Spike Camp Squared: Sleep on the Mountain to Take More Game

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Freel took this ram after spending most of the night on the mountain at 220 yards from him.Tyler Freel

Most people are familiar with the terms “base camp” and “spike camp” as they pertain to mountain hunting. Obviously, with everyone’s personal hunting methods, the application of that can vary. Typically, when sheep hunting, I’ll leave some extra supplies at a “base camp,” usually the spot I either get dropped off by an airplane or depart on foot. The gear you carry on your back (tent, etc) is what most people would consider “spike camp.” Sometimes I move my camp daily, but a lot of folks get to an area, then base out of that spot, returning every evening after the day’s hunting.

For mountain game, it can often pay to go a step further and spend the night on the mountain with the animal. For this and other reasons, you should have some form of shelter and a sleeping bag when you leave camp for the day. You want to have whatever will be necessary for you to spend the night away from your tent safely, even under poor weather conditions.

Stalking high-country animals typically requires a lot of time and patience. The terrain and animal behavior often put you in for stalks that can last a day or more. Sometimes, you will find yourself in a position where you cannot return to camp without spooking the animal. Other times, it’s much easier not to give up the ground you’ve gained, and just hunker down and wait for an opportunity in the morning.

Getting used to the idea of spending a night in an uncomfortable spot—away from the security of your tent—can be tough. It’s more of a mental block than anything. There are a lot of otherwise hearty folks out there that get pretty nervous at the prospect of not returning to camp, but rest assured, the boogeyman won’t get you. And although you may not sleep like a baby, if you’re prepared you will eventually get opportunities that those who always trek back to the tent won’t.

So be prepared, and when you find yourself just out of range at sundown, sit tight, and remember that the persistent almost always kill more animals.