Besides airgun hunting, I like to fish, hike, bike, kayak and camp. To optimize my field time, I’ve been combining these various activities, so I’ll load up my kayak with ultralight camping gear, an air rifle, and take off on an overnighter. This lets me get further into the back country or access areas closed to foot traffic, and let’s me spend the midday when hunting slows down, fishing or lounging in my hammock.
A trip I did this winter, was to combine an ultralight camping trip with a late season squirrel hunt…… On snow shoes! Even though I’ve lived in the colder part of the country for a few years now, I am still a warm weather guy. But this year I bought some snowshoes and have been doing a lot of hiking to get in condition, this spring I am going to hike Mt Fuji as a weekend break during one of my regular trips to Japan. Anyway, I started thinking about doing a winter ultralight camping trip, so naturally the possibility of taking one of my Airguns was right on the heels of this idea.
On a day off I loaded up my gear: a solo bivy tent, down bag and liner, sleeping pad, solid fuel stove and cook kit, headlamp, food and water went into my pack, and I decided to carry the AA TDR rifle. My plan was to hike through part of a state park and over to a friends farm that borders it on snowshoes, hunt the farms 40 acres of wood, overnight, then hump it back on snowshoes the next morning.
I’m writing up the story for a magazine article so won’t go into details other than to say; I hiked further because I was spatially disoriented (lost), shot and ate a squirrel (over Raman noodles), froze my tail off (but survived), and hiked out in time for lunch with my girls. I honestly don’t know if I’ll do this in winter again, it was very cold, but it was a mini adventure that got me fired up and can’t wait for the spring and summer months to roll around!
A couple years back I took a fall trip, it had started to cool down but nothing like this recent frigidly cold outing. I loaded the gear into my Ocean SOT kayak, which is fully rigged for fishing, and took off for a couple days. My gear on this trip was my camping hammock with insect net and tarp, lightweight sleeping bag, alcohol stove and cook kit, my AirForce Talon-P, camo insect suit, and my regular kayak fishing rig (including a stocked ice box).
My wife dropped me at a spillway coming off a large reservoir, I followed the stream through farmlands where I camped along the way, to a lake where I had some great fishing all to myself. With no public access across the farms, I hunted squirrels in the trees bordering the stream, and threw my hammock up within the high water mark. On day two I paddled to a take out at a local city park, met my wife, loaded the gear and drove a few miles home. A great trip, and for the most part I didn’t see any other people, even though I was within a suburban/hobby farm environment a couple miles from town.
The trips I’ve planned for the warmer months this year, include more on my kayak, more ultralight hike/camping, taking off on my mountain bike, using my Jon boat to explore some of the rivers and small lakes all around us, and mixing up some fishing and hunting. And on each and every trip, I will take an air ridle appropriate for the mode of travel, sure that new opportunities will become available along the way.
When you get to a certain place and time in life, it can be hard to get away on those adventures you did when you were young. I spent the better part of a summer sailing and living on my small sailboat in the Sea of Cortez when I was 19, three weeks hiking the lower PCT and entire summer long collecting trips (with a herpetological bent) in the southwestern deserts in my teens, weeks wandering South America, Europe, and the Caribbean in my twenties. But college, carrer, wife, kids, and other things become more important as you (slowly in my case) grow up, and the adventures get thinner on the ground.
I am lucky, traveling to Europe and Asia on business a lot, going off hunting in Africa most years, doing a lot of hunting trips, and I get to do a lot of shooting. I enjoy all of this immensely, but these don’t feel like adventures per se. However, add a unique means of transport (kayak, bike, snowshoes, etc), and a night alone in a camp you set up while on the go, and it turns your fishing trip or squirrel hunt into a bonfide mini-adventure!
And the best part; this doesn’t take a lot of time or a lot of money, and you are only limited by a willingness to do a little research and preparation. There is hardly a place in the country where you can’t get away on your own little expedition, give it a try, and let’s hear about it!