Training for Elk Hunts

Show Notes

On this episode of The Western Rookie Podcast, Brian talks with Dan Staton about getting in ‘Elk Shape’ and what it takes to be a good hunting partner.

Dan is the founder of Elk Shape – a western hunting brand built to help hunters train and prepare for mountain hunts. Dan shares his outlook on what being in shape means for him and his ability to chase his dreams. The guys also talk about the challenges of finding a good hunting partner, and why that commonly means hunting solo for Dan. Connect with Dan and Elk Shape at the links below.

Elk Shape Website


Connect with Brian Krebs
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Show Transcript

[00:00:00] Oh, back to another episode of the Western Rookie Podcast. This is your host, Brian Krebs. Today I am excited because it is the end of application season. I know there's a few states and a few species still coming, but by the time you're listening to this end of April, beginning of May, things are wrapping up and you, all of you rookies out there should be having a pretty good idea of which hunts you're going on this fall, and that officially kicks off.

Prep season, right? Getting in shape, getting prepared. And today we have a conversation with Dan Staton from Elk Shape, and we're gonna talk all about how to get in shape for the mountains, what to think about, what to prepare for, and how to put yourself in the best possible position to have success on your Western hunts.

So I'm super excited for today's episode. It's gonna be a great one. I see Dan just popped in the lobby, so we're gonna fire this episode off. You're listening to the Western Rookie, a hunting [00:01:00] podcast full of tips, tricks, and strategies from season western hunters. There are plenty of opportunities out there.

We just need to learn how to take on the challenges. Hunting is completely different up there. That part. See 26 big game animals. You can fool their eyes. We can fool their nose, 300 yards, speck. The road turned into three miles back the other way. It's always cool seeing new hunters go and harvest and animal.

I don't know what to expect. If there's anybody I want in the woods with me, it'll be you.

All right guys. Like I said, we have Dan Staton here from Elk Shape. We are excited to talk. He's been on the podcast before. I'm sure you've heard back a while back with Dan Matthews, the original host of this podcast. Matthews isn't gonna be here today. We're still packing for our elk ship, our elk shed trip, but we got Dan Staton here with Elk Shape anyway, to talk about fitness preparation and getting ready for this fall.

Dan, how are you doing buddy? [00:02:00] Pretty good. Trying to keep my head above water, brother. Yeah, I hear you. I hear you. It's been a busy, it's been a busy spring and then we're, like I just mentioned, Matthews and I are going out west looking for elk sheds and so when you're in this line of work, you gotta get everything done ahead of time, scheduled and posted, and so you can take that time away and it's, we've been running around with our heads cut off for a little bit here, nice looking for the old participation trophies. Where are you going? We are going to, we're gonna meet up with a friend in Durango, and then we're gonna do two days in New Mexico and two days in Arizona. Sounds like a blast. Yeah. Super excited. I love shed hunting. It's, I like Pete, my brother gives me that same line every time I find a shed.

He's oh, another participation trophy. But I just love getting out in the spring, man. I'm sick of being indoors all winter. Oh man, I absolutely love shed hunting. It's like hiking with a purpose, and you really, you can really load up the miles, have a backpack, [00:03:00] boots, learn new country.

It's awesome, man. I used to do it so much before I had kids. That's awesome. Yeah. Yeah. And what I like about it is like hunting and shed hunting. They bring you places you wouldn't go if you were just hiking. If you were just gonna go for a hike, you'd hit the sites, the scenic, the trails, but you're not going off trails.

Seeing some of that cool new country that hunting and shed hunting brings you into, yeah, Bush whacking and zigzagging and griding and trying to find bedding areas and. Brown gold. Yeah. Even chalk is cool. It is, it's just fun. And then your pack gets heavy if you're having a really good day. Yeah. Then you get to load out get prepared for those double quarter packouts in the fall.

That brings me into the fitness and the preparedness. So obviously you were on the podcast before, but this is the first time we've met. So just give a quick reminder on how long you've been doing Elk Shape and what was maybe that initial inspiration to really go build a [00:04:00] brand around preparing for the mountain hunting?

