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Thread: Unnecessary gear sheep hunting

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    Member akhunterosu's Avatar
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    Default Unnecessary gear sheep hunting

    I imagine this is going to be very controversial topic and I think I'm probably going against the grain on this one. I always comb through my gear and figure out ways to cut ounces. My friend that I will be hunting with has started to call me the ounce nazi. Let me preface this by saying, I have been on 3 sheep hunts and this will be his first one. I have been able to get all my gear minus food and water down under 35 pounds including rifle, spotting scope, backpack, clothing , tent, sleeping bag etc. I was trying to give him an idea of what to pack and the topic of binoculars came up. I told him you don't need them, he says I'm crazy and most people put nice binoculars as one of the must haves for sheep hunting . My reasoning is rather simple. First , spotting white/yellow spots on a mountain isn't particularly difficult to do. Second, once I spot those critters I always stop, bring out the spotting scope and determine whether or not it's worth having a closer look. To me the ten minutes you get to sit down, rest and get a honest look at sheep with a 20-60x spotter far outweighs carry an extra couple of pounds glass, when I already have a 3-10x scope on my rifle and a 20-60x in my pack. I'm certainly no tony Russ but this has been my experience sheep hunting over the last 3 years. I know some of the guides will likely call me an idiot and I welcome it. Explain to me the need for binoculars ... Furthermore, what are some things you find unnecessary on sheep hunts that save weight? I once thought a purifier was necessary but now just use iodide tablets. Instead of my 2 pound digital Nikon I took I my first trip, I just bring my iPhone with a life proof case, saved me 1.5 pounds.

  2. #2
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Count me among those who carry binoculars while sheep hunting. While many sheep are obvious to the unaided eye, I can count many instances where I found rams lurking among the crags on ridgelines or in deep cuts that I would not have seen without my binoculars. That is especially true in inclement light conditions (fading light at dusk, flat light, etc) or when the clouds are dancing around the mountains. Additionally, I've been in snow at all points of the season. Last year I was hunting in snow on August 10th and found some sheep up in the snow that I would have never seen without binoculars. While true that they're often unnecessary, I'd rather carry an extra couple pounds for the times that they are crucial than go home wondering if I might have missed some sheep due to my inability to effectively spot them. All of that said, I might consider a single pair of binoculars among two hunters. Maybe.

    I still carry a point-and-shoot camera as well, specifically because I can get good timed shots that I can't get with my iPhone.

    I go back and forth on the water filter. When I'm alone I'll sometimes leave it behind, but I've read enough stories of hunts ruined by giardia that I'm starting to carry it more and more often. I've recently started carrying a Steripen at times, and that reduces the weight and bulk a fair bit.

    One piece of gear that many carry that I leave behind is a sharpener for my knife.

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    Member Yellowknife's Avatar
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    Not my experience at all. I'm not an expert sheep hunter, but have done half a dozen hunts, and packed out several now. Binoculars were critical IMO. I started with compacts (8x20, 10x25), moved to 8x30's, and have now gone to full size 10x42. "white dots" are easy to see on a green mountain, but a head sticking out of the rocks is plenty tough to spot, and that's where they are usually bedded during the day. I use mine constantly. Sheep use their eyes as a first line of defense, and it's critical to see them before the see you. I can't rely on my naked eye to do that for me.

    One trip I used my 8x20 compacts beside a guy with good 10x40's. He easily and consistently found more sheep than me, and was able to identify rams vs ewes without having to drop his pack all the time. That pretty much sealed the deal for me. During a stalk, it's also much easier to keep track of which sheep is which, which direction they are looking, are they alert, etc with binos. If you want to try it, let your buddy carry his good binos while you carry just the spotter, and see how annoyed you get when he is describing the sheep he sees to you all the time. That's my opinion.

    Yk

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    Member 0321Tony's Avatar
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    I always carry binos but not the heavy expensive ones that I'd carry if I was hunting other animals I carry a small light weight pair and if something needs a better look I'll use my spotter. As far as a water filter I carry one now because it saved my bacon once when the only water I could find I had to dig a hole to get to and now I never leave it unless I know where I'm going has a reliable water source and even then I usually pack it along. I've gotten my mountain pack whittled down to just about nothing extra. The one thing I am guilty of is probably packing too much food and I've never come home without having extra food left over but I like to eat while I'm out.

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    Member Yellowknife's Avatar
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    Maybe let me put it another way. My goal isn't to cut weight for the sake of cutting weight. My goal is to be a more efficient hunter. Cutting out 1.5 lbs may improve my hiking efficiency by 1%, and hiking is certainly part of sheep hunting so I cut all the weight I can Using good binoculars however will improve my HUNTING efficiency by 25% or more. 1% vs 25%... easy choice for me.

