Live Hunt: Backcountry Shed Hunting

I waited as patiently as I could to receive the Guide jacket and Merino 250 T this week from KUIU, and scrambled out the door shortly after it arrived. We struck out shed hunting last weekend, but had high hopes to redeem ourselves on this trip. This time Mother Nature cooperated in several ways. She gave us a full day of 60-degree temps for shed hunting and then cranked up the snow and rain so I could see how the Guide jacket performed in adverse conditions.
I turned my Sunday into a heavy pack-training day. I wanted to see how the jacket felt and held up with an 80-pound load for several miles.
After three hours in the rain and snow and a little more than 8 miles logged, water had still not penetrated the Guide jacket outer layer.
The hood is going to be a useful feature for just about any hunter. But those of us who sit behind glass above the tree line and face windy conditions on a regular basis will find this hood to be a huge bonus.
The draw cord on the hood was very user friendly and once pulled tight, it was out of the way and felt like a ball cap. You can also see in this photo how well the rain and snow beads up and rolls off of this material and keeps you warm and dry underneath.
Something I always look for in a hunting jacket: "pit zips!" These were very accessible with or without a pack on and did a great job of blowing out the extra heat when I was on the move.
Another pleasant surprise on the Guide jacket was the length/cut of the tail. It was plenty long enough to keep me from having "plumber's crack" when glassing and is much easier to keep tucked in under the belt of your pack when on the move. For reference, I'm 6'1" 2010 pounds and use a XL guide jacket.
My hunting partner J is a real Gumby. Standing at 6'8" he is the tallest guy I have known to use a bow. These two pictures should give some of you taller guys a good reference if you're worried about the length cut of the KUIU gear. This jacket was an XL and was very close to fitting him perfectly. An XXL would have been better (what he usually uses), but this XL would work in a pinch.
So for my initial review, the Guide jacket passed with flying colors, shedding wind and rain with ease and having some very "backcountry friendly" options like the pit zips and draw cord hood.
As soon as we pulled in we got my trusty Kifaru Sawtooth set up with medium stove and hit the rail.
After several miles and no sheds we were running low on water and stopped at the first creek crossing that was not frozen over. This gave me the perfect chance to test out the SteriPen Opti. The Opti is a new model from SteriPen and will be a hit for backcountry hunters and hikers alike. What makes the Opti different from other SteriPen models is it's solar charged. You can clip the charger, Opti and extra batteries to the outside of your pack and let it charge while you are hiking throughout the day.
The push of a button and 90 seconds of stirring the wand and I'm ready to go.
We found a great area to break out the optics and start glassing for sheds. This tactic has brought a bunch of sheds and saved me a ton of miles over the years.
I'm doing a review for Outdoor Life in the next few months about solar chargers and while I was behind the spotter, it was a perfect chance to try out the Goal Zero model. When used correctly, this model will allow me to charge up the headlamp and cell phone at the same time. When doing extended hunts, equipment like this is very handy for the backcountry hunter.
Well it finally happened. We glassed up our first shed of the year!
We saw ATV tracks all over the place while driving in, so I was worried that other shed hunters had already combed through the area and picked the easy spots clean. But after finding the first shed out in the open, we had a good idea that we had stumbled into an area that no one had been through yet this year. We put away the optics and started doing our normal sweeps. It paid off and we found another shed in a matter of minutes.
The floodgates opened up after that first one. We picked up six sheds in the next three hours.
I put the Kifaru Late Season to work.
I have several hunts planned this spring, so this may end up being my last shed hunting trip of the year, but at least I finished strong.
I received several emails and phone calls about the "where's waldo" portion of my last KUIU gallery, so I did not want to disappoint and snapped several more photos in different surroundings. See if you can find me in the following shots. In the next slide I'll be highlighted in red.

Last weekend I headed for my shed hunting honey hole to find some bone and test out some new gear from KUIU.