I've been elk hunting since oh one. Bow hunting since 2002 took me four. Four full seasons to kill an elk with a bow. Conversely, it took me five minutes to kill one with a rifle in 2001, and I'm pretty self-taught initially, so a lot of bad habits. Didn't know much about elk hunting, learning curve, and it was a steep one, and I don't regret it.

It totally changed my life. El hunting literally became my number one obsession. And I would literally quit jobs so I could elk hunt all of September, and I probably haven't really missed ver There's more days that I have hunted in September than I haven't since 2002, and it's my personality all or none.

And when I started getting to Elk cunning, I really just took to it. And [00:05:00] took to bow hunting, like literally haven't picked up a rifle and got into writing a little bit in 2005 and six and somehow snuck my way into Bow Hunter Magazine as a fitness editor, and I did that for other publications. And that's what you did.

In that time era was you wrote or you had TV on the outdoor channel or whatever. And in 2010 I decided to start a company with a friend called Train to Hunt, and we got that off the ground and that was going really well, was also running two gyms that I owned and I was also editing hunting TV shows for Western Extreme.

Jim's Jim Burns Worth back in the day. So I was doing a lot of stuff. Fast forward to 2013, I sold my half of Train to Hunt, got rid of one gym, kept one gym, and started Elk Shape. And the whole premise of Elk Shape [00:06:00] was a lifestyle of not a sheep hunter. Although I wouldn't mind going not a mule deer hunter.

Yeah. Although I do mule deer hunt and not a whitetail hunter, although I whitetail hunted a ton and I still do to this day. Elk cunnings, my North star elk cunnings, my y I'm gonna start a brand around that. So I started over YouTube channel a website, grabbed all my writings and put 'em in blogs, and didn't really think of it as a business.

And I started a podcast about six years ago, and then we started doing a couple of elk shaped camps where people would come to my gym. They were mainly fitness camps mainly, but we also taught elk, calling elk tactics and archery. Now, current day, we do five to seven elk shaped camps a year across. The us we podcast, we make YouTube channel content, social media, work with [00:07:00] companies, deliverables, et cetera.

I sold my gym. I literally do elk shaped full-time and I can barely keep up and it's awesome. That's amazing. I love it when someone says I went full-time and I can't even get it all done in a day. Like it. I'm swamped. It's, yeah, that's the dream right there. And so you said you sold one gym, did you?

Do you still have the other or did you sell both of the gym interests? I got rid of one and I sold the other one. And I have a gym now, but it's not, it's just in my backyard. It's not like a people, my neighbors work out in it for free obviously, but yeah, I have a ridiculous home gym. Okay.

And awesome. Like a private awesome. Private friends and family only type thing. Exactly. Nice. And I suppose that's the kind of gym where it's encouraged to probably bring your bow, get your heart rate really high, get your muscle fatigue going, and then try to make an accurate shot. Cuz that's what elk hunting is.

That's [00:08:00] basically it. Yeah. We, I generally shoot before I train. But yeah, we definitely like to mix it up and do some high heart rate duress shots. But yeah, I have a lot of friends come over, bring their bow. I live in a neighborhood, so I'm on two acres we can shoot out to about 110, elk shots ideally are 40 and under really?

So we do a lot of that. That kind of shooting? Yeah. Yeah. I want 'em as close as possible, man. If my arrow can touch the elk and my string at the same time, even better. That's awesome. Yeah. I have a similar story. I'm just a little bit later starting than you. Been archery elk cunning since 2016, more years than not since I've been elk cunning every year since snuck in two rifle hunts.

And it's like you said, it becomes that anchor like we plan, I planned my year around the elk hunt. I planned all the vacation around the elk hunt. People know don't schedule anything in the, like I don't get, unfortunately, don't get the chance to take the whole month of September, but that second, third week of September don't bank on me for much at work [00:09:00] or I'm not going to weddings if that, if they're scheduled, then hell no.

What state are you in, by the way? I live in Washington. Okay. So you're doing, so you're doing both like Rosie's and Rocky Mountain Elk. I've never killed a ro. I rarely hunt my own state. Okay. Okay. Yeah. We do see a lot of Washington trucks when we're in like Western Montana and people just popping over, yeah, people don't really the old, we're called Apple maggots in Idaho. I got a place in Idaho, so my truck's plated with Idaho plates just to help out. Yeah. Help that situation out. Yeah, we I'm from Minnesota, so it's the other half, and I'd say our plates are hated even more than Washington plates.

