Thursday, April 14

Trip Budgeting

Part of the advantage of a do it yourself hunt is that you can have some control over expenses.  I am not adverse to spending money, but there are things that I feel are more worth the money than others.  I am going to attempt to set a budget for my trip now.  Hopefully I can save enough between now and then to off set most of the expenses.
                The first expense has already come about.  My license cost $554 dollars.  There is no way to change this, so I bite the bullet and move on.  This cost is for a non-resident Colorado elk tag.  The prices vary from state to state, but for an out of state license, this is typical.
                The next expense largest expense I anticipate is the travel.  I plan out hunting out of a tent camp, so my large amount of gear requires that we drive.  The trip will be between 3200 and 3600 miles round trip.  The pickup truck we are taking will probably average 18 mpg.  That means we will need approximately 200 gallons of fuel.  The way things look gasoline will be around $4.00 per gallon.  That is an $800 expense.  My group was originally planned for three hunters, but is now down to two.  That is $400 per person for fuel.  I will also be on the road for two days.  I will figure $30 a day for meals, $60 total.
                The other main expense is meals while on the hunt.  Since we are camping the meals will tend to be simple.  We will need enough food for eight days in camp.  That means 24 meals, dinner being the most elaborate.  Lunches will typically be something that goes into the pack to be eaten on the trail.  I am going to set this at $200 for the two of us.
                The last category is gear.  This is by far the hardest one to pin down.  It will also vary wildly from person to person, depending on how much gear they already own.  I have done this twice already.  Most of the camping and hunting gear I already own.  There are things I would like to buy, but few I have to buy.  I am going to set this number at $200.  This is not going to include the incidentals that come with weapon preparation, practice, etc. that I will accrue through the summer.  We have plenty of time to discuss and arrange gear.
                Let’s summarize our budget:
·         License - $554
·         Fuel - $400
·         Travel meals - $60
·         Camp meals - $100
·         Misc. gear -$200
That totals to $1314.  The only expense I did not include that may be needed is handling and processing of a kill.  In my case, I have a friend in the area that will allow me to freeze meat before travelling home.  Not everyone is this lucky so keep that in mind if you are budgeting you own trip.
With my license already paid for that leaves $760 dollars in out of pocket expense.  It is 21 weeks until I leave on my trip.  My goal is to save $40 a week between now and then.  That should be easy, but with gas prices…..  Anyway, my no soda diet plan should be a start.  That is probably five to ten dollars a week I am saving right there.  I also set aside a piggy bank and make sure all my change goes in it.  It is surprising how fast that will add up.  I am going to keep this money separate.  The only time money is allowed to be taken out are for trip related expenses.  I will track these so I can revisit my budget if it needs revised. 
Up next….. shooting practice!

Friday, April 8

Baby Steps

154 days until elk season.  That seems like an eternity until I start thinking of all the things that need done.  It is difficult to know where to start.  Buy this, pack that, don’t forget this, on and on.  My head spins when I look at my camping gear.  Will I need all that?  Do I have room for that?  

Okay, breathe.  How does a person eat a cow?  One bite at a time!  That is how I am going to treat this process.  Compartmentalize it.  Break it down into smaller and smaller units that can easily be checked off and get me to the goal without losing my mind.  I have learned as I have grown older that remembering every little detail is becoming hard.  By making the list smaller and smaller the little details become the main focus.  They get done this way and I will be a happy camper come elk season.