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    Member Steven_JR's Avatar
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    I completely agree that there is a benefit to having binoculars, but I'm a bit undecided on the weight to benefit ratio.

    In my opinion, if there are at least two hunters, then I think one pair should certainly be included as it is great for a mid level magnification scan of the mountainside and decipher sheep from white rocks. When I am hunting solo though, the weight starts adding up with my spotting scope, rangefinder, and binoculars to the point where I question their benefit. On the last hunt I did, I used my rangefinder (6x magnification) for quick scanning and then spent more time behind the spotter to follow up on any potential sheep. That worked reasonably well, but it is tiring just using one eye with the rangefinder though and at times wished I had binoculars. I don't consider my rifle scope any sort of optic replacement. That is only used once a target has been identified by other means.

    In the past I have not used a water filter, but will probably do so in the future, especially on longer hunts were I may be moving from a particular known water source into an area where I am not sure what water will be available.

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    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by akhunterosu View Post
    I. I have been able to get all my gear minus food and water down under 35 pounds including rifle, spotting scope, backpack, clothing , tent, sleeping bag etc..
    Lets see - - Pack=10 rifle =9 tent =6 bag=3.5 spotter=4, binos=1.75 so I am close but that is without game bags, knife, arse wipe, h20pump, bivy bag, first aid kit, camera, tripod, puffy coat, rain coat 2 pr extra socks, poly pro hoodie.

    I did just get a new SG pack that dropped my old kifaru longhunter - by 5 pounds!

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Another piece of gear that I don't carry is a rangefinder. I'm not perfect in my range estimation abilities, but inside of my comfortable range I'm close enough to put a shot in a ram's lungs. I would way rather go without a rangefinder than a pair of binoculars.

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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    The last few hunts the most unnecessary item was my rifle as there were no legal rams to be seen. Wait a minute...what?

    For water filter I just use a bladder and an in line filter. Its the lightest and cheapest option. Every water source in the mountains will have some kind of critter poo in it.

    if I was not going to carry binos I would carry a range finder as they are a low power monocular. I was in a few middle distance situations and having 10 power binos beat the setting up of a spotter and its use to check out a dozen or more almost legal rams.

    As for being called an ounce nazi...sounds like your buddy needs a few training hikes with a 50 or more pound pack. He will come around.

  10. #10

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    Unnecessary gear sheep hunting


    More than (3) three cartridges.

    More than (1) one firearm (even for six hunters).

    More than (1) one pair of quality binoculars.

    More than (1) one spotting scope.

    More than (1) sleeping bag (per each (2) Two humans)

    More than (2) two knives total.

    Rangefinder thingie.

    This is the way that Frank Cook and Jay Mueller and "Moose" Moore hunted trophy sheep.

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    Man I see this binocular thing come up often. I really need to hunt sheep where some of you do. Most of the big Rams we have taken don't exactly standout and say here I am. They are usually perched in the rocks looking down on the valley and from below you can barely see them. I can think of dozens of time when they were the MOST critical piece of gear but to each their own. If the extra weight makes or breaks a hunt then I don't belong in the mountains. I take the gear I feel will make my hunt comfortable weight is secondary

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    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bear View Post
    Man I see this binocular thing come up often. I really need to hunt sheep where some of you do. Most of the big Rams we have taken don't exactly standout and say here I am. They are usually perched in the rocks looking down on the valley and from below you can barely see them. I can think of dozens of time when they were the MOST critical piece of gear but to each their own. If the extra weight makes or breaks a hunt then I don't belong in the mountains. I take the gear I feel will make my hunt comfortable weight is secondary

    +1 and I tend to get way carried away with comfort. last trip going in full up on food and water for 12 days solo I was 97pounds.....going in. I'll do better next time I swear - but I don't plan to take a piece of plastic, 2 pieces of jerked bou, and a knife for a weeks hunt. The old guys were and still are tougher than me.

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    Member Steven_JR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    Another piece of gear that I don't carry is a rangefinder. I'm not perfect in my range estimation abilities, but inside of my comfortable range I'm close enough to put a shot in a ram's lungs. I would way rather go without a rangefinder than a pair of binoculars.
    Good point! The hunt I was thinking about when writing was an archery hunt where distance is a lot more important. I'll have to think about this for the upcoming rifle hunt. Another reason I love talking/planning for sheep hunts all year round!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steven_JR View Post
    Good point! The hunt I was thinking about when writing was an archery hunt where distance is a lot more important. I'll have to think about this for the upcoming rifle hunt. Another reason I love talking/planning for sheep hunts all year round!
    The benefit of a range finder is not always about the distance from you to the animal. I use mine more for finding a spot that I need to get to too be in range. Inside of that point I don't worry.