When I see Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan plates, I'm usually like, Tip my hat to you. In fact, we've tried to do camps in that area because they're diehard like the other white, so guys, but they're [00:10:00] diehard elk hunters, and they get it, they get after it. So I'm happy to see any plate, man, even in California that's probably the worst one to see.

And I don't care, man. We're all hunters. Yeah, they've already. Like the this, most states have already set their non-resident quotas and they're capped. So it doesn't really matter where the plate's coming from. You're gonna limit how many non-residents are there anyway. So yeah, I think it's cool to see some of these, like I see some like Louisiana, Florida.

I'm like, wow, you guys drove a long ways to come up here in Northwest Montana. Oh yeah, that's a long, that's a long haul. I, the furthest I drive is probably like New Mexico, Arizona, which is just around 24 hours from where I live. But I can beat to Idaho in 30 minutes. I can beat a Montana in about two hours.

I can be to Oregon in two hours. I'm in a pretty good central hub. Yeah, that's some pretty good, I would say that's an area that is great for someone that puts in the [00:11:00] work because there's great elk, but it's not easy country and so that it keeps other people out. Idaho's a long ways. For most of the country it's pretty rugged, the tags, you have to be very proactive to get those over the counter tags.

And so it's like a great spot if you're local because you're not gonna have a ton of that non-resident pressure like you see in Colorado OTC units. Seems like that's a little sleeper section of the country. Yeah. Idaho's just built different, I was in Idaho for a couple days last season, and then I drove down to New Mexico for a tag that I drew.

I was hunting elk at the same elevation, both states. And I spent five days in New Mexico, tagged out, came back to Idaho. And it hit me. I'm like, dude, Idaho is just another level. It's the same elevation. I'm at 9,500 feet, but it's just built different. And just wears you out the country. It's just if you flattened Idaho out, you'd cover the whole northwest.

It's the steepest, steepest, deepest, [00:12:00] nasty, and it's next level. Yeah, we've done, I've hunted some mountain ranges that share the border of Idaho, on the Montana side. Yeah. That was a butt kicker for sure. And that's kind why I wanted you to come back on the podcast because it's that time of year to start getting in shape and start thinking about it and.

For anyone? I would ask you to just put it in your own words of what should someone that's never done it before, like what is elk cunning on a physical fitness side of the topic for you. What would you tell someone that's planning their first elk outcome? They're like, what do I do?

I think you need to define what is actually elk hunting. And it is defined by elk hiking. That's actually what it is. You will be hiking. Most of your daylight hours and even in the dark elk are big animals. They cover a crazy amount of country terrain easily. And they're nomadic, so they're not like, they don't [00:13:00] hold in the pockets very well.

And just by, so by nature the beast itself likes to travel about. And so you need to understand that you're literally going on a hiking trip. If you can get that defined first, I think you'd be like a better. Maybe expectations of what you're gonna experience. One thing we teach at our camps is define what success is gonna be for you, for where you're at in your journey.

It's a journey. You, I don't recommend scrolling Instagram about middle September. And you'll see that everybody's killed a bull, but you. It's not really the truth, that's just what you're seeing. 90% plus elk. Hunters do not kill an elk. Some guys maybe kill one their first year out, but then they'll struggle for years to have consistent success, like continuity.

So I always tell folks, man, figure out what a successful hunt would be like for you. And everyone's a little different for me. [00:14:00] If I don't kill an elk, it's not a successful trip, but I've been doing it a long time. Whereas maybe somebody's their first year man, if you went and stayed out in the mountains overnight, your first time ever being solo deep in the back country, all your gear on your back, and you thrived, not survived, but you thrived and did well, and you got into elk.

I would chalk that up as a successful elk season, so everyone's a little different. Maybe it's number of encounters or if your calling improved and or if you were able to get to full draw. Maybe you don't get a shot, but define what success will be. But know that you're signing up for elk hiking, not elk hunting.

Yeah, that's a good way to put it. Anytime someone asks me what elk cunning like is, like I say, it's nine days of being uncomfortable. And then as soon as you hit the truck on the way home, you're thinking about next year. Perfection. That's fair. And it is. So like you really have to be cognizant of like trajectory.

