camp, or if I'm day hunting, I'm heading back to the Trailhead or whatever.

From the moment I'm done like kind of hunting and it's getting dark to I'm just sucking water. I will suck that bladder dry until, when you're western hunting like that. Yeah, staying hydrated is probably one of the biggest things. Yeah. Yep. 

[00:49:26] Dan Johnson: Absolutely. Absolutely. That's, and that's part of the reason I don't drink a lot of caffeine when I'm out there because I.

Like today I have my coffee and I'm just pissing like a race horse cuz it's a diuretic, right? Yep. You're peeing all the time. I don't like to have a lot of caffeine in the mornings because you're just dehydrating yourself right off the bat. Yep. And so there's that. Dude, I just wanna say thanks for taking time outta your day to hop on and bs about this about, about this, and.

And I appreciate your time and man I'm excited for for to hear stories and I like the pictures that you send me from [00:50:00] your Iowa Farm and from your Michigan farm and when you're out west. So good luck this upcoming season, man. 

[00:50:05] Bob Polanic: Hey, man, I appreciate it and good luck to you as well. And keep doing what you're doing with the fall series.

I I've just been catching up on those and It was weird. It was kinda wild. I was gonna text you the other day and you ended up texting me and it was gonna, I was gonna text you a photo of the fall series you're doing with Aaron, and that's pretty good stuff. 

[00:50:22] Dan Johnson: It's over now.

We've done eight it. Yeah, we've done eight. I'm only on episode three. Okay. Just got you better. You better 

[00:50:29] Bob Polanic: catch up As you can see from my comment to you. In my text to you, I, you episode three, you, it's all about what a mature buck actually is. Yes. Yes, absolutely. I'm with you on that. People calling the three-year-old mature buck has been wrong for a long time.

Long time. 

[00:50:44] Dan Johnson: Long time. Anyway. Anyway. Hey man, appreciate it. Thank you.