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    Member tlingitwarrior's Avatar
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    I find my rangefinder a must on mountain hunts, as it gives me the angle compensation. I also firm believer in a pair of quality light weight binocs. Both of these items give me a much better chance at rams/goats. Train harder, carry more.
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    Member Blade Dude's Avatar
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    I'd rather skimp on the comfort items than the equipment that is directly helping me get kill a ram. Don't own a range finder so I never carry that. Don't own a GPS either. If you feel like you might get lost if its super foggy (or smokey) then carry a map segment and a compass. I haven't filtered water in years, but I carry bleach just in case the water looks too sketchy. Two drops should do you fine per liter. I carry a spotting scope, binos and tripod. I carry enough food for a couple extra days, but if that runs out and I still can make it back to the truck, somethings wrong and I'm gonna be calling for help anyway. As far as range calculations on slopes, make a range card if you can't remember your angle compensations in your head. Just take the cosin of the angle (0-90) and and multiply by your LOS distance. Better yet, if you carry an Iphone anyway, mark your 0-90 on the back of the case and tape a string to the center mark. If you sight along the edge of the case, gravity will pull your string plumb. This will line up with your degree marks and you can use the scientific calculator on the Iphone to calculate your distance!
    even if your shot is at 45 degrees, it will only throw you off by .29% on your ballistic range. For my gun at 45* that puts me at -10.5" on a 500 yrd LOS shot. (about a 354 yard ballistic distance).

    The only absolutely unessential item I have ever seen brought along on a sheep hunt was one of those walmart blowup air mattresses, including the battery blower! I'm pretty sure I swore under my breath when I heard that 4 D cell blower motor turn on the first night!
    "If you were to spit in a snake's eye, you would have to stoop to his level to do so."

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    Member akhunterosu's Avatar
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    Great stuff guys. Thanks for all the replies.
    Brian, I have never hunted in the snow but I could see how that would really help. As far as knife sharpeners I am solf on the havalon knifes, light, cheap and easy to carry multiple blades for skinning. I guess i do carry a life straw, if that counts as a filter for those tiny little streams when you need a drink. I am a firm believer in the rangefinder, but probably because I'm not very proficient for ranging objects. I made a 3x5 laminated card with 0-500 yards with 0-15 wind mph adjustments, that I gorilla tape to the left side of my gun stock so i can be sure about when i have to make corrections. I guess it just gives me peace of mind i can take the best shot possible when i get the chance.
    Bullelkkr- you are certainly a man to carry 97 pounds in. I have humped out 100 plus on the way out but can't imagine having a hundred pounds of gear plus meat, cape and horns solo. If you want to save a couple of pounds on the tent and have money to burn check out hilleberg, they are bomb proof and light weight. I have the anjan 2 if weighs under 4 pounds and gives me a little extra room if I'm solo to spread out. I only use a bivy in the summer when I'm scouting and I'm pretty **** sure its not going to rain. It has come back to bite me a time or two though.
    Yellowknife- that is a pretty solid stuff on being an efficient hunter over a lightweight one.
    Well, you guys have convinced me on the binoculars. Ill make sure he brings a pair in his pack I value all of your input and thanks for replying, learning from better hunters is always a pleasure. Maybe I would have seen more sheep last year with binos. Spotted abound 40 sheep last year and was only able to find one full curl last. Got within 80 yards of him and 12 others and couldn't take the shot... he was on too steep a slope and i would have never been able to retrieve him had I taken the shot. Waited for a 4 hours for him to come back over the ridge and he wouldn't budge, had to go back to spike camp to sleep. Next morning, him and his buddies were long gone. The life of a sheep hunter; cold, wet and hungry yet loving every minute of it.

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    Member akhunterosu's Avatar
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    bladedude, the air mattress comment was classic. Thanks for the laugh.

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    Member coop22250's Avatar
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    Has anyone tried a monocular? I would like to hear from someone that has used them. I didn't even know they existed but stumbled on them. Zeiss makes a 10x25 that only weighs 4oz. Pretty compact, seems like it would be nice for a quick peek at a mountain side.

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    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    I run a hilleberg nalo 3 gt and i take the floor pad. Two of us this year. On my soli trip i took a golite tarp and a nest. Ended up burning the 1/2 the nest and only using the ground piece of it. I also took a 1/2 length ground pad. I am 5 wks into shoulder surg right now so i wont be grtting gear ready for a little while, but i am getting some cabin fever so keep up the chat!


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