Like maybe you get bit by the bug like you did Brian, and it's [00:15:00] I plan my year around elk hunting now. Maybe your fitness is now more of a long-term trajectory. It's like I want a elk hunt in 2053, so I'm not getting into shape for season. I'm getting into shape for life so that I can be healthy and be able to do this a long time, and not have to succumb to aging or getting injured or whatever, losing interest.

So to me it's a long-term plan of being fit and it's way easier to stay in shape than it is to get in shape. I think that's where we start and say, this is a lifestyle. If you're hooked by the elk hunting bug, it's an addiction that you can leverage. You should probably stay in shape year round.

Even during whitetail season when it's like hardly any daylight, a lot of gas station, gut rock foods selection, little Debbie snacks in the tree stand, not working out, like all that kind of stuff adds up. And it's so easy to, I don't know why I didn't design the human body, but the human body will get outta shape so much [00:16:00] faster than it will get into shape.

It's bullshit, but it is the truth. It's, and so I would just encourage anyone right now who's maybe you've gotten a tag or the tag and you now have a idea where you're going, start setting yourself up for long-term success versus a short-term. Yeah, I like the way you put that. We have people in our group, That eight years ago was their first haunt, and I didn't get that first year.

But they lost like 40 pounds to get ready for elk hunting. And then they got bit with the bug and they're just like me now. They're still in the group plan our elk cunt together every year. And they've kept that weighted off because they're like, this is li, this is life now this is, I'm an elk hunter.

I'm gonna work out 365 days a year. I ride my bike to work every day in the summer, whenever I, like it just changed their whole life and it. That, like you said, staying in shape so much easier. The only reason they are in the shape they're in is because they're an elk hunter now, and they get that benefit the whole year, not just those nine days in September.[00:17:00]

Yep. And it's like being an elk hunter's cool. You're like, you have a reason to stay fit and keep having a purpose for every pound on your body. Oh, and because you're making discipline decisions year round. You're also like a better dad. Like you got energy to play with your kids at night after a long day, or maybe you're a better husband, and maybe you're a better employee and better employer.

So all that stuff I talk about, it's for real. Elk hunting can change your life if you leverage it and allow it to Oh yeah. I remember I got, I drew. I went through a breakup at the same time, I drew a once in a lifetime tag, so I had two great motivating factors in the gym and I went bonkers for a whole six month period.

Lost tons of weight, got best shape of my life, and then that was the hunt that you see behind me with this elk got a once in a lifetime North Dakota tag. Oh, sick. Oh my gosh. Was it a blast? I spent all summer, like every weekend. I had free camping under the stars [00:18:00] glass and elk spot and elk scouting. It was a beautiful trip.

And then, but what stuck out to me is I had done elk hunts before this. I had done pack coats before this and before that hunt, like a pack out, you're like, oh man, that rear quarter's heavy. You put it on your back. The training I did for this hunt. All of a sudden I was, I put a rear quarter on my back and I'm like, that doesn't even feel like anything's there.

Like I really think I can do double. I think I can do a front and ar rear. So I throw a front on as well. And even that felt good. That felt man, like I got some weight here, but things feel good. Like it's moving well. I got no joint pain, nothing. And it's like immediate difference from like training and preparing Intentfully for the hunt.

And then now I've been able to more or less keep my grip on it. I've slipped a little bit, but I'm still there. Like still can move and stayed in the gym pretty consistently ever since. It's, it is, like you said, a life-changing decision you can make if you choose to. I love it.

Yeah. [00:19:00] So basically at this point in the year, you gotta decide. What is your biggest opportunity from a fitness nutrition standpoint? Like what's the lowest hanging fruit, but maybe it's the hardest fruit to pick, meaning it's a weakness and it sucks to work on weaknesses, right? Yeah. If you just need to straight up lose weight, I think you need to maybe hire a nutritionist or an actual rd.

Registered dietician and just get measured up and figure out how, what's your caloric intake? What should it be? How can you make, cuz really, you just can't out train a diet. That's lousy. And so for some people it's man, a difference of me putting a 10 pound extra rock in the bottom of your pack would slow you down and it could be.

