Journey From East To West
Having grown up in North Carolina hunting deer, doves, and turkeys in the relatively flat lands of the South my world revolved around trail cameras, rubber boots, tree stands, and scent blocker clothing. The rituals and rhythm of hunting the south’s seasons were as natural as breathing. I knew where the deer on the 300 acre farm would travel, my stands were well established, the trails were cleared of leaves, my bow and rifles were all ready for shots from elevated stands or the rare shot across a field.
In 2015 all that changed. My family and I made the biggest move of our lives and relocated to Boise, Idaho. The decision to go west was an easy one for us, we even honeymooned in Wyoming and hunted a few times in Montana. We enjoyed the solitude of the mountains and the vast expanses of public land to roam.
With this move I knew a big change was coming to my hunting practices. No longer would I be restricted to 300 acres and my neighbor’s property lines. The comfort of sitting all day for a buck to appear would become a fond memory and exchanged for the boot leather left on the mountain. I was no stranger to the western landscape and had hunted Montana for deer and bear. Thanks to my loving wife we even spent our honeymoon on a guided antelope hunt in Wyoming. These hunts consisted of days spent riding in a truck up and down logging roads and walking a minimal distance. The longest animal recovery we had was 400 yards downhill in open country to the truck. While we did kill animals; in all cases I felt as if there was more to it than the truck ride. I wanted to get out, explore country away from the majority of people who were doing the same thing we were. Driving logging roads hoping to stumble upon game wasn’t enough, I needed more interaction with the country itself. I knew this meant there would be a big learning curve in gear, tactics, scouting, and physical effort.
In this series of posts I will relate my journey of transformation from a Eastern treestand dweller to a Western mountain climbing, elk chasing, backcountry nut. Now before the hate mail comes in; I still love the South and there are few things in the hunting world as much fun as getting to full draw on a large whitetail standing ten yards away. I am just ready to experience all the west has to offer and this requires change and learning. It is my sincere hope that the Eastern hunter would find this educational and if they choose to venture out west will arrive more physically and mentally prepared, with the proper amount of gear and knowledge to have a fun successful hunt in the West. Stay tuned.
– Chris Benfield