Preparation. It’s one of the best parts about planning a trip. You make a list, you add to it, subtract from it, and then you refine it and then refine it again. You lay out all of your gear before you, ponder over it, and think to yourself, “am I forgetting anything? I better not be forgetting anything. If I forget something, I could be stranded and then I would have to forage for food. Maybe I should bring that book I just got about foods of the forest. Oh god, what if I eat the wrong wild potato seeds and die like Chris McCandless. I better look at the list again.”
What we are saying is: Preparation is important. It is paramount for hunters and it’s much more than a list. That brings us to Adam Foss, The Fossman. He’s been hunting most of his life and is a professional hunting athlete. He has been sponsored by some big guns (pun totally intended) like Sitka Gear, Leica Hunting, Mystery Ranch, Hilleberg the Tent Maker, and Schnee’s Boots. In 2012, at the age of 24, he became the youngest person to take all four species of sheep with a bow.
Talking with Adam, you can tell he LOVES hunting. He hunts more days than some folks ski, logging anywhere from 80-100 days a season. He’s currently planning for a 14 day sheep hunt in Alaska. When we asked him what he does to get prepared, he said it depends on what kind of trip he is going on. His preparation depends on whether he is going for a weekend elk hunting trip or a 14 day sheep hunting trip; the difference is between a 20 pound pack and a 70 pound pack and exactly what goes in those packs to keep him safe, dry, and warm.
The physical demands of hunting are much more intense than most people think. Granted, while he and his pals are in the upper echelon of hard-core hunting athletes, it’s still a very physical activity for all levels of hunters. Adam is a lifelong outdoor enthusiast and tends to stay in shape in the off-season by trail running, and does a lot of hiking in the mountains scouting new country. He said when hunting season starts, he pretty much checks out of the gym because each hunting trip gets him in better shape for the next. Hunters can cover up to 20 miles in one day, bushwhacking their way up a face of a mountain in some pretty harsh conditions. They do what they have to do and go where they have to go to achieve their goal. That also means eating plenty of calories, staying hydrated, and having really good equipment that is lightweight, breathable, and durable and all of that has to fit in a pack.
So, how does one achieve that? Let’s break it down.
Adam says efficient meal planning and hydration is key. He likes Mountain House meal pouches. They supply plenty of his daily calorie requirements without being too heavy in his pack. For more energy he eats Cliff Shot Blocks and Honey Stinger Chews and he eats a lot of them, often. He also drops Nuun tablets in his water. The electrolytes help keep him hydrated when his body is working over time.
Adam believes that layering is everything and hunting is no different than mountaineering or skiing in this regard. He prefers merino baselayers when he is on a long trip. He says merino helps regulate your body temperature really well and he can wear it for 10 days straight and be fine. With synthetics, the smell really starts to build up after a couple of days and that doesn’t bode well for longer trips. He’ll wear synthetic base layers for short, weekend trips, but for the 10-14 day trips he’s really doing his hunting partners a favor by wearing merino. He uses Nikwax Wool Wash to properly clean and care for his merino baselayers, socks, underwear, and hat and glove liners before going out for his long hunts.
With bow hunting you are generally out in the wildness for a while, and having 10 days of good weather is lucky. Adam says that sometimes you have to spend 1-3 days playing cards and staring at the walls of your tent to shelter yourself from a storm. He also doesn’t feel that he needs to shave off a couple of extra pounds on his back to sacrifice being warm, dry, and comfortable in the middle of nowhere. He likes to carry a down sleeping bag and cleans it before he heads out for a couple of weeks. Nikwax Down Wash Direct revitalizes loft and insulation without damaging the structure of the down. It also maintains breathability and the original water repellency.
As a professional hunting athlete, Adam is lucky to get new gear at the start of every season. But during the season, he is pummeling that gear. It gets campfire smoke, sweat, and blood from dressing animals on it. When he gets back, he washes his jackets and packs in Tech Wash because it effectively removes the tough bloodstains and smoke, making his gear look and perform like new again. He also religiously applies Waterproofing Wax for Leather to all of his Schnee’s leather boots throughout the season.
Hunting as a sport is experiencing a renaissance of sorts. With that in mind, we asked Adam what kind of advice that he has for new hunters or folks that are thinking about getting into hunting. He said that the big thing is not to be intimidated. Anyone can get a copy of the hunting regulations for their state. Take hunter’s ed courses, do your research, use apps and info that is available on the web, get onto hunting forums, and take the time to find the right products, and most of all go far and deep and have fun.
While Adam is a lucky duck and gets new products at the start of every hunting season, we have advice to help out hunters that have to wear the same products for a few seasons.
If the DWR (water-repellent coating) on your outer layers are in need of a bit of extra TLC, even after a cleaning with Tech Wash, wash it in TX.Direct. It will add water repellency to the shell and maintain breathability so that you continue to stay warm and dry from the inside out.
Now not everyone is a merino guy like Adam, so to keep your synthetics from stinking try BaseWash. It does the same job as Wool Wash; safely cleaning the high performing technical fabric, as well as enhancing and revitalizing its wicking abilities.
If your tent or hunting blinds have taken a beating and aren’t performing as well as they once were, try Tent & Gear Solarproof. It not only adds water repellency, it also protects it against UV degradation. For that matter, use it on your hunting pack for the same reason.
Now that we have you all educated – get out there!