Equal to 10 pounds around your waist that you don't need. And it would lighten you up and you'd probably recover faster and hike faster and feel better. So that's one thing is just if it's weight loss, then start now. Lose it [00:20:00] slow. Don't lose it fast because I've seen my dad lose almost 40 pounds in a month.

Elk cunning like in the month of September, and he gets out of the month and he's holy crap, my pants don't fit. I'm down six belt sizes. I feel great. And I'm, I am throwing my dad under the bus, but six weeks later, 20 pounds is back on. And I'm telling you, man, like the faster you lose it, the harder it is to keep off.

Whereas if you can go steadily, that's gonna be sustainable. Yeah, and when I was doing all that training, I had a coach, I don't think they were an rd, but they were like a nutrition, but really bodybuilders, like bodybuilders were my coaches back then. Cause that was the gym we hung out at and they were competitive, like nationally ranked bodybuilders.

So they really understand some stuff and helped me phenomena. I would not have seen the success I saw without having someone that really understood macros and food and not just Everyone knows the whole calories and equals calories. All but a calorie's [00:21:00] not the same. McDonald's calories are not the same as like veggies and glean protein, elk meat.

Like tho those calories are made different. A hundred percent. And then as far as like actual this imposed demands of elk hunting it's pretty much aerobic. So it's cardio. I would say figure out what that's gonna be for you. I obviously we'd love to see you. Ruck with 20, 40 pounds on your back weekly varying the distances, the intensity or effort or rate of perceived exertion, the terrain, the elevation, that would be awesome.

But if that's not you, maybe it's running or maybe your joints don't allow that. So maybe it's swimming, but you need to build a cardio base. So you gotta look at that. And then I think strength training's not obvious, but it should be cause The mountains are really steep, a lot of side healing.

You will fall no matter what, you'll trip and fall on something going over downfall. So mobility and strength go hand in [00:22:00] hand for the soft tissue, like the connective tissue, the muscle density, and having some strength to just throw a hen cord on your back and be like, ah. Throw a front shoulder on too.

And just, so just injury prevention will come from strength training and it's good. We as men, lose muscle as we get older. So it's just fighting that. And so just this blurry blend of, I'm doing strength and conditioning. I am rucking, I am shooting my weapon, and I'm being consistent looking at my nutrition because I want to elk hunt and enjoy the hell out of this experience and not squander it.

Everything's there for you guys. It's not rocket science. Yeah, it is. It's funny how something as simple as elk hunting to do it the best and to do it right, it really is like an all-inclusive, like you can't just run and be good, right? Because you're gonna put that 50 pound pack on in your shoulders are gonna blow up.

You can't just weight lift cuz even though you're stronger than an ox, you're not gonna make it to the top of the mountain very fast. It's like you [00:23:00] have to do it all. If you wanna be the best, it's like you can't just pick one thing and be like, good enough. No. Said. And it's a beautiful art form of going to somebody else's home field advantage.

Trying to find those buggers and elect to hide. And trying to compete with other public land hunters that are just as hungry as you to notch their tag. And so I think you just got to do things that are in your control to give you an advantage. And a lot of what we've talked about so far is all the balls in your court.

These are things you can control, how well tuned your bow is, and how confident you are in your equipment, how confident you are in your body and how you show up. Now, can you control? A crazy snowstorm in the middle of Montana, September 16th. No. Can you control like a trail head that's got 50 trucks at it?

You can't control that, but you certainly could move on to another spot. Have backup plans, have e scouted? [00:24:00] Honestly, elk hunting's so much in your control other than the animals behavior and other people and other predators. So I think it's all. It's all on you if you really want to have success.

Yeah, I think, like you said it well, like you might not be able to control what the elk do or what other people do, but having a good hunt is completely within your control, and that's just being prepared, being ready, seeing those elk at two miles and you're, you're already in a ways and then there's now two miles over and it's two in the afternoon and you look at your buddy and be like, yeah, we, let's go.

We can make it. Because you've trained, you know what you can do. If you're not, if you, I've had people, I've talked to 'em on this podcast, I've hunted with them. You see an elk at 800 yards and they're like, dude, that's too far. And you're like, what? What do you mean that's too far? That we just walked three miles.

