November 28, 2022 5 min read
Our mission at HEST is to bring the comfort of home to the outdoors, enabling more people to chase adventure and enjoy the great outdoors. We understand that getting outside can be intimidating… between the bugs, an overwhelming amount of gear options, and the dread of sleeping poorly. The good news is: sleeping well makes all the difference and you don’t need a luxury RV, camper or tricked out rig to make that happen. All you need is a comfortable place to lay your head. To celebrate the simplicity of getting outdoors with your family, friends or by yourself, we present “HEST Nests” a new blog category featuring unique camping set ups and tricks to creating a cozy nest in the woods from people who are out there doing it.
If you would like your camping set up featured on HEST Nests, please send us info and images to email@example.com
Home Base: Notellum Mountain, WA USA
Set Up: Ford F-150w/camper shell, HEST Dually Long, HEST Camp Pillow, and packing various outdoor/hunting brand supplementary gear like MSR stove/utensils/water filter, KUIU sleeping bag/clothing/pack system, Danner boots, Nikon optics/rangefinder, Garmin GPS, HOYT bow, Easton arrows, Browning & Winchester rifles, Pelican coolers, Mountain House freeze dried food, instant coffee, lots of fruits, nuts, and water.
Favorite Camp Spot: I can’t tell you that…but it is always up in the mountains, and changes depending on early season (bow hunting) or late season (rifle hunting).
Most beautiful place you’ve ever slept while tracking?
At mountain treeline/alpine elevation, tucked under a tamarack out of the wind, looking down into a north facing draw at night with the moon glowing and hearing nothing but the sounds of nature and knowing that I watched my quarry hunker down below me and that the chase is on at pre-dawn in the dark.
Who’s in your hunting squad?
I generally hunted solo, until recent years when my wife started to worry that my adventures kept getting deeper and longer with more exposure, and asked me to start bringing someone along. It takes several years of knowing someone, and trusting that they know their way around the woods so that neither of you are a liability to each other, to select the right hunting partner. You’ve also got to really understand and love one another in a way, as when things get tough mentally or physically, you need to be there for one another no matter what. You are each other’s lifeline.
Advice for people new to hunting?
Use mapping tools to study your hunting grounds before you even step foot out there. You should know where the water is located, where your intended camping/glassing spots are, where the natural pathways/funnels for animal travel, so that you can set up efficiently for a good spot & stalk. Most importantly, you need to know how to play the wind. It doesn’t matter the camouflage or gear you use if you get busted by the wind. You can sometimes beat an animal’s eyes or ears, but never their nose. Lastly, don’t give up. Sometimes you come home empty handed, but use that as a lesson for the next hunt. Acknowledge what you could have done differently, and adapt. Don’t quit.
On your average hunting trip, what is the gear set up you bring with you? What do you like most about your set up?
My base camp is set up pretty heavy/comfortable as mentioned above. I am generally stocked for a 5-7 day excursion with no need to return to town for water/food/supplies. When I make a “spike camp” away from base camp, I only bring the essentials in a small day pack and travel light. Spike camp is generally when I know where the animal will be at first light and I get up there at night, sleep in the gear I am wearing, and wake up early to seal the deal. I like that my camping set up is pretty modular so I can pick & choose what I need for each day as the hunt changes/adapts with the animal movement.
Any upgrades or improvements you’re planning for your deer hunting base camp set up?
I think a hanging solar warming shower bag/system would be nice, as the mountain creeks are so cold and it would be nice to clean up while not hyperventilating in a stream for once. HA!
What’s the one creature comfort you can’t go tracking without?
I won’t sacrifice on my base camp sleeping essentials like my pad and pillow. If I am not sleeping well, I won’t have the energy to get up and after it for a pre-dawn to post-dusk hunting day. Hiking 10-15 miles a day with a 20-30lb pack on is arduous, so recovery is key. Bonus creature comfort, peanut M&M’s…those are power pellets.
What do you look for when setting up a hunting basecamp?
That it is far enough away from my planned hunting spot that I can relax and not worry about spooking animals, but close enough that I can close the distance on foot in the pre-dawn hour to be set up for success come first light.
Best hunting meal?
Best hunting meal is definitely the fresh backstraps off of the deer or elk that myself or my buddy just killed. It’s not only perfect protein, but also tastes like success! Cooking it over a fire and rehashing the nuanced moments that led up to the animal on the ground, those stories never fade with time and are best served with friends.
Worst night of sleep while on a tracking trip?
Solo hunting trip in the winter, Eastern Washington, got on the herd late in the afternoon too far away from camp to return for the night so I had to stay out in the woods for risk of not locating them in the morning. It was about 10 degrees, snowing, super windy, and my clothing layers were pretty wet from sweat / hiking all day. I ended up digging a hole in the snow next to a large rock and putting pine tree bows on the ground and made a lean-to over me with more branches so that I had something to lie on and also to protect me from the snow and wind. I huddled into a ball and just focused on my breathing cadence to keep warm. I didn’t want to start a fire as I was too close to the herd and would be noticed. I had too many thoughts to sleep much that night and was happy to start the stalk again in the morning.
Any special hunting trip traditions?
A buddy of mine that I have known since childhood made me a custom knife with steel he received from an Inuit people in Alaska, antler from a deer he killed, and wood that he hand shaped for the handle. I carry that with me to remind me of friendship and hard work. It has been used on each animal since I have received it as a gift. It is something that I will pass on to my son, when it is his time.
What’s your next hunting adventure?
Hopefully a trip to Alaska. That has been on the radar since before the pandemic, and I’d like to notch that experience on the belt.