OK let’s start our process of breaking down the preparation for the hunt.  I’ll start with generalities and work down from there.  I hope to end up with a sort of outline.  I can start at the lower levels and check them off, working my way to the higher levels as I progress.
  1. Travel (Getting there and back.)
  2. Lodging (Sleeping arrangements)
  3. Conditioning (Preparing the body and mind for the hunt.)
  4. Groceries (Eating, 4th on my list, 1st in my heart!)
  5. Hunting (Skills and equipment needed to bag an elk)
  6. After the kill (Now what do I do!)
  7. Everything else (Ye olde miscellaneous category)
The categories are still very broad, but now I have someplace to put my thoughts, ideas, and checklists.  As I break down the categories, I also need to prioritize them.  I obviously don’t need to worry as much about food five months ahead of schedule as I do about my fat belly.  Maybe if I worried less about food all the time I wouldn’t need to worry about my fat belly now!
As I scan my list above the on that jumps out is conditioning.  There is no short cut and it cannot be done a week before the trip.   So now is the time to start.  Setting goals is important here.  They need to be reasonable.  Many short term goals will be more effective than one long term mega goal. 
The tricky part for me is that I like to eat.  I really like to eat.  A lot!  What I am going to have to do is find those things which I don’t mind giving up and mix those with exercise that doesn’t feel like  basic training.  That being said, there is going to be hard work and there is going to be sacrifice.  I am removing the numbers from my outline, they impart a sense of priority which isn’t necessarily true.
  • Travel
  • Lodging
  • Conditioning
    • Body
      • Diet
        • No Soda! (Start 4/8)
        • Salad for 1 meal per day (Start 4/8)
      • Exercise
        • 10 pushups daily (Start 4/8)
        • 25 Sit ups Daily (Start 4/8)
        • Walk 10 mile per week. (Start 4/8)
    • Mind
  • Groceries
  • Hunting
  • After the kill
  • Everything else
I am starting with things that I know I can do.  I can do 10 push ups and 25 sit ups.  The key is doing them every day.  The walking is a weekly goal, I’ve done this to allow for scheduling and/ or weather conflicts.  For the diet I tried to pick things I could do.  I drink soda, but I also can live without it.  I also like salads but don’t eat them nearly enough.  In two weeks I will revisit these goals and hopefully be able to increase the intensity.
As a reference point my weight as of 4/8/2011 is 215lbs.  I would like to be under 200lbs. when my hunt begins.  Every pound I leave at home is one less I have to carry up the mountain.  If I walk five miles a day that is about 9000 steps.  For every pound I drop it will be 4 ½ tons per day that I won’t be lifting. 
Well my goals are set for now, time to get going.

Thursday, April 7

Jumping Off

There is always something to be learned.  Always.  That is what I learned on my last two elk hunts.  I hope this next one results in another great experience as well as my first elk.  I hope that my experiences, trials, and stories will have some value.  If they are educational, inspirational, entertaining or humorous then maybe I have done something right.  If not then this blog will sit like an unused tag, collecting dust, an unused reminder of an unachieved goal and things that still need to be learned.
            The journey officially started Monday, although in reality it has been going on for eight years.  That journey is to harvest an elk.  Harvesting an elk however is not the real goal.  The real goal is to do it my way and on my terms.  If I just wanted to kill an elk I could go to an elk farm, buy an elk, and slaughter it, just like a cow.  Not much journey there.  Nothing epic, just meat in the freezer.  I could hire a guide.  He could set up the tent, cook dinner, find the elk, call him in, tell me when to shoot, and clean up the mess afterwards.  Again, not much journey there, more meat in the freezer.
            I want an adventure, no I want an expedition.  I know it is not climbing Mount Everest or dog sledding to the South Pole, but in my context it is an expedition.  I need to do the research and the preparation and the packing and the cooking….. OK, you get my point.  My expedition is to explore the mountains of Colorado and with some luck harvest an elk.  That expedition was kicked off Monday when I sent for my license.
            Now that you know my goal, let me introduce myself.  I am Nate, I am 38 years old and I want to hunt elk.  I enjoy hunting for other things, but if I could I would hunt elk every chance I could.  I also like to do things my way, so this hunt is going to be a DIY special.  I live in western Pennsylvania and plan on driving to Colorado with my father for the September muzzleloader season.  We will be camping and hunting on public ground.  We are doing it in a way that is accessible to any hunter. 
            This is my first attempt at blogging.  We shall see if I can translate my gray matter into text for everyone’s enjoyment.  I hope that my experience will help some of you take a similar trip without any pitfalls that I may encounter.  If you have experiences of you own that you would like to share, remember knowledge is always appreciated and there is always something for us to learn.  If you like it let me know, if you don’t really let me know.  I can handle it.  Stay tuned, the expedition is underway!