That's not even half a mile over there. What do you mean that's too far? And it's just man, I'm tired. Let's [00:25:00] go back and make supper. And you're like not inviting you on the next elk continent. Yeah, I would, honestly, that would be a nightmare for me to have a sherra hunt where I am so passionate, so driven, so prepared, and to have a share it with someone who's, maybe they thought they were passionate and they thought they were prepared, but they're really not.

It's not gonna be fun for either one of us. No. And so I, to prevent that, I would almost be really picky about who you hunt with. Cuz September's so finite. You only have so many Septembers in your life. And not all September days are bugle fest. So I. For me, like I've noticed that if I invited, it's say Brian, you want to hunt with me?

I would probably invite you to come grab a workout with me next week. And even though I don't like training at 5:00 AM I'd be like, yeah, hit come over at 5:00 AM next Wednesday. I wouldn't text you a reminder, I wouldn't want to see if you showed up next Wednesday at 5:00 AM or I'd do something like the Archie Range.

I'd be like, Hey man, Sunday night, I'm gonna go hit the range [00:26:00] at seven o'clock. Let's, get the last 30 minutes of daylight and bring your backpack and boots. So it's like a realistic practice session. No text reminder. Do you show up? And then if you did those things, I'd be like, all right, Brian.

Here's where we're hunting. I would quarterback a little bit like I'm e scouting plans A through G. I want you to get. Make me three hunt plans for this area. Give us everything we need as far as where we would park, where we would camp, where we would potentially night bugle, where were we hiking, where are the bottlenecks for other hunters?

Where are the best view sh view sheds, where we could glass, where are the best bugle sheds where we could do location bugles and have it ring out and gimme those plans by next week. And I look forward to seeing it. If you don't do any of this stuff, yeah, like you're fired. And then if the last test would be like a summer backpacking trip.

Even out Midwest go find some bad lands and throw on 70 pounds and go do a little [00:27:00] overnight. How's their gear? Do they know how to start a fire? Do they have good equipment selection? Are they comfortable in the back country? How much time do they have to like text their girlfriend while you're supposed to be on a trip?

Like you need to vet your hunting partner. I know this podcast isn't about that, but that's one huge deal that gets overlooked. Oh no. I think that is what this podcast is about. We've had people, even a couple episodes back, a guy told the story, he was elk cunning, first Elk, I believe, and he had a buddy and.

The whole trip, it was like red flag after red flag as he's telling the story, and I'm like, dude, are you not starting to hear these red flags? That's what I'm thinking in my mind. And obviously looking back, he knew, but it would be like, Hey, let's go. And he is I don't really have my gun for my bear.

And it's okay, but I have mine and I want to go, like there's an elk bugle in. And then it's I don't really have that much water. And I'm like, okay, have a bottle of mine. He's I'm hungry. Like I don't ha every step of the way. There was a reason to turn back.

The guy keeps pushing. I'm like, no, we're doing like, you don't have to come with me anymore, but there's a bull at 800 yards and I'm shooting him right rifle [00:28:00] hunting. Like it's not that hard. I gotta cut 400 yards and I'm gonna shoot this bull, shoots the bull, whatever. All of a sudden the guy's yeah, my, my pack doesn't call me.

And I'm like, me and the co-host are like mind blowing them or what? This is, and he is yeah, I haven't gotten elk cunning with that guy. Still like him. Still a good friend won't go elk cunning with him anymore. So it's a huge thing. It's to hear you talk about like how precious your September is.

Imagine if you're a guy that lives in Minnesota and you get seven days, like not only you get one month, you get seven days. Two of them are gonna be driving, so you got five days. You really have to vet your partners. And we've done it a lot in our group because everyone hears about elk hunting oh, I'd love to do that.

You got in your room and we don't, it's the way you said it is really good. I think we might have to start changing how we do it, but we really look at what has this person done in the past? Have they ever gone out west? No. Okay. That's a pretty bad, pretty big red flag. Are they a good work?

Do they work out? Do they do the pickup [00:29:00] basketball with us? Can we get any sense of what this person can do? And if not, usually it's sorry, the group's kind of full. We're already big and and it also just what does the person bring to the table? Cuz it's like we bring my truck, we bring my brother's ranger, we bring our Walton, we bring our spot.

