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  1. Default Bivy vs base camp

    Was listening to the elktalk podcast where they discussed preference for base camp over bivy (due to the ability to change hunting areas quickly with a base camp setup). I always assumed the benefit of a bivy hunt is the ability to move past pressured areas and stay mobile. With a base camp setup, how are folks able to move in past the highly pressured areas without setting up deep in the backcountry? Are you just finding limited entry tags? How far, on average, are you planning to hike in before daybreak? I realize it partly depends on the terrain and how much pressure there is in that area. Given the high success rates of Newberg/Jacobsen just thought I'd ask how it can be best done with a base camp.

    TLDR version, how can one be a successful elk hunter and still enjoy a nice camp?

  2. #2


    When I read base camp versus bivy, I read backpack hunting versus road hunting and/or day hunting. Seems like more of a stylistic choice than anything and I don't think it has a huge effect on success rates if done correctly. For base camp I think that just means setting up camp close enough to various trailheads that you can get there quickly in the morning and waking up 2+ hours before dawn so you can get ready, drive to trail head, and hike in 2 miles and then hike out after dark. So key for success base camp, be willing to hike in the dark. For bivy hunting it means actually being prepared to bivy wherever you end at dark. Basically cutting your gear weight down to the point where you can comfortably hunt with your full sleep system + food for the entire trip on your back. This allows you to move to a completely different basin if you aren't seeing anything.

    In my mind comfy camp means more miles, less sleep, but a much lighter bag. Rough camp means, more sleep, less miles walked, but a heavier pack. I've done both with equal success, my first two hunts this year (elk and caribou) were bivy hunts, my second two pronghorn and mule deer will be base camp.
    Last edited by wllm1313; 09-24-2018 at 10:30 AM.

  3. Default

    Thanks, yeah that's pretty much what I thought. It had been my experience that a long hike in didn't get me out of high hunterpressure so that is why I was asking. But it may have more to do with the area I was hunting...

  4. #4


    I slept in my own bedroom the night before and the night after I killed my biggest bull. I killed it on a general tag on public land within 40 miles of one of the regions largest cities. The Base camp can work if you have a good spot that you know how to hunt. The style of the bivy hunt is certainly more appealing for the adventure aspect.

    It really just depends on the situation
    Last edited by MTGomer; 09-27-2018 at 02:31 PM.
    ďTo me, if you donít eat it, then itís not a point of prideĒ. -Matt Rinella

  5. #5


    I think MTGomer is right - it depends on the situation. One year, I parked in one Idaho elk zone and packed about 7 miles in until I reached the zone I had a tag for. I was pretty sure there would be elk in there with little pressure, and I was right. I got a 6 point on the second weekend I made that trip. A base camp at the trailhead would not have worked for me on that hunt.

    I just got back from my first hunt in Wyoming. We had a rather spartan and mobile base camp because we were not sure where to hunt. We had never been in the area and our scouting had been limited to looking at GoogleEarth and reaching out to people who knew the area, including several helpful HuntTalkers (thanks guys/gals!). We had four different campsites in 6 days. Several of our evening hunts were miles from our morning hunts. We decided against our original plan of packing in about 8 miles to one spot as that would have wasted two days had we not found anything. I wound up getting a nice moose on the sixth day, about 30 miles from where we had camped the night before. Of course, I am still wondering if I would have gotten a better bull had I bivied in 8 miles 😀

  6. #6


    I consider a "truck camp" totally different than a "base camp". A base camp to me is a backpack camp that is 2 to 15 miles from roads. A true "bivy camp" is a backpack style camp where everything is brought with you every day and you hunt with your camp on your back.

    I've tried bivy hunting and it is nearly impossible for me to hunt effectively with camp on my back. I may be a wimp but trying to glass with a 50 lb pack is nearly impossible! I find myself constantly taking off and putting on my pack to glass. The other disadvantage of bivy hunting is it is nearly impossible to stalk quietly through brush, sidehills, etc with 50 lbs on my back. I am also lugging around around 30 to 40 extra lbs on super steep, rugged terrain (compared to a base camp). Obviously, the lighter the pack the easier it is to bivy hunt but it's also important to have the proper clothes, food, water, gear, tent, sleeping bag, etc to survive the worse conditions (snow, rain, wind, etc.).

    I've found it's a lot easier and comfortable backpacking in a base camp and returning to a relatively comfortable camp each day. I may not be quite as mobile this way but it's still possible to move my base camp if desired. I generally use a simple camp with just the necessities that make it easy to remain mobile if desired.

  7. Default

    jims, yeah I totally agree with what u were saying. I was lumping what I call backpack hunt (what you were calling base camp) with bivy hunt even though they are different. Just similar in that you probably won't be hunting an area more than a few miles wide. With a truck camp setup (more appropriate term than what I said) you can cover whole units but you often won't get in very far.

  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by jims View Post
    I am also lugging around around 30 to 40 extra lbs on super steep, rugged terrain (compared to a base camp).
    I definitely don't think one style of hunting be it Bivy/Base Camp/truck camping is more effective than any other it's more what you like to do. That being said, I did a truck hunt for pronghorn, a backpack bivy camp for caribou, and by your definition a base camp hunt for elk this year. The difference in my pack weight from truck hunt to backpack bivy was only ~10lbs. they only things I really dropped were food and my sleep system.

    MSR Hubba Hubba 2.2lbs
    Marmont Helium 2.1lbs
    Theramrest Neoair
    Food 5lbs

    To effectively bivy hunt you really need your total gear weight including optics and weapon but excluding clothing to be at or under 50 lbs with your pack alone under 40lb. It's impossible for me to glass effectively standing with no pack, I either use a tripod or my knees, and honestly I have had pack weight have any bearing on my sneakyness... oak brush is just plain loud and the tall grass of Adak muffles everything.

  9. #9


    Oops, I misunderstood the definitions. If I would have been mule deer hunting in Wyoming this fall instead of moose hunting, I think I would have been a bivy hunter so I could have covered as much area as I could.

    A bivy camp would also let me watch any decent looking spots until dark which might give me an advantage over many of the horsemen. Based on the horses passing me at lower elevations just after dark, I am pretty sure they werenít glassing until last light.

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