You just want to hop in the truck for free. You don't have to just drive separate to say you brought a truck, but contribute to the group. Contribute to the group success somehow. Yeah, I think that's really important. And if you're wanting to join a squad, make the extra effort to prove your medal and, do the unassigned eess scouting and come up with hunt plans and be the leader and ask people to meet up for some hu some rucks or some shooting sessions and, or find a really good podcast, be like, man, you gotta check this episode out, or whatever. It's just the research is endless. I that about elk hunting and I typically hunt brand new to me areas every year, and so I'm in the same position and I don't just go to the same honey hole every year.

[00:30:00] There's no such thing, man. Like the other behaviors. Different now than it used to be. I bet 20 years ago you can go to the same spot where you maybe kill a bull 20 yards from where you killed the one before. That does not happen for me on public land anymore. So I have to put in a lot of work, and I don't think that clearly, Brian, when I'm seven days in on a hunt versus in my underwear in the office ees scouting, it all looks so perfectly clear.

But when you're tired under duress, stress, and you are homesick, You need these hunt plans so that you can re remember what you saw in the office. And the last thing I want to do is be on the side of a road trying to download an OnX map of some new unit. I didn't prepare. That sucks, man. I just don't like being unprepared.

Oak cunnings. Just the season's too short. And I wanted to say one thing. If you have a seven day hunt, and like you said, two of it are driving and now you have five days. And you have a hunting partner, Brian, you don't get to be shooter [00:31:00] five days in a row. So your seven day hunt really is like two, two and a half days if you actually be in shooter.

Yeah. And the other partner. And that's, if you guys don't like wound bull, spend time looking for that or something goes wrong. Flat tire equipment breaks. I mean everything that can go wrong will go wrong. You just have to be, elcon is mastering. The art of mitigation for all the shitty things that are gonna accidentally happen.

So bring in a backup bow, having a backup pair of boots. I even bring a backup back backpack. I literally have two of everything. Two is one, and it's just from many years of elk cunning and be in several states away from home, not wanting to spend any part of my hunt trying to find a, an archery shop to help me retire a delo or something.

Yeah. Yeah, 100% that, that's very valid. This last year we had all those things happen. We popped a tire on the ranger, way up on a mountain, last light as a thunderstorm's rolling in and then [00:32:00] we're like, all right, I'm pretty sure if we bust it this way, looking at the map, we can get back to camp.

Cut off a mile and a half. It's gonna be a little western, but. Otherwise we're gonna get caught in the middle of this thunderstorm. Sure enough, we did it new ground, middle of the night, got out, got the tire fixed the next day. But like you said, yeah, you're not shooter for five days. We switch every opportunity because sometimes, like you said, bugle fest is on September 19th this year, the rest of the week's quiet.

So if we know people that switch off every day. If you're a shooter for a whole day, you might get nine encounters, blow 'em all, and then the next three days, nothing peeps up. So we just were like, man, that really shafts the collar when it, it was the beautiful day and he's stuck with the bugle tube bill time.

So we switch every opportunity and obviously it's not perfect. Sometimes you're running around an elk dive bombs you and whoever's in the best shot to make the shot is now the shooter. It'd be actually really cool if everybody was halfway decent at calling too. That's so that the one guy who's good [00:33:00] isn't always stuck being the caller.

Yeah. That's a big issue when you aside from everything you said, like they're fit, they can hunt, they've got gear, they've got energy and passion for it. They're gonna contribute. But they can't blow a bugle at all. You're like, man, that's like almost a deal breaker above everything else.

Like I would rather wait for you every now and then to catch up on the mountain and take a little break, and that's okay if you've got the energy and drive, but you can do like the elk calling as well, so we can actually switch off. Yeah, I agree. And just building that chemistry. There's some deadly dudes out there that hunt together and they're just, They have some experience.

They're in the same, like their stride is just in line. They're congruent and look out man. And it's so hard to find a legit, reliable hunting partner, which is why I would say a majority of the elk I have killed in my life have been solo. And there's a big long story to that. But the [00:34:00] CliffNotes version is I started experiencing a lot more success when I would go out solo.

To the point where I was just like, okay, I guess I'm a solo elk hunter. The only thing sucks about solo elk hunting is solo elk packing. But other than that, man decision making is so much faster and you don't have to worry about curfews or like somebody worried about you. What if we're, what if we do see those elk two miles away and it's four o'clock or five o'clock at night?

And I'm like, I gotta go for it. And it takes me. An hour to get to him. When I got 20 minutes of shooting light, I went for it, but maybe it didn't work out or maybe it did work out either way. I'm now in an extra hour away from my truck or ATV and I don't have to send in an inReach, be like, Hey Brian, I'm doing the walk of shame.

I'll be back late tonight. Or dude, elbow deep in blood. I'll get the meat hanging. We can pack it out tomorrow and then I can call for you. I don't have to do that. I can. And so decision making's [00:35:00] so good because how many powwows do you guys have on the mountains, like trying to decide which way to zig and zag, or is that ball, does that bull over here?

No, man, I thought he was over there or. I think the wind's going this way. I think we should approach that way. I don't have powwows, so my decision making is expedited. And I didn't start out as a solo elk hunter. It definitely took, it's not easy to put a backpack on and go deep into the wilderness by yourself, like it's a little intimidating no matter where you live.

But if you want to kill an elk, bad enough. Might be what you have to do. Yeah, it's a that enters in like the mental toughness area too. Cuz I've done a couple solo elk hunts. I did one with a rifle in the Alpine and I saw it was more challenging from a mental aspect than a physical aspect. Cuz you you're not talking to anyone like, I didn't have reception.

I had an inReach, but I'm not gonna sit here and have a texting conversation with my fiance on an inReach. Like I'm just gonna say, Hey, I'm alive. Things are good. Talk [00:36:00] to you tomorrow. Yeah. I think people don't realize that when you solo hunt by yourself in the back country with no reception, it's only daylight for so many hours, and then it's just you in your tent.

Yeah. Thinking about your loved ones. Thinking about how much you'd love a hamburger with a ice cold beer. There's some demons too. If you got some stuff in your closet that's gonna get flushed out, like everybody should solo hunt a little bit. It's so good for the soul. Yeah. Everyone should do a four day or, and then you'll figure out where you stand on the spectrum and Sure.

How much more practice you need before you do the nine day one for sure. But how percent. I see that we're you, we are coming up on, on nine o'clock and you said he had some stuff. Do you have one last leaving comment for someone that's newer and just Hey, you don't need a gym, you don't need equipment.

If you could do these three things, that would be better than nothing and there's no excuses for you not to be doing these three things. Okay. [00:37:00] Most people have some weight to shrink, some fat to lose. Yeah. So literally start like managing your nutrition. So if you don't measure your food, you can't manage it.

If you don't know how many calories you're taking in, whatever, how much water you're drinking. So maybe do a food journal for a week and then dissect it. Use an online website, figure out where you at. How many calories are the averaging? What's your protein intake? What's your sugar intake? Et cetera, et cetera.

So nutrition, measure it. Manage it. Number two, elk hunting is elk hiking. So hike a lot with a backpack on with your boots that you're not, you didn't buy right before the season. The boots that you plan on using, break those in now, get used to 'em. Number three, and this is mainly for archery guys, is you're not as good as your backyard tells you.

So we're all really good in the backyard. Yeah, me especially, I'm an all star with flip flops, my shirt [00:38:00] off, the sun's out. 110 yard bombs. That's not what elk hunting is. Elk hunting is day seven. When you've been living like a homeless person, you're stressed out, you're fatigued, and you heart rate's jacked and you gotta be able to shoot a bow in awkward positions.

Kneeling on your butt, half bent, half squat, side hill, third axis. So practice like how it's gonna go down, wear your backpack, do some sprints and shoot, be okay with your pin moving all over the place. Work on your shot execution. Those three things alone, man, that would get you a long ways. I love it.

Those are probably the three things I was hoping you would say, cuz that's what I would've said. And it's true. There's nothing you can debate on those three things. Those are the foundational elements of elk cunning right there. Awesome. Thanks Dan. I know we had pinched for time.

That's my fault. I was late. But give people a quick rundown. Remind people where they can find you and where they can, sign up for elk shape [00:39:00] training courses, all the stuff you guys have to offer. If you wanna check us out, just elk shape website or social media, we're easy to find. There you have it guys.

Get ready for this season. Don't let any Septembers go to waste. Thanks for awesome. Thanks for being here, Dan, and thanks for listening folks.